The Detroit Lions (1-0) got off to a roaring start to kick off the 2023 season, taking down the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, 21-20. Let’s take a closer look at what each player’s snap count tells us, and explore what this says about their current and future statuses.
Jared Goff: 70 (100%)
Teddy Bridgewater: DNP
Goff played every snap, as expected, including taking knees in victory formation. Overall a solid night for the Lions quarterback, who continued his streak of passing attempts without throwing an interception—which now stands at 359 passing attempts, the third-longest streak in NFL history.
David Montgomery: 55 (79%)
Jahmyr Gibbs: 19 (27%)
Jason Cabinda: 11 (16%) — 20 special teams snaps (74%)
Craig Reynolds: 0 (0%) — 16 (59%)
Montgomery started and was the Lions' workhorse, touching the ball 21 times compared to Gibbs’ nine. The touch distribution will likely draw closer to even as Gibbs gains more experience, but for now, Montgomery's ability to pass protect is going to get him on the field. In total, Montgomery was on the field for nine pass protection snaps, while Gibbs was not asked to pass block at all. That being said, Gibbs' six forced missed tackles on seven rushing attempts are going to earn him more time.
Cabinda saw less than a dozen snaps on offense and Reynolds only played on special teams. If the starting duo stays healthy, this distribution is probably what the Lions would prefer.
Sam LaPorta: 58 (83%)
Brock Wright: 27 (39%) — 14 (52%)
James Mitchell: 6 (9%) — 8 (30%)
LaPorta was brought in with the idea that he could develop into a two-way player at tight end and he may have already reached that goal. On Thursday night, he ran 27 routes and blocked on 31 snaps. Not only did LaPorta secure five receptions (second most on the team behind only Amon-Ra St. Brown), but he also sealed the alley on Montgomery’s game-winning touchdown run.
Wright settles back into the TE2 role he played when T.J. Hockenson was with the team, playing close to 40% of snaps and catching the ball twice. Mitchell continues to fight for snaps but is also clearly TE3.
Amon-Ra St. Brown: 66 (94%)
Josh Reynolds: 49 (70%)
Marvin Jones Jr.: 39 (56%)
Kalif Raymond: 19 (27%) — 5 (19%)
Antoine Green: DNP
St. Brown carried the team for most of the game while Reynolds and Jones struggled with drops early. Reynolds eventually righted the ship, but after Jones’ second drop, Raymond’s role expanded and he saw more time late in the game. If the Lions continue to start Jones moving forward, don’t be surprised if he and Raymond end up splitting reps closer to even.
Taylor Decker: 70 (100%)
Penei Sewell: 70 (100%) — 3 (11%)
Frank Ragnow: 70 (100%)
Jonah Jackson: 70 (100%) — 3 (11%)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 70 (100%) — 3 (11%)
Matt Nelson: 1 (1%) — 3 (11%)
Graham Glasgow: 0 (0%) — 3 (11%)
Colby Sorsdal: 0 (0%) — 3 (11%)
Vaitai got the start at right guard, as expected, and the starting five played a full game together for the first time in over two years—though MLive’s Kyle Meinke is reporting that Decker left the locker room in a protective walking boot, which will be something to monitor over the next 10 days.
Vaitai’s 88.4 overall PFF grade led the entire Lions offense. Both he and Sewell created lots of noise in the run game on the right side of the offensive line.
After leaning on six offensive linemen sets last season, they only used that formation—with Nelson at tight end—once in this game.
Aidan Hutchinson: 59 (91%) — 3 (11%)
Charles Harris: 52 (80%) — 4 (15%)
John Cominsky: 27 (42%) — 3 (11%)
James Houston: 21 (32%) — 7 (26%)
Josh Paschal: 17 (26%) — 1 (4%)
Romeo Okwara: INACTIVE
Nothing illustrates how versatile the Lions’ edge rushers are more than snap counts. Hutchinson played all but six snaps and never looked tired at any point, even though he was getting heavily double-teamed in the second half. Hutchinson recorded an impressive 7 (!) quarterback pressures in this game, as his sophomore season is off to a really solid start.
Cominsky got the technical start opposite Hutchinson, but the snaps distribution shows how much the Lions plan on leaning on Charles Harris. Paschal’s path to the field is going to be inhibited a bit by Cominsky, but it’s worth noting that Paschal made the pivotal stop on third down late in the game.
The Lions opted to roll with just three defensive tackles while leaning on the edge rushers—specifically Hutchinson, Cominsky, and Paschal—to help out inside. McNeill’s 78.6 overall grade from PFF led the defense, while Jones and Onwuzurike received scores closer to average.
Alex Anzalone: 61 (94%)
Derrick Barnes: 27 (42%) — 5 (19%)
Jack Campbell: 25 (38%) — 15 (56%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 14 (22%) — 20 (74%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 0 (0%) — 24 (89%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 24 (89%)
This distribution was pretty close to what was expected from this group and would not be surprising to see it stick like this for a few more weeks. Anzalone is going to play close to every snap, and while Barnes started, Campbell is just too good to keep off the field. Rodriguez is going to play situationally, while Reeves-Maybin and Pittman will be heavy lifters on special teams—they both led the team in special teams snaps.
Sutton and Jacobs played on every snap, while Branch would have played close to three-quarters of snaps had he not needed to leave the field after cramping up. Don’t let anyone tell you that Brach’s pick-six was run-of-the-mill or something most NFL defensive backs can do. We have seen plenty of defensive backs miss in that situation, and he has been making plays like this virtually every day during training camp.
Harris and Dorsey also played on a ton of special teams snaps, and Dorsey led the way with a 90.0 special teams grade from PFF.
C.J. Gardner-Johnson: 65 (100%)
Kerby Joseph: 65 (100%) — 8 (30%)
Tracy Walker: 0 (0%) — 9 (33%)
Ifeatu Melifonwu: 0 (0%) — 9 (33%)
It was a tick surprising to see Walker on the bench for every defensive snap, but the situations never provided him an opportunity. That may change moving forward, but they clearly feel comfortable with Gardner-Johnson and Joseph.
Jack Fox: 13 (48%)
Scott Daly: 9 (33%)
Riley Patterson: 3 (11%)
With Fox kicking off, Patterson only saw the field on extra point attempts, but to his credit, he easily made all three, which was pivotal in a one-point game.