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Detroit Lions 2019 season snap counts: Breaking down personnel decisions on offense

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A look at how injuries and personnel decisions shaped the Lions offense in 2019.

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions offense was the only team’s saving grace for most of the season. Matthew Stafford was on his way to a career year before his back injury. The running game looked viable at times, explosive at other times. For most of the season, the Lions had two of the top receivers when it came to touchdowns. And the offensive line managed to do more good than bad for the majority of the season.

Let’s take a look at the players who took up the majority of playing time on that side of the ball and the decision-making process by the coaching staff.

2019 Detroit Lions offensive snap counts

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford: 542 (50.2%)
David Blough: 319 (29.6%)
Jeff Driskel: 218 (20.2%)

This is obviously all about injuries. For the first time since 2010, Stafford logged fewer than 1,000 snaps on the season. The remaining snaps were split by Jeff Driskel (three games) and David Blough (five games).

Running backs

Ty Johnson: 311 (28.8%)
Kerryon Johnson: 274 (25.4%)
J.D. McKissic: 257 (23.8%)
Bo Scarbrough: 167 (15.5%)
(FB) NIck Bawden: 124 (11.%)
C.J. Anderson: 36 (3.3%)
Paul Perkins: 24 (2.2%)
Wes Hills: 23 (2.1%)
Tra Carson: 19 (1.8%)

It’s downright shocking that Ty Johnson led all the Lions running backs in snaps, but that goes to show you just how injured this team was at the running back level. The Lions shuffled through running back after running back, and couldn’t seem to stick with any whether it was due to injury (Kerryon Johnson, Bo Scarbrough) or ineffectiveness (Tra Carson).

Interestingly enough, six different running backs logged at least one start for the Lions in 2019. Detroit will be hoping for a little more stability next year.

Wide receivers

Kenny Golladay: 937 (86.8%)
Marvin Jones Jr.: 818 (75.8%)
Danny Amendola: 642 (59.5%)
Chris Lacy: 128 (11.9%)
Marvin Hall: 127 (11.8%)
Travis Fulgham: 63 (5.8%)
Tom Kennedy: 8 (0.1%)

The Lions stayed relatively healthy at wide receiver until late in the season (excluding Jermaine Kearse). There likely won’t be much—if any—roster turnover here, with only Amendola facing free agency. This unit looks pretty stable for the future.

Tight ends

T.J. Hockenson: 525 (48.7%)
Jesse James: 493 (45.7%)
Logan Thomas: 336 (31.1%)
Isaac Nauta: 41 (3.8%)

Despite missing the last four games due to a serious knee injury, Hockenson led the way in snaps among tight ends. That’s both a testament to how important the Lions view him to be and a condemnation of the (lack of) impact Jesse James made on the team this year. Despite only 32 snaps separating the two, the stats for each player were drastically different:

Hockenson: 32 catches, 367 yards, 2 TDs
James: 16 catches, 142 yards, 0 TDs

Yikes.

Logan Thomas actually better production than James, with more yards and a touchdown on the same number of receptions. But Thomas is a free agent, and the Lions are tied to James’ contract for at least one more year.

Centers/Guards

Frank Ragnow: 996 (92.3%)
Graham Glasgow: 872 (80.8%)
Joe Dahl: 798 (74.0%)
Kenny Wiggins: 438 (40.6%)
Oday Aboushi: 143 (13.3%)

Again, the Lions stayed fairly healthy at these positions, but the big story here is the ever-unpopular guard rotation that the Lions employed all year. Between Frank Ragnow, Graham Glasgow and Joe Dahl, the starting trio only missed a total of five starts between them, but Kenny Wiggins was regularly pulling in 25-40 percent of snaps in rotation.

Three of these five interior offensive linemen—Glasgow, Wiggins and Aboushi—are facing free agency, so it’ll be interesting to see who stays and goes.

Offensive tackles

Taylor Decker: 1017 (94.3%)
Rick Wagner: 753 (69.8%)
Tyrell Crosby: 397 (36.8%)
Dan Skipper: 6 (0.1%)

No one on the entire team logged more snaps in 2019 than left tackle Taylor Decker, which is obviously great for the team since he was playing some of the best football of his career. Now entering a contract year, you have to wonder if he’ll be asking for a huge pay bump this summer.

Elsewhere, second-year player Tyrell Crosby looked somewhat promising in his five replacement starts, including one at left tackle. With Rick Wagner’s bulky contract now potentially escapable, Crosby could be close to becoming a full-time starter.