Last week against the Titans, the offense did most of the heavy lifting by playing 80 snaps, while the defense had a a fairly low snap count with just 49 defensive snaps in the game.
Yesterday against the Rams, those roles were nearly reversed: The offense only played 56 snaps, while the defense was on the field for 76 snaps. Which is reason enough to review all the snap counts from Sunday’s game to get a better feel for what was happening all over the roster.
Check out the snap distributions below, and let us know what your reactions are in the comments section. We'll get started with the offense:
|Cowboys' Offensive Snap counts vs Rams
There really isn't much to see here. The offense played its starters for most of the game, and the fairly low snap totals didn't leave a lot of room for the backups in the game.
J.J. Wilcox is listed with two snaps on offense. I missed that, so I have no idea what position he was playing
On to the defense:
|Cowboys' Defensive Snap counts vs Rams
|Defensive Tackles||Defensive Ends||Linebackers||Cornerbacks||Safeties|
This overview highlights once again what we've come to expect from Marinelli defenses: they are simple. The Cowboys have two basic formations, a base formation with four defensive backs and a nickel formation with five defensive backs. That's it. The Cowboys only deviate from that in specific goal line situations.
But while the linebackers and defensive backs are fairly static, the defensive line is where you'll find some heavy rotation. The Cowboys fully utilize their eight-man rotation on the defensive line, unfortunately to little effect: the defensive line has managed just 0.5 sacks in the first three games of the season. They are battling bravely, they are battling through injury, and they are getting pressure on the QB occasionally, but they are simply not getting to the quarterback. Rod Marinelli didn't waste any words in describing the pass rush effort:
“We have to coach them better,” the defensive coordinator said after the game. “They’ve got to rush better. No excuses. Just not getting it done.”
Defensive Tackle Nick Hayden and cornerback Orlando Scandrick were a little more clear about the issues facing the defense.
“I’m glad we won obviously, but we’ve just got to improve,” defensive tackle Nick Hayden said. “I feel, as a person, like we lost. We lost that game. I’m not satisfied with what we did out there. I’m not too happy. I’m glad we snuck by with a W, but we’ve just got to be better.”
Hayden said the Cowboys were “undisciplined,” on defense and the communication was “terrible.”
“I’ve told you guys all the time and I’ll tell you guys for real: we’ve got to play better,” cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. “We can’t expect to give up 350, 400 yards and be a great defense or be a good defense or even be a good football team. Thirty-four points from your offense, that’s not normal in this league.”
Scandrick at least showed that it certainly wasn't for lack of effort that the Cowboys gave up more than 30 points (a number greatly influenced by two turnovers on offense), as he finished with five tackles to tie him with safety Barry Church among defensive backs. And while Scandrick didn't start, he did take Morris Claiborne's for several snaps.
The high snap count may also have taken its toll on DT Henry Melton, who suffered a groin injury but stayed on the field anyway. The concern is that Melton already missed time in camp with a groin injury, so the Cowboys will have to be careful with Melton going forward, which won't help the pass rush either.
On the plus side, fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens overcame early jitters and played well in his first NFL start, recording a team-high 13 tackles. Hitchens was also involved in a key defensive play: In the third quarter, Hitchens stopped running back Zac Stacy on fourth-and-one for a 1-yard loss. Not only did that give the Cowboys the ball back, the Cowboys would also score a field goal on the ensuing drive.
Linebacker Keith Smith, who has just been promoted to the 53-man roster on Saturday, made his NFL debut, taking two snaps while Bruce Carter was out being checked for a concussion.
And finally, to round things off, special teams:
|Special Teams Aces|
With those totals, J.J. Wilcox is officially this week's ironman, having played a total of 91 snaps, 76 on defense, 13 on special teams, and two on offense.