Snaps Lost: Buffalo Bills
The “Snaps Lost” series is a detailed look at the playing time void created by players that have left each team this offseason, whether they were traded, cut, left in free agency, or retired.
Because each unit plays a different number of snaps over the course of the year, we have created the “Full Time Equivalent metric”. FTE is the total number of missing snaps divided by the number of plays the team ran on that side of the ball. This is an equivalent measure of how many full time players (100% snap count) the team would need to add on to make up for their offseason losses, even though very few players actually play a full snap count.
For example, if a team had 1,100 snaps on offense and then lost seven players who combined to play 2,200 snaps, their FTE would be 2.0 (2,200/1,100). This ensures that a team who lost a high volume of players only has a high FTE if those players racked up some significant playing time. FTE can only fall between zero (no players left the team) and 11 (fire everyone!) for each side of the ball.
Each team will have a ranking following their FTE, with the first-ranked team in each category (offense, defense, and total) representing the team with the smallest portion of their playing time in need of replacement.
A few caveats before getting into the good stuff:
-Suspensions and injuries that may limit 2015 snap counts are not considered.
-Biggest Losses are purely in terms of snap count, not necessarily in terms of impact.
-All snap counts are Regular Season only.
Overall FTE Lost: 4.52, 10th
FTE Lost: 3.29, 25th
Biggest Losses: Erik Pears (1086), Kyle Orton (824), Scott Chandler (769), Lee Smith (342)
Summary – The Bills’ offense struggled at times last year, so turning over more than most isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pears’ tenure in Buffalo came to an end following a -25.0 graded season, while Orton re-retired after a rather poor 2014. Like the Cardinals, Buffalo dumped their top two snap-getters at tight end, each of whom has spent at least four years with the team.
Replacement Plan – The controversial signing of Richie Incognito fills the gap left by Pears. Though he’s been out of football for a year and a half, he graded well for his most recent action in Miami. Veteran stop-gap Matt Cassel will take his services to Buffalo after being traded from Minnesota, but in all likelihood E.J. Manuel will see some playing time, too. The Bills spent big to snatch Charles Clay away from Miami, so expect him to fill the void left by Chandler at the very least, with any remaining time to be filled by an increase in snaps from Chris Gragg.
FTE Lost: 1.23, 3rd
Biggest Losses: Da’Norris Searcy (666), Brandon Spikes (519)
Summary – One of the league’s best defenses in 2014 survived the offseason virtually unscathed. Searcy was a luxury in Bills’ stacked defensive backfield and joined the Titans on a fairly lucrative contract this offseason. Spikes’ presence in run defense will be missed as he returns to New England after a one-year stay in Buffalo.
Replacement Plan – Third-year safety Duke Williams would likely represent only a minor downgrade at worst and an upgrade at best, and could replace nearly all of Searcy’s snaps if he becomes an every-down player (551 snaps in 2014). Nigel Bradham’s snap count could increase some in 2015, but replacing all of Spikes’ snaps will likely require help from an unproven player, whether that be Ty Powell or sixth-round pick Tony Steward. Then again with Rex Ryan in town, the role Spikes played last year may become obsolete in Buffalo’s new defense and his play time could be snatched up by a defensive lineman instead.