Cleveland Browns snap count analysis shows surprises
Analysis of the snap counts from the painful Browns loss to Kansas City provides insight into what we can expect this season.
The Cleveland Browns snap counts from Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs confirm some beliefs we had from the preseason but also reveal a few surprising trends. The actual snap counts are listed below, with the percentages of offensive snaps listed alongside, courtesy of NFL.com.
Starting with the quarterback, Baker Mayfield, of course, played the entire game, as did all the offensive lineman except for young Jed Wills who went out with an ankle injury which is believed not to be serious. Still, the Dawg Pound is glad that Andrew Berry and the Haslams decided to ante up for Chris Hubbard’s salary this season.
There was some thought that they might seek to recover some cap space by cutting him, as a rule of thumb in a salary-cap league is to not spend money on second-string players even when they are very talented. However, Hubbard was able to substitute for Wills at the critical left tackle position and keep the ship afloat.
At wide receiver, Odell Beckham, Jr., was a late scratch. We found out that Donovan Peoples-Jones was promoted to the WR2 slot in this situation, which is not a shock. What was surprising was that Anthony Schwartz became the new WR3 over Rashard Higgins.
Schwartz accounted for 86 yards from scrimmage in 31 snaps, which is a very high number. Higgins at times was the best receiver on the Browns last season in the absence of OBJ, and with Landry not at full efficiency with bruised (probably broken, but he won’t admit it) ribs.
Your friendly writers at Dawg Pound Daily have been trying to prepare you to accept that the young receivers are for real and that they are going to cut into Higgins’ playing time, but even we were shocked to see Higgins with only four snaps in this game.
We’ve been saying for years that it’s not that Higgins is such a fantastic receiver, it’s that Mayfield can throw the ball at him and make it stick to him. Some of these kids, even on the practice squad, can actually catch the ball and you may see Mayfield dramatically improve. In particular, Schwartz may be more advanced than we were thinking.
At tight end, the Browns deployed two tight ends about 65% of the time. Only three snaps separated Austin Hooper from David Njoku. Njoku had 76 yards and Hooper had 27. Both of these tight ends are very good, though Njoku seems to generate quite a bit of negative complaints on social media.
One of the silliest complaints is that he gets paid too much. Well, Hooper’s cap number is $8.25 million and Njoku is $6.01 million. Tight ends are just cheaper than wide receivers, fans, and in fact, they are half-price. The two-tight-end offense makes so much sense in a salary cap league. However, on a cost-per-yard basis as well as a yard-per-snap basis, Anthony Schwartz clobbered everyone this week!
As for running backs, the Browns split time between Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Browns averaged 1.0 tailback on the field. Andy Janovich, another blue-collar player, also helped juice the running game 19% of the time.
Offensive snaps analysis
Baker Mayfield QB 59 100%
OFFENSIVE LINE: The Browns had five linemen throughout the game. They had better, because it’s in the rules!
J.C. Tretter C 59 100%
Jack Conklin T 59 100%
Joel Bitonio G 59 100%
Wyatt Teller G 59 100%
Jed Wills T 20 34%
Chris Hubbard T 34 66%
WIDE RECEIVERS: The Browns averaged 2.26 wide receivers. That tells us that most of the time there were only two wide receivers. This is not a run-and-shoot team.
Jarvis Landry WR1 51 86%
Donovan Peoples-Jones WR2 47 80%
Anthony Schwartz WR3 31 53%
Rashard Higgins WR4 4 7%
TIGHT ENDS: The Browns averaged 1.65 tight ends on the field. Most of the time, it is a two-tight-end offense.
Austin Hooper TE 38 64%
David Njoku TE 35 59%
Harrison Bryant TE 19 32%
RUNNING BACKS: The Browns averaged 1.0 running backs on the field, not counting Andy Janovich, who was used 19% of the time. They had a big kid in place of WR3 84% of the time.
Nick Chubb RB 31 53%
Kareem Hunt RB 28 47%
Andy Janovich FB 11 19%
****Some of you out there who enjoy nit-picking me to death may ask whether the Jamie Gillan fumbled punt play should count as a rushing attempt. I think the answer is that if it was a trick play it counts as an offensive snap, but if he just screwed it up while trying to punt it is a special teams snap, but I’m not 100% certain.
If one of you sharpshooter fans can find the rule number in the NFL rulebook, the Dawg Pound would be grateful if you would cite it for us in the comments.
Next, let’s take a look at the defensive snaps.