Given that the regular season is still in its earliest stages, having only completed Week 2, fans of every franchise need to continue to be patient with new faces in new places. After all, it takes considerable time for players to learn the verbiage, coaches to teach the system, rookies to acclimate to the competition, and chemistry to develop all around. That's even true for the defending champs as the Kansas City Chiefs continue to grow and learn as a roster after two games.
For the Chiefs, the learning curve(s) has been obvious to anyone who has watched them lose to a single point to Detroit or win by 9 on the road in Jacksonville. Wideouts have dropped passes. Tackles have earned numerous penalties. Numerous players have committed silly errors or costly turnovers. Even Hall of Fame coaches—well, one—have made weird calls in obvious scenarios.
One thing we can learn about the Chiefs each week as fans is related to snap counts—looking closer to see which players are being used more than others and what that tells us about the level of trust the coaches have in them. Let's look at this week's snap counts to discuss what we've learned in Week 2 from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Jawaan Taylor, offensive tackle
There were only two snaps missed by Taylor on Sunday, but those two snaps were quite telling in how things went for the newest Chiefs starter on offense. Instead of showing off against his former team, Taylor struggled significantly against the Jags and had 5 penalties on his own—yes, f-i-v-e. He came back in and looked a bit more settled (and not all calls were created equal here) but, yeah, something has to change here and quick.
RIchie James, wide receiver
The wide receiver roles have been mixed up so far and might continue to shift here and there, giving more playing time to some as they adjust to what Andy Reid and his staff want their players to do. Unfortunately here, James's usefulness to the Chiefs is also contingent upon his effectiveness as a returner and that's certainly not a bright spot through two games either. The sample size is low but keep an eye on James's snap counts here and return opps to see if the Chiefs pull some levers sooner than later.
Travis Kelce, tight end
On Sunday, Kelce returned from a one-game absence due to a hyper-extended knee and the prognosis was that he would play but no one knew exactly how much. After the game, he earned 64 percent of snaps but this amount might be just right for a tight end who is still as effective as ever but playing into his mid-thirties. Could the Chiefs leave him here around two-thirds of all plays while leaning more on Noah Gray and rotating in more wideouts?
Drue Tranquill, linebacker
Perhaps the best example of how a player's snap counts can tell you what the coaching staff thinks of him can be seen in veteran Drue Tranquill, who signed after his first four seasons spent with the L.A. Chargers. The veteran linebacker was a bit of a surprise addition in free agency but the Chiefs were excited he was available and took the opportunity to bolster an already talented position.
In his first week, Tranquill only played a baker's dozen snaps but he more than doubled that this week as he earned more reps than Leo Chenal. Nick Bolton and Willie Gay are clearly earning far more time at this stage, but Tranquill's coverage abilities (without having any real weakness in his overall game) should make him a fixture sooner than later. Expect this total to climb considerably in the next month of games.
Bryan Cook, safety
Speaking of fixtures, we're only into Week 2 but it's safe to close the book on any questions related to Cook's ability to replace Juan Thornhill in the line-up. While Cleveland has to like what they have in their new safety, Cook accepted the torch from Thornhill this spring and has stepped right into his role with plenty of confidence and a strong physical presence to help anchor the Chiefs' secondary.
Cook and Justin Reid are playing 100 percent of all snaps as the primary starters as safety with Mike Edwards as the clear third in sub packages and that sort of continuity is a beautiful thing to see. Cook technically played in 99 percent of snaps given that he left for a hot second with a shoulder injury on the week's worst non-call (an obvious pass interference on Zay Jones) but he came right back to reclaim his role.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah, defensive end
For a team with such strong perceived needs outside, it's interesting that they're leaving their most recent first-round pick on the outside looking in so often. Anudike-Uzomah is, of course, a very green rookie for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, so it makes sense for more veterans to play here, but the Chiefs lack a lot of high ceiling pass rushers on the roster and that's even if Charles Omenihu was available.
As it turns out, Mike Danna has looked very good coming into his contract year and he's certainly more well-rounded than Anudike-Uzomah at this stage. While FAU is the long-term play here, it's interesting that he's only getting 24 percent of snaps. No one expected him to come into the league and be a starter a la George Karlaftis a year ago, but hovering around 40-50 percent would make a lot of sense from most angles in K.C.