Here are some observations based on the snap-count data and personnel groupings from the Chiefs’ 19-12 loss to Houston on Sunday. Snap-count numbers are provided by the NFL, while personnel groupings are charted by The Star. Numbers after the slash represent each player’s snap count data from the week before.
Jaye Howard: 50 (69 percent)/48 (66 percent)
Dontari Poe: 49 (68 percent)/55 (75 percent)
Allen Bailey: 42 (58 percent)/52 (71 percent)
Chris Jones: 18 (25 percent)/12 (16 percent)
Nick Williams: 12 (17 percent)/8 (11 percent)
Analysis: Now THIS is a d-line rotation. The Chiefs’ top five interior linemen are pretty darn good, and when you can keep them all to under 70 percent, you ensure they’ll all be fresh and ready to rush hard every play. Poe, who played a nice game Sunday, made a case to hover around this percentage all season. That was as good as he’s looked in a while. And why wouldn’t they keep it going? Both Jones and Williams are worthy of the additional work. The Chiefs ran a 3-3 front 17 percent of the time Sunday, opposed to just four percent in the opener.
Dee Ford: 62 (86 percent)/54 (74 percent)
Frank Zombo: 53 (74 percent)/50 (68 percent)
Tamba Hali: 31 (43 percent)/42 (58 percent)
Analysis: Ford is getting more responsibility. After a solid opener, his playing time rose by 12 percent. Good sign for him. Zombo saw his playing time increase a bit, too, while Hali saw his dip a bit as the team attempts to save his knees. “I think he’s back — I think it’s just a matter of monitoring the number of reps,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He hasn’t gotten younger, he’s got a lot of snaps under his belt, so I think how we manage him is important for the duration of the season and so I think we have a good little thing going, how we’re doing it.” I thought Dez Moses might earn a little time as a “pinch-hit” pass rusher, but nope. One interesting formation saw the Chiefs align Hali on the inside of Ford in pass-rushing situations.
The Chiefs also mixed in a look I’m pretty sure they didn’t show last week. Here’s a 4-5 against two backs, a tight end and six offensive linemen on third-and-1:
They also showed the same look against two backs and two tight ends, but on second-and-7 in the fourth quarter.
Derrick Johnson: 72 (100 percent)/73 (100 percent)
Justin March-Lillard: 32 (44 percent)/51 (70 percent)
Analysis: March-Lillard saw his playing time sliced by a decent amount; most of this had to do with the apparent decision to lean a little more on a 3-3 defensive front. The Chiefs went with a 2-4 about 27 percent of the time Sunday, compared to 40 percent against San Diego.
Marcus Peters: 72 (100 percent)/72 (99 percent)
Steven Nelson: 70 (97 percent)/70 (96 percent)
Phillip Gaines: 58 (81 percent)/51 (70 percent)
D.J. White: 0 (0 percent)/1 (1 percent)
Analysis: Steven Nelson continues to log a superhuman workload. Dude logged 97 percent of the defensive snaps (a sign the staff trusts him) and 62 percent of the special-teams snaps. He’s also the starter in the base defense ahead of Gaines, but it will be interesting to see if Gaines — who has looked good — eventually assumes some of those reps. As it stands, Gaines operates outside in the nickel and Nelson shifts inside. I thought White might log a little more work after his big hit in one rep last week.
Eric Berry: 72 (100 percent)/73 (100 percent)
Ron Parker: 72 (100 percent)/72 (92 percent)
Daniel Sorensen: 26 (36 percent)/18 (25 percent)
Eric Murray: 1 (1 percent)/0 (0 percent)
Analysis: The Chiefs’ increased reliance on a “23” personnel grouping (two down linemen, three linebackers) cleared the way for Sorensen to earn a few more snaps as a dime linebacker (36 percent, up from 25 percent a week ago). The Chiefs tended to go to this when the Texans lined up in three-wide in passing situations. Murray, the rookie, earned a snap somewhere along the line.