Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Defensive Playing Time Report

I was listening to one of my voices of great influence, Pat Kirwan, the other day on the radio and he was discussing how his teams used to decide how best to pay their players.

The idea is that as a front office, you have to pay some players more than you want. But, you have to make sure WHICH players you pay more than you might want.

The same concept for the draft, too. If a player is not playing in 80% of the snaps, then you cannot take him in the first rounds or pay him elite money. This is why Running Backs are seldom taken in the 1st Round anymore. And many Linebackers, too. If you are not an every down player, then we cannot pay you and have enough cash to go around.

And that is why the Cowboys allow Marcus Spears to walk. He is just a 1st and 2nd Down player. Or, Bobby Carpenter and Kevin Burnett - Just 3rd Down LBs. You need to know which players are merely situational players and which players are used in every situation.

By the way, that is why some of us are nervous about Von Miller. If he cannot set the edge against the run (something even Clay Matthews is challenged on to this day) then his coach will be tempted to take him off the field in running situations. Well, if you take Von Miller in the Top 5 of the draft and pay him that money, then you understand the issues if you he cannot play in all scenarios.

So, I will offer you some playing time reports here, courtesy of my good friends and data collectors at ProFootballFocus.Com. I will do offense as well, in a future post.

1040 Defensive Snaps

NameGamesSnaps/Snap %
FS - Ball16987 - 94.9%
LB - Spencer16953 - 91.6%
LB - Ware16940 - 90.3%
CB - Jenkins16929 - 89.3%
SS - Sensabaugh16929 - 89.3%
MLB - James16920 - 88.4%
MLB - Brooking16908 - 87.3%
CB - Newman16891 - 85.6%
DT - Ratliff16733 - 70.4%
CB - Scandrick16604 - 58.1%
DE - Olshansky16574 - 55.1%
DE - Bowen16552 - 53%
DE - Spears9263 - 25.2%
DT - Brent16257 - 24.7%
DE - Hatcher13257 - 24.7%
MLB - Lee14167 -16.1%
LB - Butler15157 - 15%
CB - McCann9146 - 14%
SS - Church16119 - 11.4%
FS - McCray1646 - 4.4%

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Thoughts from this chart:

* Alan Ball playing the most snaps demonstrates the need to have excellent play at safety. And the lack of depth at Free Safety given Ball's performance.

* Jay Ratliff is at just over 70%. This is not because he can't play in all scenarios. Rather, I believe the Cowboys were looking for spots to get him rest so he would not wear down in a game or over the course of the season. He is undersized and constantly double-teamed so you have to know that takes a toll. Another argument to kick him out to end.

* Your 3rd Corner plays more than any of your defensive ends. This says a few things. 1) You need more complete DEs who can play on all 3 downs. 2) It is a passing league where you need 3 and 4 Corners. The argument that you don't take a corner because you already have 2 is flawed because we see that on 6 out of every 10 snaps, you need 3 Corners on the field.

* Sean Lee played less than 200 snaps. That is disappointing. He really needs to demonstrate health before we get too carried away about his upside. Of course, the Cowboys did not do a great job getting him snaps, either. For reasons that I didn't quite understand, they insisted on playing Keith Brooking over and over. I think you need to use seasons like 2010 to develop your kids as well. You were 1-7. Play the youngsters more.

* Josh Brent played 257 snaps which is more than I thought. I believe he is a nice prospect to continue to develop at defensive tackle.

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