Lions vs. Jets Week 15 snap counts: Edge rushers settling into roles

Here is a closer look at the Detroit Lions’ snap counts from their decisive Week 15 victory over the New York Jets, along with some thoughts on what they may mean going forward.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: 68 (100% of offensive snaps)

Running backs

D’Andre Swift: 27 (40%)
Justin Jackson: 22 (32%) — 19 special teams snaps (68%)
Jamaal Williams: 21 (31%)
Jason Cabinda: 10 (15%) — 13 (46%)

Swift has settled back in as RB1 for the Lions, and while the stat sheet speaks to an increase in efficiency, the eye test still leaves something to be desired. Swift’s natural instinct to move laterally in a scheme that is designed to run north and south continues to work against each other. On more than one occasion against the Jets, Swift had daylight and a blocker in front of him, but instead of taking what was there, he tried for the bigger play and ended up not maximizing his opportunity.

Jackson and Williams are much better at following their blocks and finishing runs, but they lack Swift’s explosiveness. If the Lions hope to get the running game back on track, it starts with Swift maximizing his runs and then setting up the bigger backs to wear defenses down.

Tight ends

Brock Wright: 32 (47%) — 8 (29%)
Shane Zylstra: 25 (37%) — 3 (11%)
James Mitchell: 16 (24%) — 8 (29%)

Wright was the hero of Week 15, but this group as a whole only received five targets on the day. Furthermore, when the targets do go to the tight ends way, it’s typically for short gains. Zylstra caught his one pass for four yards, Mitchell caught both of his targets for a total of 12 yards, and both of Wrights were designs for short gains—fortunately, he was able to turn the last one into a 51-yard house call.

Wide receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 57 (84%)
DJ Chark: 52 (76%)
Josh Reynolds: 40 (59%)
Kalif Raymond: 20 (29%) — 6 (21%)
Jameson Williams: 13 (19%)

The Lions continue to take it slow with Williams, as he matched his snap count from last week. There is really no rush for the Lions to push him too much at this stage, but most expect these numbers to increase over the final three games. The top three options pretty much stayed true, while Raymond saw his snaps increase as the Lions road his hot hands.

Offensive tackles

Taylor Decker: 68 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 68 (100%) — 5 (18%)
Dan Skipper: 3 (4%) — 5 (18%)
Matt Nelson: 2 (3%) — 5 (18%)

The Lions continue to get creative with how they use their sixth offensive linemen sets and you have to think there is some long-term gamesmanship going on. Another trick play could be in the works down the stretch.

Guards/centers

Frank Ragnow: 68 (100%)
Jonah Jackson: 68 (100%) — 5 (18%)
Evan Brown: 68 (100%) — 5 (18%)
Logan Stenberg: 0 (0%) — 5 (18%)

Welcome back, Evan Brown.

Defense

DT:

Isaiah Buggs: 36 (57%)
Alim McNeill: 31 (49%)
Benito Jones: 16 (25%) — 4 (14%)

Buggs continues to make a case for an offseason extension. Over his three seasons in Pittsburgh, only once did he have a five-game stretch as good as the one he is having right now in Detroit.

McNeill had a few fewer snaps than normal, but his impact was felt when he was on the field, earning PFF’s second-highest grade among all Lions defenders.

EDGE:

Aidan Hutchinson: 54 (86%) — 4 (14%)
John Cominsky: 51 (81%) — 4 (14%)
Romeo Okwara: 26 (41%) — 3 (10%)
James Houston: 25 (40%) — 12 (43%)
Josh Paschal: 14 (22%)

PFF’s highest-graded Lions defender was—no surprise—Hutchinson, whose balanced skill set makes him an impact player on a weekly basis.

Cominsky continues to prove he belongs in a starting role, Okwara has settled in at a higher snap count—and the production is definitely returning after a two-sack performance—and Paschal’s role has held steady since his return from injury.

The surprising news here is that Houston’s role is growing, and wouldn’t you know it, he recorded another sack—his fifth in four games.

Linebackers

Alex Anzalone: ​​62 (98%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 36 (57%) — 4 (14%)
Chris Board: 10 (16%) — 23 (82%)
Jarrad Davis: 10 (16%) — 9 (32%)
Anthony Pittman: 5 (8%) — 23 (82%)
Josh Woods: 0 (0%) — 23 (82%)

With Derrick Barnes injured, this is close to the same splits the Lions have used over the past two games. Anzalone is rarely leaving the field and playing some of the best football of his career, and a valuable contributor to the Lions defensive resurgence. Rodriguez continues to live just over 50% since his elbow injury, but this could also be some rookie-wall management.

Davis is out of game-day elevations, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets a promotion to the active roster, if Barnes remains out due to injury. A player like Austin Bryant, who has been a healthy scratch the last several games, may not be as valuable to the team as Davis right now.

Cornerbacks

Jeff Okudah: 62 (98%)
Jerry Jacobs: 62 (98%) — 8 (29%)
Will Harris: 61 (97%)
Amani Oruwariye: 1 (2%) — 6 (21%)
Mike Hughes: 0 (0%) — 16 (57%)

With Okudah and Harris back to full health, the Lions leaned on their nickel package quite a bit in this game. Jacobs continues to be a locked-in starter and was rewarded for his hard work with his first career interception against the Jets. With the starting trio all available, Hughes was relegated back to a reserve role.

Safety

Kerby Joseph: 63 (100%) — 10 (36%)
DeShon Elliott: 39 (62%)
CJ Moore: 29 (46%) — 23 (82%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 0 (0%) — 19 (68%)

With Elliott getting injured early in the second half, the Lions needed to turn to Moore to fill in and he did an admirable job. Coach Dan Campbell didn’t have an update on Elliott following the game, but if he needs to miss any time, Moore should be the next man up. Melifonwu continues to spend his days adapting to the position change after missing nearly all of the offseason due to injury.

Special teams

Jack Fox: 15 (54%)
Scott Daly: 9 (32%)
Michael Badgley: 5 (18%)

After being perfect for the majority of the season, Badgley has now missed a field goal in three of the last four games. This one was very challenging, from 54 yards on a cold winter day, but that could be a good thing as now the coaching staff knows his limitations.

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