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Chiefs-Bengals snap counts: early-season echoes in a return to normal

How did Kansas City use its players in Sunday’s game against Cincinnati?

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In Week 17, the Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 34-31 on a last-second field goal at Paul Brown Stadium, bringing their record to 11-5.

Let’s see how the Chiefs used their players in this unexpected loss.


Starters (offensive): WR Tyreek Hill, TE Blake Bell, LT Lucas Niang, LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Andrew Wylie, TE Travis Kelce, WR Demarcus Robinson, QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Darrel Williams.

Starters (defensive): LDE Melvin Ingram, LDT Jarran Reed, RDT Chris Jones, RDE Frank Clark, LB Willie Gay Jr., LB Anthony Hitchens, LCB Charvarius Ward, CB L’Jarius Sneed, RCB Rashad Fenton, S Juan Thornhill and S Tyrann Mathieu.

Did not play: QB Chad Henne, T Orlando Brown Jr. and QB Shane Buechele.

Inactive: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, CB Deandre Baker, OL Kyle Long and T Prince Tega Wanogho.


Offensive takeaways


Sunday’s game started with an unusual situation: starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. suffered a calf injury during pre-game warmups. The Chiefs responded by moving nominal right tackle Lucas Niang to the left side and giving Andrew Wylie (who had been filling in for Niang during recent games) another start on the right side. But after just five snaps, Niang left the game with a serious injury. Starting left guard Joe Thuney moved to left tackle and Nick Allegretti took his lace on the inside. Thuney, Allegretti, center Creed Humphrey, right guard Trey Smith and Wylie played the rest of the offensive snaps.

After several weeks where both Travis Kelce and Blake Bell missed time on the Reserve/COVID list — or played less after returning — the tight end position returned to normal. Kelce, Bell and rookie Noah Gray all had usage within their normal ranges.

At running back, however, the Chiefs were without starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who was injured in Week 16 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15, Edwards-Helaire had been used as the bell cow running back — getting 73% of the snaps — for the first time since the opening week of the season. Against the Bengals, Darrel Williams stepped right into that role — while Jerick McKinnon (who was returning from injury) and Derrick Gore had only minimal use.

There had also been some COVID-related shuffling at wide receiver in recent weeks. Tyreek Hill didn’t have a big game against Cincinnati— but it wasn’t because he was on the field less. Instead, he was right back in his normal range. Byron Pringle had his lowest percentage of use since Week 9 against the Green Bay Packers, while Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman — both of whom appeared to be on the way out earlier in the season — seem to have established new normal ranges in the last few weeks. After missing the Chargers game on the COVID list, Josh Gordon’s usage began to trend back up. We’ll see if he gets back to being a starter who sees significant usage.


Defensive takeaways


On defense, everyone was back from injury, personal and COVID-related absences. So at the back end of the secondary, we saw the usual pattern: starting safety Tyrann Mathieu and starting cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and L’Jarius Sneed were on the field for nearly every snap.

Safety Juan Thornhill’s usage was also back in his normal range — but for the first time since early in the season, was used significantly more often against the pass. Fellow safety Daniel Sorensen also returned to his normal range. Like Thornhill, he was used differently than he had been for quite a while — seeing equal use against the run and the pass.

Per Pro Football Focus, Ward was back to playing outside almost exclusively, while Sneed also returned to his normal role: playing mostly in the slot. Rashad Fenton — also back to his normal range — played mostly on the outside when Sneed was in the slot. With the secondary back to normal, Mike Hughes had only a handful of defensive snaps.

At the second level, Anthony Hitchens was also used more often than he had been since early in the season — aside from the Chargers game, where he was used more because of Willie Gay’s absence. Both Gay and Nick Bolton returned to their normal use.

Chris Jones was another player who found himself back in his normal range of use — and his normal position. According to PFF, he was on the inside about twice as often as the outside — pretty much exactly as he was used in 2020.

