Buffalo Bills: Predicting the snap counts on the revamped defensive line
By Daniel Bruce
Defensive End (Starters)
The Buffalo Bills used a heavy three defensive end rotation consisting of Jerry Hughes, Trent Murphy and Shaq Lawson last season but the Bills will employ a bit of a different look this season.
The Buffalo Bills will most likely roll into 2020 with Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison at defensive end, with Trent Murphy most likely being the primary backup, a role Shaq Lawson played last season. This would leaves A.J. Epenesa to rush on situational instances, more so early in the year.
With Hughes and Addison being the starters for next season they will be seeing the lions share of snaps.
McDermott has shown some affinity in the past for using heavy rotations on the edge and not once had a defensive end play over 70 percent of snaps.
In 2017 and 2018, McDermott had one heavily used starter at right defensive end (Hughes), and went with a platoon role on the left side.
During the 2017 season, McDermott went with Hughes for two thirds of the total snaps, and then went with a rotation on left end, consisting of Eddy Yarborough at 41.70% and Ryan Davis at 41.25% as the primary rotation on the left side. Shaq Lawson contributed as a primary backup to Hughes.
In 2018 once again the Buffalo Bills used Hughes as a primary on the right side accumulating two thirds of the snaps yet again, while on the left side they split snaps between Murphy and Lawson, both with exactly 43.39% of snaps.
This coming season should be relatively similar to last season as the Buffalo Bills had three starter level defensive ends and found a way to make it work, and only used a rotation of the three during the last half of the season. Trent Murphy accouting for 65.06% and Hughes accounting for 63.90% of the snaps, while Lawson played both sides and had 46.62% of snaps.
Addison has the ability to play the right side as well and could conceivably see more snaps on the right side splitting with Hughes, and on passing downs rushing off the left side when Buffalo will let their versatility shine. The snap counts all around will be lower than normal with the addition of A.J. Epenesa.
Jerry Hughes had been the most consistent player in terms of snap percentage, carrying around two thirds of the snaps at the defensive end position over the last three seasons.
Hughes played 63.90% of the snaps last season but now with Addison, who likes to rush off the same side, he could see a decline in his snaps.
From recent trends shown by the Buffalo Bills, and with more versatility added to the line, expect Hughes’ snaps to be somewhere in the high 50 percent range.
Addison is in an odd situation as he is expected to be the starter at left defensive end, but should have to compete for snaps with Trent Murphy, if the Buffalo Bills decides to keep him. With Addison rushing off the right side in Carolina, he could see a bulk of snaps there instead of the left side. While he is expected to be the starter at left end, him and Trent Murphy should see a pretty even split at the position.
Addison will be able to rush off both sides and he may have a low snap count coming off the left side, he will still hover around 50 percent.