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Buffalo Bills snap counts vs. Indianapolis Colts

Our weekly data dive into playing time looks at the Buffalo Bills’ latest loss. This time to the Colts.

The Buffalo Bills traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Indianapolis Colts. It didn’t go so well. The Derek Anderson-led Bills failed to find the end zone and 40% of their final point total came on a gift from the Colts when Andrew Luck watched the snap go right by him deep in their own territory. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take a look at playing time trends anyway.

Offense (56 snaps)

The good news is that Derek Anderson remained on the field for the entirety of the offensive snaps. With the current quarterback situation best described as “dire,” an injury to the interim starter would be the last thing the Bills need. For the offensive line, Jeremiah Sirles came in for only three plays, meaning the Bills went light on their heavy package this week.

LeSean McCoy left the game with what appeared to be an ankle injury on the second play of the day for the Bills’ offense. It was later revealed that a head injury kept McCoy from returning to the game and has his status for Week 8 in question. Chris Ivory and Marcus Murphy saw increased workloads as a result. Captain Patrick DiMarco did not see increased snaps.

For the receivers, Zay Jones remains the number one for playing time. We noted that the familiarity between Derek Anderson and Kelvin Benjamin could lead to the latter being more of a factor in this game to help Anderson acclimate. Not surprising then that his 79% of snaps this week was the highest amount for Benjamin this year. While the game wasn’t his highest amount for targets this season, it was his highest in catches (4) and yards (71).

Defense (66 snaps)

Interestingly, the Bills’ inability to stop the Colts might have been the result of some tinkering this week. Only two players of the 100% club stayed on the field the entire time. Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Poyer are usually joined by Tre’Davious White, Micah Hyde, and Phillip Gaines. Matt Milano looked to join the ranks recently. Milano came closest this week, missing only one snap. Curiously though; White, Micah Hyde and Gaines all saw reduced playing time. White and Gaines appear to have had playing time taken by [checks notes] Dontae Johnson.

The defensive line has typically aimed for a two-thirds to one-third split between starters and depth players. For some reason this week, none of the starters broke 55%. The shift to a roughly 50/50 split is a significant deviation from the usual defensive plan.

Similarly, Taron Johnson saw a small reduction in playing time compared to last week, while Rafael Bush’s time increased. This likely means the Bills attempted to play more “big nickel” defense this week.

Special Teams (24 snaps)

Players that broke the 30% barrier are listed above. In total, 36 players took the field for special teams against the Colts. The big move this week on special teams is Siran Neal topping the list. There could be some tinkering going on with this part of the team as well.