The Indianapolis Colts throttled the struggling New York Jets on Sunday afternoon. Things were so far out of hand in the second half that numerous players who rarely see the field in a typical week got more opportunities. This resulted in what may very well be the most balanced and diverse snap count report of the entire 2020 season.
Still, with so many injuries to former starters, there are some interesting observations and perhaps some hints at what direction the coaching staff feels numerous players are heading.
With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, the Colts decided to pull Philip Rivers and give Jacoby Brissett an opportunity to get onto the field. Given that Rivers has been so dependable in his career and that blowout wins of this caliber are generally pretty rare, this could be the most work Brissett will see in a game all season.
P Rivers QB 46 snaps 77%
J Brissett QB 14 snaps 23%
Each of the first three weeks in 2020 have been different for the backfield. Nyheim Hines saw a very heavy workload Week1 in Jacksonville — particularly after Marlon Mack went down with an injury. Jonathan Taylor dominated the touches in Week 2 and put up over 100 rushing yards in his first NFL start. On Sunday, all of the backs played a role in the offense and each of them appeared to be a focal point on specific drives.
While these developments aren’t popular for fantasy football owners, it is a nod to the talent and depth Chris Ballard has accumulated at running back.
J Taylor RB 24 snaps 40%
N Hines RB 20 snaps 33% 6 ST snaps 22%
J Wilkins RB 17 snaps 28% 6 ST snaps 22%
If there is a prevailing theme at wide receiver to this point in the season it is that those who can block will see the field often. Both Zach Pascal and Michael Pittman Jr. are known for their blue collar attitude in the running game and willingness to mix things up on the ground. This means that T.Y. Hilton will see less of the field, at least when the score is so lopsided.
It was encouraging to see Daurice Fountain active and with an opportunity to not just play but to make his first two regular season receptions. Fountain was sidelined after a gruesome ankle injury near the end of training camp last year and it always feels good to see a young man’s hard work payoff.
Z Pascal WR 56 snaps 93%
M Pittman WR 35 snaps 58%
T Hilton WR 31 snaps 52%
D Fountain WR 19 snaps 32% 6 ST snaps 22%
A Dulin WR 13 snaps 22% 18 ST snaps 67%
While it’s encouraging that Jack Doyle was able to return to the field on Sunday, it’s equally encouraging that he wasn’t asked to do a lot in the receiving game. Mo Alie-Cox picked up where he left off a week ago by bringing in all three of his targets for 50 yards and a touchdown. MAC led his position group in snap counts and the Colts were able to allow Doyle more time to get healthy.
M Alie-Cox TE 36 snaps 60% 1 ST snaps 4%
J Doyle TE 32 snaps 53%
N Togiai TE 16 snaps 27% 6 ST snaps 22%
In what is arguably the strangest position in the snap count report, only tackle Braden Smith and guard Mark Glowinski were on the field for every offensive snap. It’s possible that Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly, and Anthony Castonzo won’t miss another healthy snap all season but with the game under control, Reich and company chose to give the backups an opportunity.
While these things might seem trivial, it could be particularly important in 2020. Most of the backups around the NFL will see and have seen very little opportunity without any preseason and with a limited training camp. It’s good for the development of rookie Danny Pinter and for Le’Raven Clark and Chaz Green to get some live reps in a game that matters.
B Smith G 60 snaps 100% 7 ST snaps 26%
M Glowinski G 60 snaps 100% 7 ST snaps 26%
Q Nelson G 53 snaps 88% 6 ST snaps 22%
A Castonzo T 53 snaps 88% 6 ST snaps 22%
R Kelly C 53 snaps 88%
D Pinter G 8 snaps 13% 1 ST snaps 4%
L Clark T 7 snaps 12% 7 ST snaps 26%
C Green T 7 snaps 12% 7 ST snaps 26%
Unlike the offensive line, the defensive line saw a rotation that was more consistent with what may occur for much of the season. Remember that defensive tackle Sheldon Day is likely to return from injured reserve, which could cut Taylor Stallworth out of the rotation. However, Chris Ballard’s plan all along was to throw players at opponents in waves, particularly on the defensive line.
While the defensive line has come up with big plays in consecutive weeks, it is worth noting that the unit tends to get out to slow starts. The Jets were moving the football relatively well early in the game and the line was unable to get Sam Darnold on the ground despite numerous opportunities. The close calls and hurries or pressure need to convert to sacks at some point if the defense is to reach its full potential.
D Buckner DE 47 snaps 73% 8 ST snaps 30%
D Autry DE 43 snaps 67% 1 ST snaps 4%
A Muhammad DE 39 snaps 61%
G Stewart NT 32 snaps 50% 8 ST snaps 30%
J Houston DE 32 snaps 50%
B Banogu DE 24 snaps 38%
T Lewis DE 20 snaps 31% 1 ST snaps 4%
T Stallworth DT 19 snaps 30%
While much will be made of the snap count split between Bobby Okereke and Anthony Walker, it’s important to acknowledge game script and situation. Walker is one of the best run defenders on the team. When an opponent is down multiple scores, running the football is not a priority.
