Let’s take a closer look at the Detroit Lions Week 13 snap counts in their 29-27 WIN over the Minnesota Vikings.
Jared Goff: 72 (100%)
Jamaal Williams: 34 (47%)
Godwin Igwebuike: 28 (39%) — 19 special teams snaps (70%)
Jason Cabinda: 13 (18%) — 24 (89%)
Jermar Jefferson: 8 (11%)
Though Jamaal Williams dominated the running back group in touches (18 vs. 8 for the rest of the group), the load was pretty much split between him and Godwin Igwebuike. Rookie Jermar Jefferson barely played on Sunday, but interestingly, he was targeted six times (five runs, one pass) on his eight snaps.
T.J. Hockenson: 61 (85%)
Brock Wright: 29 (40%) — 15 (56%)
Quietly, Brock Wright is becoming a bigger part of the offense. While his 29 snaps weren’t exactly out of the ordinary ever since the Lions cut ties with Darren Fells, his three targets, two catches, 28 yards, and one touchdown were all career highs for him.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 69 (96%) — 7 (26%)
Josh Reynolds: 60 (83%)
Kalif Raymond: 35 (49%) — 3 (11%)
Tom Kennedy: 16 (22%) — 3 (11%)
KhaDarel Hodge: 7 (10%) — 10 (37%)
The Lions... may have something here with their receiving group. For the second straight week, they’ve leaned heavily on St. Brown and Reynolds as their two top guys and it paid off in this game. St. Brown played a career-high 22 snaps on the outside—as Dan Campbell promised a month ago—including his game-winning catch. He and Reynolds combined for 14 catches, 158 yards, and a touchdown. Haven’t seen those kinds of numbers from a receiving corps in a while.
Taylor Decker: 72 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 72 (100%)
Will Holden: 0 (0%) — 5 (19%)
Notable that both Decker and Sewell were not in on special teams, as both are likely dealing with injuries. Also, no heavy looks this week with a sixth offensive lineman. Have to wonder if that would’ve helped a little in both of those fourth-and-1 situations, but with no Matt Nelson, it’s possible the Lions simply didn’t feel they had the personnel to succeed there.
Jonah Jackson: 72 (100%) — 5 (19%)
Evan Brown: 72 (100%) — 5 (19%)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 72 (100%) — 5 (19%)
Ryan McCollum: 0 (0%) — 5 (19%)
Tommy Kraemer: 0 (0%) — 5 (19%)
McCollum and Kraemer picked up the special teams slack left by Decker and Sewell’s absence. Interesting that this week they went with Kraemer, while last week they used practice squader, Parker Ehinger.
Austin Bryant: 54 (71%)
Charles Harris: 53 (70%) — 3 (1 1%)
Julian Okwara: 28 (37%) — 13 (48%)
Jessie Lemonier: 10 (13%) — 3 (11%)
Rashod Berry: 10 (13%)
Austin Bryant continues to get a ton of opportunities, and he will continue to do so with Trey Flowers on injured reserve for at least the next two games. While the Lions had run with just three edge defenders for much of the last few weeks, they had five in the rotation this week. Jessie Lemonier had a career-high in snaps, while converted tight end Rashod Berry saw his first action of the year.
Defensive tackle snap counts
Levi Onwuzurike: 48 (63%) — 3 (11%)
Alim McNeill: 43 (57%)
Michael Brockers: 30 (39%)
Nick Williams: 21 (28%)
Bruce Hector: 21 (28%)
Look at those rookies top the list.
Okay, now to put these numbers in a bit of perspective. Nick Williams was injured early in this game, and although he did end up coming back, Levi Onwuzurike likely saw a spike in playing time because of it. Similarly, with no John Penisini available, Alim McNeill saw the most snaps in his young career.
Still, you have to wonder if this is the beginning of a shift in strategy here. Michael Brockers, who was also dealing with an injury, saw his lowest percentage of snaps all season.
Alex Anzalone: 76 (100%) — 3 (11%)
Josh Woods: 43 (57%) — 15 (56%)
Derrick Barnes: 35 (46%) — 1 (4%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 22 (81%)
Tavante Beckett: 0 (0%) — 16 (59%)
Alright, here’s where I think most fans will have an issue with personnel decisions. Rookie fourth-round pick Derrick Barnes was surpassed by Josh Woods, a certainly curious decision with Jalen Reeves-Maybin out. Woods had only played in four defensive snaps all season prior to Sunday, and it appears the Lions staff may have a little more trust in him than Barnes right now. To be fair, Woods is a three-year veteran.
However, I also wonder how much of this has to do with position. Barnes is pretty clearly being groomed to be the MIKE linebacker, but that job is currently being occupied by Alex Anzalone, whom the Lions like a lot. If Anzalone was the vacant spot over Reeves-Maybin, I wonder if Barnes would have gotten more playing time.
Tavante Beckett made his NFL debut but was stuck on special teams duty only.
Amani Oruwariye: 73 (96%)
Jerry Jacobs: 66 (87%) — 5 (19%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 10 (13%) — 9 (33%)
Mark Gilbert: 1 (1%) — 2 (7%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu made his return in this game, but you have to think he probably would’ve been relegated to special teams only had Jerry Jacobs not suffered an injury early in this game. Jacobs missed 10 defensive snaps in this game, which just so happens to be the exact amount Melifonwu played on defense.
Once again, the Lions used Will Harris as the nickel in this game.
Tracy Walker: 76 (100%) — 9 (33%)
Dean Marlowe: 71 (93%) — 6 (22%)
Will Harris: 58 (76%) — 8 (30%)
C.J. Moore: 9 (12%) — 19 (70%)
Jalen Elliott: 0 (0%) — 19 (70%)
Harris was basically a full-time nickel corner in this game, giving the opportunity for Dean Marlowe to set a season-high with 71 defensive snaps. Tracy Walker has become Detroit’s version of an Iron Man in the secondary.
Jack Fox: 14 (52%)
Scott Daly: 8 (30%)
Riley Patterson: 5 (19%)
Once again, it was Jack Fox on kickoff duties, while rookie kicker Riley Patterson was perfect on all five of his kicks.