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Chiefs-Titans snap counts: Kansas City leans into its wideouts

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By: John Dixon

Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How did Kansas City use its players during Sunday Night Football against Tennessee?

On the Week 9 edition of Sunday Night Football, the Kansas City Chiefs hung on for a 20-17 home win against the Tennessee Titans.

Let’s see how the team used its players during the sixth win of the season.


Starters (offensive): TE Travis Kelce, TE Noah Gray, LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Andrew Wylie, WR Kadarius Toney, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Isiah Pacheco.

Starters (defensive): DE George Karlaftis, DT Derrick Nnadi, DT Chris Jones, DE Carlos Dunlap, LB Nick Bolton, LB Willie Gay Jr., LB Leo Chenal, CB L’Jarius Sneed, CB Trent McDuffie, S Juan Thornhill and S Justin Reid.

Did not play: QB Chad Henne.

Inactive: RB Ronald Jones, QB Shane Buechele, S Nazeeh Johnson, DE Joshua Kaindoh, T Darian Kinnard and TE Jody Fortson.


Offensive takeaways


Starting linemen Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Andrew Wylie played all 92 of the offensive snaps. Nick Allegretti was in for two plays as a sixth lineman.

This is now the fourth season in which we have been calculating Kansas City’s snaps in this manner. Only once before during this time — in Week 15 of 2020, when the Chiefs had 93 offensive snaps while logging a 32-29 victory over the New Orleans Saints — has Kansas City had even close to that number of offensive snaps in a game.

In the 2020 game, the Chiefs also dominated time of possession (as they did on Sunday night), but they did it in an entirely different way: running the ball on 44% of their plays and gaining 179 yards on 41 rushing attempts; Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell combined for 141 yards on 29 attempts. In contrast, Kansas City had a 78/22 pass/run ratio on Sunday night, collecting 77 rushing yards on 19 attempts; the team’s running backs accounted for just 14 of those yards on 13 attempts.

Rookie running back Isiah Pacheco again got the starting nod at running back — and again, Edwards-Helaire’s use fell to a season-low: just 15% of the snaps. Pacheco’s use () actually declined from his first start in San Francisco. This was because Jerick McKinnon — who has consistently been used more often on passing downs this season — got 68% of the snaps. That was a season-high mark.




At tight end, starter Travis Kelce was in his normal range of use (82%). Meanwhile — despite the absence of Jody Fortson — Noah Gray’s use was on the low end of his normal range (40%). With just two tight ends available for the game, the Chiefs opted to simply use more wide receivers. The team averaged 2.71 wideouts on every play. That was the highest value of the season — and for all but one of 2021’s games.

This increased reliance on wideouts most appeared to give the most benefit to the players at the top and the bottom of the rotation. JuJu Smith-Schuster was on the high side of his normal range, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling was on the low side of his. Justin Watson saw his highest use since Week 2, while Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore stayed close to their increased use against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7.

While newcomer Kadarius Toney has been credited elsewhere in these pages with nine snaps on Sunday, two of those plays were negated by penalties. So per NFLGSIS, he had seven snaps in his debut, accounting for 8% of the total. Five of those snaps were on passing plays, while he was a run blocker during two more.








Defensive takeaways


There was no indication that Kansas City limited rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie in his return from injury. He — along with corner L’Jarius Sneed and safeties Juan Thornhill and Justin Reid — were on the field for virtually every defensive play.

It appears that safety Bryan Cook earned some additional playing time after getting some game action during the blowout in San Francisco, getting 25% of the defensive snaps — mostly on passing plays.


Jaylen Watson got the nod to play on the outside when Sneed was in the slot, but played only six snaps (13%) before he had to leave the game after getting dirt in his eyes. Joshua Williams stepped in, getting 40% of the snaps. That total of 53% for the thrid cornerback is a bit lower than we normally see; the Chiefs averaged 2.48 cornerbacks on the field. That was the season’s lowest number.

The team made up for that at the second level, starting three linebackers (including rookie Leo Chenal) and averaging 2.21 linebackers per play — almost the highest figure of the season. Nick Bolton was in for 100% of the snaps, while Whille Gay Jr. was in for 71%. That was back in what looks like his normal range for the season — use that was slanted heavily toward the run. Chenal was in for 44% of the snaps — also tilted toward the run — which was a new high for the season.



