NFC South: playing time

Looking at playing time: Defense

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
TAMPA, Fla. -- We previously showed you the playing time for all of Tampa Bay's offensive players. Now, it's time to do the same for the defense.

The Buccaneers had 1,059 defensive plays. Here's the breakdown of the number of plays each defensive player participated in, followed by my quick take.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Gerald McCoy 962, Adrian Clayborn 933, Akeem Spence 694, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 602, William Gholston 312, Da'Quan Bowers 206, Gary Gibson 164, Derek Landri 123, Steven Means 77, Trevor Scott 54.

Quick take: Most teams rotate their defensive linemen to keep them fresh. But the Bucs didn't do that with McCoy and Clayborn. The theory behind that was that, even when a bit winded, they were substantially better than their backups. The rookie Gholston got a lot of playing time in the second half of the season.

LINEBACKERS: Lavonte David 1,022, Mason Foster 771, Dekoda Watson 257, Jonathan Casillas 197, Adam Hayward 187, Ka'Lial Glaud 6, Danny Lansanah 4.

Quick take: The Bucs played David as much as they possibly could because he might be the best player on the team. Some of Watson's snaps came at defensive end as the Bucs experimented with him at that position late in the season.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Darrelle Revis 948, Johnthan Banks 939, Mark Barron 834, Dashon Goldson 807, Leonard Johnson 691, Keith Tandy 441, Ahmad Black 146, Kelcie McCray 101, Michael Adams 86, Danny Gorrer 83.

Quick take: Even though he wasn't 100 percent as he came back from knee surgery, the Bucs still used Revis a lot.

Looking at Buccaneers' playing time

December, 10, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. -- It's time for our weekly look at how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers distributed playing time.

In a 27-6 victory against the Buffalo Bills, the Bucs ran 66 offensive plays and were on the field for 67 defensive snaps. Here's a look at the individual playing time from Sunday.


Donald Penn 66
Jamon Meredith 66
Demar Dotson 66
Mike Glennon 66
Tim Wright 59
Vincent Jackson 57
Jeremy Zuttah 51
Tiquan Underwood 45
Davin Joseph 43
Erik Lorig 42
Bobby Rainey 37
Ted Larsen 36
Brian Leonard 25
Chris Owusu 21
Gabe Carimi 16
Russell Shepard 14
Kyle Adams 11
Skye Dawson 7
Mike Hill 5
Spencer Larsen 2
Eric Page 1


Dashon Goldson 66
Johnthan Banks 66
Mark Barron 66
Gerald McCoy 66
Darrelle Revis 66
Lavonte David 59
Leonard Johnson 58
Adrian Clayborn 56
Mason Foster 53
Akeem Spence 43
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim 39
William Gholston 23
Keith Tandy 15
Da'Quan Bowers 14
Adam Hayward 12
Steven Means 11
Derek Landri 11
Dekoda Watson 10
Danny Gorrer 1
Ka'Lial Glaud 1
Kelcie McCray 1

Looking at Bucs' defensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
The knock on Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in his first two seasons was that he couldn’t stay on the field.

Arm injuries ended each of McCoy’s first two seasons prematurely and there was talk the former No. 3 overall draft choice was a bust.

Funny, but McCoy, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl, barely came off the field in 2012. He took part in 939 of Tampa Bay’s 1,078 defensive plays. McCoy’s 87.11 playing-time percentage ranked second among all NFL defensive tackles. Only San Francisco’s Ray McDonald had a higher percentage (90.85).

Here’s a look at the rest of the playing-time percentages for Tampa Bay’s defensive players.

Looking at Bucs' offensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Vincent Jackson to a five-year, $55 million contract last offseason, it was clear they expected him to earn the money.

Jackson did that by instantly becoming a true No. 1 wide receiver. But he also put in plenty of time. Jackson was on the field for 93.04 percent of Tampa Bay’s 1,049 offensive plays.

The only other wide receivers with higher playing-time percentages in 2012 were Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (97.91 percent), Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (96 percent) and Atlanta’s Roddy White (93.21).

Here’s a look at the breakdown of playing-time percentage for the rest of Tampa Bay’s offense:

Looking at Saints' offensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
Aside from right tackle, where a series of injuries forced many changes, the New Orleans Saints' offensive line was exceptionally durable in the 2012 season.

Guard Ben Grubbs and center Brian De La Puente each took part in all 1,107 of New Orleans’ offensive plays. Guard Jahri Evans missed two plays and left tackle Jermon Bushrod missed four.

Here’s the percentage breakdown of playing time for the rest of the New Orleans offense:
Back when Curtis Lofton left the Atlanta Falcons for the New Orleans Saints as a free agent, he did it because he wanted to be an every-down linebacker.

Lofton has said the Falcons made it clear to him shortly after the arrival of new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan that he’d come off the field on passing downs. The Saints lured Lofton largely by telling him he’d be an every-down linebacker in their system.

He ended up coming very close to literally being an every-down linebacker. The Saints had 1,137 defensive plays. Lofton was on the field for a team-high 1,121 (98.59 percent) of those plays.

