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Chiefs-Texans: Making sense of snap counts

There were some surprises in how the Chiefs used their players in the season’s opening game.

Houston Texans v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs opened their 2020 campaign with a 34-20 victory over the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night. Let’s take a look at how all the team’s players contributed to the game:


Starters (offensive): WR Tyreek Hill, WR Demarcus Robinson, LT Eric Fisher, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Austin Reiter, RG Andrew Wylie, RT Mitchell Schwartz, TE Travis Kelce, WR Sammy Watkins, QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Starters (defensive): LDE Tanoh Kpassagnon, LDT Chris Jones, RDT Derrick Nnadi, RDE Frank Clark, LB Anthony Hitchens, LB Damien Wilson, LCB Charvarius Ward, SS Juan Thornhill, RCB L’Jarius Sneed, FS Daniel Sorensen and CB Tyrann Mathieu.

Did not play: QB Chad Henne, C Daniel Kilgore, T Mike Remmers and TE Deon Yelder.

Inactive: DB BoPete Keyes, DE Demone Harris, T Yasir Durant, TE Ricky Seals-Jones and DE Taco Charlton

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

Offense All Pass Run
Total 67
(100%)
33
(100%)
34
(100%)
Eric Fisher 67
(100%)
33
(100%)
34
(100%)
Patrick Mahomes 67
(100%)
33
(100%)
34
(100%)
Kelechi Osemele 67
(100%)
33
(100%)
34
(100%)
Austin Reiter 67
(100%)
33
(100%)
34
(100%)
Mitchell Schwartz 67
(100%)
33
(100%)
34
(100%)
Andrew Wylie 67
(100%)
33
(100%)
34
(100%)
Travis Kelce 59
(88%)
33
(100%)
26
(76%)
Tyreek Hill 58
(87%)
30
(91%)
28
(82%)
Sammy Watkins 54
(81%)
29
(88%)
25
(74%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 45
(67%)
20
(61%)
25
(74%)
Demarcus Robinson 33
(49%)
17
(52%)
16
(47%)
Nick Keizer 30
(45%)
10
(30%)
20
(59%)
Darrel Williams 22
(33%)
13
(39%)
9
(26%)
Mecole Hardman 19
(28%)
11
(33%)
8
(24%)
Anthony Sherman 10
(15%)
1
(3%)
9
(26%)
Byron Pringle 5
(7%)
1
(3%)
4
(12%)

Offensive takeaways

  • Just as we would expect, the starting offensive linemen played every snap together.
  • Tight end Travis Kelce was off the field for about a quarter of the running snaps. As we would expect, backup tight end Nick Keizer was in on more more running snaps than passing snaps. Somewhat surprisingly, tight end Deon Yelder didn’t play.
  • Running back Darrel Williams took about a third of the snaps from starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire — fairly evenly distributed between running and passing plays; it doesn’t appear the Chiefs made a special effort to keep Edwards-Helaire from having to do pass-blocking. Darwin Thompson didn’t get any offensive snaps.
  • Wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had roughly twice as many snaps as Mecole Hardman — suggesting that at least for now, Robinson is first in line behind Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

Defense All Pass Run
Total 59
(100%)
37
(100%)
22
(100%)
Tyrann Mathieu 59
(100%)
37
(100%)
22
(100%)
Daniel Sorensen 57
(97%)
37
(100%)
20
(91%)
L'Jarius Sneed 55
(93%)
35
(95%)
20
(91%)
Frank Clark 53
(90%)
35
(95%)
18
(82%)
Chris Jones 52
(88%)
32
(86%)
20
(91%)
Tanoh Kpassagnon 49
(83%)
31
(84%)
18
(82%)
Antonio Hamilton 38
(64%)
26
(70%)
12
(55%)
Juan Thornhill 38
(64%)
21
(57%)
17
(77%)
Ben Niemann 36
(61%)
25
(68%)
11
(50%)
Rashad Fenton 32
(54%)
20
(54%)
12
(55%)
Charvarius Ward 31
(53%)
19
(51%)
12
(55%)
Michael Danna 29
(49%)
18
(49%)
11
(50%)
Anthony Hitchens 26
(44%)
13
(35%)
13
(59%)
Tedric Thompson 21
(36%)
16
(43%)
5
(23%)
Damien Wilson 20
(34%)
10
(27%)
10
(45%)
Derrick Nnadi 16
(27%)
9
(24%)
7
(32%)
Tershawn Wharton 14
(24%)
6
(16%)
8
(36%)
Alex Okafor 10
(17%)
8
(22%)
2
(9%)
Khalen Saunders 8
(14%)
5
(14%)
3
(14%)
Dorian O'Daniel 5
(8%)
4
(11%)
1
(5%)

Defensive takeaways

  • Interestingly, the Chiefs starting defense was a 4-2-5 scheme with nominal safety Tyrann Mathieu listed as a cornerback. Among Chiefs linebackers, only Ben Niemann played more than half of the snaps.
  • The Chiefs clearly weren’t afraid to put rookie cornerback L’Jarius Sneed on the field; he played 93% of the defensive snaps. After Sneed, Antonio Hamilton had the most work among the team’s cornerbacks — although part of that was because starter Charvarius Ward missed snaps after he was injured.
  • Safety Tedric Thompson played about a third of the snaps — mostly on passing plays.
  • Fifth-round draft pick Michael Danna was on the field for about half of the snaps. Undrafted free agent rookie Tershawn Wharton was in for about a quarter of them.

