Some interesting NFC East snap count numbers from Week 1, Eagles and Cowboys edition

One invaluable feature of Pro Football Focus‘ service is their snap count data (you have to pay for it), which I plan on utilizing throughout the season. The snap count distribution is always of particular interest in Week 1 of the NFL season, as you get your first glimpse of what the coaching staffs think of their players for the upcoming season.

They haven’t yet updated the Redskins’ snap counts yet, so for now, let’s just cover the Cowboys and Eagles, and we’ll get to the Redskins and Giants when PFF gets off their lazy asses and gives me my data!

Sean Lee is clearly the Cowboys' top dog at ILB.

On offense the Cowboys ran 70 plays.

– The “every down” guys were the 5 offensive linemen, and Tony Romo.  Jason Witten missed just one snap.  Miles Austin only missed 2.

– The Cowboys don’t have good WR depth, and the Cowboys know it.  It appears they didn’t run a single 4WR set all night, and only a few 3WR sets, with Kevin Ogletree getting 29 snaps as the #3 receiver.  The Cowboys also ran quite a few 1WR sets, as Dez Bryant had a surprisingly low 51 snaps.  I should also note that he was hampered by cramps and what some are calling poor conditioning.

– So where’d those extra snaps go? John Phillips.  Phillips had 52 snaps (although some were as a FB), one more than Dez Bryant.  Martin Rucker even got 10 snaps as a 3rd TE.  He has since been cut.

– Nothing too surprising about the RB snap counts.  Felix Jones had 52, Tashard Choice 13, and DeMarco Murray 5.  That’s about what I expected.

On defense the Cowboys were on the field for 65 plays, and there was a lot to sort through.

– The only guy to play all 65 was Abram Elam.  The other “every down” guys were Gerald Sensabaugh (63), DeMarcus Ware (62), and Anthony Spencer (61).

– Rob Ryan defenses are difficult to chart, because he uses his players in so many different positions.  Plus, the Cowboys suffered a number of injuries during the game, so it’s hard to draw many conclusions from this data, but here were the snap counts for each player.  Note how many different players Ryan uses:

– LE – Kenyon Coleman (22), Sean Lissemore (8)

– NT – Jay Ratliff (52), Josh Price-Brent (9)

– RE – Jason Hatcher (42), Marcus Spears (14)

– LOLB – Anthony Spencer got all the LOLB snaps.

– ILB – Sean Lee (55), Keith Brooking (29), Bradie James (24), Alex Albright (2).  It’s clear that Lee is the top middle linebacker (as he should be), with Brooking and James spitting time next to him.

– CB – Alan Ball actually had the most snaps at CB due to injuries with 57, followed by Mike Jenkins (48), Bryan McCann (35), and Orlando Scandrick (16).

– S – As noted above, Elam and Sensi played almost the entire game, but the Cowboys had to play Barry Church for 34 snaps, and Danny McCray for 5 because of the depleted secondary.

(Eagles snap counts after the jump)…

On offense, the Eagles ran 71 plays. 

Is Juan Castillo trying to conserve Trent Cole this season?

– The “every down” guys were the 5 offensive linemen, and Michael Vick.  Brent Celek got on the field for 70.

– Surprisingly, Jeremy Maclin was on the field more than any of the Eagles receivers, with 63 total snaps.  DeSean Jackson had 60, Jason Avant had 46, and Steve Smith got on the field for 5.  I don’t remember any of these, but Riley Cooper actually got on the field for 8.

– The Eagles went 2TE on 26% of the snaps, with Clay Harbor on the field for 18.

– The RB playing time was about what you’d expect, with LeSean McCoy getting 57 snaps, Ronnie Brown 10, and Dion Lewis 4.  The Eagles only used a FB on 20% of the plays, with Owen Schmitt getting 14 snaps.

On defense the Eagles were on the field for 73 plays.

– Jamar Chaney was the only Eagle to play all 73.  The other “every downers” were Jarrad Page (72), Kurt Coleman (71), Nnamdi Asomugha (71), and Asante Samuel (69).

– At RDE, it appears as if Juan Castillo is looking to give Trent Cole more rest this season, Cole played “only” 51 snaps.  In previous seasons, Cole rarely ever left the field.  Darryl Tapp stole 18 of those snaps from Cole, and was excellent in his limited time at RDE.

– At LDE, Juqua Parker actually got more snaps than newbie FA Jason Babin.  Parker had 40 snaps, Babin had 37.  Babin had 2 sacks, a and few hits on the QB. Parker was able to get pressure for much of the day, and received a gift scoop and score fumble return TD.  This is quite a DE rotation the Eagles have, and I like the way Juan is using them.

