Snap Judgments: Cowboys Offensive Snap Counts vs Redskins

Elsa

We take a look at how many snaps each player on the Cowboys offense had in the loss to the Redskins. Find out which player had the most snaps on the entire team, how many snaps the halfbacks got in a game where they ran the ball only seven times and how things are going for the backup tight ends.

After playing 90 snaps against the Browns last week, the Cowboys offense was on the field for "only" 76 snaps against the Redskins on Thursday. That's still a lot of snaps, even though it might have felt like more, given that the Cowboys had 62 pass attempts in those 76 snaps.

Before you look at the snap count distribution a little further further down this post, try to answer the three questions below. You may be surprised by the answers:

  • Which player do you think had the most overall snaps in the game? (Hint: when the pictures at the top of our articles are not gratuitous cheerleader shots, they are often relevant to the content of the post below them)
  • Felix Jones and Lance Dunbar only ran the ball seven times in the whole game -- how many snaps did they have in total?
  • In a game that was all about the passing game, how many combined snaps did TEs John Phillips James Hanna get?

Check out the snap distributions below, and let us know what your reactions are in the comments section.

Offensive Linemen

LT Jermey Parnell (76 snaps): 1 QB Hit, 4 QB hurries allowed
LG Nate Livings (76 snaps): 1 QB Hit, 4 QB hurries allowed; 1 false start
OC Mackenzy Bernadeau (76 snaps): 1 QB Hit, 2 QB hurries allowed
RG Derrick Dockery (76 snaps): 1 sack, 3 QB hurries allowed
RT Doug Free (76 snaps): 4 QB hurries allowed; 1 false start

Observations: In a game where the Cowboys ran 11 times and attempted a pass 62 times, the O-line was primarily concerned with pass protection. The official gamebook stats show that the Cowboys gave up 2 sacks and 9 QB hits, which is actually a good rate, considering that the NFL average for pass attempts per game is 35, or nearly half the attempts the Cowboys had on Thursday.

The number of sacks, hits and hurries assigned to each lineman above are taken from Pro Football Focus. Their numbers don't match the the gamebook numbers because the two sources define QB hits differently. Nevertheless, the individual stats show that over the 62 pass attempts, the line held up fairly well.

Wide Receivers

Dez Bryant (73 snaps): 8 catches, 145 yards, 2 TDs (11 targets)
Dwayne Harris (68 snaps): 4 catches, 71 yards (7 targets)
Cole Beasley (61 snaps): 7 catches, 68 yards (13 targets)
Miles Austin (10 snaps): 0 catches (2 targets)
Andre Holmes (8 snaps): 1 catch, 4 yards (1 target)

Observations: With Ogletree out with a concussion and Austin leaving the game early with what turned out to be a hip strain, the third string receivers were set to get a lot of snaps. That they would end up getting as much snaps as they did was a little surprising, but Harris and Beasley held up very well.

If there were such an award, Harris would get the Cowboys' Ironman Award this week: In addition to his 68 snaps on offense he also played 18 snaps on special teams, giving him the most snaps of any Cowboys player with 86 total snaps. Beasley had just one extra snap on special teams, so his total is "only" 62. These are unusually high numbers, especially for the fourth and fifth WRs on the depth chart. And particularly notable is the fact that neither receiver left the game with a hamstring injury; neither receiver left the field with cramps; neither needed an IV-drip due to dehydration. So that's already something.

But most importantly, without going back to rewatch every snap, it looked as though both Harris and Beasley were running their routes as they were supposed to. There didn't appear to be any of the "miscommunication" (read: confusion/indecision/mistakes) in their game that we've seen so often in the passing game this season. Plus Dwayne Harris can block.

Odd man out here is Andre Holmes, and after seeing his snapcount here, it doesn't come as a big surprise that the Cowboys have released Holmes.

Dez Bryant had his fourth 100-yard game of the season, and may turn out to be one of the few bright spots in what is starting to look like another forgettable season for the Cowboys.

Backs

Felix Jones (34 snaps): 6 carries, 14 yards, 2.3 average; 3 catches, 47 yards (4 targets)
Lance Dunbar (27 snaps): 1 carry, 8 yards; 3 catches, 21 yards (6 targets)
Lawrence Vickers (14 snaps): 2 catches, 11 yards, (2 targets)

Observations: The running backs had 7 carries on Thursday, and it became clear early that the running game was not going to be a factor in the game, yet the halfbacks still combined for 61 snaps. Apart from the seven snaps when they actually ran the ball, they spent their snaps in equal parts running passing routes and staying in to pass block.

Phillip Tanner didn't get a single snap on offense, but did get 21 special teams snaps. By now it's become pretty clear that Dunbar has passed Tanner on the depth chart. And with Felix Jones likely gone after the season, you'll want to pencil in a running back for the Cowboys in every single mock draft you do for the 2013 draft.

Tight Ends

Jason Witten (76 snaps): 9 catches, 74 yards (15 targets)
John Phillips (7 snaps): no stats recorded
James Hanna (2 snaps): no stats recorded

Observations: It's a little baffling to see that in a game that was all about passing the ball, the 6-5 Phillips and 6-4 Hanna were hardly used, combining for just nine snaps.

Phillips (14) and Hanna (20) did get a lot of special teams snaps though.

Quarterback

Tony Romo 37-of-62 for 441 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs.

Observations: Romo tied his personal record of 62 pass attempts, set less than a month ago in the 24-29 loss to the Giants, and surpassed his career high in passing yards from that game, passing for 441 yards.

What's disconcerting though, and at the same time symptomatic for the state of the Cowboys offense this year, is that if we exclude Bryant's 85-yard TD reception from Romo' yards per attempt, his YPA drops from 7.11 to 5.83. That 5.83 would be tied for the 8th lowest value in Romo's career.

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