Who played in 2020 for the Broncos and how much?
As I do at the end of every season, this is review of snap counts by position group for the Denver Broncos for the entire season. I will have a link to the spreadsheet with the data for those who want to dig more deeply into it and for those who are color-blind. Apologies in advance for the graphs are some are hard to follow.
This review will not cover the special teams snaps.
First off I want to give a huge shout out to the players who played 99 percent or more of the snaps on defense or offense: Lloyd Cushenberry III, Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. LC3 and Simmons played EVERY SINGLE SNAP on offense and defense respectively. Jackson played all but five defensive snaps.
I will not address the QB position, but I will note that if include Kendall Hinton as a QB, we had four actual QBs take a snap on offense in 2020 (and technically start). The last time that happened was 2003 when Jake Plummer, Danny Kanell, Steve Beuerlein and Jarious Jackson all started a game at QB for us. It happened three times before the merger in 1963, 1966, and 1968.
There are some interesting parallels between the 2003 season and the 2020 season for Denver. In 2003 we had one QB we played well (Plummer’s passer rating of 91.2 was 5th best in the league and was a career best for him). The rest of the QBs combined to play like shite. They completed 90 of 175 passes (51.4 percent) for 872 yards, 4 TDs and 11 INTs. Kanell’s passer rating of 49.1 was the best of the three. Not surprisingly, the Broncos were 1-4 in the six games those three started and 9-2 in the eleven that Plummer started. Because of Plummer’s strong play, the Broncos finished that season 18th in passer rating as a team. The Broncos finished 2020 dead last in team passer rating.
Since the merger, the Denver Broncos have never been the worst passing team in the league. 2017 and 2015 were close (31st or 32 teams), but until 2020 they have never been dead f-ing last by team passer rating. Read ’em and weep Bronco Country. pic.twitter.com/TprE6z2CIK
— Joseph Mahoney (@ndjomo76) January 8, 2021
Back to the present. Spreadsheet data can be found here.
We had four different men start a game at OT. For the first time in his career, Garett Bolles missed a start. Calvin Anderson started for him at LT against the Panthers. Anderson also started against the Raiders in game 9, but at RT. That was his first NFL start. Jake Rodgers played in the loss to the Falcons and then was claimed off of our practice squad by the Ravens. He did not play for the Ravens at all as they cut him two weeks later.
The 2021 team will have Ju’Waun James back at RT, assuming he still has the desire to play in the NFL along with Garett Bolles at LT. The rest of the offensive tackles will be free agents. Anderson will be an exclusive rights free agent. Dotson and Wilkinson will be unrestricted free agents.
As mentioned before, LC3 took every offensive snap for us. Dalton Risner missed time in two games while Graham Glasgow missed snaps in five games. Current exclusive rights free agent, Austin Schlottmann, played most of those missed snaps including two starts. Netane Muti made his first NFL start in game 13 against the Panthers. Muti finished with 122 offensive snaps on the season playing 75 percent (61) of the snaps in the final game of the season. Only Schlottmann and Patrick Morris are free agents and Morris has already been signed to a futures contract. Morris did not play on offense and only saw five special teams snaps.
Melvin Gordon carried the vast majority of the load with 58.3 percent of the RB snaps. Gordon was the RB in our most used offensive lineup during 2020 which was three WR and Noah Fant in at TE. This lineup was in on 52 of our 1076 offensive plays and was quite effective. This lineup averaged 7.1 yards on 37 passes and 6.3 yards on 15 running plays – compiling 18 first downs (but oddly no touchdowns). Overall this lineup gained 6.7 yards per play.
- QB Drew Lock
- RB Melvin Gordon
- WR Jerry Jeudy
- WR DaeSean Hamilton
- WR Tim Patrick
- TE Noah Fant
- RT Elijah Wilkinson
- LT Garett Bolles
- RG Graham Glasgow
- LG Dalton Risner
- C Lloyd Cushenberry
Our next most frequent lineup on O had Jeff Driskell in at QB and KJ Hamler in for Hamilton at WR. That lineup was on the field for 30 plays but only gained 3.6 yards per play or less than half of what the most frequently used lineup gained. We used 403 different groups of 11 on offense in 2020. That was 100 more than we used in 2019.
Phillip Lindsay finished with only 270 offensive snaps – 25.1 percent. Royce Freeman got 17.9 percent (193 snaps). Andrew Beck had 66 and the rest of the running backs combined for 28 total offensive snaps.
Lindsay is the only free agent among the RB group.
Noah Fant was the only TE to play more than 50 percent of the offensive snaps. After him Nick Vannett had the second most and he had less than half of the snaps that Fant had (733 and 361). Troy Fumagalli got 135 snaps after joining the team in game 8. Jake Butt had 114 before he was lost to a season ending injury. Albert Okwuegbunam had only 86 before he was similarly lost to a season-ending injury. No tight played in every game for us in 2020.
Both Jake Butt and Troy Fumagalli are restricted free agents.
We had eight wide receivers take offensive snaps for us. Jerry Jeudy (806, 74.9 percent) and Tim Patrick (750, 69.7) were the only two to get more than 50 percent of the snaps, but DaeSean Hamilton (534, 49.6 percent) and KJ Hamler (521, 48.4 percent) were close. The other four guys all had 72 or less with Tyrie Cleveland getting the most.
The only WRs who are a free agents are Tim Patrick and Diontae Spencer. Patrick is a restricted free agent and Spencer is an exclusive rights free agent.