This is an experiment that we'll be conducting not only on a weekly basis, but as a running tally throughout the 2011 NFL regular season: keeping track of who is playing where for the Buffalo Bills. The premise is simple: we're simply going to keep track of the number of reps each Bills player takes during regular season play to get a strong idea of how the Bills use personnel.
In their 41-7 Week 1 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo's starting offense barely made it into the fourth quarter before Chan Gailey turned on the cruise control and started subbing in his backups. As such, we're only going to count reps through that point in the game - and we'll eliminate procedure penalties and the like, as well, as those stop the play (and the rep) from happening.
Take a look at the rep breakdown after the jump. What may jump out to you most - it certainly did for us - is how sparingly Gailey dialed up plays for two of his most explosive and intriguing offensive weapons.
First, The Boring Stuff
Let's get the offensive line out of the way, first. All five of the team's starters - Demetrius Bell, Andy Levitre, Eric Wood, Kraig Urbik and Erik Pears - played all 57 snaps that we're counting for Week 1. A sixth lineman, Chad Rinehart, got onto the field for one play in a goal line package featuring an unbalanced line. That's all you need to know for this week about the line - they're healthy, and Gailey's substitution patterns appear to be on hold for the time being.
Skill Position Breakdown
The Bills don't have phenomenal talent at the skill positions, but they make up for their lack of elite-level talent with excellent depth and breadth in skill. In Week 1, however, some of the more intriguing options were barely present in the game plan.
C.J. Spiller made it onto the field for just nine of 57 offensive snaps. Fred Jackson, meanwhile, was on the field for 49 of 57 snaps. That should put to rest the idea that Jackson isn't this team's feature back; he very clearly is.
Brad Smith, meanwhile, was used on just six snaps - the lowest number of any Bills offensive player (that actually played in this time frame) other than Rinehart. He took snaps as a Wildcat quarterback, of course, and he also lined up as a slot receiver on three separate occasions. Spiller and Smith subbed in together when Smith played receiver, but the two were used so sparingly that it's hardly even relevant.
Here's the full breakdown of skill position players and how many reps each player got.
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||QB||56/57||17-25, 208 yds, 4 TD|
|Stevie Johnson||WR||56/57||4 rec, 66 yds, 1 TD|
|Donald Jones||WR||54/57||2 rec, 3 yds, 1 TD|
|Fred Jackson||RB||49/57||20 rush, 112 yds; 1 rec, 5 yds|
|Scott Chandler||TE||31/57||5 rec, 63 yds, 2 TD|
|David Nelson||WR||24/57||4 rec, 66 yds|
|C.J. Spiller||RB||9/57||5 rush, 16 yds, 1 TD; 1 rec, 5 yds|
|Brad Smith||QB/WR||6/57||0-1, 1 INT; 3 rush, 6 yds|
As expected, Gailey dialed up a lot of three- and four-receiver sets, and even when he went with heavier personnel, he'd frequently put those players out wide. McIntyre, for instance, lined up as a wide receiver on multiple occasions, and Chandler lined up in the slot very frequently. Until further notice, that could limit opportunities for some players.
Here's what the full rep counter looked like for the offense in Week 1; we'll have full numbers for the entire Chiefs game in our Week 2 update next Wednesday, which will really only matter when it comes to calculating playing time percentage. For now, we'll present the data in as useful a manner as possible, and that means weeding out the backups. Sorry, Tyler Thigpen.
|Player||Pos.||Rep Count||Playing Time %|