Snaps Lost: Detroit Lions
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: 5.69, 20th
FTE Lost: 2.80, 21st
Biggest Losses: Rob Sims (1,111), Dominic Raiola (1,041)
Summary – They lose two of their top three players in terms of playing time (Matthew Stafford being the other), but overall these losses should be manageable. Raiola’s play fell off a cliff (+21.1 in 2013 vs. -14.8 in 2014) as age finally caught up with the longtime Lion. Sims is nearing the end of his career but at 31, he still has something left in the tank and the Detroit has mentioned that there’s a chance he comes back in 2015. Reggie Bush is another notable loss (281 snaps), but he and the other Lions that moved on didn’t see a whole lot in the way of playing time a season ago.
Replacement Plan – They selected Laken Tomlinson at No. 28 in this year’s draft, so between him and Manny Ramirez they have two viable options to replace Sims. Second-year player Travis Swanson appears to have the inside track at center. He struggled last year (-11.1) but most of his snaps came at right guard, so the Lions are hoping that another offseason in conjunction with a move to center will help him improve for 2015.
FTE Lost: 2.89, 17th
Biggest Losses: Ndamukong Suh (875), C.J. Mosley (503), George Johnson (502), Cassius Vaughn (387), Nick Fairley (297)
Summary – Suh is the big loss here, pulling in an exorbitant sum to take his talents to Miami. His exit is compounded by losing two more defensive tackles, as Fairley joined the Rams on a one-year “prove-it” deal while Mosley was brought in for a visit (after his contract expired this offseason), but as of yet does not have a contract in hand. Johnson’s departure further weakens the line as he was traded to Tampa Bay, leaving the Lions with over 2,300 defensive line snaps to replace. The back seven is more stable, as Vaughn was the only notable departure, taking the minimum to play in Baltimore.
Replacement Plan – Detroit traded for Haloti Ngata when it became apparent they needed help on the defensive interior, and he’ll occupy most of the snaps left by Suh. Tyrunn Walker was signed away from New Orleans and should figure heavily in the line rotation, as could fourth-round pick Gabe Wright and former Ram Jermelle Cudjo. At defensive end, neither Jason Jones nor Ezekiel Ansah is in line for a dramatic increase in play time, so expect Johnson’s time to be covered by a rotational guy like Darryl Tapp or Devin Taylor. Bill Bentley was lost just three snaps into 2014 with a torn ACL, and if he comes back healthy should fill in the nickel corner role nicely. If not, third-round pick Alex Carter may get a chance to test his mettle in the NFL early on.