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Breaking down Eagles' snap counts from 2023 regular season

Breaking down Eagles' snap counts from 2023 regular season originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles stumbled to the finish line of the 2023 regular season, losing 5 of their last 6 games but still finished with an 11-5 record. They’ll be playing the Buccaneers in Tampa in the wild card round on Monday night.

But before we get there, let’s take a closer look at the Eagles’ snap counts from the 2023 regular season.

On offense, the Eagles played a total of 1,147 snaps this season, just below the total of 1,179 snaps they played in 2022. The Eagles were clearly more productive in 2022 than 2023. Last year, they were 3rd in points and yards. This year, they were 7th and 8th.

On defense, the Eagles played 1,162 snaps this season, above their total of 1,106 snaps from the 2022 season. Not a huge difference. The Eagles were 8th in points allowed and 2nd in yards allowed last season. This year, they’re 30th and 26th in those two categories.

Let’s break it down by position:

Quarterback

Jalen Hurts: 1,103 snaps (96%)
Marcus Mariota: 44 snaps (4%)
Tanner McKee: 0 snaps

Despite a knee injury earlier in the season, Hurts managed to start all 17 games in 2023. This is the first time in his NFL career he has started every game. His 1,103 snaps are a new career high, passing his 1,028 from 2022. Mariota didn’t play in 15 of 18 games this season. And 37 of his 44 snaps came in Week 18 after Nick Sirianni elected to pull his starters after getting down big to the Giants. McKee was the third-string emergency quarterback all season. Because of the new rule in 2023, he dressed as an inactive player for every game but didn’t see the field.

Running back:

D’Andre Swift: 630 snaps (55%)
Kenny Gainwell: 442 snaps (39%)
Boston Scott: 68 snaps (6%)
Rashaad Penny: 31 snaps (3%)

The Eagles began the 2023 season with Gainwell as their No. 1 running back. In Week 1 against the Patriots, Gainwell played 41 snaps to Swift’s 19. But Gainwell got hurt in that game and missed Week 2. That’s when Swift had a 175-yard performance and didn’t lose his job as the top running back the rest of the way. Swift ended up having a career season. He went over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career and was named to the Pro Bowl. Swift also showed an ability to be more of a workhorse than his first three years in the NFL in Detroit. Swift set career highs in rushing attempts (229) and offensive snaps (630). His previous career highs were 151 and 560, both from the 2021 season.

Gainwell also set career highs in rushing attempts (84) and snaps (442). Gainwell played 39% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps after playing 29% and 28% in his first two NFL seasons. Scott and Penny barely played this season. Both set career lows in snaps for being on a roster all season. This was really a two-man backfield.

Receiver

DeVonta Smith: 1,043 snaps (91%)
A.J. Brown: 1,019 snaps (89%)
Olamide Zaccheaus: 471 snaps (41%)
Quez Watkins: 304 snaps (27%)
Julio Jones: 231 snaps (20%)
Britain Covey: 58 snaps (5%)
Devon Allen: 0 snaps

As expected, Smith and Brown led the way for the Eagles in snaps this season. Both had 1,000-yard seasons and continue to be one of the best 1-2 punches at receiver in the NFL, although both are banged up now heading into the playoffs.

After them, though, the Eagles struggled to find a consistent WR3 all year. Watkins began the season as the clear-cut No. 3 but then he suffered a hamstring injury. Here’s how many games (through the first 16 games) each option spent as the No. 3 receiver in terms of snaps: Zaccheaus 7 games, Watkins 5 games, Jones 4 games.

Watkins had a nice performance in Week 18 in a game that ended up not mattering much. It’ll be fascinating to see which receiver ends up being the third option in the playoffs. The Eagles didn’t even play Watkins in Week 17 but has he done enough to get out of the dog house?

