Snaps Lost: Pittsburgh Steelers
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: 3.63, 6th
FTE Lost: 0.62, 2nd
Biggest Losses: Justin Brown (265), Lance Moore (264)
Summary – One of the best Pittsburgh offenses in recent memory will return in 2015 almost untouched. Brown had been phased out of the offense entirely by Week 7 last season and has signed with the Bills since being waved late last year. Moore topped 25 snaps in a single game just twice and never topped 40 receiving yards despite playing in 14 games.
Replacement Plan – Sophomore Martavis Bryant played just 306 snaps last season, and in averaging 19.7 yards per catch, he became a formidable deep threat. He could make up for the lost snaps of Brown and Moore on his own, but third-round pick Sammie Coates could see the field, and Markus Wheaton could increase on his 760 snaps from 2014. While not part of the FTE Lost, Le’Veon Bell will be suspended to start the year, so we should see a heavy dose of former Panther DeAngelo Williams early on next year.
FTE Lost: 3.01, 19th
Biggest Losses: Jason Worilds (998), Troy Polamalu (717), Brice McCain (615), Brett Keisel (451)
Summary – After just five years in the league, Worilds decided to retire and pursue interests other than football. A career Steeler, Polamalu was released and then retired shortly thereafter, thus starting the countdown to Canton. Keisel’s time in Pittsburgh came to an end as he was cut in March, and at 36, this may be the end of the line for him as well. McCain left for Miami after one year in Pittsburgh pulling nickel duty.
Replacement Plan – A first-round pick was spent on Bud Dupree, and while he might not be an every-down player in his first year, he should cover for most of Worilds’ snaps. James Harrison (439 snaps) and Arthur Moats (344) could each see more play time in 2015, as both played well when given the opportunity. Will Allen filled in when Polamalu was injured last year, though he’ll have to stave off third-year safety Shamarko Thomas for the starting safety job. Pittsburgh invested significant money into Cortez Allen recently, but his play slipped so far last year that he was benched midway through the season. If it turns out 2014 was just a fluke he’ll have a chance to get on the field more than last year, but if not then Antwon Blake (275 snaps last year) or second-round pick Senquez Golson may have to pick up the slack. Keisel’s loss likely won’t be filled by a new player, as Stephon Tuitt, Steve McLendon, and Daniel McCullers all could see a noticeable bump in play time this season.