Meanwhile, Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram were also in their normal ranges again, with Mike Danna and Alex Okafor spelling them primarily on running snaps.

And among the rest of the defensive tackles, it was another return to normal.


Data


Offense

Offense All Pass Run
Total 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Creed Humphrey 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Patrick Mahomes 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Trey Smith 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Joe Thuney 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Andrew Wylie 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 53
(91%)
32
(91%)
21
(91%)
Tyreek Hill 49
(84%)
30
(86%)
19
(83%)
Darrel Williams 48
(83%)
29
(83%)
19
(83%)
Travis Kelce 45
(78%)
32
(91%)
13
(57%)
Demarcus Robinson 37
(64%)
23
(66%)
14
(61%)
Byron Pringle 29
(50%)
19
(54%)
10
(43%)
Blake Bell 21
(36%)
9
(26%)
12
(52%)
Mecole Hardman 18
(31%)
10
(29%)
8
(35%)
Josh Gordon 12
(21%)
7
(20%)
5
(22%)
Noah Gray 10
(17%)
7
(20%)
3
(13%)
Derrick Gore 7
(12%)
4
(11%)
3
(13%)
Michael Burton 6
(10%)
1
(3%)
5
(22%)
Lucas Niang 5
(9%)
3
(9%)
2
(9%)
Jerick McKinnon 4
(7%)
2
(6%)
2
(9%)
Marcus Kemp 3
(5%)
2
(6%)
1
(4%)
Austin Blythe 1
(2%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 63
(100%)
44
(100%)
19
(100%)
Tyrann Mathieu 63
(100%)
44
(100%)
19
(100%)
L'Jarius Sneed 60
(95%)
44
(100%)
16
(84%)
Charvarius Ward 60
(95%)
44
(100%)
16
(84%)
Juan Thornhill 53
(84%)
41
(93%)
12
(63%)
Chris Jones 48
(76%)
36
(82%)
12
(63%)
Rashad Fenton 47
(75%)
40
(91%)
7
(37%)
Frank Clark 44
(70%)
36
(82%)
8
(42%)
Anthony Hitchens 43
(68%)
26
(59%)
17
(89%)
Melvin Ingram 43
(68%)
35
(80%)
8
(42%)
Willie Gay Jr. 42
(67%)
26
(59%)
16
(84%)
Jarran Reed 41
(65%)
31
(70%)
10
(53%)
Daniel Sorensen 26
(41%)
18
(41%)
8
(42%)
Nick Bolton 25
(40%)
9
(20%)
16
(84%)
Tershawn Wharton 24
(38%)
14
(32%)
10
(53%)
Alex Okafor 20
(32%)
9
(20%)
11
(58%)
Michael Danna 19
(30%)
8
(18%)
11
(58%)
Derrick Nnadi 19
(30%)
7
(16%)
12
(63%)
Ben Niemann 15
(24%)
15
(34%)
0
(0%)
Mike Hughes 1
(2%)
1
(2%)
0
(0%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 29
(100%)
Ben Niemann 24
(83%)
Marcus Kemp 23
(79%)
Dorian O'Daniel 23
(79%)
Armani Watts 23
(79%)
Noah Gray 20
(69%)
Daniel Sorensen 18
(62%)
Zayne Anderson 17
(59%)
Michael Burton 15
(52%)
Mike Hughes 15
(52%)
Jerick McKinnon 12
(41%)
Blake Bell 11
(38%)
Harrison Butker 11
(38%)
Michael Danna 9
(31%)
Byron Pringle 8
(28%)
Tommy Townsend 8
(28%)
James Winchester 8
(28%)
Derrick Nnadi 7
(24%)
Tershawn Wharton 7
(24%)
Rashad Fenton 6
(21%)
Anthony Hitchens 6
(21%)
Alex Okafor 6
(21%)
Nick Allegretti 5
(17%)
Austin Blythe 5
(17%)
Creed Humphrey 5
(17%)
Trey Smith 5
(17%)
Joe Thuney 5
(17%)
Andrew Wylie 5
(17%)
Nick Bolton 4
(14%)
L'Jarius Sneed 3
(10%)
Mecole Hardman 2
(7%)
Jarran Reed 1
(3%)
Demarcus Robinson 1
(3%)
Charvarius Ward 1
(3%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 58
(100%)