Up front, defensive end Michael Danna — back from his calf injury — had his highest use of the season as the team sought to get by without Frank Clark. Danna’s usage was split evenly between the run and the pass. Rookie George Karlaftis and longtime veteran Carlos Dunlap were used more often on passing downs, each seeing use a bit above 60%. Malik Herring was in for 15% of the snaps — more often on running plays.





On the inside, stalwart defensive tackle Chris Jones was in for almost every play. (According to Pro Football Focus, roughly half of Jones’s snaps were on the outside). Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders — with a little help from Taylor Stallworth, who was in for four running plays — split up the rest of the interior work.






Data


Offense

Offense All Pass Run
Total 92
(100%)
72
(100%)
20
(100%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 92
(100%)
72
(100%)
20
(100%)
Creed Humphrey 92
(100%)
72
(100%)
20
(100%)
Patrick Mahomes 92
(100%)
72
(100%)
20
(100%)
Trey Smith 92
(100%)
72
(100%)
20
(100%)
Joe Thuney 92
(100%)
72
(100%)
20
(100%)
Andrew Wylie 92
(100%)
72
(100%)
20
(100%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster 79
(86%)
63
(88%)
16
(80%)
Travis Kelce 75
(82%)
62
(86%)
13
(65%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 66
(72%)
51
(71%)
15
(75%)
Jerick McKinnon 58
(63%)
49
(68%)
9
(45%)
Mecole Hardman 51
(55%)
41
(57%)
10
(50%)
Noah Gray 37
(40%)
26
(36%)
11
(55%)
Justin Watson 24
(26%)
19
(26%)
5
(25%)
Skyy Moore 22
(24%)
18
(25%)
4
(20%)
Isiah Pacheco 20
(22%)
14
(19%)
6
(30%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 14
(15%)
9
(13%)
5
(25%)
Kadarius Toney 7
(8%)
5
(7%)
2
(10%)
Michael Burton 5
(5%)
2
(3%)
3
(15%)
Nick Allegretti 2
(2%)
1
(1%)
1
(5%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 48
(100%)
19
(100%)
29
(100%)
Nick Bolton 48
(100%)
19
(100%)
29
(100%)
L’Jarius Sneed 48
(100%)
19
(100%)
29
(100%)
Juan Thornhill 48
(100%)
19
(100%)
29
(100%)
Justin Reid 47
(98%)
19
(100%)
28
(97%)
Chris Jones 46
(96%)
19
(100%)
27
(93%)
Trent McDuffie 46
(96%)
19
(100%)
27
(93%)
Michael Danna 40
(83%)
15
(79%)
25
(86%)
Willie Gay Jr. 34
(71%)
8
(42%)
26
(90%)
George Karlaftis 32
(67%)
16
(84%)
16
(55%)
Carlos Dunlap 30
(63%)
16
(84%)
14
(48%)
Leo Chenal 21
(44%)
7
(37%)
14
(48%)
Derrick Nnadi 19
(40%)
4
(21%)
15
(52%)
Joshua Williams 19
(40%)
9
(47%)
10
(34%)
Khalen Saunders 18
(38%)
4
(21%)
14
(48%)
Bryan Cook 12
(25%)
10
(53%)
2
(7%)
Malik Herring 7
(15%)
2
(11%)
5
(17%)
Jaylen Watson 6
(13%)
3
(16%)
3
(10%)
Taylor Stallworth 4
(8%)
0
(0%)
4
(14%)
Darius Harris 3
(6%)
1
(5%)
2
(7%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 31
(100%)
Chris Lammons 27
(87%)
Leo Chenal 26
(84%)
Jack Cochrane 24
(77%)
Bryan Cook 24
(77%)
Noah Gray 24
(77%)
Marcus Kemp 24
(77%)
Deon Bush 21
(68%)
Michael Burton 16
(52%)
Darius Harris 16
(52%)
Joshua Williams 15
(48%)
Jerick McKinnon 12
(39%)
Isiah Pacheco 10
(32%)
Tommy Townsend 10
(32%)
Jaylen Watson 10
(32%)
James Winchester 10
(32%)
Harrison Butker 9
(29%)
L’Jarius Sneed 8
(26%)
Mecole Hardman 7
(23%)
Nick Allegretti 4
(13%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 4
(13%)
Geron Christian 4
(13%)
Creed Humphrey 4
(13%)
Trey Smith 4
(13%)
Andrew Wylie 4
(13%)
Nick Bolton 3
(10%)
Malik Herring 3
(10%)
George Karlaftis 3
(10%)
Derrick Nnadi 3
(10%)
Justin Reid 3
(10%)
Khalen Saunders 3
(10%)
Skyy Moore 1
(3%)
Justin Watson 1
(3%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 92
(100%)
48
(100%)
31
(100%)
171
