Snaps Lost: Cleveland Browns
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: 5.57, 17th
FTE Lost: 2.94, 23rd
Biggest Losses: Bryan Hoyer (934), Miles Austin (544), Nick McDonald (481), Jordan Cameron (487)
Summary – He had his ups and downs in 2014, but Hoyer will take his ups and downs in 2015 to the Texans quarterback competition now. Austin was yet again unable to play 16 games and likewise had to find a new team this offseason. McDonald filled in for Alex Mack for much of the season, but earned the third-worst grade at center (-28.3) in the process and did so on less than half as many snaps as the guys just below him. Of these four, Cameron will be missed most, heading to Miami on a two-year deal.
Replacement Plan – Johnny Manziel wasn’t drafted in the first round to sit on the bench, so he should see the field this year even if it isn’t for 16 games. Josh McCown was brought in as an insurance policy after falling back down to earth in Tampa last year. Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline were both picked up after being cut by the Chiefs and Dolphins, respectively, though incumbents Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel both could increase their snap count this season, as neither topped 700 in 2014. Cleveland picked up Cameron Erving in the first round and will rely on him if Mack misses time again. The only position without a true like-for-like replacement is at tight end, where Gary Barnidge should see his role in the offense increase. Jim Dray and former Cardinal Rob Housler should fill in behind him and in two tight end sets.
FTE Lost: 2.62, 14th
Biggest Losses: Buster Skrine (1,152), Jabaal Sheard (690), Jim Leonhard (517), Ahtyba Rubin (457)
Summary – Skrine left for big money in the Big Apple, and Cleveland was wise not to get in a bidding war for his services. During his four year NFL career, Skrine’s never had a positive coverage grade over the course of a season. Sheard played well in 2014, but considering what the Browns have invested at outside linebacker in recent years, letting him go isn’t quite so bad. Leonhard retired after 10 seasons of bouncing around the league yet seemingly always found playing time. Rubin was not re-signed after a disappointing year finishing in the bottom 10 of our defensive tackle ratings.
Replacement Plan – Tramon Williams was brought after a long stretch in Green Bay and should be a moderate upgrade on Skrine, provided this isn’t the year Father Time catches up with him. Former first-round pick Barkevious Mingo might see his snap count increase a touch with Sheard gone, but already at 681 snaps in 2014 he can’t do it alone. Instead the hole left by Sheard will be filled in a large part by second-round pick Nate Orchard as he gets used to life in the big league. Prior to tearing his MCL last year Tashaun Gipson had missed just a dozen snaps and should be a full-time player again in 2015. At No. 12, the Browns picked a massive nose tackle in Danny Shelton who certainly could provide an upgrade on Rubin, while Randy Starks was signed from Miami for additional snaps on the line.