One question surrounding the Washington Redskins is what will be the position make-up of the Redskins offense. We know of course that there will be five offensive linemen and a quarterback (hopefully Robert Griffin III), but how will the breakdown be for the other five skill positions? Will the Redskins utilize two tight end sets more, like say the New England Patriots? Will they spread it out with more three and four wide receiver sets like the New Orleans Saints? Or will they increasingly utilize the fullback spot, like the Baltimore Ravens or Oakland Raiders?
*snap count numbers are from Pro Football Focus
Well before we predict we should see how the Redskins broke down these snaps a year ago (For the purposes of this Brandon Banks will be considered a wide receiver). The Redskins had a total of 1,118 offensive snaps (including the playoffs), which multiplied by the five skill spots equals 5,590 possible snaps.
Here’s how they were broken down by position:
Wide Receiver: 2,651 snaps, or 47.4% of all skill position snaps
Running back: 1,083 snaps, or 19.3%
Tight end: 1,499 snaps, or 26.8%
Fullback: 357 snaps, or 6.3%
Now that might look like receiver completely dominates the position breakdown, but that is not necessarily true. Remember a base system would be two receivers, 1 tight end, running back and fullback. Two starting receivers would be on pace to account for 2,236 snaps on their own, that is just 400 less than what all the Redskins receivers combined put together. The way to really break it down is to compare the total snap counts to the 1,118 that make up full time work for these five skill positions.
Wide receiver: 2.37 of the 5 spots
Running back: 0.97 of the 5 spots
Tight end: 1.34 of the 5 spots
Fullback: 0.32 of the 5 spots
Now this is of course not necessarily saying that two or more receivers were on the field for every single play, as there were times where zero or just one receiver was out there. This is to show how much each position was utilized versus the 1,118 possible opportunities. What this is saying that receivers and tight end made up three whole spots, and the running backs made up 97% of another skill position spot (this is where it gets tricky with Brandon Banks, given how many snaps he had in the backfield and as a de facto back, this really should be over 100% as well). Of the remaining skill position spot (plus 3% of the running back spot), receivers, tight ends and fullbacks split the reps nearly in thirds.
What this shows really is that position flexibility and variety is important to the Redskins. They like to rotate their personnel packages, which gives them a lot of advantages against the defense, since most defenses likely won’t be as strong against the various packages.
For next season I’d expect similar results, though I wouldn’t be shocked if the receiver snap count took a bit of a hit. Their snap count was bolstered by Brandon Banks being utilized in a variety of trick plays (most of which started out of the backfield), that isn’t likely to happen again with a wide receiver, which could lead to more plays for running backs, particularly one with speed to create mismatches (either Roy Helu Jr. or a rookie). Speaking of running backs Alfred Morris was the only real viable back the Redskins had last year due to injuries. If that can change this year, I’d guess that the backs see their snap count go up. While some might say that those extra snaps should come from fullback Darrel Young, the fact is Young was so effective last year, that if anything his snap count should rise. Given how much the Redskins run the football, it is unlikely that we’d see those additional running back/fullback snaps come from the tight end position either. Also with the return of Fred Davis we may see even more two tight end sets if he’s reasonably healthy. Wide receivers will still likely lead the list, but it is likely that their overall percentage and share of the starting roles will decline somewhat.
What do you think? How should the Redskins skill position snaps breakdown?