The last few weeks of the regular season saw a lot of starters resting or pulled after the game was no longer in doubt. That makes analyzing tendencies by the numbers a bit problematic. A silver lining of the Indianapolis Colts taking the Buffalo Bills right to the wire is that there were zero meaningless snaps. Let’s get to the numbers and see what they reveal.
Offense (59 snaps)
Being healthy for the playoffs is huge and for the first time in forever the offense’s 100 percent club had perfect attendance. The starting line of Dion Dawkins, Ike Boettger, Mitch Morse, Jon Feliciano, and Darryl Williams protected Josh Allen on every single play.
John Brown must be feeling healthy as he was two snaps shy of the club, leading the receivers. He was followed by Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. Gabriel Davis saw his workload decrease with Brown in full swing, but still saw a lot of time. Isaiah McKenzie saw the field just a few times.
Buffalo doesn’t like 2RB sets and, as usual, the snap counts for this group equal a clean 100 percent of the total. Devin Singletary saw a lot more work than the usual split after Zack Moss exited with an injury.
Dawson Knox led the tight end group. Lee Smith being the second in line hasn’t been rare lately, but he did see less time than we were used to seeing in the latter stages of the season. Reggie Gilliam remains a sub-package role player. Adding their counts, tight ends were on the field roughly 80 percent of the time, meaning the Bills ran with four wide receivers about one in every five snaps.
Defense (79 snaps)
The 100 percent club on defense was a little leaner. Jordan Poyer, Tre’Davious White, and Tremaine Edmunds made the cut. Matt Milano and Micah Hyde both missed one snap, which suggests a goal line sub-package or similar that took them out for a play.
Ordinarily Levi Wallace would be at or near 100 percent as the other boundary corner, but the Bills platooned Wallace with a fairly even split. Starting corner Taron Johnson however missed only three snaps. Adding up defensive back snaps, including Dean Marlowe’s brief appearance, the Bills were in nickel roughly 95 percent of the time. Looking at A.J. Klein’s counts gives a good idea from the other side of the fence.
After some rest last week, Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison returned to the top of the defensive end rotation. A.J. Epenesa and Darryl Johnson filled in the rest. With no sacks and one QB hit, the Colts’ offensive line and “Quick Draw” Philip Rivers negated the group’s efforts.
Also, the QB hit was from Vernon Butler who led the defensive tackle group, followed closely by Ed Oliver then Quinton Jefferson. Justin Zimmer and Harrison Phillips round out the group.
Special Teams (26 snaps)
Tyler Matakevitch and Darryl Johnson tied for the lead at 77 percent of play time. They were followed by a large group at 62 percent that included Reggie Gilliam, Taiwan Jones, Andre Smith, Siran Neal, and Jaquan Johnson. None of those names are surprising.