Bills vs. Patriots, NFL Week 1: Bills snap counts for offense, defense

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

There's always something to learn from reviewing snap counts after a football game. For instance: did you know that Buffalo Bills undrafted free agent Nickell Robey played 30 more snaps than C.J. Spiller in Sunday's loss to New England?

The official NFL game book from the Buffalo Bills' 23-21 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday credits the Bills for running 63 plays on offense, while the Patriots were all the way up at 91. That disparity in the number of total plays run by each offense encapsulates all of the major points of yesterday's defeat: the Bills couldn't run the ball well nor sustain drives, perhaps aided at times by their no-huddle attack, while the Patriots sustained drives left and right and kept Buffalo's gutsy defense on the field far more than what was ideal.

Let's take a closer look at the snap counts for individual players to get a better feel for what went on during yesterday's loss:

Offense

Pos. Player Snaps %
QB EJ Manuel 63 100%
RB C.J. Spiller 37 59%
RB Fred Jackson 26 41%
WR Stevie Johnson 62 98%
WR Robert Woods 61 97%
WR T.J. Graham 60 95%
WR Marquise Goodwin 9 14%
WR Marcus Easley 1 2%
TE Scott Chandler 57 90%
TE Lee Smith 2 3%
OT Cordy Glenn 63 100%
OT Erik Pears 63 100%
OG Kraig Urbik 63 100%
OG Colin Brown 63 100%
C Eric Wood 63 100%

The only proof you need that the Bills went into the game with the most basic approach we've seen from them in years? The receiver snap counts. Johnson, Woods and Graham were all on the field for over 95% of snaps. Chandler was on the field for 90%. Spiller and Jackson split the running back snaps right down the middle. The Bills used "11" personnel (i.e. 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB) nine plays out of every ten, and it shouldn't be surprising that the Pats didn't have a hard time figuring out what the Bills were trying to do to them.

Beyond that, there isn't a ton to glean from these numbers on the offensive side of the football. We'll see if the no-huddle attack will continue to mandate the use of just one personnel grouping, or if Doug Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett can find ways to vary their looks while still maintaining the pace they desire.

Defense

Pos. Player Snaps %
DL Marcell Dareus 72 79%
DL Kyle Williams 65 71%
DL Alex Carrington 57 63%
DL Alan Branch 33 36%
OLB Mario Williams 73 80%
OLB Jerry Hughes 62 68%
OLB Manny Lawson 37 41%
OLB Jamaal Westerman 3 3%
LB Kiko Alonso 91 100%
LB Arthur Moats 24 26%
LB Nigel Bradham 19 21%
CB Leodis McKelvin 90 99%
CB Justin Rogers 87 96%
CB Nickell Robey 67 74%
CB Ron Brooks 10 11%
S Aaron Williams 91 100%
S Da'Norris Searcy 60 66%
S Jim Leonhard 57 63%
S Duke Williams 4 4%

91 snaps is a ton, and Buffalo's defense sprung a few leaks as the day wore on as a result. Dareus, in particular, looked gassed on several occasions as he paced all defensive linemen with a massive workload.

The Bills apparently aren't going to use linebackers a lot in this system - at least not against offenses like New England's, which spread them out. Alonso played the whole game, but Moats and Bradham weren't on the field a ton, even in combination. I'll have to take a closer look at the All-22, but it seems that the Bills were content to use a mix of defensive linemen, pass rushers, Alonso and six defensive backs on passing downs.

Somewhere along the line, it appears that Robey leapfrogged Brooks to become Mike Pettine's nickel cornerback of choice. Either that, or I simply missed a Brooks injury from the stands. I don't know if something was ailing Brooks or what the deal was, but when Robey plays 67 snaps to Brooks' 10, something is up. Pettine seemed locked in on Brooks being the nickel back earlier this off-season, but Brooks was clearly the fourth corner on Sunday - and that was with Stephon Gilmore out of the lineup. Edit: Turns out, Brooks was hurt after all.

What else in these numbers sticks out to you, Bills fans?

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