On the other hand, Okereke was signed in part because of his range and athleticism. He did get beat a couple of time for completed passes, including the lone Jets touchdown to Braxton Berrios on Sunday, but he’ll see the field much more when Matt Eberflus is planning to limit an opponent’s passing game.
As with other positions, it was nice to get special teams ace Zaire Franklin a little time on defense just in case he would be needed at some point in the season.
D Leonard LB 57 snaps 89% 1 ST snaps 4%
B Okereke LB 52 snaps 81% 13 ST snaps 48%
A Walker LB 28 snaps 44% 7 ST snaps 26%
Z Franklin LB 5 snaps 8% 20 ST snaps 74%
With Rock Ya-Sin out for a second consecutive week, T.J. Carrie and Kenny Moore were asked to help on the outside. The impact from a secondary that has had to undergo considerable early season change due to injury is encouraging.
Carrie joined the team somewhat late in off-season process and was initially considered a veteran signing to backup Kenny Moore. His history showed that he could be a very productive nickel corner and would have limitations on the outside. Through two games this season, he has looked much stronger on the outside than expected. Granted, some of this could be due to opponent strength at quarterback and inexperience at receiver but he’s more than holding his own at this point.
Xavier Rhodes was signed to take over for Pierre Desir. The former All Pro appeared to be declining and some questioned whether the move would pan out at all. Fans in Indianapolis spent plenty of time watching former stars fizzle out in previous seasons and it’s accurate to say that Rhodes has been inconsistent, but it’s also incredible to see him start the year with 3 passes defended and two interceptions, which puts him in a position to surpass his statistical production in the passing game for the last two seasons combined.
If these two free agent signings can continue to perform close to their current level and Kenny Moore can stay healthy, the Colts could be a in a good spot at cornerback. If Rock Ya-Sin is also able to get back onto the field and can show that he is ready to make a second-year leap, the secondary could turn into a strength.
T Carrie CB 54 snaps 84% 9 ST snaps 33%
K Moore CB 53 snaps 83% 4 ST snaps 15%
X Rhodes CB 53 snaps 83%
I Rodgers CB 11 snaps 17% 5 ST snaps 19%
T Smith CB 7 snaps 11% 12 ST snaps 44%
With Malik Hooker out for the season with an Achilles injury, the Colts are likely to settle in with their safety rotation. Khari Willis is the de facto leader of the group in his second season. He remains a valuable run defender and has already paired with rookie Julian Blackmon for an interception in coverage.
Speaking of Blackmon, the youngster burst onto the scene against the Vikings with an impressive start for his career. He was quiet against the Jets but there was also very little by way of the downfield passing game to defense. Expect that Nick Folks or Mitchell Trubisky will push the ball down the field more next week and Blackmon will get another chance to show how he can impact the game.
Tavon Wilson saw the field quite a bit in this one and could continue to rotate into the game in big nickel packages. He is better coming down against the run than he is in coverage but he does have a hybrid skillset that allow him to be productive in a variety of situations.
George Odum has been a stud on coverage units.
K Willis SS 57 snaps 89% 4 ST snaps 15%
J Blackmon FS 41 snaps 64% 3 ST snaps 11%
T Wilson SS 23 snaps 36% 14 ST snaps 52%
G Odum FS 7 snaps 11% 19 ST snaps 70%
As expected, the deepest areas of the roster are reserved heavily for special teams contributions. Rookie Jordan Glasgow was brought to Indianapolis specifically for his talent on special teams and had been very active in that role. E.J. Speed will likely get more opportunities with Matthew Adams on injured reserve. It will be interesting to see if or how long Ibraheim Campbell remain active once some other players start returning from injuries.
J Glasgow LB 20 ST snaps 74%
E Speed LB 15 ST snaps 56%
I Campbell FS 13 ST snaps 48%
Rodrigo Blankenship had an up and down training camp performance that left the media in attendance to assume Chase McLaughlin would start the year on the active roster. Chris Ballard and the front office went with the spirited locker room personality instead and the regular season results have also been mixed.
Don’t get me wrong, hitting 8 of 10 field goal tries isn’t an awful percentage — and McLaughlin finished 2019 with a 78.3% total conversion percentage — but all five of McLaughlin’s missed last year were from 40+ yards and Blankenship has missed off of the upright from 30 and 41 yards. He also hit the upright on an extra point but got a good bounce.
The patience for these types of things tends to be on the shorter end of the spectrum. Missing a field goal to end the half against the Jets may not have matter but when the team faces tougher opponents those points could be the difference in a win or a loss.
L Rhodes LS 11 ST snaps 41%
R Sanchez P 18 ST snaps 67%
R Blankenship K 7 ST snaps 26%