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 2
(2%)
0
(0%)
4
(13%)
6
(4%)
Nick Bolton 0
(0%)
48
(100%)
3
(10%)
51
(30%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 92
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(13%)
96
(56%)
Michael Burton 5
(5%)
0
(0%)
16
(52%)
21
(12%)
Deon Bush 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
21
(68%)
21
(12%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(29%)
9
(5%)
Leo Chenal 0
(0%)
21
(44%)
26
(84%)
47
(27%)
Geron Christian 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
4
(13%)
4
(2%)
Jack Cochrane 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
24
(77%)
24
(14%)
Bryan Cook 0
(0%)
12
(25%)
24
(77%)
36
(21%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
40
(83%)
0
(0%)
40
(23%)
Carlos Dunlap 0
(0%)
30
(63%)
0
(0%)
30
(18%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 14
(15%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
14
(8%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
34
(71%)
0
(0%)
34
(20%)
Noah Gray 37
(40%)
0
(0%)
24
(77%)
61
(36%)
Mecole Hardman 51
(55%)
0
(0%)
7
(23%)
58
(34%)
Darius Harris 0
(0%)
3
(6%)
16
(52%)
19
(11%)
Malik Herring 0
(0%)
7
(15%)
3
(10%)
10
(6%)
Creed Humphrey 92
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(13%)
96
(56%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
46
(96%)
0
(0%)
46
(27%)
George Karlaftis 0
(0%)
32
(67%)
3
(10%)
35
(20%)
Travis Kelce 75
(82%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
75
(44%)
Chris Lammons 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
27
(87%)
27
(16%)
Patrick Mahomes 92
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
92
(54%)
Trent McDuffie 0
(0%)
46
(96%)
0
(0%)
46
(27%)
Jerick McKinnon 58
(63%)
0
(0%)
12
(39%)
70
(41%)
Skyy Moore 22
(24%)
0
(0%)
1
(3%)
23
(13%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
19
(40%)
3
(10%)
22
(13%)
Isiah Pacheco 20
(22%)
0
(0%)
10
(32%)
30
(18%)
Justin Reid 0
(0%)
47
(98%)
3
(10%)
50
(29%)
Khalen Saunders 0
(0%)
18
(38%)
3
(10%)
21
(12%)
Trey Smith 92
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(13%)
96
(56%)
JuJu Smith-Schuster 79
(86%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
79
(46%)
L’Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
48
(100%)
8
(26%)
56
(33%)
Taylor Stallworth 0
(0%)
4
(8%)
0
(0%)
4
(2%)
Juan Thornhill 0
(0%)
48
(100%)
0
(0%)
48
(28%)
Joe Thuney 92
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
92
(54%)
Kadarius Toney 7
(8%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
7
(4%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
10
(32%)
10
(6%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 66
(72%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
66
(39%)
Jaylen Watson 0
(0%)
6
(13%)
10
(32%)
16
(9%)
Justin Watson 24
(26%)
0
(0%)
1
(3%)
25
(15%)
Joshua Williams 0
(0%)
19
(40%)
15
(48%)
34
(20%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
10
(32%)
10
(6%)
Andrew Wylie 92
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(13%)
96
(56%)
Marcus Kemp 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
24
(77%)
24
(14%)

Editor’s Note: Arrowhead Pride obtains snap count data from the NFL’s game stats and information system, which allows us to break out snap counts by run or pass on offensive and defensive plays. Because GSIS data ignores plays that were nullified by penalties, total offensive and defensive snap counts will vary from other sources, which get their data from NFL Gamebooks

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride