clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wild Card snap counts: Lions rotate DL, manage Aidan Hutchinson’s illness

A look at the Detroit Lions’ snap counts from their Wild Card playoff win over the Los Angeles Rams.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Detroit Lions Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions defeated the Los Angeles Rams 24-23 in the Wild Card round of the 2023-24 playoffs, in what was the most thrilling game of the first round. On offense, it was very much business as usual, while the defense needed to make adjustments to the Rams’ scheme and an illness to their star player.

Let’s take a closer look in our Wild Card playoff snap counts.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff: 56 (100%)
Teddy Bridgewater: N/A
Hendon Hooker: INACTIVE

Taking those knees in victory formation must’ve been oh-so-sweet for Jared Goff.

Running backs

David Montgomery: 30 (54%)
Jahmyr Gibbs: 19 (34%)
Jason Cabinda (FB): 7 (12%) — 19 special teams snaps (76%)
Craig Reynolds: 7 (12%) — 10 (40%)

The Lions needed to have a successful running game in order to accomplish their offensive goals. So, while Montgomery and Gibbs each ended the game with 68 all-purpose yards, it was Montgomery who found more success on the ground and that’s likely the reason he saw the field more often than the explosive rookie.

Tight ends

Sam LaPorta: 45 (80%)
Brock Wright: 23 (41%) — 4 (16%)
Anthony Firkser: 4 (7%) — 6 (24%)

LaPorta’s snaps took a slight dip as he was working through an injury that limited his overall game, and in turn, Wright—who was returning to the lineup after three missed games—saw more snaps than the Lions' typical TE2. There were also several times the Lions set up in two tight end sets, as they looked to stay physical on offense.

Wide receivers

Amon-Ra St. Brown: 52 (93%)
Josh Reynolds: 48 (86%)
Jameson Williams: 39 (70%)
Antoine Green: 3 (5%) — 7 (28%)
Donovan Peoples-Jones: 2 (4%) — 8 (32%)
Kalif Raymond: INACTIVE, injured

With Raymond out due to injury, the Lions leaned heavily on their top three targets, while the rookie Green surprisingly had one more snap than the veteran Peoples-Jones. Some of this was likely by design for their opponent, but because the Lions want to control the game on the ground, we could see this style of snap distribution in the division round of the playoffs.

Offensive line

Taylor Decker: 56 (100%)
Jonah Jackson: 56 (100%)
Frank Ragnow: 56 (100%)
Graham Glasgow: 56 (100%) — 4 (16%)
Penei Sewell: 56 (100%) — 4 (16%)
Dan Skipper: 1 (2%) — 4 (16%)
Kayode Awosika: 0 (0%) — 4 (16%)
Colby Sorsdal: 0 (0%) — 4 (16%)

After a recent string of games with Skipper taking on multiple snaps as the team's sixth offensive lineman, they only used him once in that role in this game—and boy was it in a big moment.

Defense

EDGE:

Aidan Hutchinson: 44 (76%) — 1 (4%)
Josh Paschal: 43 (74%)
Romeo Okwara: 31 (53%) — 6 (24%)
John Cominsky: 22 (38%) — 6 (24%)
Julian Okwara: INACTIVES
Charles Harris: INACTIVES

Hutchinson has been averaging close to 90% of defensive snaps, but he was noticeably being subbed out regularly in this game, which seemed strange given the magnitude. Turns out, Hutchinson caught an illness that has been working its way through the Lions' locker room of late, and it was limiting his ability to operate at his normal rate.

“I woke up yesterday with a little something and endurance was cut a little bit today,” Hutchinson said in his post-game press conference (where his cold was very noticeable). “But we’ll be good in a couple of days. I just told Romeo (Okwara), ‘Be ready. Every three or four plays, I might need a sub.’ But this moment is way bigger than everything.”

While his snaps were reduced, Hutchinson’s production thrived. Not only was he credited with six tackles, two sacks, and five quarterback hits in the box score, but the advanced analytics were also incredibly impressive:

He also got some love from former players and national analysts on social media:

And while Hutchinson’s numbers are sensational, his biggest play of the game came late in the fourth quarter when he forced a holding call, effectively pushing the Rams out of field goal range and leading to a punt. Two first down from the Lions offense later and they secured the victory.

As for the rest of the edge rushers, Okwara saw an increased role to pick up the reps Hutchinson needed off, while Paschal nearly doubled Cominsky’s snaps, as he is also coming off an illness that landed him on the injury report this week.

DT:

Alim McNeill: 43 (74%) — 5 (20%)
Tyson Alualu: 22 (38%)
Levi Onwuzurike: 13 (22%)
Benito Jones: 11 (19%) — 9 (36%)
Brodric Martin: INACTIVE

To match up with the Rams' athleticism, the Lions often leaned on their athletes more in this game, and that meant a dip in opportunities for the big fellas on the interior. McNeill looks fully back from injury with an impressive snap count, while Alualu continues to outsnap the rest of the interior defenders.

Linebackers

Alex Anzalone: 54 (93%) — 1 (4%)
Derrick Barnes: 32 (55%) — 6 (24%)
Jack Campbell: 22 (38%) — 14 (56%)
Jalen Reeves-Maybin: 11 (19%) — 20 (80%)
Anthony Pittman: 0 (0%) — 20 (80%)
Malcolm Rodriguez: 0 (0%) — 15 (60%)

The Lions used a lot of two-linebacker sets in this game, as they spent the majority of the game in subpackages, matching up with the Rams' offensive personnel. Anzalone was forced to miss a few snaps after injuring his shoulder, while Barnes and Campbell basically split the MIKE role, with a few sprinkles of Reeves-Maybin in specific situations.

The Lions have been using Reeves-Maybin in specific roles of late and the return has been solid. While he only played on 11 snaps, he earned a 97.5 overall grade from PFF, including a 97.2 run defense grade. That’s huge production from the All-Pro/Pro Bowl special teamer.

Cornerbacks

Cam Sutton: 58 (100%)
Kindle Vildor: 58 (100%)
Brian Branch: 57 (98%)
Will Harris: 0 (0%) — 20 (80%)
Chase Lucas: 0 (0%) — 20 (80%)
Khalil Dorsey: 0 (0%) — 14 (56%)
Steven Gilmore: INACTIVE

The Lions' top three corners basically played the entire game as they combated the Rams' 11 personnel looks. Branch ended the day with seven tackles—second most on the team in this game—a pass deflection, and a pressure. Illustrating once again why he should see as many snaps as possible.

Safety

Ifeatu Melifonwu: 42 (72%) — 12 (48%)
C.J. Gardner-Johnson: 38 (66%)
Kerby Joseph: 37 (64%) — 6 (24%)
Tracy Walker: INACTIVE

While the Lions' top three corners basically never left the field, the Lions' safeties rotated through two spots. Gardner-Johnson did see one more snap than Joseph, but he was filling in for the one snap Branch took off. Melifonwu continues to play at the highest level of this group and that is likely why he is seeing more snaps than the other two.

Special teams

Jack Fox: 12 (48%)
Jake McQuaide: 7 (28%)
Michael Badgley: 4 (16%)

Fox continues to operate at a high level, averaging 49.3 yards on his three punts, including a beautiful 61-yarder. Badgley’s 54-yard field goal was the final three points the Lions scored in the game.

Subscribe to PODD

After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.