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Chiefs-Eagles snap counts: Chiefs go heavy with defensive backs and ends

Against Philadelphia, the Kansas City defense did some things like normal — but other things in a different way.

NFL: OCT 03 Chiefs at Eagles

The Kansas City Chiefs evened their record at 2-2 on Sunday, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 42-30 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Let’s see how the Chiefs used their players in the win.


Starters (offensive): WR Tyreek Hill, TE Travis Kelce, LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Lucas Niang, WR Byron Pringle, WR Demarcus Robinson, QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Starters (defensive): LDE Chris Jones, LDT Jarran Reed, RDT Derrick Nnadi, RDE Michael Danna, LB Nick Bolton, LB Anthony Hitchens, LCB Deandre Baker, RCB L’Jarius Sneed, CB Mike Hughes, S Daniel Sorensen and S Tyrann Mathieu.

Did not play: QB Chad Henne and G Andrew Wylie.

Inactive: CB Rashad Fenton, CB Charvarius Ward, DE Frank Clark, OL Austin Blythe, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and WR Daurice Fountain.


Offensive takeaways


It was more of the same on the offensive line. LT Orlando Brown Jr., LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith and RT Lucas Niang played all the offensive snaps together. Nick Allegretti, Darryl Williams and Mike Remmers had some special-teams snaps. Once again, G Andrew Wylie didn’t make it onto the field, while C Austin Blythe and G Laurent-Duvernay-Tardif were both inactive.

Now that we’re four games into the season, snap count charts for individual players become useful. Here we see that tight end Blake Bell’s use has been trending down — albeit fairly slightly — since Week 2. Meanwhile, rookie tight end Noah Gray has been moving in the other direction over the same period — and while tight end Jody Fortson is still seeing only a small amount of use on offense, his numbers are trending up. In addition, his use isn’t concentrated on running plays — as is the case for both Bell and Gray.

The use of running backs Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams has remained fairly steady since Week 2 — and as we have noted before, only in the Week 2 game against the Baltimore Ravens did their use between running and passing plays significantly differ; it appears the Chiefs trust both backs in pass protection.

But it should be noted that while these the two primary running backs’ share of use has remained relatively constant, the percentage of running plays rose significantly in Week 4. In the first three weeks of the season, it ranged between 37% and 40%. Against the Eagles, it rose to 50%.

Among the Kansas City wide receivers, only two trends seem to be consistent: that Mecole Hardman’s use has been declining since Week 2 — and that Byron Pringle is the only one of the receivers the team consistently likes to use more often on either running or passing plays. It certainly seems the Chiefs are still trying to figure out how to best use this group of players — which might help explain last week’s move to acquire controversial wideout Josh Gordon.


Defensive takeaways


In the defensive secondary, one thing remained clear in Week 4: the Chiefs like to have their four starting defensive backs in for nearly every play. Safety Tyrann Mathieu and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed were in for every defensive snap, while safety Daniel Sorensen missed only one and cornerback Mike Hughes missed only three.

But after that, it was a relatively unusual day in the secondary. Cornerback Deandre Baker was in for 91% of the snaps, while safety Juan Thornhill saw 44%. As long as we don’t count Thornhill starting for Mathieu in Week 1, both figures were season-highs — and Thornhill continued to be used primarily on passing downs.

These high percentages for the slot cornerback and third safety were reflected in the average number of defensive positions represented on the field. The team averaged 5.30 defensive backs on every play, which was the highest of the season. (In 2020, this figure ranged from 3.93 to 5.64). This also meant that the averages for the other position groups were lower — on average, 3.96 defensive linemen and 1.74 linebackers were on the field — but even though the team was short one defensive end, the defense averaged 2.34 on each snap. That was also a season-high figure for 2021 — and was also higher than all but one 2020 game.

So starting linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Nick Bolton had season-low percentages of use — and went back to their usual distribution on running and passing plays — while Ben Niemann’s use was about the same as his lower figure from Week 3.