Let’s take a look at the playing-time percentage breakdown for the rest of the New Orleans defense:

Looking at Panthers' defensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
As I’ve been running through playing-time numbers for the 2012 season, I’ve been highlighting the guys who played huge amounts. But, in this post about Carolina’s defense, we’re going to go in the opposite direction.

Injuries were a big story for Carolina, which had 1,051 defensive snaps. But the Panthers were without some key components for most of those snaps. Due to injuries, linebacker Jon Beason was limited to 24.93 percent of the snaps, cornerback Chris Gamble participated in only 26.64 percent of the snaps and defensive tackle Ron Edwards was limited to 29.97 percent.

Here’s the complete breakdown of playing-time percentage for Carolina’s defense:

Looking at Panthers' offensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
Carolina veteran left tackle Jordan Gross showed no signs of wearing down in 2012. Gross appeared in all but four of the Panthers’ 1,030 offensive plays.

Gross was on the field for a team-high 99.61 percent of the offensive snaps.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the breakdown of percentage of offensive playing time for the Panthers. (You might want to pay close attention to how little the Panthers used high-paid running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.)

Looking at Falcons' offensive snaps

February, 12, 2013
Considering injuries played such a big part in holding him back the first four years of his career, Atlanta tackle Sam Baker reached a remarkable milestone in the 2012 season. The left tackle did not miss a single snap.

Baker participated in all of Atlanta’s 1,060 offensive plays. So did guard Justin Blalock.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the playing time percentages for the rest of Atlanta’s offense.

Saluting NFC South's ironmen

February, 11, 2013
Atlanta safety Thomas DeCoud was one snap short of being one of only a handful of defensive players to participate in 100 percent of their team’s snaps last season.

DeCoud was on the field for 1,021 of Atlanta’s 1,022 defensive snaps. Green Bay safety Morgan Burnett and St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis were the only players in the NFL to take part in 100 percent of their team’s defensive plays, according to snap counts used to calculate playing-time incentives.

Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron was the next most active player in the NFC South, sitting out only four snaps and taking part in 99.63 percent of his team’s defensive snaps, and teammate Ronde Barber was right behind him at 99.35 percent.

Other defensive ironmen in the NFC South included New Orleans linebacker Curtis Lofton (98.59 percent), Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David (98.24 percent), New Orleans safety Roman Harper (96.48 percent), New Orleans cornerback Patrick Robinson (96.13 percent), Carolina safety Charles Godfrey (93.72 percent), New Orleans defensive end Cameron Jordan (91.29 percent) and Atlanta cornerback Dunta Robinson (91.1 percent).

It’s far more common for offensive players to take part in 100 percent of their team’s snaps. Thirty-six offensive players (34 linemen and two quarterbacks) accomplished that last season. Atlanta tackle Sam Baker, Atlanta guard Justin Blalock, New Orleans guard Ben Grubbs and New Orleans center Brian De La Puente each participated in 100 percent of their team’s offensive snaps.

Tampa Bay’s Erik Lorig led all NFC South players in special-teams snaps, taking part in 80.71 percent.

Over the next few days, I’ll bring you complete playing-time breakdowns for all four NFC South teams.

Atlanta's offensive playing time

January, 8, 2013
We already showed you the playing-time breakdown for the Atlanta Falcons defense.

Now, let’s switch over to the offensive side, where the Falcons had 1,073 plays. Here’s the complete breakdown of how many snaps each offensive player got, followed by my thoughts: My thoughts: In the final analysis, the Falcons had Rodgers on the field about as much as Turner. Limiting Turner’s playing time was a goal at the start of the season and Rodgers seemed to gain more trust from the coaching staff as time went on. … Konz was the only member of the rookie class to get much playing time. Although some fans thought Holmes had a chance to start, the team viewed him as a project. … Baker played every snap and stayed healthy for an entire season. He turned in a solid year and that probably means the Falcons will make a fairly strong effort to keep him from leaving as a free agent.

Atlanta's defensive playing time

January, 8, 2013
One thing I always like to do after the season is look back at playing time for all the players in the NFC South.

We’ll get to the Buccaneers, Panthers and Saints at some point in the coming days or weeks. But we’re going to take a look at the Atlanta Falcons now since they’re in the playoffs.

Let’s start with Atlanta’s defense. The Falcons had 1,041 defensive snaps. Here’s a list of how man plays each player was on the field for, followed by my thoughts on things that stand out: My thoughts: Having the 34-year-old Abraham on the field for almost 72 percent of the plays seems excessive. But, after Edwards flamed out and was released, the Falcons really didn’t have much depth at defensive end. … Babineaux was on the field for 82 percent of the plays. That’s a huge number for a defensive tackle and it makes you wonder if he might be a little worn down. … Technically, Dent is Atlanta’s starting middle linebacker. But he only took part in 48 percent of the plays and some of that came while he was filling in for an injured Weatherspoon. The Falcons used their nickel defense more often than their 4-3 base. But I think you might see a fair amount of Dent on Sunday against Seattle because the Falcons need to slow Marshawn Lynch and the running game. … That’s not a misprint that Jones, a Pro Bowl wide receiver, was on the field for one defensive play. The Falcons threw him out there as a safety, the same way they used to do with Brian Finneran, at the end of one game.
I just went through the playing time figures for all NFC South running backs through the first three games and spotted some very telling trends.

