I have to keep reminding myself that when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted Dee Ford we knew he wouldn't be making a big year one impact. I'm not debating whether a first rounder should or shouldn't be playing a lot in year one but just looking at the reality of Dee Ford's situation. He came in behind two players who have a chance to make the Pro Bowl in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston so it's easily explained why Ford is playing so few snaps.
Through five weeks, here's a look at Ford's snaps and the total number of Chiefs defense snaps.
Week 1: 3-79
Week 2: 6-49
Week 3: 13-70
Week 4: 4-50
Week 5: 6-70
Total: 32-318 (10 percent)
Chiefs linebackers coach Gary Gibbs spoke to the media on Tuesday and indicated Ford is very good at one thing this year.
"Dee's strength right now is rushing the quarterback. He's helped us through the first five games as a pass rusher and he'll see more playing time in that role as we go forward. As far as playing first and second down, he's in the learning process, he's making headway, he's doing a good job working hard, but we certainly understand where his strength lies."
Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton echoed that. "[W]e've targeted him as primarily as a guy to help us in - his role for us - is to help us in the pass rush. And he's come in and done some nice things there."
Ford is probably good at rushing the passer because that doesn't require a whole lot of thought. It can capitalize on his best advantage right now which is his speed and athleticism. It takes time for NFL players to learn to read defenses and react in other situations on first and second down. Rushing the passer on third downs is easier compared to that.
NFL players learn these things through reps, not only in practice but also in games. That's where Ford is hurt. He can't get the regular reps right now with Hali and Houston ahead of him. The Chiefs clearly feel they're a playoff-caliber team so they're not going to take their best players off the field very often.