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Chiefs-Bengals snap counts: Unexplainable use of wide receivers

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

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs recorded a 25-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, clinching a playoff berth and their eighth consecutive AFC West title.

Let’s see how Kansas City used its players in the win.


Starters (offensive): WR Justin Watson, WR Rashee Rice, LT Wanya Morris, LG Joe Thuney, C Creed Humphrey, RG Trey Smith, RT Jawaan Taylor, TE Travis Kelce, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 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 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 and RB Keaontay Ingram.

Inactive: WR Kadarius Toney, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, CB Nic Jones, DE BJ Thompson, T Donovan Smith, DE Neil Farrell and DE Malik Herring.


Offensive takeaways


Offensive line

Rookie tackle Wanya Morris had his fourth start at left tackle in relief of veteran Donovan Smith, who is suffering from a neck stinger. Since the result of the Week 17 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers will now have no bearing on playoff seeding, it seems likely that Smith will miss his fifth game this Sunday. Have we seen the last of him in 2023?

Tight ends

Two weeks ago against the New England Patriots, it appeared that the Chiefs were giving tight end Travis Kelce some snaps off by shifting some of his blocking assignments to Noah Gray and Blake Bell. Since then, they have been moving Kelce back to something more like his normal use — and on Sunday, Gray had a higher percentage of snaps than he’d seen since the Week 5 game against the Minnesota Vikings. That added up to the Chiefs using tight ends more than usual against the Bengals. The team averaged 1.60 tight ends on every play — the season’s highest figure — and used a season-low of 2.38 wide receivers per play.

Running backs

With Jerick McKinnon on the Reserve/Injured list (and Clyde Edwards-Helaire inactive with an illness), the Chiefs chose to have Isiah Pacheco on the field for almost every offensive play: 92% of the snaps. That was easily a season high. In fact — except for Darwin Thompson in a rest-the-starters game against the Chargers in 2020 — it was the first time a Kansas City running back had exceeded 90% of the snaps since Jamaal Charles did it in some games during 2013 and 2014. It would appear that the coaching staff simply didn’t believe that newly activated La’Mical Perine was ready to be trusted — that is, unless Pacheco was injured.

Wide receivers

After the Week 15 game against the Patriots, we noted that Marquez Valde-Scantling's usage had been trending downward since Week 7 — but in the last two games, it’s been back to the high percentages we saw at the beginning of the season. While Rahsee Rice continues to lead the position group in snaps, we simply cannot explain the team’s continued reliance on Valdes-Scantling, who had one catch for three yards (on four targets) during the last two games. Meanwhile, players like Richie James (who was three for three for 54 yards against Las Vegas) and the just-activated Mecole Hardman aren’t getting more work.


Defensive takeaways


There aren’t a lot of noteworthy takeaways from the defensive snap count data. But there are a couple of things worth mentioning.

One is that in the Week 16 loss to the Raiders, second-year linebacker Leo Chenal saw a significant spike in his usage as the team set a season-high average of 2.45 linebackers on every play. But in Week 17, everyone in the second level was back into their normal ranges of use.

In what might be a related development, defensive back Chamarri Conner’s usage settled into a more normal range after consecutive weeks in which he achieved season highs.

Otherwise, it would appear that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s unit has found the right formula... and is continuing to stay in the groove it has established.


Data


Offense

Offense All Pass Run
Total 53
(100%)
31
(100%)
22
(100%)
Creed Humphrey 53
(100%)
31
(100%)
22
(100%)
Patrick Mahomes 53
(100%)
31
(100%)
22
(100%)
Wanya Morris 53
(100%)
31
(100%)
22
(100%)
Trey Smith 53
(100%)
31
(100%)
22
(100%)
Jawaan Taylor 53
(100%)
31
(100%)
22
(100%)
Joe Thuney 53
(100%)
31
(100%)
22
(100%)
Isiah Pacheco 49
(92%)
28
(90%)
21
(95%)
Travis Kelce 44
(83%)
27
(87%)
17
(77%)
Rashee Rice 42
(79%)
28
(90%)
14
(64%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 37
(70%)
21
(68%)
16
(73%)
Noah Gray 31
(58%)
16
(52%)
15
(68%)
Justin Watson 24
(45%)
16
(52%)
8
(36%)
Richie James 12
(23%)
9
(29%)
3
(14%)
Blake Bell 10
(19%)
2
(6%)
8
(36%)
Justyn Ross 7
(13%)
3
(10%)
4
(18%)
Mecole Hardman 4
(8%)
2
(6%)
2
(9%)
La'Mical Perine 4
(8%)
3
(10%)
1
(5%)
Nick Allegretti 1
(2%)
0
(0%)
1
(5%)

Defense

Defense All Pass Run
Total 71
(100%)
39
(100%)
32
(100%)
Mike Edwards 71
(100%)
39
(100%)
32
(100%)
Justin Reid 71
(100%)
39
(100%)
32
(100%)
L'Jarius Sneed 71
(100%)
39
(100%)
32
(100%)
Trent McDuffie 68
(96%)
38
(97%)
30
(94%)
Nick Bolton 63
(89%)
37
(95%)
26
(81%)
Michael Danna 54
(76%)
30
(77%)
24
(75%)
Chris Jones 53
(75%)
29
(74%)
24
(75%)
George Karlaftis 50
(70%)
29
(74%)
21
(66%)
Charles Omenihu 45
(63%)
26
(67%)
19
(59%)
Willie Gay Jr. 34
(48%)
16
(41%)
18
(56%)
Derrick Nnadi 30
(42%)
15
(38%)
15
(47%)
Chamarri Conner 29
(41%)
19
(49%)
10
(31%)
Drue Tranquill 27
(38%)
12
(31%)
15
(47%)
Jaylen Watson 26
(37%)
12
(31%)
14
(44%)
Tershawn Wharton 24
(34%)
15
(38%)
9
(28%)
Leo Chenal 21
(30%)
8
(21%)
13
(41%)
Joshua Williams 19
(27%)
17
(44%)
2
(6%)
Mike Pennel 19
(27%)
5
(13%)
14
(44%)
Felix Anudike-Uzomah 4
(6%)
3
(8%)
1
(3%)
Deon Bush 2
(3%)
1
(3%)
1
(3%)

