Chiefs snap counts: What happened with Rashee Rice and Drue Tranquill?

Let's look at this week's snap counts for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice (4) runs the
Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Rashee Rice (4) runs the / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The snap counts are out for the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 in their loss to the Las Vegas Raiders and there are some confusing or even concerning numbers among the lot. While we're not sure it would have made the difference in the 20-14 defeat for the Chiefs, the playing time given out in at least a couple of instances leaves us perplexed.

Looking at the snap counts, it's clear that some questionable decisions were being made on both sides of the ball.

On the defensive side, the head-scratching stats aren't as frustrating simply because the unit as a whole played exceptional football for the vast majority of the game. In fact, the Chiefs defense looks absolutely ready for a long postseason run as they held the Raiders to only two field goals and limited Aidan O'Connell to three quarters without a completion.

However, it was noticeable that the Chiefs played linebacker Drue Tranquill only 17 total snaps in the game—or 31 percent of defensive reps. That's not only less than Nick Bolton (91 percent) but it's also fewer snaps than Leo Chenal and Willie Gay. Basically, Tranquill was fourth fiddle among linebackers in Week 16 after essentially proving himself to be the arguable best of the lot for most of this year.

Even worse than not playing Tranquill for the Chiefs were someone's decisions on playing time at wide receiver. Specifically, Chiefs coaches gave Marquez Valdes-Scantling more reps at wide receiver than anyone else and reduced the workload of Rashee Rice. In a game where Patrick Mahomes was visibly begging for any receiver to step up, limiting Rice at all was a wrong move.

Valdes-Scantling has only six catches in the last six games and it's clear that he's not creating the sort of separation or holds the quarterback's trust as he did earlier in his stint with the Chiefs. How the bottom fell out is anyone's guess, but what's important is to acknowledge that it's happened. Unfortunately, the Chiefs played MVS on 80 percent of offensive snaps—the highest total on the season except for Week 2 against the Jaguars.

That means after two consecutive weeks of playing only a third of all snaps, and three weeks of being at 50 percent or less, the Chiefs decided to go back to Valdes-Scantling running wind sprints for the entire game against the Raiders. The end result was zero catches and a single target along with a player the Raiders could largely ignore for the afternoon.

As for Rice, he fell from 92 percent the week before and 85 percent of offensive snaps in Week 14 to only 75 percent against the Raiders. Rice needs to be a priority target on the field as much as possible when he has blossomed into the only dependable option among the lot (apart from spurts from Justin Watson). While Rice finished with 6 catches for 57 yards, a bit more of him on the field might have made the difference.

You can see the rest of the Chiefs snap counts here: