Snap counts observations: Swift, Hockenson centerpieces to offensive attack

Pride of Detroit

Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions’ Week 1 snap count in their 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: 92 (100%)

Nothing surprising here, other than the fact that the Lions ran 92(!!!) offensive plays in this game. By comparison, the 49ers had just 55 plays on offense.

Running backs

D’Andre Swift: 63 (68%)
Jamaal Williams: 32 (35%)
Jason Cabinda: 10 (11%) — 17 special teams snaps (55%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 0 (0%) — 19 (61%)

Jamaal Williams got the start, which drew some raised eyebrows from those expecting Swift to be this team’s primary back. Swift ended up almost doubling his playing time in the end, but you have to wonder how much of that was due to game situation. Had the Lions been able to run the ball more in the second half, I have to believe this would’ve been much closer to a 50/50 split.

Of course, it’s worth noting that head coach Dan Campbell said part of the reason they started Williams was because they believed Swift had to shake off some rust.

“It’s clear that he’s missed some practice,” Campbell said of Swift’s performance. “He was rusty. There was little things to his game that he can—and will be so much better now that he’s got this game under his belt.”

Cabinda, who may figure to be a bigger part of the offense, too, was shorted by the necessity of altering their game plan.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 78 (85%)
Darren Fells: 27 (29%) — 4 (13%)

Unsurprisingly, Hockenson proved to be a centerpiece to this offense. That being said, I was very surprised to see how little Fells played. Given all of Detroit’s issues at offensive tackle going into this game, I would have figured they would use Fells to help out in pass protection. Turns out they used Hockenson and running backs to chip block at times. Oftentimes, they just left the tackles on an island.

Wide receivers

Kalif Raymond: 69 (75%) — 1 (3%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 59 (64%) — 9 (29%)
Trinity Benson: 49 (53%)
Tyrell Williams: 39 (42%)
Quintez Cephus: 32 (35%) — 2 (6%)

Due to Tyrell Williams’ injury, these numbers look a little funky. Trinity Benson, in his NFL debut played in over half the snaps, but that’s a bit inflated because a huge portion of Detroit’s snaps happened in the final four minutes of the game.

Kalif Raymond was the WR2, as expected in this game, and Amon-Ra St. Brown started in the slot. The rookie receiver felt a little underused in this game, but Goff was having issues finding any of his receivers early in this game.

Offensive tackles

Matt Nelson: 92 (100%) — 4 (13%)
Penei Sewell: 92 (100%) — 4 (13%)

These fellas earned themselves an ice bath after the game. Good lord, 92 snaps against this 49ers defensive front? Kudos to Sewell for hanging in their in his NFL debut.

Guards/centers

Frank Ragnow: 92 (100%) — 4 (13%)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 92 (100%) — 4 (13%)
Jonah Jackson: 92 (100%) — 4 (13%)
Logan Stenberg: 2 (2%) — 4 (13%)
Evan Brown: 0 (0%) — 4 (13%)

Logan Stenberg got his first NFL snaps on offense in this game. I didn’t catch him in there, but I have to imagine it was likely a couple of short-yardage situations with the Lions bringing in an extra offensive lineman.

Defense:

EDGE:

Romeo Okwara: 53 (96%) — 7 (23%)
Trey Flowers: 49 (89%)
Charles Harris: 15 (27%) — 16 (52%)
Austin Bryant: 1 (2%) — 8 (26%)

This is a much different philosophy than we saw in previous regimes. There was very little rotation going on at outside linebacker in this game. To put into context, Romeo Okwara was averaging about 60 percent of the snaps last year, while Trey Flowers was a little higher, occasionally pushing 70-75 percent.

Charles Harris and Austin Bryant barely saw the field, while Julian Okwara was a healthy scratch. Kind of makes you wonder why the team bothered to keep five if they aren’t going to rotate them much. Of course, this is just one game. Perhaps it was game-plan specific.

Defensive tackle

Michael Brockers: 37 (67%)
Nick Williams: 35 (64%) — 8 (26%)
Alim McNeill: 28 (51%) — 8 (26%)
Kevin Strong: 24 (44%) — 7 (23%)
John Penisini: 17 (31%) — 1 (3%)

Despite missing almost the entirety of camp, Michael Brockers led the way with two-thirds playing time on Sunday. It’s no surprise that Nick Williams and Alim McNeill—two starters—also played over half the snaps.

With Levi Onwuzurike out with a hip injury, Strong was the logical choice to take his snaps. But that 44 percent playing time is a nice baseline for what we can expect from Onwuzurike when he returns from injury.

Linebackers

Alex Anzalone: 55 (100%) — 8 (26%)
Jamie Collins: 37 (67%)
Derrick Barnes: 5 (9%) — 19 (61%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 2 (4%) — 20 (65%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 27 (87%)

Anzalone, who wears the play-calling helmet, was one of three players on defense who never left the field. That certainly says a lot about this team’s trust in him.

It’s wild that despite only playing five snaps—all late in the game—Derrick Barnes still managed to make a very positive impression.

Cornerbacks

Amani Oruwariye: 55 (100%) — 8 (26%)
Jeff Okudah: 48 (87%)
AJ Parker: 21 (38%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 12 (22%) — 10 (32%)
Bobby Price: 0 (0%) — 27 (87%)
Jerry Jacobs: 0 (0%) — 11 (35%)

No real surprises here. Oruwariye played every snap on Sunday, and Okudah would’ve been right there with him had it not been for the injury. Parker was your starting nickel corner, while rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu was the first one off the bench in relief for Okudah, though it’s worth nothing Melifonwu found the field even before Okudah’s injury.

Safety

Will Harris: 55 (100%) — 14 (45%)
Tracy Walker: 54 (98%) — 14 (45%)
C.J. Moore: 1 (2%) — 19 (61%)
Dean Marlowe: 1 (2%) — 5 (16%)

A moderate surprise here that the Lions did not use three safety sets in this game, but with San Francisco’s reliance on the run game, there was likely little need to.

Special teams

Austin Seibert: 10 (32%)
Scott Daly: 7 (23%)
Jack Fox: 7 (23%)

Worth noting that Seibert was the one on kickoffs, not Jack Fox. All of them were short of the end zone, though it wasn’t clear if that was because of strategy or ability.

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