Let’s take a team-by-team look at how many snaps each running back has played.

Atlanta Falcons: Michael Turner remains the starter, but there’s no question the Falcons are following through on their promise to lighten his load. In fact, in the Week 3 victory against San Diego, Jacquizz Rodgers got slightly more playing time than Turner. Rodgers was on the field for 34 of Atlanta’s 72 plays, while Turner participated in 32. On the season, the Falcons have had 194 offensive plays. Turner has been on the field for 101 plays, while Rodgers has participated in 83 plays. Reserve running back Jason Snelling has been on the field for 36 plays. Fullback Lousaka Polite has participated in 46 plays.

Carolina Panthers: This one is a little out of sorts because Jonathan Stewart has played in only one game due to injuries. Stewart played in Week 2 against New Orleans and the split of playing time with DeAngelo Williams was pretty balanced. Stewart took part in 23 of 63 offensive plays, while Williams was on the field for 25 plays. Fullback/running back Mike Tolbert took part in 18 plays in the New Orleans game. On the season, Carolina has had 171 offensive plays and it turns out Tolbert has been the most-used back. He’s taken part in 85 plays, while Williams has participated in 76.

New Orleans Saints: Although he’s not getting a lot of carries, Darren Sproles has been on the field more than any New Orleans running back. Sproles, who sometimes lines up as a receiver has been on the field for 109 of the Saints’ 210 offensive plays. Pierre Thomas who has been the main ball carrier, has participated in 73 plays. Mark Ingram, a first-round draft pick, is clearly No. 3 on the depth chart. Ingram has been on the field for 42 plays. Fullback Jed Collins has participated in 63 plays.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rookie Doug Martin clearly is getting the most playing time of Tampa Bay’s running backs. Martin has been in the game for 140 of Tampa Bay’s 177 offensive plays. D.J. Ware has participated in 28 plays and former starter LeGarrette Blount has only been on the field for 12 plays. Fullback Erik Lorig has participated in 77 plays.
The NFC South might not have a true standout safety, but it has plenty of durable ones.

Five division safeties participated in more than 90 percent of their team’s defensive plays in 2011. We’ll wrap up our series, which started last week, of playing time at every position with the safeties. Special thanks to NFC South Blog unofficial (and unpaid) intern Chris Walker from Saint Leo University for helping tabulate the results.

Carolina’s Sherrod Martin led all division safeties by participating in 96.8 percent of the defensive snaps. That percentage ranked No. 18 in the NFL as Martin was on the field for 990 of Carolina’s 1,023 defensive snaps.

Atlanta’s Thomas DeCoud (94.9 percent), Tampa Bay’s Sean Jones (93.8), New Orleans’ Roman Harper (93.2) and New Orleans’ Malcolm Jenkins (91.3) also were among the league leaders. Carolina’s Charles Godfrey wasn’t far behind them at 83.7 percent.

Here’s a look at some other NFC South safeties who got at least moderate playing time:
As we wait for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to hire assistant coaches, get blocked from interviewing potential assistants or anything else of note to happen during a very quiet time in the NFC South, let’s look at some more playing-time figures from the 2011 season.

We showed you the numbers on linebackers earlier Tuesday and I’ve been trying to roll out one position group a day since last week. But we’re going to go ahead and go with two in a day. We’re going to show you the playing time for the NFC South cornerbacks.

Lots of people like to criticize Atlanta’s Dunta Robinson. That’s understandable to some degree because Robinson signed a huge free-agent contract prior to the 2010 season, but has produced only three interceptions since joining the Falcons.

But I haven’t seen Robinson giving up a lot of big plays. In fact, I think he’s done a nice job overall in coverage. Apparently, Atlanta’s coaching staff agrees.

Robinson was on the field for 967 of Atlanta’s 996 defensive plays (97.1 percent). That percentage ranked Robinson tops in the NFC South and No. 11 in the NFL. Tennessee’s Cortland Finnegan was the NFL’s only cornerback to play 100 percent of his team’s defensive snaps.

New Orleans’ Jabari Greer, who I think is easily the division’s best cornerback, was next on the list. Greer was on the field for 93.3 percent of New Orleans’ defensive plays and ranked No. 19 in the NFL.

The other NFC South cornerback of note high on the list was Tampa Bay’s Ronde Barber. His durability never has been a question. Even at age 36, Barber took part in 92.3 percent of Tampa Bay’s defensive snaps to rank No. 21 in the league.

Carolina’s Chris Gamble (89.3 percent) was the only other NFC South cornerback to play more than 80 percent of his team’s defensive snaps.

Here’s a look at how much playing time some other NFC South cornerbacks had in 2011: