The Green Bay Packers’ 43-34 win over the Minnesota Vikings in week one resulted in some remarkable numbers. Perhaps no number is more striking, however, than the time of possession: Green Bay held the ball for 41:16 to Minnesota’s paltry 18:44, a dynamic that is reflected in the snap counts for the two teams.
The Packers ran a total of 78 offensive snaps to Minnesota’s 52, and Green Bay had the football for at least 9:30 in three of the four quarters of the game.
While that number is interesting, the snap breakdown at the tight end position for the Packers was particularly fascinating. The team’s initial depth chart last week showed Marcedes Lewis ahead of Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger (in that order), but Tonyan ended the day as the primary player at that position, getting more snaps than Lewis and Sternberger combined.
Read on below for the full breakdown of the Packers’ snap counts from Sunday afternoon.
OFFENSE (78 total)
Aaron Rodgers 76, Tim Boyle 2
Rodgers averaged over 8 yards per attempt and over 10 ANY/A in this game. It was his best statistical performance since last year’s 429-yard, 5-touchdown game against the Raiders, but this one looked more impressive on tape based on the way he was throwing the football — and it might have been closer statistically if not for a couple of key drops.
Boyle entered for two kneel-downs to end the game.
Aaron Jones 42, Jamaal Williams 31, Tyler Ervin 14, AJ Dillon 5
This would appear to be the Packers’ ideal split at running back. Jones gets a little over half of the snaps but about 2⁄3 of the running back carries, while Williams gets more action in passing situations, Ervin has a handful of gadget plays, and Dillon gets a couple snaps as a change of pace. It worked out pretty well for the most part, as the team gained over 150 yards on the ground.
Davante Adams 70, Allen Lazard 68, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 42, Malik Taylor 1
With Equanimeous St. Brown deactivated for the game, it was all on the top three receivers to produce, and produce they did. Adams was the go-to guy, as he should be all year — he saw 17 passes come his way and should have set the team record for receptions in a game if not for a drop in the end zone on fourth down. As it was, he caught 14 balls for 156 yards and two scores.
MVS’ day was a weird one — more on that in another post forthcoming. He had the huge touchdown at the end of the first half on a bomb from Rodgers, but followed that up with two terrible drops in the third quarter, one on a crossing route that should have been a first down and the other on a play-action dime from Rodgers that could have gone for a touchdown of 50-plus. But Rodgers kept throwing him the ball, and he came up with another handful of catches including a 39-yarder up the seam on a free play. He finished 4-of-6 with those two drops for 96 yards and a score.
Lazard was another solid, complementary option, and his short touchdown late in the game was one of Rodgers’ more underrated throws in the game. He caught all four targets for 63 yards and that score. The snaps clearly underscore that he is the team’s number two wideout, however, as he led MVS in snaps by a significant margin.
Robert Tonyan 48, Marcedes Lewis 32, Josiah Deguara 24, Jace Sternberger 12, John Lovett 1
The breakdown at this position was one of the most interesting facets of the game plan to this writer coming into the game. It turned out that Sternberger really is the third-stringer in terms of more conventional tight ends, as Tonyan easily led the way in snaps despite not seeing a pass thrown his way. Big Bob and Lewis seemed to be largely used as blockers, while Deguara’s versatility was on display in his NFL debut.
The rookie missed on a shot play up the sideline where he appeared to turn and look for the football too early, slowing down up the sideline. But he did record his first career catch, a 12-yarder, while lining up all over the formation. Perhaps his biggest play was a tremendous cut-block to take out two defenders that helped spring an Allen Lazard end-around for a 19-yard gain. Sternberger got the only other target among tight ends
David Bakhtiari 78, Elgton Jenkins 78, Corey Linsley 78, Lane Taylor 63, Rick Wagner 46, Lucas Patrick 32, Jon Runyan 15
The Packers lost a pair of linemen during this game, with Patrick leaving early — with what does not seem to be a major injury — and Taylor going out late. The fear is that Taylor’s injury is a season-ender, which would be a major blow to this team. However, the unit played remarkably well under duress, with Wagner and Runyan coming on in relief and not missing a beat. Rodgers was not sacked once, and the basic stats speak for themselves — it was a great performance in unfortunate circumstances for this unit.
DEFENSE (52 total)
Dean Lowry 39, Kingsley Keke 29, Tyler Lancaster 23, Kenny Clark 15
Perhaps the most problematic injury of the game was to Clark, who left in the second quarter and did not return. In his absence, more snaps went to the trio of Lowry, Keke, and Lancaster, the only other three active defensive linemen. If Clark’s injury is serious enough to make him miss time, look for the Packers to promote or acquire another lineman or two by next week’s game.
Za’Darius Smith 43, Preston Smith 43, Rashan Gary 32, Tipa Galeai 9, Jonathan Garvin 6
The new three-headed monster on the edge for the Packers put their talents on display in this game. Z had the only sack for this unit, but it came with both Smiths and Gary on the field together. Look for a heavy dose of this continuing in the future, as Gary recorded two hits on Kirk Cousins in the game.
Christian Kirksey 52, Krys Barnes 15, Oren Burks 3
The Packers had a major surprise in the starting lineup when Barnes was announced as the starter over Burks. He played well in limited duty, recording six tackles in his relatively brief time — including a tremendous TFL on Dalvin Cook on a screen pass. Kirksey stepped right into Blake Martinez’s role and stat line with 12 tackles of his own. The team also used Will Redmond as the dime linebacker with Raven Greene out.
Adrian Amos 52, Darnell Savage 46, Will Redmond 24, Vernon Scott 3
As noted above, Redmond played most of his snaps in the dime linebacker spot with Greene inactive for the game. Savage had a rough contest, totaling five tackles but giving up a puzzling touchdown to Adam Thielen in the fourth quarter. Amos and Redmond each had two tackles on the day.
Kevin King 51, Jaire Alexander 49, Chandon Sullivan 36, Josh Jackson 2
The Packers got a big game from Alexander, as he made his two big plays in the second quarter. His sack of Kirk Cousins gave the Packers two points and the football back after a failed fourth-and-goal series, and his one-handed interception late in the quarter afforded them a chance to score a second touchdown just before halftime. He and King each had five tackles; King alternated between impressive physical plays and a whiff or two, however. Meanwhile, Sullivan had three stops from the slot.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Ty Summers 19, Redmond 18, Burks 18, Lovett 14, Malik Taylor 14, Sternberger 13