The Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the Carolina Panthers yesterday, and the snap counts once again tell an interesting story. Here are the main takeaways from the snap counts for Sunday's game.
The cornerback situation makes no sense
Tim Jennings played 97% of the snaps, and played reasonably well. He's been an okay defender throughout this season, and him getting a lot of snaps makes sense with Johnthan Banks out. What doesn't make sense is that Mike Jenkins played almost as much: 90% of the snaps to Alterraun Verner's 17% (!). Jenkins got beat for two touchdowns last night and was a liability all game long. Verner isn't the best cornerback in the world, but he's certainly better than Jenkins.
George Johnson is the second bust of the season
The Bucs traded a fifth-round for George Johnson in an effort to improve the team's pass rush. Instead, he played only 32% of the defensive snaps and was once again invisible. His replacement was William Gholston, who played more snaps than any other defensive lineman and once again had a very good day against the run. He's not quite a good pass rusher, but he's showing more and more flashes -- and he's easily making a bigger impact than Johnson, who is now reduced to being a rotational defensive end. The Bucs didn't spend a ton to get Johnson, but they would have had better results simply keeping undrafted rookie Ryan Delaire instead.
The first free agency bust of the season was Bruce Carter, by the way, who played just 22% of the snaps, well behind Danny Lansanah's 44%. The Bucs spent most of the day in base personnel given the Panthers' lack of receiving talent.
DJ Swearinger is no longer a factor
3% of the snaps for D.J. Swearinger, with Bradley McDougald and Chris Conte getting 95% and 83% of the defensive plays. Keith Tandy (15%) is now getting on the field more frequently than Swearinger, and we can expect the latter's playing time to decrease even further once Major Wright gets back from injury. All of this is pretty much deserved: Chris Conte has looked very good in coverage, though less so in run defense, while Bradley McDougald has been solid if not exactly jumping off the screen. Swearinger, meanwhile, is a hard hitter who can be a liability because of his failure to consistently do what is asked of him in this defense. It was a nice dream while it lasted.
Tight end is a major issue
Brandon Myers played 71% of the offensive snaps and Cameron Brate 28%. The two saw four combined targets, catching two for a whopping 15 yards. The Bucs need Austin Seferian-Jenkins desperately.
Running back split continues
Doug Martin: 48% of the snaps. Charles Sims: 49%. The near-even split continues and shows no signs of abating.