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Chiefs explain why Dorian O’Daniel played so much more than Reggie Ragland against Rams

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Ragland’s hit in playing time had nothing to do with performance, per the Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Each week, after the game, we’ll put out an article here at Arrowhead Pride telling you about the Kansas City Chiefs’ snap counts. The Chiefs’ latest game was a 54-51 Monday night loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Last Tuesday, when the snap counts came out from that game, there was a glaring number next to the name of inside linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland had just eight snaps in the game against the Rams with apparently no injury to report.

Asked about it on Thursday, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said it had nothing to do with Ragland’s performance, but rather the personnel grouping the Rams run on offense.

“I think it was the type of game and the way they played,” Sutton said, “what they were doing offensively. They were a one-personnel group, basically, 11 personnel.”

11 personnel means one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers, and the Rams ran it all game long. And that wasn’t the only issue.

“The other factor in there is they have some no-huddle,” Sutton added. “So whoever is on the field is staying on the field if they so desire. I thought we just did it based on the game—that specific game.”

As our defensive film analyst Craig Stout noted last week, in response, the Chiefs didn’t run their “base” 3-4 defense at all:

STOUT: To nobody’s surprise, the Chiefs didn’t run their “base” 3-4 defense at all this week against the Rams 11 personnel. Instead, they relied on their preferred two down lineman, four linebacker nickel formation, which struggled this week.

With the Rams opting for speed, as they usually do, the Chiefs turned to rookie third-round linebacker Dorian O’ Daniel, who had 43 snaps in the game. O’Daniel’s playing time has increased almost every week since Terrance Smith was placed on injured reserve in mid-October due to a torn ACL.

Inside linebackers coach Mark DeLeone, who speaks to the media occasionally, explained the recent uptick in O’Daniel’s playing time on Thursday, first reiterating Sutton’s point.

“A couple reasons for that—one is the Rams really only play one personnel group the whole game, so we try to get Dorian in a speed area to do that, so he played a lot in the Rams game,” DeLeone said. “In the game before that (against the Cardinals), Hitch (Anthony Hitchens) didn’t play, so [O’Daniel’s] reps have spiked for a couple different reasons, but I think with Dorian—he’s gotten better every week. He shows flashes. Early on, he really had a very specific role and did good and we’ve just tried to put more on his plate and expand it and with that, there are going to be some growing pains, but he’s really done a great job.

“When the lights are on, it’s not too big for him, which isn’t surprising because of the career he had in college and where he played at. He’s been able to do that well.”

All that being said on O’Daniel, the expectation is for Ragland to resume his normal role against the Oakland Raiders this Sunday.

That, combined with Hitchens practicing fully on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, will likely mean less O’Daniel, the Chiefs using him more for third-down, passing situations.