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Broncos snap count review: first quarter of the season

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The Denver Broncos have dealt with a lot of injuries to start the season and their snap counts through four games definitely shows that.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

After each quarter of the season, I put the whole data set together to look for trends in player usage and to see who has earned themselves more playing time and who has but themselves a seat on the bench. I’m gonna put the data in table format since it difficult for those who are colorblind to follow the charts that I used to use in these.

Game-by-game game-day inactive list

game 1 game 2 game 3 game 4
Todd Davis Todd Davis River Cracraft Juwann Winfree
Bryce Callahan Bryce Callahan Bryce Callahan Bryce Callahan
Juwann Winfree Juwann Winfree Alexander Johnson Kareem Jackson
Andy Janovich Andy Janovich Andy Janovich Troy Fumagalli
Joe Jones Joe Jones Joe Jones Joe Jones
Corey Levin Ja'Wuan James Ja'Wuan James Ja'Wuan James
Dre’Mont Jones Mike Purcell Mike Purcell Mike Purcell

Mostly we have had guys on inactive because of injury. The few “healthy scratches” have changed as we have needed to shift players once guys like Todd Davis and Andy Janovich became healthy enough to play.

Mike Purcell, who is our lone large defensive lineman (328 lbs) played 17 snaps in the first game and then has been inactive in the next three.

Offensive Player Game-by-Game Snap Percentage Change

Player game 1 game 2 game 3 game 4
Dalton Risner 100% 100% 100% 100%
Garett Bolles 100% 100% 100% 100%
Connor McGovern 100% 100% 100% 100%
Ronald Leary 100% 100% 100% 100%
Joe Flacco 100% 100% 100% 100%
Emmanuel Sanders 89% 93% 79% 80%
Courtland Sutton 89% 95% 89% 95%
Elijah Wilkinson 84% 100% 100% 100%
Noah Fant 81% 66% 63% 73%
DaeSean Hamilton 77% 66% 58% 62%
Phillip Lindsay 53% 48% 56% 45%
Royce Freeman 47% 52% 49% 62%
Jeff Heuerman 33% 46% 49% 53%
Troy Fumagalli 16% 17% 11% 0%
Ja'Wuan James 16% 0% 0% 0%
Tim Patrick 12% 0% 0% 0%
Devontae Booker 2% 0% 0% 0%
Andrew Beck 2% 9% 32% 5%
River Cracraft 0% 6% 0% 0%
Diontae Spencer 0% 2% 0% 4%
Juwann Winfree 0% 0% 14% 0%
Andy Janovich 0% 0% 0% 16%
Fred Brown 0% 0% 0% 5%

Denver Broncos rookie first-round TE, Noah Fant, has played between 63 and 81% of the offensive snaps in every game. Our other two TEs, Jeff Heuerman and Troy Fumagalli have averaged 45 and 15% of the offensive snaps respectively. Fumagalli was not active for game 4 since Andrew Beck and Andy Janovich were both active. Beck, who is a FB/TE, played in 32% of the snaps in game 3, but the return of Andy Janovich (16% in game 4) knocked Beck down to 5% of the offensive snaps. Beck is heavily involved in special teams.

Our WR group has seen these average snap percentages:

  • Courtland Sutton - 92%
  • Emmanuel Sanders - 85%
  • DaeSean Hamilton - 66%

We lost our WR4, Tim Patrick, in game 1 (broken arm - IR) and the other WRs have been used very sparingly with Juwann Winfree, River Cracraft, Diontae Spencer and Fred Brown all getting a few snaps depending on who was active (and on the team).

Ten snaps into the regular season Ja’Wuan James injured his knee, but we have had the same offensive line since then. That much-maligned group played exceptionally well in game 4 (I’ll be writing up a piece on that later on this week).

Devontae Booker has been the forgotten man in the RB group where Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have split the snaps almost 50/50. Booker has three offensive snaps while Lindsay and Freeman have combined for 282.

Neither of our FB’s have been used to carry the ball. They also have not been targeted in the passing game at all through four games. The only player besides Lindsay, Freeman and Joe Flacco to run the ball for us this year is Fant, on our first offensive play of the season. Despite seeing multiple instances of WRs carrying the ball on jet sweep runs in the pre-season, Rich Scangerello, has kept that in his back-pocket for now.

