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Conley, Kelce carry large workloads in Chiefs’ win over Pats

Victorious Chiefs leave field at Gillette Stadium

Chiefs leave field big winners over Patriots 42-27
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Chiefs leave field big winners over Patriots 42-27

Here are some observations and analysis based on the snap-count data from the Kansas City Chiefs’ impressive 42-27 win over the New England Patriots on Thursday. The snap data is provided by the NFL; the statistical data is provided by Pro Football Focus.

Quarterback

Alex Smith: 68 (100%)

Patrick Mahomes: DNP

Tyler Bray: INA

▪ Nothing to see here, folks. Alex is the Chiefs’ no. 1 quarterback. He was outstanding, especially on deep balls, completing 3 of 4 passes that traveled 20 or more yards in the air for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He was also rock-solid against the blitz, completing 8-of-10 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns in those situations.

Running back

Kareem Hunt: 39 (57%)

Charcandrick West: 23 (34%)

Anthony Sherman: 12 (18%)

Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt fumbled away his first NFL rushing attempt. Then he became amazing with 246 total yards and three touchdowns in Chiefs' 43-27 victory.

▪ Hunt had an awesome debut, gaining 68 of his 148 rushing yards after contact and forcing six missed tackles. Fantasy owners should be very pleased with him. (By the way, I actually asked Hunt for his thoughts on fantasy football a couple of weeks ago — you should check out the video here).

▪ West had a workload consistent what he’s typically had as a No. 2 back.

▪ Sherman continues to be used sparsely on offense, but his 32 special-teams snaps tied for the team lead.

Wide receiver

Chris Conley: 64 (94%)

Tyreek Hill: 50 (74%)

Albert Wilson: 39 (57%)

De’Anthony Thomas: 8 (12%)

Demarcus Robinson: 5 (7%)

Jehu Chesson: 0

▪ A massive workload for Conley, who only played 79 percent of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps a year ago. Conley isn’t targeted much in the passing game but he does the dirty work as a blocker and can be relied upon to carry out his assignments properly, which is important due to coach Andy Reid’s highly-tailored offense.

▪ Hill’s uptick in workload –– he only played 42 percent of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps last year –– was predictable, since he’s the new No. 1 wideout. He thrived too, catching 7 of 8 targets for 133 yards and a touchdown. Interestingly, Hill ran 15 of his 32 routes from the slot, a slight uptick from a year ago.

▪ Thomas only played eight offensive snaps, but special-teams coach Dave Toub loves him, as evidenced by his 31 special-teams reps. We should take a moment to appreciate Thomas’ toughness — that’s a really high number for a 5-foot-8, 176-pound guy.

▪ Chesson didn’t log any offensive snaps but he did appear on 15 special-teams plays.

Tight end

Travis Kelce: 67 (99%)

Demetrius Harris: 25 (37%)

Ross Travis: 8 (12%)

▪ A yeoman’s effort for Kelce, who rarely carries this sort of workload. A year ago, he played 88 percent of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps for the season. But it’s possible that the importance of this game, even with it being a season opener, made this kind of reliance on the Chiefs’ Pro Bowl tight end possible. I’d be shocked if this continues going forward, though.

Offensive line

Eric Fisher: 68 (100%)

Bryan Witzmann: 68 (100%)

Mitch Morse: 68 (100%)

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: 68 (100%)

Mitch Schwartz: 68 (100%)

Zach Fulton: 0

Cameron Erving: DNP

Parker Ehinger: INA

▪ This was about what you’d expect. Fulton, the sixth lineman, earned six snaps on special teams.

Defensive line

Allen Bailey: 65 (80%)

Chris Jones: 48 (59%)

Bennie Logan: 44 (54%)

Rakeem Nunez-Roches: 31 (38%)

Roy Miller III: 13 (16%)

Jarvis Jenkins: INA

▪ The fact Bailey could handle 80 percent of the snaps is a great sign regarding his health. He missed a bunch of games last season due to a shoulder tear and really didn’t even look like himself before that injury.

▪ Jones’ snap total seems a tad low a first glance but it’s actually not –– he only played 51 percent of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps a year ago.

▪ Same goes for Logan, a free-agent acquisition from Philadelphia who only played 46 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps last season.

▪ Nunez-Roches and Miller offer valuable insurance at the nose, where Logan is dealing with a knee/quad contusion (though Reid said he is expected to practice this week).

Outside linebacker

Justin Houston: 81 (100%)

Dee Ford: 74 (91%)

Frank Zombo: 7 (9%)

Tanoh Kpassagnon: 0

Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston said the team needs to avoid slow starts like Thursday in the 42-27 victory over the Patriots.

▪ Promising 81-snap effort from Houston, who hasn’t logged that kind of workload in well over a year. He was dominant, with five total pressures and a team-high six stops.

▪ Zombo played seven snaps as a replacement for Ford in certain situations, but he also played 32 special-teams snaps. His special-teams work is why he was a captain on Thursday, by the way.

▪ Kpassagnon didn’t log any defensive snaps but he did appear on five special-teams plays.

Inside linebacker

Derrick Johnson: 81 (100%)

Ramik Wilson: 25 (31%)

Kevin Pierre-Louis: 2

Ukeme Eligwe: 0

Terrence Smith: 0

Reggie Ragland: INA

▪ Johnson was excellent in his first game back from a season-ending Achilles injury he suffered last December, recording four tackles and two stops. He was targeted in coverage five times, but he only yielded two catches for 26 yards.

▪ Wilson is listed as a starter, but because of the Patriots’ ability to pass, he found himself on the sideline often in favor of safety Daniel Sorensen, who comes in to play next to Johnson in passing situations.

▪ When the Chiefs traded a Pro Bowl special-teamer (D.J. Alexander) to Seattle, they did it because they thought the man they got in return — Pierre-Louis — had more defensive upside. Pierre-Louis, however, is not a bad special-teamer himself, as evidenced by his 32 special-teams reps.

▪ Smith didn’t log any defensive snaps but he did appear on 27 special-teams plays. Eligwe, meanwhile, appeared on 11 special-teams plays.

Cornerback

Marcus Peters: 81 (100%)

Terrence Mitchell: 74 (91%)

Phillip Gaines: 53 (65%)

Kenneth Acker: 0

D.J. White: INA

▪ Peters was shown the ultimate respect by the Patriots, as their Hall-of-Fame coach/quarterback combination opted against testing him. Peters was targeted once all night long, and yielded zero catches.

▪ Mitchell was targeted nine times, yielding two catches for 76 yards, and he was a bit grabby, resulting in multiple pass-interference penalties. He continued to battle throughout the night, but expect teams to continue throwing at him.

▪ It looks like Gaines has a strong hold on the No. 3 cornerback job, as Acker couldn’t see the field on defense, while White wasn’t even active. Acker, however, did appear on 13 special-teams plays.

Safety

Ron Parker: 81 (100%)

Eric Berry: 70 (86%)

Daniel Sorensen: 48 (59%)

Eric Murray: 13 (16%)

▪ Berry deserves credit for the terrific job he did on Pats star tight end Rob Gronkowski, who only caught two passes for 17 yards on four targets when Berry had the coverage on him.

▪ It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs handle the roles of Sorensen and Murray now that Berry is out for the season. Murray could see an increased defensive role, but he also remains one of the Chiefs’ best special-teams players, as his 32 special-teams reps proved. Sorensen will likely remain the team’s dime linebacker and special-teams ace, as evidenced by his 32 special-teams reps.

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