Continuity vs. Turnover On NFC East Rosters: How Much Is Too Much?

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

None of the NFC East teams had a stellar season last year, so rosters are predictably being churned. But how much is too little and how much is too much? We take a look at the rosters of all four NFC East teams to find out.

Yesterday, Mike Sando of ESPN's NFC West blog looked at how much raw playing time from last season each NFC West team will have to replace in 2013. He found that the Seahawks had the most continuity in the division, with 86.8% of the 2012 snaps remaining on the roster. The Cardinals have the highest turnover in the division, returning only 60.9% of their 2012 snaps.

Today, with a hat tip to Mike Sando, we repeat Sando's analysis here on Blogging The Boys, except we'll do it for the NFC East. Here's the percentage of returning snaps for each team, broken down by position:

Percentage of 2012 Snaps Remaining on Roster as of June 18, 2013
Pos. QB RB WR TE OL Front 7 DB Totals
WAS 100.0% 99.9% 97.8% 93.8% 98.1% 93.4% 69.2% 90.5%
DAL 100.0% 71.1% 82.0% 78.1% 96.8% 79.7% 67.2% 81.8%
NYG 100.0% 55.1% 84.3% 20.4% 87.2% 57.1% 90.9% 73.7%
PHI 99.5% 78.4% 99.4% 99.5% 69.4% 66.7% 56.5% 73.4%
Total 99.9% 76.2% 91.3% 74.7% 87.8% 70.9% 74.7% 80.0%

Couple of observations:

Most turnover: The Giants and Eagles both lost a little over a quarter of their 2012 snaps. That is a lot less than the turnover the Cardinals have, but it's still a sizable chunk. The Giants parted ways with starting TE Martellus Bennett and starting RB Ahmad Bradshaw, both of whom had seen significant snaps at their positions. Additionally, the Giants cleaned out their front seven, letting three linemen and two linebackers go. The Eagles got a little lighter at RB but focused most of their roster renewal on the defense and the offensive line.

Most continuity: The Redskins return almost all of their snaps on offense, and the only noteworthy change on defense versus last year is that FS Madieu Williams and CB Cedric Griffin won't wear a Redskins uniform in 2013. That's remarkably little change, which could mean that the 2013 Redskins will be a spitting image of the 2012 Redskins. But will they be the team that started the season 3-6 or the team that ended the season 7-0?

The Cowboys are right on the average, returning 81.8% of their 2012 snaps. The only starter not returning is Gerald Sensabaugh (981 snaps), the bulk of the remaining lost snaps are due to role players who aren't returning, like Kevin Ogletree (474) , Marcus Spears (394), Felix Jones (394), Mike Jenkins (374), Dan Connor (350), John Phillips (342) or Victor Butler (300). None of these are snaps that the Cowboys are going to miss terribly, and anyway, the Cowboys' 2013 season hinges much more on the health of the starters than the playing time of the second- or third-tier of players.

In general, the numbers would be lower for all teams if we were to exclude players who may not be available for parts or all of 2013 for a variety of reasons. For the Cowboys, Josh Brent won't play in 2013 but is still on the roster. It's also unclear how much - if any - games players like Jason Pierre-Paul or even Robert Griffin may miss as they recover from their surgeries. But given that these numbers are bound to change during and after training camp anyway, there's no sense trying to speculate about each individual player's status.

Unfortunately, what the numbers don't tell us is when too much turnover becomes disruptive and when too much continuity becomes stifling. Ultimately, that's up to each team to figure out by itself, but it is interesting to see that across the NFC East, the highest continuity is found at the QB position, followed by the wide receivers and the offensive line.

The highest level of turnover appears to be at running back, and along both the front seven and the defensive backs, even though in the NFC East, this is only true for three out of four teams for each of the positions. Perhaps those are the positions where teams tolerate a higher level of churn, as they also rotate more players in and out at those positions.

Overall though, it's interesting to see that the much-hyped NFC West has a higher level of churn at every single position than the NFC East does. Which strategy is better?

We may have to wait until January to find out.

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