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Chiefs defensive snap-count observations: Dontari Poe logs 2014-ish workload vs. Steelers

Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (left) and outside linebacker Tamba Hali celebrated Poe’s sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.
Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (left) and outside linebacker Tamba Hali celebrated Poe’s sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first quarter of Sunday’s game. skeyser@kcstar.com

Here are some observations based on the defensive snap-count data from the Kansas City Chiefs’ 43-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. This includes each player’s snap-count data from Week 3, Week 2 and Week 1. “DND” denotes “did not dress.” “R” denotes “rookie.” “C” denotes “game captain,” as selected by coach Andy Reid.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

 
PlayerWeek 4Week 3Week 2Week 1
Dontari Poe50 (85 percent)45 (66 percent)49 (68 percent)55 (75 percent)
Allen Bailey38 (64 percent)36 (53 percent)42 (58 percent)52 (71 percent)
Jaye Howard34 (58 percent)45 (66 percent)50 (69 percent)48 (66 percent)
Chris Jones (R)24 (44 percent)16 (24 percent)18 (25 percent)12 (16 percent)
Nick Williams8 (14 percent)7 (10 percent)12 (17 percent)8 (11 percent)

Analysis: Whoa. For the first time all year, the Chiefs decided to give Poe, a 346-pounder with past back issues, a 2014-ish workload. He finished with a tackle and a half-sack, but it will be really, really interesting to see if this continues going forward, and if Poe can maintain the strong play he displayed in previous weeks, when it was clear he looked fresher due to the rotation. Howard and Bailey are good players who could handle a few more snaps if it means Poe could rest more.

The other big thing to notice was Jones, the talented rookie, logging a season high in snaps (24) and snap percentage (44 percent). The dude can play, so it makes sense, but it will be interesting to monitor whether he starts to eat into the snaps of one or two of their three established interior starters (Poe, Howard and Bailey).

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

 
PlayerWeek 4Week 3Week 2Week 1
Dee Ford41 (69 percent)28 (41 percent)62 (86 percent)54 (74 percent)
Frank Zombo38 (64 percent)53 (78 percent)53 (74 percent)50 (68 percent)
Tamba Hali (C)20 (34 percent)46 (68 percent)31 (43 percent)42 (58 percent)
Dezman Moses8 (14 percent)8 (12 percent)00
Dadi Nicolas (R)7 (12 percent)1 (1 percent)00

Analysis: Ford again rose to the top of the outside-linebacker snap list, with Zombo right behind him. The most noticeable drop off in reps came from Hali, who went from playing 68 percent of the snaps the week before to only 34. The Chiefs continue to rotate in Moses and Nicolas, who logged a season-high in snaps, at times.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS

 
PlayerWeek 4Week 3Week 2Week 1
Derrick Johnson58 (98 percent)68 (100 percent)72 (100 percent)73 (100 percent)
Justin March-Lillard37 (63 percent)24 (35 percent)32 (44 percent)51 (70 percent)
D.J. Alexander1 (2 percent)000
Sam BarringtonDNDDNDDND0

Analysis: March-Lillard saw his playing time increase heavily since the Steelers used plenty of multi-back and multi-tight end sets.

CORNERBACKS

 
PlayerWeek 4Week 3Week 2Week 1
Marcus Peters59 (100 percent)68 (100 percent)72 (100 percent)72 (99 percent)
Steven Nelson53 (90 percent)68 (100 percent)70 (97 percent)70 (96 percent)
D.J. White (R)29 (49 percent)5 (7 percent)01 (1 percent)
Kenneth Acker0DNDDNDDND
Phillip Gaines055 (81 percent)58 (81 percent)51 (70 percent)

Analysis: With Gaines out due to a knee injury, White — the rookie — stepped in and logged career-highs in snaps and snap percentage. He made a few splash plays in his limited action in prior games, including an interception and a massive hit, and the Chiefs must be high on him because he continues to play ahead of Acker, who the actually dealt a future seventh-round pick a month ago.

SAFETIES

 
PlayerWeek 4Week 3Week 2Week 1
Eric Berry58 (98 percent)68 (100 percent)72 (100 percent)73 (100 percent)
Ron Parker59 (100 percent)68 (100 percent)72 (100 percent)72 (99 percent)
Daniel Sorensen21 (36 percent)37 (54 percent)26 (36 percent)18 (25 percent)
Eric Murray (R)4 (7 percent)2 (3 percent)1 (1 percent)0

Analysis: Sorensen saw a ton of time in Week 3 due to the Jets’ preponderance of three-, four- and five-wide sets, but the Steelers were far more balanced — they used plenty of two-running back and two-tight end looks — which means they didn’t need him to play his role of nickel linebacker very much.

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