Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Aug 2012

SITE NEWS: Snap Counts!

Exciting news from the NFL official scoring folks, as this year the official play-by-play gamebooks will feature snap count data! They aren't yet publishing data on which players are in on which specific plays, but each gamebook will have a list of how many snaps each player was in for offense, defense, and special teams. We're really looking forward to figuring out neat things to do with snap count data, like analyzing tackles per snap or pass targets per snap. Eventually this data should be totaled up and available in the stats section on NFL.com, but until then, we'll also total the snap counts each week and put up tables here on Football Outsiders for readers to see absolutely free.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 27 Aug 2012

7 comments, Last at 28 Aug 2012, 3:41pm by Joseph


by Joseph :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:11pm

This is interesting. Now we can see how many players who don't start get starter-like snaps, and how many starters get backup-like snaps. Also good for LB tackle totals, as well as CB target #'s. Even though we have target numbers for offense and defense here at FO, it will be interesting to compare target-per-snap #'s.
My conjecture for DB's is that if you are targeted once every 5 snaps or less (if that's reasonable), QB's are throwing to whoever that DB is covering. If you are targeted less than once per 10, you are good. Less than once per 12, you are Darrell Revis. (Safeties will probably need their #'s adjusted upward by 3 or 4 snaps per target, IMO).

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 1:18pm

Like yhis

by MJK :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 3:54pm

Obviously, someone is keeping track of which players are in for which snaps (other wise, how could you total up snap counts?) Why not publish that data? It would be incredibly more useful than just the snap count number...

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 4:15pm

Because that somebody is the NFL and they aren't making the data available yet. We don't have the financial resources to have people independently tracking snap counts during games.

by Dan :: Mon, 08/27/2012 - 4:36pm

It would be more useful if they gave separate counts of pass plays and run plays. Otherwise stats like targets per snap or hurries per snap are going to be inflated for guys who primarily play on passing downs.

by Podge (not verified) :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 7:18am

True, but it does sort of demonstrate their usage patterns. And it will add extra context to a number of stats, particularly counting stats like hits, hurries, sacks, stops and targets.

by Joseph :: Tue, 08/28/2012 - 3:41pm

Well, we can total up the number of runs & passes pretty easily. As for per-snap #'s, we could always adjust it (in other words, if they are in for 40% of plays, and they get 15 hurries on 100 snaps, they have an actual percentage of 15%, and an adjusted percentage of 6% (.4 x 15=6). This makes comparison of talent useful across teams, as not all teams have the same number of defensive or offensive snaps.