Snap count observations: The struggle to find WR2 continues

Pride of Detroit

Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions Week 8 snap count in their 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: 58 snaps (94%)
David Blough: 4 (6%)

For the first time all season, the Lions benched Goff at the very end of the game. David Blough promptly was sacked and nearly lost the ball on one of his four plays.

Running backs

D’Andre Swift: 44 (71%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 11 (18%) — 15 special teams snaps (60%)
Jason Cabinda: 11 (18%) — 15 (60%)
Jermar Jefferson: 11 (18%)

With no Jamaal Williams, the Lions went heavy on D’Andre Swift when the game was still on the line. As the game got out of hand, though, they gave more playing time to their reserves. Godwin Igwebuike saw more looks in the first half, while Jermar Jefferson—in his first NFL action—closed out the game. Although, it is telling that the Lions still don’t trust Jefferson on special teams. When Williams is healthy again, it’s hard to see Jefferson getting back on the field.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 47 (76%)
Brock Wright: 16 (26%) — 10 (40%)

After making Darren Fells a surprise inactive, I may have expected more playing time out of Brock Wright, but his participation rate was almost exactly even with where it was at last week. The Lions simply used 12-personnel sets less often this week.

Wide receivers

Kalif Raymond: 49 (79%) — 1 (4%)
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 45 (73%) — 9 (36%)
Trinity Benson: 45 (73%)
KhaDarel Hodge: 16 (26%) — 12 (48%)
Tom Kennedy: 14 (23%)

This week it was Trinity Benson’s shot to make an impression, with Geronimo Allison being scratched. Benson responded by not seeing a pass thrown his way for the entire game. Also logging no catches on Sunday: Kalif Raymond, KhaDarel Hodge and Tom Kennedy. Yes, that’s everyone but Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Detroit is continuing to shuffle players at the second outside receiver spot, and it’s clear no one has a rapport with Goff. But to drive the point home, here’s a look at the production since Quintez Cephus’ injury:

Offensive tackles

Matt Nelson: 62 (100%) — 1 (4%)
Penei Sewell: 58 (94%) — 1 (4%)
Will Holden: 5 (8%) — 1 (4%)

The Lions pulled Sewell on the final offensive drive of the game, because… why not? Holden replaced him and also came in as an extra tackle to help out the struggling Matt Nelson.

Guards/centers

Jonah Jackson: 62 (100%) — 1 (4%)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 58 (94%) — 1 (4%)
Evan Brown: 58 (94%)
Ryan McCollum: 4 (6%) — 1 (4%)
Tommy Kraemer: 4 (6%) — 1 (4%)

Most of the interior line also got benched for the last drive, giving Tommy Kraemer his first shot at NFL action!

Defense

EDGE:

Charles Harris: 53 (82%) — 9 (36%)
Julian Okwara: 36 (55%) — 19 (76%)
Austin Bryant: 28 (43%) — 9 (36%)
Trey Flowers: 20 (31%)

Pretty dramatic shift here, as Trey Flowers played a season-low 20 snaps on defense. Is this the Lions trying to get more playing time for their young players? Or is Flowers’ knee injury being managed? Or did this game just get out of hand too quickly that they weren’t going to risk anything with him?

As a result, Julian Okwara saw his playtime rise to a new career high.

Defensive tackle

Michael Brockers: 44 (68%)
John Penisini: 33 (51%) — 9 (36%)
Nick Williams: 32 (49%) — 1 (4%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 29 (45%) — 9 (36%)
Alim McNeill: 27 (42%)
Da’Shawn Hand: 8 (12%)

A few very interesting notes here. John Penisini eclipsed Alim McNeill’s playing time in this game. Again, it’s hard to read too much into this with the game getting out of hand so quickly, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

Levi Onwuzurike also set a new career high in snaps this week.

Finally, Da’Shawn Hand made his 2021 debut on Sunday but was only used as a pass rushing specialist. Because the Eagles only threw the ball 16 times, he only got eight snaps.

Linebackers

Alex Anzalone: 65 (100%) — 9 (36%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 26 (40%) — 5 (20%)
Derrick Barnes: 24 (37%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 24 (96%)
Josh Woods: 0 (0%) — 15 (60%)

With the Lions’ heavy focus on the defensive front, they used their linebackers sparingly, often going with just Alex Anzalone on the field. Outside of that, it was a pretty normal split between Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Derrick Barnes.

Cornerbacks

Jerry Jacobs: 56 (86%) — 10 (40%)
Amani Oruwariye: 51 (78%) — 6 (24%)
Marcus Gilbert: 14 (22%) — 2 (8%)
Bobby Price: 8 (12%) — 7 (28%)

The Lions’ final iron man streak on defense ended with Amani Oruwariye missing his first snaps of the season. Hard to say why exactly the Lions pulled Oruwariye, but it most likely had to do with the team simply being out of it late in the game.

That gave Detroit the opportunity to see what Marcus Gilbert had, something they said they were going to do earlier in the week.

With AJ Parker out, they mostly used Will Harris as the nickel corner, but I left him in the safety section for simplicity.

Safety

Tracy Walker: 57 (88%) — 11 (44%)
Dean Marlowe: 39 (60%) — 10 (40%)
Will Harris: 33 (51%) — 11 (44%)
Jalen Elliott: 24 (37%) — 15 (60%)
C.J. Moore: 8 (12%) — 15 (60%)

Dean Marlowe was back in the coaching staff’s good graces, earning the start alongside Tracy Walker with Harris in the slot.

But by the game’s end, the Lions wanted a look at their reserves, as Jalen Elliott and C.J. Moore got a good chunk of playing time late in the game.

Special teams

Jack Fox: 4 (16%)
Scott Daly: 4 (16%)
Austin Seibert: 3 (12%)

Boring day for these fellas.

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