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Snap count notes: Buffalo Bills at Dallas Cowboys

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Thanks to a short week, I get to say “Our second look at playing time this week as the Buffalo Bills took down the Dallas Cowboys”

The Buffalo Bills traveled to Arlington, Texas on a short week of prep to take on the Dallas Cowboy. In the true spirit of Thanksgiving they brought with them a cornucopia...OF PAIN! Buffalo moves to 9-3, securing their second winning season under Sean McDermott with four more tries to increase the total. Let’s check in on playing time as we continue giving thanks!


Offense (67 snaps)

Another week, another Jordan Poyer on offense sighting. Take a guess how many knees Josh Allen took to close the game.

The 100% club was in full force against Dallas. Josh Allen and the entire offensive line of Dion Dawkins, Quinton Spain, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano and Cody Ford all remained in the game the entire time on offense.

John Brown and Cole Beasley led the receiving group as expected. Isaiah McKenzie saw a bit of a decrease this week, but Robert Foster saw an increase as both players were in just under half of the time. Andre Roberts had fewer snaps on offense than Poyer, which isn’t far out of whack for Roberts but is a fun fact.

Dawson Knox remains the top tight end and his playing time is only going up, especially before Buffalo was milking clock. Lee Smith comes in next but not due to an increase in playing time. Tyler Kroft’s count slipped this week, allowing the blocking specialist to reach second place. Patrick DiMarco had an increase this week with over twice as many appearances as last week. Based on these numbers it was at the expense of Kroft.

Devin Singletary and Frank Gore remain relatively stable. The gap between the two running backs increased slightly this week, but this shouldn’t be a trend that continues as Singletary is already getting a lot of playing time.

Defense (78 snaps)

On defense, the 100% club was shaken up a bit. Jordan Poyer, Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds all hit the mark. Micah Hyde came out for one play and was replaced by Kurt Coleman. Tre’Davious White came out for a handful of plays. Levi Wallace continues to rotate with Kevin Johnson. The latter also appears to have subbed in for White.

At defensive end, the usual rotation led by Jerry Hughes is followed by Trent Murphy, Shaq Lawson, and Darryl Johnson. If you’ve been following the breakdowns, now might be a good time to get out the pencil and paper.

At defensive tackle, Jordan Phillips and Ed Oliver saw most of the work. Star Lotulelei and Corey Liuget both trail by a decent margin. Lotulelei’s time has fluctuated quite a bit this year. The snaps from this game suggest a defense looking to play the pass, like you might expect when up by three scores late in the game.

Were you doing the math? Taron Johnson’s snaps almost always reveal how often the Bills used a nickel defense. In this game that’s 85%, which supports the pass-heavy defense. This ties in to our weekly Lorenzo Alexander watch as his usage gives us a close look at other formations merely from a data dive.

For methodology, if Taron Johnson is on the field it’s at the expense of a linebacker. Whatever “remainder” there is from the 100% count (78 snaps for this game) is how many linebacker reps Alexander got (12). Whatever is left (26) is divided between defensive end and tackle. To get those we need to subtract the other players from twice the 100% count (156).

I’m nerding out more this week because we have an anomaly. When we look at the defensive-tackle snap count there are 27 “missing” snaps. That’s one more than Alexander played. Who else played tackle? It turns out there’s an “extra” rep from a defensive end. The likely scenario based on film review from last year is that Shaq Lawson played a rep inside.

Special Teams (23 snaps)

Stephen Hauschka was in for 52% of special teams plays this week, his highest total since his final year in Seattle. Remember he’s only on the field for field goals, extra points or kickoffs. With the exception of one kickoff per game those are all scoring or near scoring opportunities. When a kicker breaks the 50% mark it’s a sign that the team is doing very well.

It also tends to throw off the rest of the unit’s percentages as the punt units are “sacrificed” with the kicking team being used at a higher rate. Lorenzo Alexander stands alone at the top with 15 snaps of 65% of playing time. He’s followed by Julian Stanford at 61% and then a large cluster of players in the 50s.