Defensive Snap Percentages game-by-game

Player game 1 game 2 game 3 game 4
Justin Simmons 100% 100% 100% 100%
Josey Jewell 100% 100% 74% 25%
Isaac Yiadom 98% 100% 24% 1%
Kareem Jackson 98% 100% 98% 0%
Chris Harris 98% 100% 96% 100%
Von Miller 97% 95% 93% 88%
Bradley Chubb 90% 100% 98% 87%
Derek Wolfe 84% 85% 17% 56%
Corey Nelson 84% 56% 11% 26%
Shelby Harris 74% 67% 80% 59%
Adam Gotsis 57% 52% 78% 56%
Will Parks 50% 82% 72% 100%
Mike Purcell 29% 0% 0% 0%
DeMarcus Walker 22% 31% 43% 35%
Malik Reed 9% 5% 7% 28%
Justin Hollins 7% 0% 9% 40%
Trey Marshall 2% 10% 4% 2%
Dre'Mont Jones 0% 16% 24% 35%
Todd Davis 0% 0% 98% 100%
De'Vante Bausby 0% 0% 72% 100%
Duke Dawson 0% 0% 2% 60%

The defensive side of the ball has seen some dramatic playing time changes over the course of the first four games. There was the aforementioned usage of Mike Purcell (29%) in game one. Purcell played so poorly in game 1 that he was been a game-day inactive since.

Todd Davis was still injured at the start of the regular season and the coaching staff had so little faith in the other ILB’s on the roster (or practice squad) that Corey Nelson, who had been waived/released by the Bucs a few days prior, was brought in and shoved into a starting role in game 1. Nelson’s presence was exploited by the Raiders in game 1, so his role was diminished in game 2 by using Will Parks in his place (playing a heavy nickel in base downs with a S instead of an ILB). Todd Davis was back in game 3 and was immediately thrust into the fire playing 98 and 100% of the defensive snaps in games 3 and 4. At about the same time, Josey Jewell tweaked his hamstring which forced Nelson back onto the field at ILB. All the while the other ILB’s on the roster still did not have the faith of the coaches as Keishawn Bierria (who was recently released to make room for an offensive tackle, Calvin Anderson) and Alexander Johnson continued to NOT play defensive snaps. Game 4 saw Justin Hollins get some snaps at ILB once Jewell was not longer able to play.

Hollins and Malik Reed had been the backups to Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, but the coaches have been riding both Von and Chubb really hard for the first three games. With Chubb’s injury Hollins and Reed are both listed as the starting SOLB (with an or), but given what we saw with Nelson in game one, I would not be surprised if the recently signed Jeremy Attaochu is not the starter on Sunday against the Chargers. The injuries to Chubb and Jewell in game four forced Reed (28%) and Hollins (40%) to play significantly more than they had in any previous game.

On the defensive line we have been going with five game-day actives in playing Wolfe (85% in games one and two) heavily until he got hurt (17% and 56% in games three and four). Adam Gotsis has been in the mid 50% range in every game except game three when Wolfe was carted off the field with that ankle injury. Shelby Harris has been playing anywhere from 59 to 80% of the defensive snaps; this is the most he has ever played. DeMarcus Walker has played anywhere from 22 to 40% of the defensive snaps - again peaking at 40% in the game when Wolfe got hurt. Dre’Mont Jones has seen his pt gradually increase from game-day inactive (0%) in game 1 to 35% in game 4.

Justin Simmons has played every defensive snap and until game 4, Kareem Jackson was close to that. Will Parks was only used on the half of the snaps in game 1, but has been on the field much more than that in games two through four. He played every defensive snap against the Jags. Trey Marshall has played a handful of snaps and was exposed on most of those. Duke Dawson, who like Kareem Jackson is a S/CB hybrid, went from getting one defensive snap in game three to 60% of the defensive snaps in game four. He was filling Parks role as Parks was forced to fill Jackson’s role on the defense.

From the cornerback group Chris Harris has played all but three defensive snaps, but that’s the only stable part of that group. Isaac Yiadom, who played almost every snap in games one and two, saw his playing time cut to 26% in game three and 1% (one snap) in game 4. De’Vante Bausby took Yiadom’s job as our CB2. Bausby did not get a single defensive snap in games one or two, but got 72% in game three and 100% in game four.