Week 11 is officially in the books, as the Kansas City Chiefs spoke to the media on Tuesday and expressed that it's time to look ahead to Sunday's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. With that said, it's appropriate to put a proper bow on Monday night's loss to the Philadelphia Eagles to provide context for the coming days and weeks.
During the bye week, many expected Kansas City to keep things mostly the same on the defensive side of the ball. After all, Steve Spagnuolo's group is one of the best in the NFL this season. On offense, however, fans and media alike wondered whether a new wrinkle or two would be thrown into the game plan. Some things changed and others remained the same, leaving more questions than answers about the immediate future of the team.
Now that snap counts have been released, what jumped off the page? Let's take a look at three notable takeaways from another week of Chiefs football.
The Chiefs are still relying on Travis Kelce entirely too much
It's been a roller coaster of a 2023 campaign for one Travis Kelce, as the future Hall of Fame tight end missed Week 1 with a bone bruise in his knee before dealing with an ankle sprain in Week 4. The 34-year-old has a combined 116 yards on 22 targets in his last three games, showing that Father Time indeed may have sapped him of a half-step or so while opposing defenses also focus in on him due to the Chiefs' receiver corps being less than stellar. As opposed to giving him more rest deep into a grueling season, Kansas City has done the exact opposite as of late.
Dating back to a Week 7 game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Kelce's lowest snap split percentage is 75. On Monday, he was on the field for a staggering 94% of the Chiefs' available offensive reps. As far as regular season games are concerned, that's his highest share since September of 2020. Simply put, that workload isn't fair to Kelce. The Chiefs shouldn't be leaning on him as much as they are, and it likely isn't going to change soon. Kelce's season average of 74% is still well below his 2022 final total of 80%, but that figure shouldn't be trending up as the year goes on.
Another week, another set of questions at the wide receiver position
Speaking of pass catchers, the Chiefs did a couple of things before the bye that raised questions about their long-term plan. In Week 9's win over the Miami Dolphins, Skyy Moore was on the field for a season-low 15 reps — a quarter of available snaps — and Kadarius Toney once again wasn't heavily involved in the action on offense. In their first game back, things got a bit closer to the previous normal.
Predictably, Justin Watson led the Chiefs' wide receiver room with 50 snaps on Monday. He was followed by rookie Rashee Rice (45). Instead of sticking with a minimized role for Moore, though, Kansas City fielded him 40 times on offense. Marquez Valdes-Scantling's 37 snaps found him in fourth place, then Toney's 22 and Mecole Hardman's 16 rounded out the group. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy hinted at a continued fluctuation in snaps on Tuesday, which isn't what many want to hear, but it could turn out to be true.
A new season best for Chamarri Conner and other secondary takeaways
Fourth-round pick Chamarri Conner was a training camp and preseason standout for the Chiefs, but the numbers game in the secondary has limited his workload as a rookie. In Weeks 5-8, he logged a combined 13 snaps on defense. That figure rose to 11 before the bye in Germany, and the Virginia Tech product saw the field a career-high 17 times for Spagnuolo's unit in Week 11. Part of that has to do with personnel and formations, although it's still worth noting.
Elsewhere in the secondary, safety Mike Edwards was back at 29 snaps for the second game in a row and appears to be settling into a niche role on roughly half of the available defensive reps each week. At cornerback, the Chiefs continued to lean towards Jaylen Watson as their third man rather than Joshua Williams. The former's snaps were in the 20s for the third game in a row, whereas the latter's workload checked in at or below 10 reps for the fifth consecutive game. As Kansas City fine-tunes its defensive rotations for the playoffs, it appears that a preferred supplemental piece to Trent McDuffie and L'Jarius Sneed clearly exists.