Back in January, I attended the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Winter Business Conference in Las Vegas.
It was here that I first met a long list of NFL and Fantasy Football personalities, including ESPN’s Matthew Berry, Rotowire’s Peter Schoenke, and Footballguys’ David Dodds. The introductions basically all went the exact same way:
"Good to meet you. I’m Mike Clay from Pro Football Focus."
"Oh, I know you! You’re the snap guys!"
Pro Football Focus has quickly gained a reputation as the go-to site for accurate snap counts. As you’ve seen in past InFocus articles, it goes even deeper than that. Our fine analysts split the snaps down into several categories, including run blocks, pass blocks, pass routes and designed runs. We can also take a look at where players are lining up and how often they’re seeing the ball in each "position."
Because we’re the "snap guys," where else but to kick off the season with an examination of the Eagles’ snap data from Week 1?
The NFL average for offensive snaps by one team in a single game is 64. The Eagles ran 88 plays in Week 1 (95 if you include plays erased by penalty). Teams that play an entire overtime period usually don’t eclipse 90 plays, which helps provide some perspective as to how rare the team’s play total was this past weekend.
The high play total led to a ton of work for the team’s five starting linemen. Left tackle King Dunlap, left guard Evan Mathis, center Jason Kelce, right guard Danny Watkins and right tackle Todd Herremans played all 95 snaps, 65 of which were called pass plays.
The skill position players were, as usual, led by Michael Vick, who made it through the game healthy after handling only 12 preseason snaps.
DeSean Jackson missed only four plays and ran a whopping 64 pass routes. Of his 91 snaps, Joe Haden lined up in his face 69 times (76 percent). It’s clear who the Browns were trying to shut down.
Jeremy Maclin would’ve been right there with Jackson, but took a few hard hits and missed some snaps. He was in on 79 plays. Jason Avant quietly did his thing and held down the slot, lining up inside on just under 80 percent of his 62 snaps. With Riley Cooper out, Damaris Johnson was on the field for 13 offensive snaps, running a pass route on 12 of them.
We talked a lot about Brent Celek’s role a few weeks ago, so it’s worth checking out his snap splits from Week 1. Celek was in on 89 of the 95 plays, 28 of which were called runs. Of the 61 pass plays, he ran 46 routes, leaving him to pass block one quarter of the time. Interestingly, that’s the exact same percentage he blocked on in 2011.
Last week, we discussed the team’s increased usage of the two-tight end set; a trend that is sweeping across the league. The Eagles had more than one tight end on the field on 35 percent of their Week 1 snaps (11th-highest in the NFL).
That led to a 34-snap game from Clay Harbor, who was asked to block on 20 of those plays. Fullback Stanley Havili only handled 18 snaps, which allowed the team to finish in the upper third of the league in three-plus wide receiver sets, as well.
As for the tailbacks, it’s no secret that LeSean McCoy is as close to an every-down back as they come. He was in on 81 of the 95 plays. He was asked to carry the ball on 22 of those plays (two of which were wiped out) and ran 40 pass routes. Despite the right side of the line struggling a bit in this one, 13 of McCoy’s carries were designed to go right.
With Dion Lewis out, Bryce Brown spelled McCoy with eight snaps. He carried the ball twice and ran six routes.
Although the Browns’ offensive strength is (or will be) Trent Richardson, you would never know it if you looked at the Eagles’ defensive personnel packages for Week 1.
Philadelphia had five-or-more defensive backs on the field 64 percent of the time, which was the seventh-highest mark of all 32 teams. The package of choice was the "4DL-2LB-5DB," which sent Akeem Jordan to the bench and brought Brandon Boykin onto the field. Jordan played only 20 snaps, while Boykin was in on 41 (or, not coincidentally, 66 percent).
Three Eagles defenders handled every snap in this game: free safety Kurt Coleman, strong safety Nate Allen and cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. The team clearly feels pretty confident with its starting safeties, which likely helped make the decision to waive Jaiquawn Jarrett that much easier. Asomugha, meanwhile, bounced all over the field, lining up against Browns’ top receiver Greg Little only 11 times.
Asomugha’s counterpart, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, was busy, handling 58 snaps en route to a two-interception day. Brandon Hughes and Curtis Marsh played sparingly as the fourth and fifth corners, respectively.
Prior to the season opener, reports suggested new middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans could come off the field on passing downs. That was clearly nonsense. Ryans was in on 60-of-62 snaps, a non-defensive back-leading 36 of which had him in pass coverage. He played well, especially against the run; instantly improving the team’s defense as expected.
Rookie Mychal Kendricks was the other three-down linebacker. He was in on 55 snaps in his NFL debut. Brian Rolle and Jamar Chaney combined to play only three snaps on defense.
The defensive line rotation was in full force. Trent Cole and Jason Babin played just over 40 snaps to lead the defensive ends. They were spelled often by Darryl Tapp (20 snaps) and Phillip Hunt (15). Brandon Graham was in on only four plays.
Cullen Jenkins led all defensive linemen with 43 snaps played. Derek Landri, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton were all heavily involved, as well, with each handling 20-plus snaps.
That’s it for this week. Complete snap data, as well as, many other statistics are available in the premium stats section at ProFootballFocus.com.
Mike Clay, @MikeClayNFL on Twitter, is the Director and Managing Editor at Pro Football Focus Fantasy. He also works as an NFL Writer for NBC's Rotoworld.com.