The composition of a game plan is forthcoming after the fact when you look at snap totals.
Sunday’s Steelers win over the Colts is no different, showing a side of the team that has surfaced in recent weeks over their three-game winning streak.
Among the patterns, first on offense, is a commitment to using multiple tight ends. When the season began, the team seldom used backup TE Xavier Grimble, while Vance McDonald was banged up and the rookie Zach Gentry has largely been inactive on game days.
Over the course of the last three games, however, the Steelers offense has deployed backup tackle Zach Banner anywhere from 24-34% of the time on offense. Mixed in with McDonald and Nick Vannett, the trio can be seen roughly a third of the game and a duo of the normal tight ends plays roughly half of the game.
Roosevelt Nix’ inclusion following a return from injury is roughly around a quarter of the offensive snaps in his first two games back as well.
The wide receivers are a mixed bag. Notably, Johnny Holton has seen the largest uptick in playing time over a four-game stretch going back against the Ravens, where the offseason standout has transitioned into playing more offensive snaps. Having not broken double-digit playing time in the team’s first four games, Holton has now seen 20, 32, 26, and 22 plays respectively, which is good for anywhere from 30-some-percent on up to half of the game against Miami.
Ryan Switzer, who failed to register playing time against the 49ers and Bengals, and only had a pair of snaps against the Ravens and Dolphins, was seen eight times last Sunday against the Colts too.
If you’re wondering why JuJu Smith-Schuster may not be putting up the numbers he did last season, his playing time is a factor too. Playing in nearly 100% of games early on, JuJu has fallen into the 75% range the last two weeks and is rotated out with James Washington, Diontae Johnson, and Holton.
On defense it should come as no surprise that Tyson Alualu and Javon Hargrave each had their largest shares of playing time thus far in 2019. That is in part to Stephon Tuitt being placed on IR. Isaiah Buggs was once again active this week and logged some snaps as well in Tuitt’s absence.
Mark Barron saw a significant amount of playing time this week too. His use seems to fluctuate depending on whether the Steelers anticipate defending the run or the pass; as well as what tight ends they are facing. That may have caused Vince Williams to see among his lowest snaps this season, barring games in which he left with an injury.
The full snap totals are below for both sides of the ball, with little having changed among other positions such as the offensive linemen or secondary this week.