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Snap Counts For The Offense: Who Benefited Most For Cowboys In Dez Bryant Absence?

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Who played, and who produced, for the Dallas Cowboys offense? In our weekly look at the snap counts, we’ll evaluate whether Dallas is using it’s players well, and how well each of them is producing.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

On offense, we break down the team into three groups: the every-down players, the second-tier guys (who play from 40% to 75% of the snaps), and everyone else. Who did what this week against the Niners, a game the Cowboys won 24-17?

The Every-Down Players

There were 76 snaps on offense this week (versus 65 last week and 68 against Washington). The big news?

  • Tyron Smith missed his second game in a row, replaced by Chaz Green. This is the first season Smith has missed more than a single game, and his only other missed game was in 2012.
  • La’el Collins was also out again, and could be out for a long while. He hasn’t gone on injured reserve yet, but Ronald Leary is doing very well in his stead.
  • The other every-down players were the same: Dak Prescott, Jason Witten, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free.

Dak Prescott had a big game that has been reported on elsewhere. Jason Witten was targeted with nine passes, which tied him for the team lead with Brice Butler. He caught seven for 47 yards, including three in a row on the game-tying drive at the end of the first half.

Chaz Green was flagged for no penalties, despite constantly appearing a hair ahead of the snap when setting up in pass protection. Doug Free was the only lineman to get flagged in the game, a holding call that Dallas promptly overcame with a 19-yard screen pass to Ezekiel Elliot.

The Second Tier

This week, this group includes:

  • Brice Butler, 62 snaps
  • Terrance Williams, 61
  • Cole Beasley, 51
  • Ezekiel Elliott, 48
  • Geoff Swaim, 24

Both Butler and Williams had more snaps than Dez had in either of the previous games. This was somewhat due to the increase of 11 snaps for the offense during the game. Both stepped up pretty well in Dez’s absence, but they aren’t Dez. Butler was targeted nine times and had five catches for 41 yards and a TD. He negated this by drawing a dumb taunting penalty late in the game that forced Dallas to punt with only a 21-17 lead. Williams caught four of six balls for 44 yards and a TD.

Beasley was largely held in check until the end, when his 47-yard bubble screen iced the game. Overall, he ended up the leading receiver with three catches on four targets for 66 yards.

Elliott had three fewer snaps than last week despite the Cowboys having more plays. It was his best game yet, with a six-yard-per-carry average, 138 yards rushing, 19 receiving, and a TD. He took the lead in NFL rushing totals. Geoff Swaim had his worst game with a dropped pass and two false start penalties.

Everyone else

The other players receiving offensive snaps were:

  • Lance Dunbar, 17 snaps
  • Lucky Whitehead, 13
  • Alfred Morris, 12
  • Keith Smith, 8
  • Joe Looney, 5
  • JJ Wilcox, 3
  • Gavin Escobar, 1

The top four guys all contributed in the game. Lance Dunbar had two catches for 14 yards, and ran for two yards to make a first down. Lucky Whitehead had a jet sweep for eight yards, and kept up his blocking. Morris rushed seven times for 34 yards, showing he could be used more to close out games if Dallas can get a decent lead. Keith Smith caught a pass for 14 yards and rushed for two yards. But he also had a costly false start penalty on a play where Zeke burst through the line and might have scored. This cost Dallas when Dan Bailey missed a 47-yard field goal two plays later. The invisible man, Gavin Escobar, had one snap on offense.

Offensive and special teams snapcounts Game 2 - Washington

Offensive snapcounts Game 3 - Chicago