Tight end

Dallas Goedert: 809 snaps (71%)
Jack Stoll: 438 snaps (38%)
Grant Calcaterra: 118 snaps (10%)
Albert Okwuegbunam: 57 snaps (5%)
Noah Togiai: 7 snaps (1%)

Another season, another injury holding back Goedert. This season, he missed three games after needing surgery for a broken forearm. Luckily for Goedert, the bye week came right after the injury so he didn’t have to miss another game. Even when healthy, though, Goedert’s numbers were down in 2023. He averaged just 42.3 yards per game after averaging 58.5 yards per game last season. For the second straight season, Stoll and Calcaterra finished as the Eagles’ No. 2 and No. 3 tight ends.

Offensive line

Jordan Mailata: 1,147 snaps (100%)
Jason Kelce: 1,108 snaps (97%)
Landon Dickerson: 1,046 snaps (91%)
Lane Johnson: 981 snaps (86%)
Cam Jurgens: 654 snaps (57%)
Sua Opeta: 527 snaps (46%)
Jack Driscoll: 172 snaps (15%)
Tyler Steen: 71 snaps (6%)
Fred Johnson: 35 snaps (3%)

Mailata became the first position player to play every single snap on his side of the ball since Jason Kelce and Malcom Jenkins did it in the 2019 season. In addition to his offensive snaps, Mailata also played 78 snaps on special teams this year, which gives him a team-high total of 1,225 snaps for the regular season. Kelce ended up being durable again this season, starting every game for the ninth consecutive season.

Dickerson missed one game after needing thumb surgery but still managed to start 16 of 17 games. Johnson also missed just one game this season but had to leave another after just nine snaps. His relative health is the reason for Driscoll’s drop-off in playing time. Jurgens was a first-year starter in 2023 and played well but did miss five games on IR with a foot injury and missed another with a pec injury. The Eagles’ top backup this season was Opeta, who filled in for Jurgens and Dickerson, starting six games. His 527 snaps smashed his previous career high of 170 back in 2020. And we saw a bit of the rookie Steen, who got 62 of his 71 snaps in a start against the Cowboys before the bye week when Opeta was banged up.

Defensive tackle

Fletcher Cox: 684 snaps (59%)
Jalen Carter: 563 snaps (48%)
Jordan Davis: 519 snaps (45%)
Milton Williams: 494 snaps (43%)
Marlton Tuipulotu: 162 snaps (14%)
Kentavius Street: 87 snaps (7%)
Moro Ojomo: 68 snaps (6%)

Even after missing two games this season, Cox still led the way for the Eagles’ interior defensive linemen. And in two fewer games, Cox played just 29 fewer snaps than he did last year. Last season, Cox played 713 snaps and Javon Hargrave played 712 so there was a big drop-off to the No. 2 guy in this year’s rotation. That went to Carter, who missed a game in his rookie season but still played an awful lot.

In Year 2 of his NFL career, Davis’s snap counts went up significantly from 224 (20%) to 563 (45%) and we’ve seen him struggle down the stretch. It’s possible he has hit a wall after playing as much as he has. The Eagles traded Street before the trade deadline but the seventh-round pick Ojomo didn’t start to play more until the end of the season — 50 of his 68 snaps came the last two weeks.

Edge rusher

Haason Reddick: 862 snaps (74%)
Josh Sweat: 828 snaps (71%)
Brandon Graham: 395 snaps (34%)
Nolan Smith: 188 snaps (16%)
Derek Barnett: 99 snaps (9%)
Patrick Johnson: 38 snaps (3%)

There was a major change in this edge rusher rotation in 2023 because the top two guys ended up playing so much. That wasn’t a change for Reddick, who still played 74% of the defense’s snaps but it was a change for Sweat, who played 71% after playing just 53% (587 snaps) in 2022. And it’s worth noting that Sweat’s production dipped dramatically late in the season. He didn’t have a sack in the final eight games of the season after having 6 1/2 in the first nine games.

The guy who lost the most snaps year-over-year was the 35-year-old Graham in Year 14 of his career. After playing 43% of the defense’s snaps in 2022, Graham was down to 34% in 2023. And it’s probably fair to say seeing those 188 snaps next to Smith’s name is disappointing. The Eagles used a first-round pick on him and he didn’t play very much. Barnett was also not playing much before was released. He did finish the season strong in Houston, though. In six games with the Texans, Barnett played 221 snaps (56%) and had 2 1/2 sacks and 11 QB hits.

