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Chiefs-Dolphins snap counts: Wideouts settle in; Chamarri Conner riding high

How did Kansas City use its players in Saturday’s game against Miami?

NFL: JAN 13 AFC Wild Card - Dolphins at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In bitterly cold temperatures on Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs handed the Miami Dolphins a 26-7 defeat in their Wild Card playoff matchup on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, advancing the Chiefs to the Divisional round against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday in Orchard Park, New York.

Let’s see how Kansas City used its players in its first postseason game.


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

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

Did not play: QB Blaine Gabbert.

Inactive: WR Justyn Ross, WR Kadarius Toney, CB Keith Taylor, DE BJ Thompson, OL Wanya Morris, DE Neil Farrell and DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah.


Offensive takeaways


Offensive line

After being inactive for five games with a neck stinger, left tackle Donovan Smith returned to the starting lineup, playing 100% of the snaps alongside Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Jawaan Taylor. Rookie tackle Wanya Morris — who had filled in for Smith during his absence — continues to work his way through the league’s concussion protocol. It will be interesting to see what the team chooses to do when both players are healthy. Bets bet: in the playoffs, the Chiefs stick with the experienced veteran.

Tight ends

With the season on the line, the team chose to lean into its tight ends, averaging 1.61 on every snap. That was a season-high. It appears that this was largely done by giving Blake Bell a higher percentage of snaps than he had seen (in a normal game) since the Week 9 game against the Dolphins in Frankfurt, Germany — when Kansas City did the same thing. On Saturday, the Chiefs ran the ball on 45% of their plays — a bit more often than usual — just as they did in Week 9, when 43% of the reps were running plays.

Running backs

Throughout the season, Kansas City has been pushing Isiah Pacheco more and more into a “bell-cow” role. Against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 — with Clyde Edwards-Helaire out — his use topped out at 92%. On Saturday, the team returned to the way they used Pacheco earlier in the season — something around two-thirds of the snaps — with Edwards-Helaire (rather than the injured Jerick McKinnon) taking up the slack in some passing situations. Is this because Pacheco was on the injury report with a shoulder issue, or was it a strategic choice? The game against the Bills may help answer that question.

Wide receivers

As the postseason got underway, it finally seems that Kansas City found what looks like a sensible distribution of their wideouts: Rashee Rice and Justin Watson with the lion’s share of snaps, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman getting most of what’s left and players like Richie James, Kadarius Toney and Justyn Ross getting the crumbs.

Toney and Ross were both inactive on Saturday.


Defensive takeaways


Defensive backs

As the playoffs got underway, the Chiefs were in their comfort zone on the back end: two cornerbacks (Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed) and two safeties (Justin Reid and Mike Edwards) on the field for every play. (It now seems certain that safety Bryan Cook will miss the rest of the season.

Cornerback Joshua Williams got most of the snaps as the third cornerback (56%), while Jaylen Watson had 17%. Rookie Chamarri Conner was in the mix for 61% of the snaps — most of them as a third safety. For the second consecutive season, Kansas City rolls into the playoffs with a rookie defensive back taking a big share of the load.

The team averaged 5.37 defensive backs on the field for every play. That was a season-high mark.

Linebackers

This meant that linebackers would see likely less use — and they did. An average of 1.78 players on the second level was a season-low.

Apparently with the expectation that the Dolphins would lean heavily into their running game (or perhaps because he was finally fully healthy after sitting down in Week 18), Kansas City went back to having MIKE linebacker Nick Bolton in for all of the defensive snaps; Drue Tranquill returned to being a situational player. Snaps for both Willie Gay Jr. and Leo Chenal were down a little from their normal ranges.

Defensive line

With the exception of defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi leaving the game with an elbow injury during the first quarter — with his snaps largely being taken up by Tershawn Wharton and elevated practice squad player Mike Pennel — defensive linemen were in their normal ranges of use.