Special Teams

Special Teams Snaps
Total 27
(100%)
Deon Bush 20
(74%)
Leo Chenal 20
(74%)
Jack Cochrane 20
(74%)
Chamarri Conner 20
(74%)
Joshua Williams 20
(74%)
Cam Jones 17
(63%)
Noah Gray 16
(59%)
Harrison Butker 15
(56%)
Ekow Boye-Doe 13
(48%)
La'Mical Perine 13
(48%)
Jaylen Watson 12
(44%)
Drue Tranquill 9
(33%)
Richie James 8
(30%)
Tommy Townsend 8
(30%)
James Winchester 8
(30%)
Nick Allegretti 7
(26%)
Mike Caliendo 7
(26%)
Creed Humphrey 7
(26%)
Wanya Morris 7
(26%)
Lucas Niang 7
(26%)
Trey Smith 7
(26%)
Jawaan Taylor 7
(26%)
Blake Bell 4
(15%)
Justyn Ross 4
(15%)
Justin Watson 4
(15%)
Michael Danna 3
(11%)
George Karlaftis 3
(11%)
Derrick Nnadi 3
(11%)
Justin Reid 3
(11%)
Tershawn Wharton 3
(11%)
Nick Bolton 2
(7%)

All Snaps

All Snaps Off Def ST Total
Total 53
(100%)
71
(100%)
27
(100%)
151
(100%)
Nick Allegretti 1
(2%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
8
(5%)
Felix Anudike-Uzomah 0
(0%)
4
(6%)
0
(0%)
4
(3%)
Blake Bell 10
(19%)
0
(0%)
4
(15%)
14
(9%)
Nick Bolton 0
(0%)
63
(89%)
2
(7%)
65
(43%)
Ekow Boye-Doe 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
13
(48%)
13
(9%)
Deon Bush 0
(0%)
2
(3%)
20
(74%)
22
(15%)
Harrison Butker 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
15
(56%)
15
(10%)
Mike Caliendo 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
7
(5%)
Leo Chenal 0
(0%)
21
(30%)
20
(74%)
41
(27%)
Jack Cochrane 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
20
(74%)
20
(13%)
Chamarri Conner 0
(0%)
29
(41%)
20
(74%)
49
(32%)
Michael Danna 0
(0%)
54
(76%)
3
(11%)
57
(38%)
Mike Edwards 0
(0%)
71
(100%)
0
(0%)
71
(47%)
Willie Gay Jr. 0
(0%)
34
(48%)
0
(0%)
34
(23%)
Noah Gray 31
(58%)
0
(0%)
16
(59%)
47
(31%)
Mecole Hardman 4
(8%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
4
(3%)
Creed Humphrey 53
(100%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
60
(40%)
Richie James 12
(23%)
0
(0%)
8
(30%)
20
(13%)
Cam Jones 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
17
(63%)
17
(11%)
Chris Jones 0
(0%)
53
(75%)
0
(0%)
53
(35%)
George Karlaftis 0
(0%)
50
(70%)
3
(11%)
53
(35%)
Travis Kelce 44
(83%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
44
(29%)
Patrick Mahomes 53
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
53
(35%)
Trent McDuffie 0
(0%)
68
(96%)
0
(0%)
68
(45%)
Wanya Morris 53
(100%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
60
(40%)
Lucas Niang 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
7
(5%)
Derrick Nnadi 0
(0%)
30
(42%)
3
(11%)
33
(22%)
Charles Omenihu 0
(0%)
45
(63%)
0
(0%)
45
(30%)
Isiah Pacheco 49
(92%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
49
(32%)
La'Mical Perine 4
(8%)
0
(0%)
13
(48%)
17
(11%)
Justin Reid 0
(0%)
71
(100%)
3
(11%)
74
(49%)
Rashee Rice 42
(79%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
42
(28%)
Justyn Ross 7
(13%)
0
(0%)
4
(15%)
11
(7%)
Trey Smith 53
(100%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
60
(40%)
L'Jarius Sneed 0
(0%)
71
(100%)
0
(0%)
71
(47%)
Jawaan Taylor 53
(100%)
0
(0%)
7
(26%)
60
(40%)
Joe Thuney 53
(100%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
53
(35%)
Tommy Townsend 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
8
(30%)
8
(5%)
Drue Tranquill 0
(0%)
27
(38%)
9
(33%)
36
(24%)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling 37
(70%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
37
(25%)
Jaylen Watson 0
(0%)
26
(37%)
12
(44%)
38
(25%)
Justin Watson 24
(45%)
0
(0%)
4
(15%)
28
(19%)
Tershawn Wharton 0
(0%)
24
(34%)
3
(11%)
27
(18%)
Joshua Williams 0
(0%)
19
(27%)
20
(74%)
39
(26%)
James Winchester 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
8
(30%)
8
(5%)
Mike Pennel 0
(0%)
19
(27%)
0
(0%)
19
(13%)

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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