A nice year on defense (not to mention special teams) by Kevin Pierre-Louis spelled a winner of a deal for the Chiefs in the linebacker-for-linebacker D.J. Alexander trade with Seattle.
The Star has tracked every Chiefs player’s snap counts throughout the course of the season. The chart has been updated through the Wild Card round, following the Chiefs’ 22-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Snap analysis: Fullback Anthony Sherman was the alpha dog of the Chiefs’ special teams this season, logging a team-high 326 snaps.
This marks the third year in a row Big Sherm has crossed the 300-snap threshold, and he’s the only Chief to do that. He’s joined by safety Eric Murray as the only Chief to cross the threshold the last two years.
Those who eclipsed the 300-snap threshold for the first time this season include QB Alex Smith and tight end Demetrius Harris.
▪ Safety Daniel Sorensen’s special teams workload fell from 368 in 2016 — a team-high — to 164 this season, mainly due to an increased defensive workload caused by the season-ending injury to Berry in the season opener.
Sorensen’s decreased workload essentially meant that special teams coach Dave Toub had to work without three of his top five contributors last season, following the offseason trade of tight end James O’Shaughnessy and the preseason trade of inside linebacker D.J. Alexander.
▪ Speaking of Alexander, a Pro Bowler last season, the player general manager Brett Veach got from Seattle in return — inside linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis — turned out to be a solid contributor. In fact, Pierre-Louis was a clear upgrade on defense, where he logged 272 snaps to Alexander’s 20, and also shouldered a very healthy special teams load, with 232 snaps — just 15 fewer than Alexander. He also finished with only one less special teams tackle (six) than Alexander, making that a very solid trade for the Chiefs.
▪ Another special teams regular who saw a decrease in work was receiver Demarcus Robinson, who took on a much less prominent special teams role this season, even before the season-ending injury to starting receiver Chris Conley forced him into more regular duty on offense after Week 5. If that dropoff in special teams workload was tied to performance, Robinson would serve himself well to have a nice preseason camp this summer, something that is possible if quarterback Patrick Mahomes takes over. Based on what I’ve seen in offseason workouts and training camp, those two have a connection that could blossom (yes, even with Robinson’s uneven performance in the season finale against Denver).
▪ Cornerback Kenneth Acker, meanwhile, took on a much larger special teams role (only 89 snaps last year), as did receiver De’Anthony Thomas (163 snaps a year ago).
▪ The Chiefs’ special teams captains for their Wild Card loss to the Titans were Frank Zombo and Dustin Colquitt. Colquitt, the longest-tenured Chief along with Derrick Johnson, has earned that honor in all four of the Chiefs’ postseason appearances under Reid. A year ago, Colquitt and Tyreek Hill held that honor, while two years ago it was Colquitt and Sorensen. In 2013, it was Colquitt and safety Husain Abdullah.
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