Our 2014 snap counts page has been updated following the Buffalo Bills' 43-23 win over the New York Jets on Sunday. That page includes single-game data for every game played this season, as well as a full-year look at how playing time has been divvied up by position. Here are just a few things that stood out to us from the Jets game.
84 snaps is an awful lot to play on defense, and the rotation-heavy Bills were especially so in New Jersey.
None of their eight defensive linemen played more than 63 percent of snaps (Jerry Hughes), and none played fewer than 37 percent (Manny Lawson). All eight players up front - four ends and four tackles - played between 31 and 53 snaps. That's a level of defensive line rotation that most other NFL teams would be envious to replicate, and the Bills didn't lose much in the way of production when mixing and matching first- and second-teamers. Buffalo's run defense was not great, but they held Jets running backs to 3.9 yards per carry, and sacked Michael Vick four times, as well.
Meanwhile, in the secondary, aside from Leodis McKelvin (75 snaps), the Bills used six more players between 50 and 80 percent of snaps. Stephon Gilmore saw a lighter workload on the perimeter thanks to a big lead, making way for a few more reps for Nickell Robey and Corey Graham. At safety, Da'Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, and the dinged-up Aaron Williams split the workload fairly evenly.
A new starting linebacker
In their Week 6 loss to New England, veteran linebacker Keith Rivers played 41 snaps as the third linebacker, with rookie Preston Brown coming in on passing downs and playing 31 snaps. In the two games since then, Brown has recorded 148 snaps played - including all 84 in the win over the Jets - while Rivers has logged just eight snaps (one against the Jets). That is your conclusive proof, if you still required it, that Brown has moved past Rivers and into the starting lineup on a permanent basis.
More multiple-tight ends
For a third straight week - and undoubtedly aided by a conservative second half game plan intent on running the football - the Bills' three tight ends all saw a significant amount of playing time. In fact, all three played at least 54.5 percent of snaps, with Scott Chandler (30 snaps) coming in third to teammates Lee Smith (33) and Chris Gragg (37) in terms of playing time at the position. The Bills still use plenty of 11 personnel (though that was made more difficult by the lead and the Robert Woods injury yesterday), but the two- and three-tight end packages are most definitely here to stay.
The value of a No. 1 wideout
When is a wide receiver worthy of an early first-round draft pick? It certainly helps when they're as good as Sammy Watkins has been, of course, but it's also helpful when that receiver (or any skill player, really) can be a constant on-field presence for your team. Through the first half of his rookie season, and despite dealing with a rib injury for about the first month of it, Watkins has played 96.9 percent of the Bills' offensive snaps. The only other Bills skill player to come close to that figure is Woods, the other starting receiver. There will always be those who will question the draft-day trade the Bills made to pick Watkins, but it's plain as day that Watkins was very worthy of being picked where he was.
Running back splits
In their first game with both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller sidelined, we didn't get a clear picture of how the workload between Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown will be split thanks to the circumstances of the scoreboard - and if Jackson is able to return for their next game against Kansas City on November 9, it may not even be relevant long-term. Still, if you're curious: the less fumble-prone Dixon played 41 snaps (74.5 percent of total), while the riskier and more explosive Brown saw just 14 snaps. We're betting that in a tighter game, we would've seen a much closer split, with Brown garnering more touches.