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Chiefs-Raiders snap counts: Finding the right wideouts

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

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Candice Ward/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs handed the Las Vegas Raiders a 31-17 home loss — and advanced their season record to 8-3.

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


Starters (offensive): TE Noah Gray, LT Donovan Smith, LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Jawaan Taylor, TE Travis Kelce, WR Rashee Rice, WR Justin Watson, QB Patrick Mahomes and RB Isiah Pacheco.

Starters (defensive): DE George Karlaftis, DT Derrick Nnadi, DT Chris Jones, DE Michael Danna, LB Willie Gay Jr., LB Drue Tranquill, LB Leo Chenal, CB Trent McDuffie, CB L’Jarius Sneed, S Justin Reid and S Bryan Cook.

Did not play: QB Blaine Gabbert.

Inactive: RB Jerick McKinnon, WR Kadarius Toney, DE BJ Thompson, OL Mike Caliendo, DE Neil Farrell and DE Malik Herring.


Offensive takeaways


Pass/Run ratio

Just as the team did during Week 11’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (which easily could have been a victory without Kansas City’s red-zone turnovers), 60% of Sunday’s plays were passes. The team has passed on less than 63% of its plays in six of this season’s games — winning five of them.

Offensive line

Rookie offensive tackle Wanya Morris collected 5 snaps at left tackle (9% of the offensive reps) when Donovan Smith sat out a series. It was the second time this season he’s registered offense snaps — although over eight games, he’s been on the field for 13% of this season’s total special teams snaps.

Running backs

With running back Jerick McKinnon inactive with a groin injury, Clyde Edwards-Helaire took some (but not all) of his work. McKinnon typically gets about one-third of the reps — with an emphasis on passing plays. On Sunday, Edwards-Helaire was in for only 19% — and starter Isiah Pacheco got the rest, setting a new high mark for the season. Pacheco continues to make strides toward being a true “bell cow” running back.

While elevated practice squad running back La’Mical Perine was in for only one offensive snap, he appeared in 38% of the special teams reps.

Wide receivers

In the Week 6 iteration of this analysis (following the Chiefs’ victory over the Denver Broncos), I noted that the team was truly implementing a wide-receiver-by-committee approach.

Five of the six wideouts who had offensive snaps on Thursday — Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Kadarius Toney and Justin Watson — were grouped together between 57% and 41%. With the exception of Justyn Ross (13%), it was the closest we’ve seen to a true wide-receiver-by-committee distribution. By comparison, the target distribution is still out of whack — Valdes-Scantling and Watson each had only one target, while Rice and Moore had four and Toney had six — but for better or worse, the team really does seem to be moving toward a legitimate committee approach.

That week, five wideouts each had at least 40% of the snaps. But after the Week 9 victory over the Miami Dolphins, the snap count data told a different story.

On Sunday, three wideouts each had at least 50% of the offensive snaps: Rice (70%), Watson (63%) and Valdes-Scantling (54%). The other three active wide receivers each had a share below 25%: Moore (23%), Mecole Hardman (21%) and Toney (13%). It certainly looks like the team is narrowing down the list of receivers it wants to emphasize.

Against the Eagles in Week 11, the Chiefs went back to spreading the ball around a bit more. Four wide receivers — Valdes-Scantling (46%), Moore (49%), Rice (59%) and Watson (65%) — had at least 40% of the snaps.

But on Sunday, the team raised the ante. For the first time this season, four wideouts — Valdes-Scantling (53%), Moore (57%), Watson (59%) and Rice (67%) — each had more than 50% of the snaps. (Richie James had just 16% of Sunday’s reps).

Did this happen only because Toney was unavailable? Or was this exactly what Kansas City wanted?

As Pete Sweeney noted during this week’s “Arrowhead Pride Editors’ Show” podcast, it’s likely that all along, the Chiefs have been looking for the right three or four wideouts — rather than truly trying to spread the work among five or six players. Has Kansas City finally found the right balance? We’ll see.


