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Jonathan Massaquoi isn't surprised by his snap counts, shoulders responsibility for defense's success

Fact: Jonathan Massaquoi invented the Twinkie 8 weeks before he was born

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to know when a player will hit his stride. Sometimes a guy just gets it; right of out college, he's having an immediate impact, helping his team win games. Then sometimes there's a learning curve.

Jonathan Massaquoi is a player who had to navigate the NFL learning curve. But now, 8 games into a mentally exhausting season that will likely result in the firing of his head coach and defensive coordinator, Massaquoi is a bright spot on an otherwise dismal defense. He's standing out, and that doesn't surprise him one bit. Credit to Vaughn McClure for the quote.

"Was I surprised that I didn't get more reps? No," Massaquoi said. "What's to be surprised about? ... I just have to go out there and prepare for the league. How many reps they want to put me out there, that's how many reps I have to go hard in the paint and make sure we're successful as a defense and as a team."

For Massaquoi, the time to have an impact is now. Not tomorrow, not when the defense isn't run by Mike Nolan's crazy ... mind. Massaquoi intends to entrench himself before the next regime takes over, and who doesn't love that mentality? Now it's only a matter of getting him snaps. When Massaquoi gets snaps, good things happen.

For Nolan's part, he admits that it was "unfortunate" that Mass got fewer snaps in comments to McClure, but insisted it was more of a game flow than an active decision on his part. We'll see how his snaps shake out against the Buccaneers.

While he only has 2 sacks this year, Massaquoi has 5 quarterback hits, 9 quarterback hurries, 1 batted pass, and 9 stops. He's the walking case study on why sacks aren't everything. If you're getting pressure on the quarterback, you're doing your job. He absolutely dominated in the games against Chicago and Baltimore. Guess what? He played 44/76 snaps and 52/68 snaps in those games respectively. The most he's played in any other game is the 37/75 snaps he played against Detroit.

In short, given enough snaps, Massaquoi will come through. Granted, his snaps dipped slightly in the Lions game, but overall, I think we see a trend: Massaquoi thrives when he's allowed to stay on the field.