Special Teams Snaps
Total 25
(100%)
Dorian O'Daniel 19
(76%)
Anthony Sherman 19
(76%)
Armani Watts 19
(76%)
Willie Gay Jr. 16
(64%)
Antonio Hamilton 16
(64%)
Byron Pringle 16
(64%)
Nick Keizer 14
(56%)
Ben Niemann 13
(52%)
Harrison Butker 12
(48%)
Marcus Kemp 11
(44%)
Rashad Fenton 10
(40%)
Mecole Hardman 10
(40%)
Tommy Townsend 9
(36%)
James Winchester 9
(36%)
Daniel Sorensen 8
(32%)
Darwin Thompson 8
(32%)
Nick Allegretti 6
(24%)
Eric Fisher 6
(24%)
Tanoh Kpassagnon 6
(24%)
Kelechi Osemele 6
(24%)
Austin Reiter 6
(24%)
Mitchell Schwartz 6
(24%)
Andrew Wylie 6
(24%)
Charvarius Ward 4
(16%)
Anthony Hitchens 3
(12%)
Chris Jones 3
(12%)
Derrick Nnadi 3
(12%)
Demarcus Robinson 3
(12%)
Damien Wilson 3
(12%)
Michael Danna 2
(8%)
Tershawn Wharton 2
(8%)
Alex Okafor 1
(4%)

Special teams takeaways

  • Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel, fullback Anthony Sherman and safety Armani Watts led the team in special teams snaps; it’s clear that both O’Daniel and Watts made the 53 on the basis of special teams.
  • As expected, rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. was used extensively on special teams — although he didn’t see a single defensive snap.
  • Despite plenty of snaps elsewhere, Hamilton and Niemann had lots of work with the special teams.

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 67
(100%)
59
(100%)
25
(100%)
151
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(24%)
6
(4%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
12
(48%)
12
(8%)
Frank Clark 0
(0%)
53
(90%)
0
(0%)
53
(35%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
29
(49%)
2
(8%)
31
(21%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 45
(67%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
45
(30%)
Rashad Fenton 0
(0%)
32
(54%)
10
(40%)
42
(28%)
Eric Fisher 67
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(24%)
73
(48%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
16
(64%)
16
(11%)
Antonio Hamilton 0
(0%)
38
(64%)
16
(64%)
54
(36%)
Mecole Hardman 19
(28%)
0
(0%)
10
(40%)
29
(19%)
Tyreek Hill 58
(87%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
58
(38%)
Anthony Hitchens 0
(0%)
26
(44%)
3
(12%)
29
(19%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
52
(88%)
3
(12%)
55
(36%)
Nick Keizer 30
(45%)
0
(0%)
14
(56%)
44
(29%)
Travis Kelce 59
(88%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
59
(39%)
Marcus Kemp 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
11
(44%)
11
(7%)
Tanoh Kpassagnon 0
(0%)
49
(83%)
6
(24%)
55
(36%)
Patrick Mahomes 67
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
67
(44%)
Tyrann Mathieu 0
(0%)
59
(100%)
0
(0%)
59
(39%)
Ben Niemann 0
(0%)
36
(61%)
13
(52%)
49
(32%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
16
(27%)
3
(12%)
19
(13%)
Dorian O'Daniel 0
(0%)
5
(8%)
19
(76%)
24
(16%)
Alex Okafor 0
(0%)
10
(17%)
1
(4%)
11
(7%)
Kelechi Osemele 67
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(24%)
73
(48%)
Byron Pringle 5
(7%)
0
(0%)
16
(64%)
21
(14%)
Austin Reiter 67
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(24%)
73
(48%)
Demarcus Robinson 33
(49%)
0
(0%)
3
(12%)
36
(24%)
Khalen Saunders 0
(0%)
8
(14%)
0
(0%)
8
(5%)
Mitchell Schwartz 67
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(24%)
73
(48%)
Anthony Sherman 10
(15%)
0
(0%)
19
(76%)
29
(19%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
55
(93%)
0
(0%)
55
(36%)
Daniel Sorensen 0
(0%)
57
(97%)
8
(32%)
65
(43%)
Darwin Thompson 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
8
(32%)
8
(5%)
Tedric Thompson 0
(0%)
21
(36%)
0
(0%)
21
(14%)
Juan Thornhill 0
(0%)
38
(64%)
0
(0%)
38
(25%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(36%)
9
(6%)
Charvarius Ward 0
(0%)
31
(53%)
4
(16%)
35
(23%)
Sammy Watkins 54
(81%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
54
(36%)
Armani Watts 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
19
(76%)
19
(13%)
Tershawn Wharton 0
(0%)
14
(24%)
2
(8%)
16
(11%)
Darrel Williams 22
(33%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
22
(15%)
Damien Wilson 0
(0%)
20
(34%)
3
(12%)
23
(15%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(36%)
9
(6%)
Andrew Wylie 67
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(24%)
73
(48%)