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Snap Counts For The Cowboys’ Offense: 2016 Regular Season Totals

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Who played, and who produced, for the Dallas Cowboys offense this week and this season?

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Offensive Overview

There’s not much to be gleaned from the offense for the Eagles’ game. Despite the pre-game rhetoric, the Cowboys were playing mostly to protect injured guys and important starters to the extent they could. Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee suited up but didn’t get a snap. Dak Prescott got 15 plays. Tony Romo saw his first action of the year, but only for a single drive of seven plays (albeit for Dallas’ lone touchdown). And then Mark Sanchez came in and proceeded to help Philadelphia to more points with two interceptions and a horrific 19-yard sack that he took than he helped Dallas score. Final Dallas 13, Philadelphia 27.

What’s different about this report is that we now have season totals.

A Few Observations Before We Dive Into The Group Numbers

  • The offense had one more snap on the year than the defense, 1,059 to 1,058.
  • In the last seven games of the season, the defense had more snaps than the offense five times.
  • Dallas still finished second in the NFL in time of possession per game, averaging 31:27 per game, but this was well below its high point on the year.
  • Eleven players played 16 games on offense. By order of snaps: Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free, Jason Witten, Dak Prescott, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, Gavin Escobar, Joe Looney, Keith Smith. Ezekiel Elliott missed out because of the last game, even though he was suited up and healthy.
  • Three players played 100% of the offensive snaps. Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free. Dak Prescott and Jason Witten played 96%, and could have played 100%. No one else was above 80%.
  • The Cowboys lost four offensive players to injured reserve: La’el Collins, Chaz Green, and Geoff Swaim, plus Kellen Moore. Vince Mayle was brought up to replace Swaim, but then cut when Dallas needed a backup offensive lineman.
  • Other offensive players out due to injury: Tyron Smith (3 games), Ron Leary (1), Dez Bryant (3), Darren McFadden (13). It’s not clear when Tony Romo might have been cleared to play had Dak Prescott not been playing so well.

Among the surprises this season —

  • Dak Prescott took control of the starting quarterback position and never let go.
  • Ron Leary regained his starting job due to injury and outplayed the man he replaced.
  • Chaz Green was quite effective subbing for Tyron Smith and showed the ability to be a starter, but couldn’t stay healthy (this latter point is not surprising).
  • Terrance Williams played more snaps than Dez Bryant.
  • Cole Beasley led the team in receiving yards and catches, yet was third among the receivers in numbers of snaps.
  • Lance Dunbar had the second most snaps among the running backs, leading Keith Smith and Alfred Morris by a few.

Offensive Line

There were 56 snaps on offense this week, 1,059 for the year.

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm 14 Gm 15 Gm 16 Total Season Percent
Travis Frederick C 16 627 71 56 52 66 74 57 56 1059 1059 100%
Zack Martin G 16 627 71 56 52 66 74 57 56 1059 1059 100%
Doug Free T 16 623 71 56 52 66 73 57 56 1054 1059 100%
Tyron Smith T 13 475 71 56 52 66 74 42 0 836 1059 79%
Ronald Leary G 13 428 71 56 52 66 74 57 0 804 1059 76%
La'el Collins G 3 186 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 186 1059 18%
Joe Looney C 16 43 12 6 5 11 10 12 56 155 1059 15%
Chaz Green T 4 151 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 151 1059 14%
Emmett Cleary T 8 5 0 0 0 0 0 15 56 76 1059 7%

As mentioned above, three linemen played 100% of the snaps, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free. Tyron Smith missed three games due to injury, while La’el Collins missed 13. But Dallas had capable substitutes in Chaz Green, Emmett Cleary and especially Ron Leary. The weak link remains Doug Free, who had a solid year, but still has trouble with certain pass rushers.

Quarterback

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm 14 Gm 15 Gm 16 Total Season Percent
Dak Prescott QB 16 622 71 56 52 66 74 57 15 1013 1059 96%
Mark Sanchez QB 2 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 34 39 1059 4%
Tony Romo QB 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 7 1059 1%

Dak Prescott seized the job as a rookie, and led the Cowboys to a 13-2 record before they backed off the throttle for the last game. Tony Romo got only seven snaps, but showed he can still be ruthless when the pass protection is strong. Mark Sanchez, however, proved he is no longer worthy of a backup quarterback role, with a very bad showing in the last game.

Running Backs

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm 14 Gm 15 Gm 16 Total Season Percent
Ezekiel Elliott RB 15 443 50 46 43 44 58 29 0 713 1059 67%
Lance Dunbar RB 13 63 15 5 5 19 5 4 23 139 1059 13%
Keith Smith RB 16 69 9 8 10 4 10 13 11 134 1059 13%
Alfred Morris RB 14 99 5 5 1 2 0 0 18 130 1059 12%
Darren McFadden RB 3 0 0 0 0 0 12 21 15 48 1059 5%

Zeke was rested for precautionary reasons with nothing on the line in the last game. Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden split the carries, and made it clear the offense would not have been nearly as effective without Zeke. Both Lance Dunbar and Keith Smith got more snaps than Morris or McFadden, yet neither was used as a runner.

Wide Receivers

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm14 Gm 15 Gm 16 Total Season Percent
Terrance Williams WR 16 441 43 36 38 52 50 38 48 746 1059 70%
Dez Bryant WR 13 362 62 43 37 61 63 42 18 688 1059 65%
Cole Beasley WR 16 346 44 35 25 42 45 27 39 603 1059 57%
Brice Butler WR 16 291 18 12 14 16 15 21 42 429 1059 41%
Lucky Whitehead WR 15 106 6 6 5 0 6 4 10 143 1059 14%
Vince Mayle WR 5 0 0 10 7 4 7 1 0 29 1059 3%

As mentioned above, Terrance Williams ended up with the most snaps among the receivers, and Cole Beasley led in catches with 75 and yards with 833. Dez Bryant ended up second among the wide receivers in both categories. Both Terrance Williams and Brice Butler are free agents, and it’s not clear how Dallas will replace their 1,175 combined snaps.

Tight Ends

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm 14 Gm 15 Gm 16 Total Season Percent
Jason Witten TE 16 624 67 56 52 66 74 56 22 1017 1059 96%
Geoff Swaim TE 9 203 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 203 1059 19%
Gavin Escobar TE 16 46 17 12 18 9 16 17 34 169 1059 16%

Jason Witten keeps chugging along, and would have played in 99% of snaps had he not been pulled like many others were in the last game. He passed several records on the year - including most games started by a Cowboy, and most consecutive starts. He has the most career catches on the Cowboys, and is second by 17 yards to Michael Irvin for most receiving yards all time for Dallas.

Offensive and special teams snap counts Game 2 - Washington

Offensive snap counts Game 3 - Chicago

Offensive snap counts Game 4 - San Francisco

Offensive snap counts Game 5 - Cincinnati

Offensive snap counts Game 6 - Green Bay

Snap counts at the bye

Offensive snap counts Game 7 - Philadelphia

Offensive snap counts Game 8 - Cleveland

Offensive snap counts Game 9 - Pittsburgh

Offensive snap counts Game 10 - Baltimore

Offensive snap counts Game 11 - Washington

Offensive snap counts Game 12 - Minnesota

Offensive snap counts Game 13 - New York

Offensive snap counts Game 14 - Tampa Bay

Offensive snap counts Game 15 - Detroit