Defensive takeaways


George Karlaftis

In Sunday’s game, there wasn’t much out of the ordinary on the defensive unit. That makes this a good time to note that defensive end George Karlaftis has become a consistent, reliable performer for Kansas City. Consider his usage during his rookie season:

Note how Karlaftis’ usage varied a lot from week to week — and in general, trended down over the course of the season. Now compare that to what we have seen in 2023.

While we still see some variation, it’s not as pronounced — and there’s no downward trendline. Meanwhile, he continues to get special-teams use — and his defensive production has been excellent. He leads the team in sacks (8.0), pressures (25) and hurries (13) — to go along with 35 tackles (20 solo, five for loss), a forced fumble and three passes defensed. And like his teammate Chris Jones, he’s learning how to make plays when it matters most; his fourth-quarter sack of Raiders’ quarterback (and former Purdue teammate) Aidan O’Connell — which forced the end of the final Las Vegas drive — is just the latest example.

During their sophomore season, this is just what you want to see from a first-round pick.


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%)
Jawaan Taylor 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Joe Thuney 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Donovan Smith 53
(91%)
32
(91%)
21
(91%)
Isiah Pacheco 46
(79%)
28
(80%)
18
(78%)
Travis Kelce 44
(76%)
29
(83%)
15
(65%)
Rashee Rice 39
(67%)
25
(71%)
14
(61%)
Justin Watson 34
(59%)
23
(66%)
11
(48%)
Skyy Moore 33
(57%)
16
(46%)
17
(74%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 31
(53%)
18
(51%)
13
(57%)
Noah Gray 28
(48%)
17
(49%)
11
(48%)
Blake Bell 12
(21%)
6
(17%)
6
(26%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 11
(19%)
7
(20%)
4
(17%)
Richie James 9
(16%)
6
(17%)
3
(13%)
Wanya Morris 5
(9%)
3
(9%)
2
(9%)
Montrell Washington 2
(3%)
0
(0%)
2
(9%)
La'Mical Perine 1
(2%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
L'Jarius Sneed 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Drue Tranquill 58
(100%)
35
(100%)
23
(100%)
Justin Reid 57
(98%)
34
(97%)
23
(100%)
Trent McDuffie 56
(97%)
34
(97%)
22
(96%)
Bryan Cook 52
(90%)
34
(97%)
18
(78%)
George Karlaftis 47
(81%)
31
(89%)
16
(70%)
Chris Jones 44
(76%)
28
(80%)
16
(70%)
Michael Danna 40
(69%)
24
(69%)
16
(70%)
Charles Omenihu 39
(67%)
26
(74%)
13
(57%)
Willie Gay Jr. 38
(66%)
18
(51%)
20
(87%)
Jaylen Watson 25
(43%)
18
(51%)
7
(30%)
Mike Edwards 22
(38%)
16
(46%)
6
(26%)
Derrick Nnadi 22
(38%)
8
(23%)
14
(61%)
Leo Chenal 21
(36%)
10
(29%)
11
(48%)
Tershawn Wharton 19
(33%)
12
(34%)
7
(30%)
Matt Dickerson 16
(28%)
8
(23%)
8
(35%)
Chamarri Conner 11
(19%)
6
(17%)
5
(22%)
Joshua Williams 10
(17%)
7
(20%)
3
(13%)
Felix Anudike-Uzomah 3
(5%)
1
(3%)
2
(9%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 26
(100%)
Jack Cochrane 21
(81%)
Chamarri Conner 21
(81%)
Joshua Williams 20
(77%)
Cam Jones 17
(65%)
Noah Gray 16
(62%)
Mike Edwards 15
(58%)
Nic Jones 14
(54%)
Darius Harris 13
(50%)
Harrison Butker 11
(42%)
Leo Chenal 11
(42%)
Jaylen Watson 10
(38%)
La'Mical Perine 10
(38%)
Bryan Cook 9
(35%)
Tommy Townsend 9
(35%)
James Winchester 9
(35%)
Richie James 7
(27%)
Justin Watson 6
(23%)
Nick Allegretti 5
(19%)
Creed Humphrey 5
(19%)
Wanya Morris 5
(19%)
Lucas Niang 5
(19%)
Trey Smith 5
(19%)
Jawaan Taylor 5
(19%)
Blake Bell 4
(15%)