Defensive ends Chris Jones and Michael Danna were back to the higher uses they had in Week 1, while Alex Okafor and Joshua Kaindoh returned to the vicinity of their higher uses from Week 3.

With the emphasis on defensive ends, all of the team’s defensive tackles — except for Tershawn Wharton — saw decreases in their percentages of use.


Data


Offense

Offense All Pass Run
Total 63
(100%)
31
(100%)
32
(100%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 63
(100%)
31
(100%)
32
(100%)
Creed Humphrey 63
(100%)
31
(100%)
32
(100%)
Patrick Mahomes 63
(100%)
31
(100%)
32
(100%)
Lucas Niang 63
(100%)
31
(100%)
32
(100%)
Trey Smith 63
(100%)
31
(100%)
32
(100%)
Joe Thuney 63
(100%)
31
(100%)
32
(100%)
Travis Kelce 55
(87%)
29
(94%)
26
(81%)
Tyreek Hill 52
(83%)
25
(81%)
27
(84%)
Demarcus Robinson 42
(67%)
22
(71%)
20
(63%)
Mecole Hardman 34
(54%)
19
(61%)
15
(47%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 33
(52%)
17
(55%)
16
(50%)
Darrel Williams 22
(35%)
9
(29%)
13
(41%)
Noah Gray 18
(29%)
5
(16%)
13
(41%)
Blake Bell 17
(27%)
6
(19%)
11
(34%)
Byron Pringle 16
(25%)
10
(32%)
6
(19%)
Jody Fortson 13
(21%)
6
(19%)
7
(22%)
Jerick McKinnon 8
(13%)
5
(16%)
3
(9%)
Michael Burton 3
(5%)
1
(3%)
2
(6%)
Marcus Kemp 2
(3%)
1
(3%)
1
(3%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 70
(100%)
51
(100%)
19
(100%)
Tyrann Mathieu 70
(100%)
51
(100%)
19
(100%)
L'Jarius Sneed 70
(100%)
51
(100%)
19
(100%)
Daniel Sorensen 69
(99%)
51
(100%)
18
(95%)
Mike Hughes 66
(94%)
50
(98%)
16
(84%)
Deandre Baker 64
(91%)
46
(90%)
18
(95%)
Chris Jones 55
(79%)
41
(80%)
14
(74%)
Michael Danna 52
(74%)
41
(80%)
11
(58%)
Anthony Hitchens 45
(64%)
30
(59%)
15
(79%)
Ben Niemann 41
(59%)
31
(61%)
10
(53%)
Alex Okafor 41
(59%)
32
(63%)
9
(47%)
Jarran Reed 41
(59%)
27
(53%)
14
(74%)
Nick Bolton 34
(49%)
22
(43%)
12
(63%)
Juan Thornhill 31
(44%)
25
(49%)
6
(32%)
Tershawn Wharton 31
(44%)
24
(47%)
7
(37%)
Khalen Saunders 22
(31%)
14
(27%)
8
(42%)
Derrick Nnadi 19
(27%)
14
(27%)
5
(26%)
Joshua Kaindoh 16
(23%)
8
(16%)
8
(42%)
Dorian O'Daniel 2
(3%)
2
(4%)
0
(0%)
Armani Watts 1
(1%)
1
(2%)
0
(0%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 27
(100%)
Marcus Kemp 21
(78%)
Dorian O'Daniel 21
(78%)
Chris Lammons 20
(74%)
Armani Watts 15
(56%)
Michael Burton 14
(52%)
Noah Gray 14
(52%)
Blake Bell 13
(48%)
Harrison Butker 13
(48%)
Jerick McKinnon 13
(48%)
Juan Thornhill 13
(48%)
Ben Niemann 12
(44%)
Michael Danna 7
(26%)
Jody Fortson 7
(26%)
Darius Harris 7
(26%)
Anthony Hitchens 7
(26%)
Derrick Nnadi 7
(26%)
Alex Okafor 7
(26%)
Byron Pringle 7
(26%)
Tershawn Wharton 7
(26%)
Dicaprio Bootle 7
(26%)
Nick Allegretti 6
(22%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 6
(22%)
Creed Humphrey 6
(22%)
Lucas Niang 6
(22%)
Trey Smith 6
(22%)
Joe Thuney 6
(22%)
Tommy Townsend 6
(22%)
Darrel Williams 6
(22%)
James Winchester 6
(22%)
Jarran Reed 5
(19%)
Mecole Hardman 1
(4%)
Mike Remmers 1
(4%)
Demarcus Robinson 1
(4%)
Daniel Sorensen 1
(4%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 63
(100%)
70
(100%)
27
(100%)
160
