Steelers game planning similar to Patriots victory, but results in Saints loss

Each week we’ll take a look at the composition of the Steelers wins and losses (and ties too) by examining the team’s snap counts on offense and defense. Here’s a look at the makeup of last week’s game.

Going up against the juggernaut that is the New Orleans Saints, the Steelers knew they would have their hands full on both sides of the football. The scenario wasn’t much different than a week earlier against the New England Patriots, either. In fact, Pittsburgh deployed much of the same philosophy with attacking the Saints as they did with their AFC foe.

Here’s a breakdown and analysis on the playing time and how the Steelers game planned for the Saints.

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Player Snaps Pct
Foster 75 100%
Feiler 75 100%
Villanueva 75 100%
DeCastro 75 100%
Roethlisberger 75 100%
Pouncey 75 100%
Brown 72 96%
Smith-Schuster 69 92%
Samuels 53 71%
Rogers 38 51%
Switzer 35 47%
McDonald 34 45%
Washington 27 36%
James 17 23%
Grimble 15 20%
Nix 5 7%
Ridley 5 7%
Okorafor 4 5%
Heyward-Bey 1 1%

I wish I could tell you that there was much of a difference with Sunday’s game plan on the offensive side of the ball, but there wasn’t.

As predicted earlier on the Steel City Underground Podcast pregame show, the Steelers leaned on their deep group of receivers in the absence of RB James Conner. That meant ample playing time for Ryan Switzer and Eli Rogers, who both saw roughly half of the offensive snaps.

Mysteriously, Jesse James has disappeared from games, with Xavier Grimble seeing spot duty and even Vance McDonald watching his usage dip in recent weeks.

No surprises here, including Jaylen Samuels usage. Just a wonder why the Steelers didn’t use the five receivers more often after gaining a lead is the only question mark when looking at this table.

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Player Snaps Pct
Edmunds 66 100%
Haden 66 100%
Davis 65 98%
Sensabaugh 64 97%
Watt 64 97%
Heyward 57 86%
Dupree 54 82%
Tuitt 50 76%
Williams 47 71%
Burnett 47 71%
Hilton 37 56%
Hargrave 30 45%
Fort 23 35%
Bostic 18 27%
Alualu 15 23%
McCullers 13 20%
Sutton 7 11%
Chickillo 2 3%
Dangerfield 2 3%

The Steelers defensive philosophy continued with a bend but don’t break mantra, utilizing more defensive backs by playing a healthy Morgan Burnett significantly throughout the game.

The secondary remained largely untouched with nearly 100% participation amongst Joe Haden, Coty Sensabaugh, Terrell Edmunds, and Sean Davis. Mike Hilton was his usual chess piece, while Cameron Sutton continued to find himself in subpackages late in the season.

The most notable change came as Vince Williams went down during the game. L.J. Fort entered the game for over a third of the defensive snaps.


Statistics courtesy of the National Football League

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