– At DT, there was an interesting distribution of snaps, that probably deserves a little more digging.  The two “run stuffers,” Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon, got 47 and 29 snaps, respectively.  The inside pass rushers, Cullen Jenkins and Trevor Laws, got 49 and 25, respectively.  Hmmm. Don’t know what to make of those numbers, but they worked.

– Nothing too surprising with the LBs. Casey Matthews got 59 snaps, Moise Fokou 46, Brian Rolle 17, and Keenan Clayton 2.  I’d like to see a little more Brian Rolle next week.

– One surprise was that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had only 25 snaps, and it looked like he was struggling in the slot.  “Who plays where and when” is an area that’s not quite worked out yet with the Philly corners, in my opinion.

– Nate Allen only had 1 snap. With Jarrad Page playing well on Sunday, the dinged up Allen might not see the field for a while.

– When the Eagles cut Joselio Hanson on 53 man cutdown day, I whined on twitter like a 6 year old for a few hours.  He had 1 snap.  Granted, it was against the Rams, who barely even have 2 or 3 NFL legit WRs, but still… 1 snap.  His value will come against the likes of the Saints and Packers, or if one of the big 3 corners goes down.


  1. Steve says:

    Jimmy, this information is AWESOME! Any idea where I can find the snap counts for offensive players only for the whole NFL? This kind of info is GREAT for fantasy. Love to find a place where I can get this same info for every NFL team on a weekly basis…


  2. […] OK, so I didn’t even read the article because it’s behind a pay wall, but I’d like to take a crack at the reasoning.  Let’s see, Brooking is old and slow, and Lee is young, fast, can cover really well, and makes plays.  For the record, Lee hasn’t supplanted Brooking.  He has sort of “half-supplanted” Brooking and Bradie James.  Lee got all the snaps at ILB, with Brooking and James sharing the other ILB snaps. […]

  3. […] and Cowboys snap counts can be found here.  Snap count data per Pro Football Focus.  Let’s just get right to the Redskins and […]

  4. Gary says:

    I love the defensive line rotation we have. The DTs were used perfectly I think, with Patterson/Jenkins getting about twice as many snaps as Dixon/Laws. I would like to see it be more like this with the DEs too though, with Cole/Babin getting twice as many as Parker/Tapp. Cole got a few too many (which may have been due to Tapp’s injury) and Babin got a few too few in my opinion. A fresh Cole at the end of the season would be a first and would be huge.

    I wonder how many snaps Hunt gets this week if Tapp can’t go. Isn’t Hunt a LDE? I wonder who would spell Cole at RDE.

  5. Anders says:

    I actully beleive that Tapp would have seen more snaps had he not got hurt.

  6. AndrewM says:

    Jimmy idk if you changed anything but the comments are lined up right today. maybe it was just this POS comp.

    I know this sounds ridiculous but I hope he saves trent so Trent can get monster numbers all year. This weird thing is happening where I want Trent to do better than our other Dlinemen so when they get sacks im like ugh. Weird right

    1. Yeah, didn’t change anything, but thanks for the heads up that it’s fixed.

  7. Jay Walker (GIB) says:

    I am glad they stuck with Casey Mathews and he continues to gain experience. I was really worried that we were going to see some big adjustments at half that would “try-out” a few other guys in his slot. I am happy that they didnt, and he got the additional reps. I dont know that he’ll ever be his brother, but that’s fine. We just need him to be a solid starter.

  8. rage114 says:

    It was reported that since the Eagles defense was getting shredded in the run game, they were hesitant about leaving their base defense.

    So, players like DRC and Hanson, who come in as part of the nickel and dime packages saw little action.

    For that matter, same goes for Rolle. He is the nickel LB.

  9. Warren says:

    So Scandrick only played 16 snaps? Didn’t he just get a big contract?

  10. bsencore says:

    Jim Washburn didn’t seem to split the DTs by “run stuffers” and “pass rushers” to my eye. For the most part Jenkins and Patterson played together, and Laws and Dixon subbed in for them as a pair.

    1. The numbers definitely line up that way.

  11. The Legend says:

    I’m actually not surprised about DRC, the Rams didn’t go to multiple WR looks if I remember correctly. As for the S’s this is probably an overreaction but when Nate’s ready to get back on the field I wouldn’t be surprised if he replaces Coleman & not Page

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