Three KC Chiefs vs Arizona Cardinals Week 1 Snap Count Trends That Stand Out

The Kansas City Chiefs’ 2022 campaign got off to a fantastic start on Sunday as the club defeated the Arizona Cardinals by a final score of 44-21 in the season opener at Glendale. Kansas City’s offense and defense both played throughout the contest and in the end, there was plenty to consider worthy of building on a short week and a Thursday night outing against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Now that the dust has settled a bit and instant accounts are out (courtesy of the NFL Game Statistics & Information System) There are several things to take away from the game. fourth quarter – the context must therefore be mastered. With that in mind, let’s dive into Kansas City’s instant tally and go over three main things that stood out.

1. George Karlaftis is going to make an early impact

There was perhaps no greater number of snaps than rookie passing pitcher George Karlaftis’ defense-leading total of 51. Many knew before the draft that the Purdue product had a seemingly unrivaled engine, but playing him this many shots so early and finishing ahead of his peers says a lot about him. Considering that just about a week ago many were wondering if Karlaftis would even take the field with the starting unit, it’s a crazy trend to watch unfold.

It also seems mostly durable. Karlaftis was stellar in Week 1 despite not putting up good stats in the base box score. Of all the players who had at least five pressed quarterbacks in the NFL’s first week, Karlaftis was one of them (and one of the three chiefs) with five in total. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seems to be a fan of his rookie defensive end and as long as Karlaftis continues to play hard and play well, he will consistently finish atop the instant tally standings in a group that also includes Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap.

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2. Noah Gray trusts the second year

Last year, the Chiefs’ fifth-round pick Noah Gray didn’t make much of an impact as a rookie. He managed to make a few plays on the stretch, but in an offense that saw Travis Kelce pick up undisputed snaps at the tight first point and Kansas City preferring blocking options like Blake Bell behind him, there was no a huge role for him. With Bell out due to his continued recovery from a hip flexor injury and the Chiefs attacking to saves late in the second half, however, Gray recorded 53% offensive snaps and has also played 16 special teams snaps.

Gray finished with two targets against Arizona, finishing with a pair of targets for a strike and 10 yards in the process. The Chiefs’ tight ends, as a whole, have also shown tremendous blocking ability on running plays. Jody Fortson got a fair amount of snaps in Week 1 and projects to be a lot more of a threat in the red zone than Gray, but Gray seems like a better player in Year 2. All reports coming out of training camp were positive, and he’s taking it early on to turn it into game time. It remains to be seen what his workload will look like in more competitive games, but for now, Gray seems to trust the second year.

3. The Chiefs’ running back distribution is worth watching

Full disclosure: Kansas City’s extreme advantage on the scoreboard no doubt played a part in the team’s split when it comes to running back snaps.

Despite that, what a split it was. Starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire, from memory, seemed to be heavily involved in the first half game plan and was absolutely fantastic. Veteran Jerick McKinnon, who has come on strong for the Chiefs in the 2021 season, has had exactly the same number of snaps as Edwards-Helaire (27) and has played a role in both running games and of passes. To salt the game in the fourth quarter, rookie Isiah Pacheco got the majority of his 16 snaps in an attempt to cut time. Pacheco, on the team’s leading 12 rushing attempts, passed for a team-best 62 yards.

The cake will not always be shared this way. In future closer games, Pacheco probably won’t see the pitch as much and neither will McKinnon. Despite Edwards-Helaire’s injury history and shortcomings in certain areas, there are still reasons to expect him to wear some snap count advantage on a more consistent basis. That said, Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy did a terrific job sharing the love on Sunday, keeping everyone fresh and casting different eyes on the Arizona defense. If the chiefs can continue to do so – in addition to having more good performances from their offensive line – then this year’s racing game could be very different.

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