Data


Offense

Offense All Pass Run
Total 75
(100%)
41
(100%)
34
(100%)
Creed Humphrey 75
(100%)
41
(100%)
34
(100%)
Patrick Mahomes 75
(100%)
41
(100%)
34
(100%)
Donovan Smith 75
(100%)
41
(100%)
34
(100%)
Trey Smith 75
(100%)
41
(100%)
34
(100%)
Jawaan Taylor 75
(100%)
41
(100%)
34
(100%)
Joe Thuney 75
(100%)
41
(100%)
34
(100%)
Travis Kelce 64
(85%)
38
(93%)
26
(76%)
Rashee Rice 57
(76%)
37
(90%)
20
(59%)
Isiah Pacheco 53
(71%)
26
(63%)
27
(79%)
Justin Watson 51
(68%)
26
(63%)
25
(74%)
Noah Gray 37
(49%)
13
(32%)
24
(71%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 30
(40%)
18
(44%)
12
(35%)
Mecole Hardman 25
(33%)
18
(44%)
7
(21%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 22
(29%)
15
(37%)
7
(21%)
Blake Bell 20
(27%)
5
(12%)
15
(44%)
Richie James 15
(20%)
9
(22%)
6
(18%)
Nick Allegretti 1
(1%)
0
(0%)
1
(3%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 59
(100%)
41
(100%)
18
(100%)
Mike Edwards 59
(100%)
41
(100%)
18
(100%)
Trent McDuffie 59
(100%)
41
(100%)
18
(100%)
Justin Reid 59
(100%)
41
(100%)
18
(100%)
L'Jarius Sneed 59
(100%)
41
(100%)
18
(100%)
Nick Bolton 57
(97%)
39
(95%)
18
(100%)
Charles Omenihu 47
(80%)
32
(78%)
15
(83%)
Michael Danna 43
(73%)
30
(73%)
13
(72%)
George Karlaftis 43
(73%)
36
(88%)
7
(39%)
Chris Jones 42
(71%)
31
(76%)
11
(61%)
Chamarri Conner 36
(61%)
29
(71%)
7
(39%)
Joshua Williams 33
(56%)
28
(68%)
5
(28%)
Tershawn Wharton 25
(42%)
17
(41%)
8
(44%)
Willie Gay Jr. 22
(37%)
15
(37%)
7
(39%)
Drue Tranquill 16
(27%)
7
(17%)
9
(50%)
Mike Pennel 14
(24%)
6
(15%)
8
(44%)
Leo Chenal 10
(17%)
4
(10%)
6
(33%)
Jaylen Watson 10
(17%)
8
(20%)
2
(11%)
Derrick Nnadi 7
(12%)
0
(0%)
7
(39%)
Malik Herring 6
(10%)
3
(7%)
3
(17%)
Deon Bush 2
(3%)
2
(5%)
0
(0%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 23
(100%)
Deon Bush 17
(74%)
Leo Chenal 17
(74%)
Jack Cochrane 17
(74%)
Chamarri Conner 17
(74%)
Noah Gray 15
(65%)
Joshua Williams 15
(65%)
Ekow Boye-Doe 13
(57%)
Harrison Butker 13
(57%)
La'Mical Perine 12
(52%)
Jaylen Watson 11
(48%)
Blake Bell 10
(43%)
Cam Jones 10
(43%)
Nic Jones 9
(39%)
Tommy Townsend 9
(39%)
James Winchester 9
(39%)
Drue Tranquill 8
(35%)
Nick Allegretti 6
(26%)
Mike Caliendo 6
(26%)
Creed Humphrey 6
(26%)
Richie James 6
(26%)
Lucas Niang 6
(26%)
Trey Smith 6
(26%)
Jawaan Taylor 6
(26%)
Justin Watson 4
(17%)
Michael Danna 1
(4%)
George Karlaftis 1
(4%)
Derrick Nnadi 1
(4%)
Justin Reid 1
(4%)
Tershawn Wharton 1
(4%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 75
(100%)
59
(100%)
23
(100%)
157
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 1
(1%)
0
(0%)
6
(26%)
7
(4%)
Blake Bell 20
(27%)
0
(0%)
10
(43%)
30
(19%)
Nick Bolton 0
(0%)
57
(97%)
0
(0%)
57
(36%)
Ekow Boye-Doe 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
13
(57%)
13
(8%)
Deon Bush 0
(0%)
2
(3%)
17
(74%)
19
(12%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
13
(57%)
13
(8%)
Mike Caliendo 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(26%)
6
(4%)
Leo Chenal 0
(0%)
10
(17%)
17
(74%)
27
(17%)
Jack Cochrane 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
17
(74%)
17
(11%)
Chamarri Conner 0
(0%)
36
(61%)
17
(74%)
53
(34%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
43
(73%)
1
(4%)
44
(28%)
Mike Edwards 0
(0%)
59
(100%)
0
(0%)
59
(38%)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire 22
(29%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
22
(14%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
22
(37%)
0
(0%)
22
(14%)
Noah Gray 37
(49%)
0
(0%)
15
(65%)
52
(33%)
Mecole Hardman 25
(33%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
25
(16%)
Malik Herring 0
(0%)
6
(10%)
0
(0%)
6
(4%)
Creed Humphrey 75
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(26%)
81
(52%)
Richie James 15
(20%)
0
(0%)
6
(26%)
21
(13%)
Cam Jones 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
10
(43%)
10
(6%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
42
(71%)
0
(0%)
42
(27%)
Nic Jones 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(39%)
9
(6%)
George Karlaftis 0
(0%)
43
(73%)
1
(4%)
44
(28%)
Travis Kelce 64
(85%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
64
(41%)
Patrick Mahomes 75
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
75
(48%)
Trent McDuffie 0
(0%)
59
(100%)
0
(0%)
59
(38%)
Lucas Niang 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(26%)
6
(4%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
7
(12%)
1
(4%)
8
(5%)
Charles Omenihu 0
(0%)
47
(80%)
0
(0%)
47
(30%)
Isiah Pacheco 53
(71%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
53
(34%)
La'Mical Perine 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
12
(52%)
12
(8%)
Justin Reid 0
(0%)
59
(100%)
1
(4%)
60
(38%)
Rashee Rice 57
(76%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
57
(36%)
Donovan Smith 75
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
75
(48%)
Trey Smith 75
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(26%)
81
(52%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
59
(100%)
0
(0%)
59
(38%)
Jawaan Taylor 75
(100%)
0
(0%)
6
(26%)
81
(52%)
Joe Thuney 75
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
75
(48%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(39%)
9
(6%)
Drue Tranquill 0
(0%)
16
(27%)
8
(35%)
24
(15%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 30
(40%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
30
(19%)
Jaylen Watson 0
(0%)
10
(17%)
11
(48%)
21
(13%)
Justin Watson 51
(68%)
0
(0%)
4
(17%)
55
(35%)
Tershawn Wharton 0
(0%)
25
(42%)
1
(4%)
26
(17%)
Joshua Williams 0
(0%)
33
(56%)
15
(65%)
48
(31%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
9
(39%)
9
(6%)
Mike Pennel 0
(0%)
14
(24%)
0
(0%)
14
(9%)

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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