Here is the defensive snap-count data from the Chiefs’ 21-13 win over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday, along with some personal observations and advanced stats from Pro Football Focus. Snaps for the entire season are also listed.
KEY: “*” denotes starter. “R” denotes rookie. “C” denotes game captain. “INJ” denotes injury. “N/A” denotes the player was not a Chief at the time. “PS” denotes practice squad. “INA” denotes inactive.
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Analysis: The Chiefs continued their six-man rotation up front, with Dontari Poe and Chris Jones continuing to be the alpha dogs of the group. Jones has now logged at least one quarterback hurry in 10 straight games, according to PFF, while the Chiefs’ pass rush harassed Raiders quarterback Derek Carr into a 2-for-7 performance for 32 yards and a sack under pressure. Nunez-Roches logged his fewest snaps in a month due to back spasms.
Analysis: After spreading the workload evenly against the Falcons in Week 13, the Chiefs — as they have been wont to do in big games against divisional opponents recently — turned to two players to carry the load. Against the Broncos, those two players were Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Against the Raiders, it was Houston and Dee Ford, with Hali pinch-hitting. Zombo saw his snaps sharply decline from 41 against the Falcons to one on Thursday.
Analysis: Ramik Wilson had a nice game, particularly in coverage; he yielded one reception for 3 yards on four targets. Wilson continues to play well; the Chiefs need him to step up with Derrick Johnson now out for the season with a torn left Achilles. Johnson was injured in the second quarter, but his replacement, D.J. Alexander, only logged two snaps the rest of the game because safety Daniel Sorensen, the nickel/dime linebacker, carried most of the load next to Wilson against a three-wide heavy Oakland offense. Alexander is a special-teams stalwart with loads of athleticism, but he’s only logged six defensive snaps all season. It’s probably time to see what he can do.
Analysis: Marcus Peters allowed four catches for 28 yards on seven targets, but teams have generally stopped throwing his way. Through 14 weeks last year, Peters was thrown at in primary coverage 112 times — the most in the NFL, according to PFF. Through 14 weeks this year, that number has plummeted to 76 — the 10th-most among cornerbacks.
Terrance Mitchell, the third corner, allowed just three catches for 14 yards and a pass deflection on seven targets. Phillip Gaines, the third corner all season, only played one snap but carried a heavy special-teams workload, so it appears the Chiefs like what Mitchell gave them against Atlanta and wanted to see what he could do with more playing time.
Analysis: Sorensen logged a season-high in snaps due to the Raiders’ abundance of three-wide sets and the season-ending injury to Derrick Johnson. Chiefs coach Andy Reid recently said Sorensen, who is 6 foot 2 and 218 pounds, is not big enough to play linebacker full-time, but it’s clear the staff has a lot of faith in him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if defensive coordinator Bob Sutton called this nickel/dime packaging involving him as a linebacker a little more often, at least until Johnson’s replacement — whoever it might be — proves himself.