63
(100%)
29
(100%)
150
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 53
(91%)
0
(0%)
5
(17%)
58
(39%)
Zayne Anderson 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
17
(59%)
17
(11%)
Blake Bell 21
(36%)
0
(0%)
11
(38%)
32
(21%)
Austin Blythe 1
(2%)
0
(0%)
5
(17%)
6
(4%)
Nick Bolton 0
(0%)
25
(40%)
4
(14%)
29
(19%)
Michael Burton 6
(10%)
0
(0%)
15
(52%)
21
(14%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
11
(38%)
11
(7%)
Frank Clark 0
(0%)
44
(70%)
0
(0%)
44
(29%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
19
(30%)
9
(31%)
28
(19%)
Rashad Fenton 0
(0%)
47
(75%)
6
(21%)
53
(35%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
42
(67%)
0
(0%)
42
(28%)
Josh Gordon 12
(21%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
12
(8%)
Derrick Gore 7
(12%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
7
(5%)
Noah Gray 10
(17%)
0
(0%)
20
(69%)
30
(20%)
Mecole Hardman 18
(31%)
0
(0%)
2
(7%)
20
(13%)
Tyreek Hill 49
(84%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
49
(33%)
Anthony Hitchens 0
(0%)
43
(68%)
6
(21%)
49
(33%)
Mike Hughes 0
(0%)
1
(2%)
15
(52%)
16
(11%)
Creed Humphrey 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
5
(17%)
63
(42%)
Melvin Ingram 0
(0%)
43
(68%)
0
(0%)
43
(29%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
48
(76%)
0
(0%)
48
(32%)
Travis Kelce 45
(78%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
45
(30%)
Marcus Kemp 3
(5%)
0
(0%)
23
(79%)
26
(17%)
Patrick Mahomes 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
58
(39%)
Tyrann Mathieu 0
(0%)
63
(100%)
0
(0%)
63
(42%)
Jerick McKinnon 4
(7%)
0
(0%)
12
(41%)
16
(11%)
Lucas Niang 5
(9%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
5
(3%)
Ben Niemann 0
(0%)
15
(24%)
24
(83%)
39
(26%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
19
(30%)
7
(24%)
26
(17%)
Dorian O'Daniel 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
23
(79%)
23
(15%)
Alex Okafor 0
(0%)
20
(32%)
6
(21%)
26
(17%)
Byron Pringle 29
(50%)
0
(0%)
8
(28%)
37
(25%)
Jarran Reed 0
(0%)
41
(65%)
1
(3%)
42
(28%)
Demarcus Robinson 37
(64%)
0
(0%)
1
(3%)
38
(25%)
Trey Smith 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
5
(17%)
63
(42%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
60
(95%)
3
(10%)
63
(42%)
Daniel Sorensen 0
(0%)
26
(41%)
18
(62%)
44
(29%)
Juan Thornhill 0
(0%)
53
(84%)
0
(0%)
53
(35%)
Joe Thuney 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
5
(17%)
63
(42%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
8
(28%)
8
(5%)
Charvarius Ward 0
(0%)
60
(95%)
1
(3%)
61
(41%)
Armani Watts 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
23
(79%)
23
(15%)
Tershawn Wharton 0
(0%)
24
(38%)
7
(24%)
31
(21%)
Darrel Williams 48
(83%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
48
(32%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
8
(28%)
8
(5%)
Andrew Wylie 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
5
(17%)
63
(42%)

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