Linebacker

Nicholas Morrow: 834 snaps (72%)
Zach Cunningham: 717 snaps (62%)
Nakobe Dean: 182 snaps (16%)
Shaquille Leonard: 164 snaps (14%)
Christian Elliss: 119 snaps (10%)
Ben VanSumeren: 50 snaps (4%)
Brandon Smith: 0 snaps

The Eagles’ leading linebacker in snaps did not make the initial 53-man roster. Out of training camp, the Eagles released Morrow and signed him to the practice squad. But after Dean suffered an injury Morrow became the Eagles’ starting middle linebacker for most of the season. And the Eagles’ second linebacker in snaps was a guy they signed after training camp began on Aug. 6.

The only real investment the Eagles have made at linebacker in recent years came when they spent a 2022 third-round pick on Dean. He was supposed to be a key starter this season but suffered a foot injury in the opener, went on IR, came back and suffered another foot injury. His second stint on IR was a season-ender. The Eagles did add Shaq Leonard during the season but he hasn’t played very much either and was clearly behind Morrow and Cunningham in the regular season finale when they were all healthy. Although, you can probably expect to see some sort of rotation in the playoffs. The Eagles tried to sneak Elliss through to their practice squad after waiving him in early December but got burned when a bunch of teams put in a claim for him; Elliss ended up in New England.

Secondary

James Bradberry: 1,052 snaps (91%)
Reed Blankenship: 943 snaps (81%)
Darius Slay: 809 snaps (70%)
Kevin Byard: 729 snaps (63%)
Bradley Roby: 344 snaps (30%)
Sydney Brown: 335 snaps (29%)
Eli Ricks: 301 snaps (26%)
Terrell Edmunds: 296 snaps (25%)
Josh Jobe: 240 snaps (21%)
Kelee Ringo: 199 snaps (17%)
Justin Evans: 197 snaps (17%)
Avonte Maddox: 141 snaps (12%)
Mario Goodrich: 70 snaps (12%)
Tristin McCollum: 29 snaps (3%)
Mekhi Garner: 27 snaps (2%)
Josiah Scott: 17 snaps (1%)

Sixteen different defensive backs played a snap on defense this season — that’s a very high number. Even though Bradberry has clearly had a down season, he did play in all but one game this season and led the way in snaps. The only two defensive backs active for every game this season were Jobe and Ringo, who both played special teams. Ringo started playing defense toward the end of the season and played well. Of his 199 defensive snaps, Ringo played 198 of them in the final five weeks of the season.

You’ll see some of these names and forget that they were even here. Yes, Edmunds really played in seven games for the Eagles this season. Yes, Justin Evans really started the first four games this season. Edmunds finished this season on the Titans and Evans ended up on IR after the first quarter of the season and then suffered a setback and wasn’t able to return. Byard joined the team in a trade before the deadline and hasn’t been very productive but played every single defensive snap in his 10 games with the Eagles.

Special teams

Josh Jobe: 323 snaps (73%)
Kelee Ringo: 305 snaps (69%)
Patrick Johnson: 299 snaps (67%)
Nolan Smith: 245 snaps (55%)
Christian Elliss: 238 snaps (53%)
Sydney Brown: 220 snaps (49%)
Eli Ricks: 212 snaps (48%)
Jack Stoll: 199 snaps (45%)
Boston Scott: 186 snaps (42%)
Ben VanSumeren: 180 snaps (40%)

Fifty-eight different players got at least one snap on special teams this season. We just listed the top 10 in Michael Clay’s impressive special teams group. Jobe lost his job as the top outside backup corner but the man nicknamed “The Wild Stallion” was a big-time special teams contributor all season. He has turned into a fantastic gunner. Before getting waived in early December, Elliss was actually leading the team in special teams snaps and still finished fifth by season’s end.

The Eagles got some major contributions from the rookie class. Ringo, Smith, Brown, Ricks and VanSumeren all played an awful lot in 2023.

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