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
6
(4%)
Deandre Baker 0
(0%)
64
(91%)
0
(0%)
64
(40%)
Blake Bell 17
(27%)
0
(0%)
13
(48%)
30
(19%)
Nick Bolton 0
(0%)
34
(49%)
0
(0%)
34
(21%)
Orlando Brown Jr. 63
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
69
(43%)
Michael Burton 3
(5%)
0
(0%)
14
(52%)
17
(11%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
13
(48%)
13
(8%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
52
(74%)
7
(26%)
59
(37%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 33
(52%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
33
(21%)
Jody Fortson 13
(21%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
20
(13%)
Noah Gray 18
(29%)
0
(0%)
14
(52%)
32
(20%)
Mecole Hardman 34
(54%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)
35
(22%)
Darius Harris 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
7
(4%)
Tyreek Hill 52
(83%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
52
(33%)
Anthony Hitchens 0
(0%)
45
(64%)
7
(26%)
52
(33%)
Mike Hughes 0
(0%)
66
(94%)
0
(0%)
66
(41%)
Creed Humphrey 63
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
69
(43%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
55
(79%)
0
(0%)
55
(34%)
Joshua Kaindoh 0
(0%)
16
(23%)
0
(0%)
16
(10%)
Travis Kelce 55
(87%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
55
(34%)
Marcus Kemp 2
(3%)
0
(0%)
21
(78%)
23
(14%)
Chris Lammons 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
20
(74%)
20
(13%)
Patrick Mahomes 63
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
63
(39%)
Tyrann Mathieu 0
(0%)
70
(100%)
0
(0%)
70
(44%)
Jerick McKinnon 8
(13%)
0
(0%)
13
(48%)
21
(13%)
Lucas Niang 63
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
69
(43%)
Ben Niemann 0
(0%)
41
(59%)
12
(44%)
53
(33%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
19
(27%)
7
(26%)
26
(16%)
Dorian O'Daniel 0
(0%)
2
(3%)
21
(78%)
23
(14%)
Alex Okafor 0
(0%)
41
(59%)
7
(26%)
48
(30%)
Byron Pringle 16
(25%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
23
(14%)
Jarran Reed 0
(0%)
41
(59%)
5
(19%)
46
(29%)
Mike Remmers 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)
1
(1%)
Demarcus Robinson 42
(67%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)
43
(27%)
Khalen Saunders 0
(0%)
22
(31%)
0
(0%)
22
(14%)
Trey Smith 63
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
69
(43%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
70
(100%)
0
(0%)
70
(44%)
Daniel Sorensen 0
(0%)
69
(99%)
1
(4%)
70
(44%)
Juan Thornhill 0
(0%)
31
(44%)
13
(48%)
44
(28%)
Joe Thuney 63
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
69
(43%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
6
(4%)
Armani Watts 0
(0%)
1
(1%)
15
(56%)
16
(10%)
Tershawn Wharton 0
(0%)
31
(44%)
7
(26%)
38
(24%)
Darrel Williams 22
(35%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
28
(18%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(22%)
6
(4%)
Dicaprio Bootle 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
7
(4%)

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