Michael Danna 4
(15%)
George Karlaftis 4
(15%)
Derrick Nnadi 4
(15%)
Justin Reid 4
(15%)
Donovan Smith 4
(15%)
Drue Tranquill 4
(15%)
Tershawn Wharton 4
(15%)
Skyy Moore 2
(8%)
Montrell Washington 2
(8%)
Joe Thuney 1
(4%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 58
(100%)
58
(100%)
26
(100%)
142
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
5
(19%)
5
(4%)
Felix Anudike-Uzomah 0
(0%)
3
(5%)
0
(0%)
3
(2%)
Blake Bell 12
(21%)
0
(0%)
4
(15%)
16
(11%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
11
(42%)
11
(8%)
Leo Chenal 0
(0%)
21
(36%)
11
(42%)
32
(23%)
Jack Cochrane 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
21
(81%)
21
(15%)
Chamarri Conner 0
(0%)
11
(19%)
21
(81%)
32
(23%)
Bryan Cook 0
(0%)
52
(90%)
9
(35%)
61
(43%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
40
(69%)
4
(15%)
44
(31%)
Matt Dickerson 0
(0%)
16
(28%)
0
(0%)
16
(11%)
Mike Edwards 0
(0%)
22
(38%)
15
(58%)
37
(26%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 11
(19%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
11
(8%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
38
(66%)
0
(0%)
38
(27%)
Noah Gray 28
(48%)
0
(0%)
16
(62%)
44
(31%)
Darius Harris 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
13
(50%)
13
(9%)
Creed Humphrey 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
5
(19%)
63
(44%)
Richie James 9
(16%)
0
(0%)
7
(27%)
16
(11%)
Cam Jones 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
17
(65%)
17
(12%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
44
(76%)
0
(0%)
44
(31%)
Nic Jones 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
14
(54%)
14
(10%)
George Karlaftis 0
(0%)
47
(81%)
4
(15%)
51
(36%)
Travis Kelce 44
(76%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
44
(31%)
Patrick Mahomes 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
58
(41%)
Trent McDuffie 0
(0%)
56
(97%)
0
(0%)
56
(39%)
Skyy Moore 33
(57%)
0
(0%)
2
(8%)
35
(25%)
Wanya Morris 5
(9%)
0
(0%)
5
(19%)
10
(7%)
Lucas Niang 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
5
(19%)
5
(4%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
22
(38%)
4
(15%)
26
(18%)
Charles Omenihu 0
(0%)
39
(67%)
0
(0%)
39
(27%)
Isiah Pacheco 46
(79%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
46
(32%)
Justin Reid 0
(0%)
57
(98%)
4
(15%)
61
(43%)
Rashee Rice 39
(67%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
39
(27%)
Donovan Smith 53
(91%)
0
(0%)
4
(15%)
57
(40%)
Trey Smith 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
5
(19%)
63
(44%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
58
(100%)
0
(0%)
58
(41%)
Jawaan Taylor 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
5
(19%)
63
(44%)
Joe Thuney 58
(100%)
0
(0%)
1
(4%)
59
(42%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(35%)
9
(6%)
Drue Tranquill 0
(0%)
58
(100%)
4
(15%)
62
(44%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 31
(53%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
31
(22%)
Jaylen Watson 0
(0%)
25
(43%)
10
(38%)
35
(25%)
Justin Watson 34
(59%)
0
(0%)
6
(23%)
40
(28%)
Tershawn Wharton 0
(0%)
19
(33%)
4
(15%)
23
(16%)
Joshua Williams 0
(0%)
10
(17%)
20
(77%)
30
(21%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(35%)
9
(6%)
La'Mical Perine 1
(2%)
0
(0%)
10
(38%)
11
(8%)
Montrell Washington 2
(3%)
0
(0%)
2
(8%)
4
(3%)

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

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