Some familiar names have returned to this week's edition of snap count observations and they had a big hand in determining the outcome of the Buccaneers' win over the Giants on Monday Night Football.
The Bucs brought the backups in to finish the game, so it makes sense as to why Donovan Smith, Ryan Jensen, and Tom Brady didn't play the entire game. Aaron Stinnie played 68% of offensive snaps once Ali Marpet went down with an oblique injury. Tom Brady was hit just once all game, so it appears as if the line avoided a dropoff in pass protection without Marpet.
Tyler Johnson received a season-high 73% of snaps, but had just one catch for eight yards on three targets. He has just four receptions for 25-yards in the last two games after finishing with five receptions for 65-yards against the Saints in Week 8. There's strong anticipation Antonio Brown will return this week, so while Johnson has been decent, the Bucs passing game will be in much better shape if Brown does return.
Rob Gronkowski played 59% of snaps, which is great considering his previous injury. The fact he was so productive only adds to the good news. Cameron Brate went back to out-snapping O.J. Howard with Gronk in the mix and had his most productive game since Week 6.
Breshad Perriman saw a big uptick in playing time and even made a couple of grabs. The fact he saw 18 snaps compared to Jaelon Darden's eight snaps is pretty telling when it comes to where Darden is in terms of his development. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what the Bucs do with Perriman now that he's a twice-elevated practice squad player. There's also Scotty Miller's and possibly Brown's returns, which will crowd the receiver room, for sure.
Ronald Jones II played the most snaps (15) since Week 2 and was able to get into the end zone, but Giovani Bernard (who is supposed to be the team's third down back and two-minute specialist) only received eight snaps. The Bucs faced 13 third downs, so one would think he should've received at least 13 snaps, but that's been an inconsistency all year long.
The usual suspects in Devin White, Lavonte David, Antoine Winfield Jr., Jamel Dean, and Jordan Whitehead are all at the top of the sheet, as expected. Sean Murphy-Bunting looked good in his first game back, recording seven tackles and a forced fumble on 98% of snaps.
Mike Edwards played a lot, which signifies the Bucs were He finished with two tackles, a tackle for loss, an interception, and a pass deflection. The Bucs have to keep playing him more until Carlton Davis III returns. Ross Cockrell played the lowest amount of snaps since his very first game as a Buc, but it makes sense since SMB is back and Edwards is playing more. Expect this to continue since Cockrell is primarily the backup nickelback.
Jason Pierre-Paul saw a slight dip in playing time from Week 10 and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka saw the uptick we've been waiting to see since Week 8. JTS was very disruptive and should hopefully continue to be on the field often, even as JPP gets healthier.
The Bucs rotated Rakeem Nunez-Roches (50%) and Steve McClendon (48%) due to the absence of Vita Vea and McClendon came away with his first career interception as a result. Ndamukong Suh played the second-lowest amount of the season, which is interesting when considering the loss of Vea, but it also makes slight sense when considering Nacho's and McClendon's presence. And there's also Will Gholston, who's usually good for 30-40% of snaps per game, as well.
Anthony Nelson saw a slight drop in playing time, but now has put in solid performances over the last two weeks. He finished this game with one tackle, one sack, one tackle for loss, and two quarterback hits. He now has two sacks on the year after having just one over his first two years in the NFL.
And don't forget Cam Gill, who was able to get a sack of his own despite playing just six snaps. The big takeaway here is that the Bucs not only rotated their outside linebackers in this game, but all of them were effective from the top-down.
Dee Delaney and Pierre Desir played only on special teams, which should remain the case moving forward as long as the Bucs secondary stays healthy and no one gets nicked up during a game to the point where they have to come out for a period of time.
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