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Chiefs snap-count observations: Dee Ford doubles his workload

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford (55) made the motion of incomplete pass on a near sack he made on Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the fourth quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. on September 21, 2014. The Chiefs won 34-15.
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford (55) made the motion of incomplete pass on a near sack he made on Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the fourth quarter at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. on September 21, 2014. The Chiefs won 34-15. The Kansas City Star

Here are some observations based on the snap-count data from the Chiefs’ 34-15 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. Numbers are provided by the NFL:

Defense

▪ For those of you who have (understandably) been wondering where the Chiefs’ first-round pick, outside linebacker Dee Ford, has been the last few weeks, Sunday’s game marked a long overdue appearance. After logging three snaps against Tennessee and six against Denver, Ford played a career-high 13 snaps against the Dolphins, recording a pass breakup.

It was always going to be difficult for Ford to make an enormous impact this season. He plays the same position as Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, and those guys are just better. And while there are ways to get all three on the field at the same time, doing so probably puts you at a significant disadvantage vs. the run.

So in many ways, this game was probably the best-case scenario for the staff when it came to getting Ford playing time. It was hot, so Houston and Hali needed rest, and with the Chiefs ahead in the second half, they could afford to pin their ears back a little bit and send some pass rushers. It will be interesting to see if Ford can continue to get double-digit work.

▪ This was one of those games where the opponent used a ton of three-wide sets. That said, it’s no surprise nickel cornerback Chris Owens played 64 of 70 possible snaps. Third-round pick Phillip Gaines filled in for him for three plays in the second half.

▪ Safety Kurt Coleman also got plenty of work, as he played 40 percent of the snaps compared to only 12 percent last week. That’s because starting safety Husain Abdullah spent a healthy amount of time at box linebacker — in that grouping, Coleman typically plays deep with Parker.

▪ You know Abdullah spent a lot of time as a box linebacker because the Chiefs’ second inside linebacker, James-Michael Johnson, saw his playing time dip from 84 percent a week ago to 56 percent on Sunday.

▪ The Chiefs must regard Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey as their best interior pass-rushers in their subpackages. Poe played 84 percent of the snaps while Bailey played 80 percent.

▪ Vance Walker played 23 percent of the snaps, up from 16 percent against Denver and one percent against Tennessee.

▪ Jaye Howard only played 19 percent of the snaps, down from 39 percent against Denver and 30 percent against Tennessee.

Offense

▪ Travis Kelce continues to see his usage rise. He went from 18 snaps against Tennessee to 32 against Denver and 47 against Miami. He also scored his first NFL touchdown this week. He is clearly a difference-maker, thanks in large part to his athleticism and big-play ability. It will be interesting to see if he ever logs more snaps than Anthony Fasano, who was in on all 72 offensive plays and offers versatility as a sure-handed blocker with a command off the offense.

▪ Like Kelce, fellow tight end Demetrius Harris also logged a career high in snaps with 13. This helped the Chiefs counter the Dolphins’ imposing front seven.

▪ Receiver Donnie Avery felt the Chiefs’ reliance on two or three tight-end sets the most. He only played 57 percent of the snaps, down from an average of 87 percent the two weeks before.

▪ After logging 28 percent of the snaps last week, Sherman played 24 percent of the snaps Sunday.

▪ Cyrus Gray only played one offensive snap in the season opener against Tennessee but has gotten much more involved the last two weeks, when he’s been in for 25 plays, total. Chiefs coach Andy Reid has done a good job getting everybody involved, particularly running back Joe McKnight, who logged a total of one snap the previous two weeks and ended up playing 15 on Sunday.

▪ Guard/tackle Jeff Linkenbach entered the game twice as an ineligible receiver.

Special teams

▪ Gaines got a lot more involved on special teams this week. He went from playing roughly 33 percent of the special teams snaps against the Titans and Broncos to playing 62 percent of them this week. He also made a few plays in that area, too. I know most of you want to see what he can do on defense but he was always a guy they were going to have to develop. This is a good sign.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

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