Snap Counts: Spencer Ware Leads Backfield Rotation in Chiefs’ Win Over Patriots

Offense 78 snaps

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes 78 (100 percent)

Mahomes injured his right hand — his throwing hand — on his fourth snap of the game, but he never left the contest. The gunslinger still took a few deep shots, completing 3-of-4 throws more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage for 92 yards. But the intermediate game turned non-existent. After throwing an interception on his second pass — which occurred before the hand injury, Mahomes was only 1-of-4 for 18 yards on passes between 10 to 20 yards down field.

Running Back

Spencer Ware 31 (40 percent)

LeSean McCoy 24 (31 percent)

Darwin Thompson 21 (27 percent)

Anthony Sherman 3 (4 percent)

The re-emergence of Ware in the Kansas City backfield emerged as a surprise. Ware started the game almost exclusively as a third-down back due to his Swiss Army knife skills, particularly in pass protection. But he worked his way more into the lineup with McCoy reaching his snap count limit and Thompson struggling at times. Ware only played more than 31 snaps twice last season (49 in Week 12 and 41 in Week 13). McCoy's season-high snaps came in Week 4 (32 at Detroit), and he's been in a narrow range of 23 to 27 snaps in all but one game he's played since Week 5.

Tight End

Travis Kelce 77 (99 percent)

Blake Bell 15 (19 percent)

The Chiefs didn't go as heavy with their 12 personnel (a running back and two tight ends), deploying the look at nearly half their season average. Deon Yelder as a healthy scratch sent a signal the Chiefs didn't plan to favor multiple tight ends as frequently The Chiefs deployed three wide receivers most of the game, clearly attempting to maximize their speed advantage against the New England secondary.

Wide Receiver

Tyreek Hill 71 (91 percent)

Sammy Watkins 71 (91 percent)

Demarcus Robinson 62 (79 percent)

Mecole Hardman 14 (18 percent)

Byron Pringle 1 (1 percent)

The Chiefs ran with three wide receivers most of the game without much substitution, meaning plenty of work for Hill, Watkins and Robinson. Hardman (one catch for a 48-yard touchdown) and Pringle (one catch for 14 yards) made the most of their opportunities, but Watkins didn't four catches on eight targets for 50 yards.

Offensive Line

Eric Fisher 78 (100 percent)

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif 78 (100 percent)

Austin Reiter 78 (100 percent)

Mitchell Schwartz 75 (96 percent)

Andrew Wylie 54 (69 percent)

Stefen Wisniewski 24 (31 percent)

Cam Erving 3 (4 percent)

It wouldn't be the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line in 2019 if a few starters didn't miss snaps. The offensive briefly played without both right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and left guard Andrew Wylie. Ironman Schwartz left for a concussion evaluation and missed just three snaps. Wylie went to the locker in the first half with a shoulder injury, but returned in the second half.

Defense 67 snaps

Defensive Line

Alex Okafor 54 (81 percent)

Chris Jones 53 (79 percent)

Tanoh Kpassagnon 47 (70 percent)

Derrick Nnadi 33 (49 percent)

Frank Clark 31 (46 percent)

Mike Pennel 18 (27 percent)

Demone Harris 18 (27 percent)

Khalen Saunders 14 (21 percent)

The Chiefs took advantage of a deep and relatively health bench along the defensive line, using an eight-man rotation that gave everyone a breather. Clark entered the game battling the stomach flu and a shoulder injury, and the Chiefs used him judiciously.

Clark delivered staggering production in his 31 snaps, collecting four total tackles, including two for a loss. He also picked up a sack and two quarterback hits, and seemed to consistently get pressure on Tom Brady virtually every snap. The Chiefs traded for Clark for exactly this kind of matchup, and he dominated Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn whenever he was on the field.

Linebacker

Anthony Hitchens 54 (81 percent)

Damien Wilson 34 (51 percent)

Reggie Ragland 17 (25 percent)

Ben Niemann 13 (19 percent)

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has comfortably settled into using an extra safety as a third linebacker, and it's a defensive scheme that works for this club. Hitchens generally takes off a drive or two per game with Niemann filling in, but it's the rotation of Wilson, Ragland and Darron Lee that has changed the most.

Wilson averaged 57 snaps per game through the first nine weeks of the season, but he's averaged just 36 snaps over the past three contests. Ragland has found a niche role as the run-first linebacker, play a bit more versus run-heavy teams. Lee played a heavy role in the first six weeks of the season, but he's played just 12 defensive snaps in the past seven games and played only special teams against the Patriots.

Cornerback

Charvarius Ward 67 (100 percent)

Bashaud Breeland 67 (100 percent)

Kendall Fuller 44 (49 percent)

No rest breaks this week for Ward or Breeland with Morris Claiborne out with a shoulder injury. Fuller and safety Tyrann Mathieu shared slot responsibilities, particularly against Patriots receiver Julian Edelman. The Chiefs only went three-deep at corner against New England. Rookie Alex Brown played only special teams in his NFL regular-season debut.

Safety

Juan Thornhill 67 (100 percent)

Tyrann Mathieu 67 (100 percent)

Daniel Sorensen 50 (75 percent)

The Chiefs love their three-safety look, especially against an opponent such as New England where they can use Mathieu up close to the line of scrimmage or in the slot against a receiver like Edelman and leave Thornhill and Sorensen on the back end, while affording the flexibility of covering the running back in the passing game. It also frees up Spagnuolo to use Mathieu and Sorensen on very effective safety blitzes. It's hard to call the 4-2-5 scheme a substitution package when the Chiefs used it more than half the time. This is increasingly the base defense.

Special Teams 26 snaps

Offense: Bell 19 (73 percent), Sherman 19 (73 percent), Pringle 18 (69 percent), Hardman 11 (42 percent), Robinson 7 (27 percent), Fisher 5 (19 percent), Reiter 5 (19 percent), Duvernay-Tardif (19 percent), Schwartz 5 (19 percent), Wisniewski 5 (19 percent) Ware 4 (15 percent), Wylie 3 (12 percent) and Erving 2 (8 percent).

Defense: Niemann 21 (81 percent), Sorensen 15 (58 percent), Ward 6 (23 percent), Thornhill 6 (23 percent), Hitchens 3 (12 percent), Okafor 3 (12 percent), Jones 3 (12 percent), Kpassagnon 3 (12 percent) and Nnadi 3 (12 percent)

Teams Only: Jordan Lucas 21 (81 percent), Dorian O'Daniel 21 (81 percent), Armani Watts 18 (69 percent), Lee 18 (69 percent), Harrison Butker 11 (42 percent), Dustin Colquitt 9 (35 percent), James Winchester 9 (35 percent), Brown 8 (31 percent).

No one played extreme duty on Sunday with the bulk of special teams works going to reserves. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub appears to have backed off Sorensen's work load as his defensive reps continuing increase late in the season. Sorensent played 88 snaps in Mexico City in Week 11, but he's played just 10 and 15 snaps the past two weeks, his lightest teams work of the season. Pringle continues expanding his teams workload.

Leave a Comment!