Vastly improved showing by the defense. Why?
Getting back CB Bradley Fletcher helped. Adding Vinny Curry to the lineup helped. I think the guys also got tired of being ripped on and played better. They flew to the ball and had a spring in their step. The effort was outstanding. There were still some costly mistakes and there is a lot of room left for improvement, but it felt like the defense woke back up.
Let’s be honest, though. Facing Alex Smith also helped. He threw almost all short passes and that made it less challenging to defend him. He also wasn’t willing to throw to covered receivers. Smith wanted open guys. Philip Rivers threw several passes to covered receivers and some went for completions. That frustrates the heck out of the DBs. Nothing is worse than doing your job well and having that be not good enough.
There weren’t any major schematic changes that I noticed. The Eagles blitzed less and used more 3-man rushes, but I think that was for a very specific reason…Smith. For those who didn’t watch the Dallas game, Smith ran for more than 50 yards. He converted a 3rd/15 by scrambling. If you blitz, you leave yourself vulnerable to running. If you play a lot of man coverage, you leave yourself vulnerable to scrambling. By dropping 7 and 8 defenders in zone coverage, those players keep their eyes on the offense. Smith ran 10 times, but only for 33 yards. His long run was 9 yards. I don’t think he ran for any key 1st downs.
Obviously the strategy backfired due to the inability to handle the WR screens that the Chiefs ran to Donnie Avery. Kudos to them for coming up with that play. I’ve not seen it run quite like that in the NFL. Simple, safe, smart. Should have been stopped every time, but the Eagles had breakdowns. Players took bad angles. Players didn’t tackle well. Simple mistakes that proved very costly. I do have one gripe with Bill Davis. Why not press Avery on those 3rd/longs? I understand the first couple of plays caught you off guard. After that, there should have been a more dramatic adjustment. It was clear that Smith wasn’t going to beat you throwing the ball elsewhere. By jamming Avery, you’d have thrown off the timing of the blocks and ruined the play. You would lose one cover guy since he’d have to be there doing the jamming and not back in coverage, but that was worth the risk.
It sure felt like KC did well on 3rd downs, but they were only 6 for 18. They were 0-2 on 4th downs.
The Chiefs were just 1 for 6 in the Red Zone. When is the last time the Eagles pulled that off with RZ defense?
* Chiefs sent RB J Charles to the flat a lot as a receiver and we had trouble covering that.
* 3rd/19. Mid-2nd Qtr. The Eagles had already been burned by Donnie Avery a couple of times. This time Davis used a 4-man rush. The ILBs stayed closer to the LOS. And yet, the delay screen still worked. Boykin got blocked by McCluster too easily. That can’t happen. Bradley Fletcher came inside and let Avery get to the sideline untouched. Barf. Fletcher had to keep contain and force him to the middle. That’s where the help was. Play went for 25 yards.
* There was a pass play in the early 3rd Qtr where the Eagles ran a zone blitz and Ced Thornton was chasing Jamaal Charles to the outside. He never came close, as you would expect. Mayock pointed this out during the game. Before the play, Charles was lined up to the other side. Smith switched him at the last minute. I’m curious if the Eagles failed to adjust to that switch or it was just an awful design. Thornton chasing Charles to the short side of the field would make a lot more sense than to the wide side, where he had no chance. Odd play. Also could have been a blown coverage. Just wasn’t anyone close to that area.
* There was a run play in the 4th Qtr where Jamaal Charles lowered his head and hit Kendricks helmet-to-helmet. This happened 4 yds upfield. Wondered if we might see a penalty on Charles there due to new rule.
* 3rd/2. Long drive in the 4th Qtr. The coaches wisely put Curry in the game. They stupidly blitzed Nate Allen. That left a receiver open. Curry has shown he can get pressure. If you play him, you don’t have to blitz. Especially on 3rd/2. Bad job by the coaches in this situation.
COX - Good game. Lined up at LDE in 3-man line late in the 1st Qtr on 3rd/15. Beat the RT with a good inside move and pressured Smith. Showed excellent speed to open the 2nd Qtr when he chased Smith way out wide on broken pass play and forced him out after only a short gain. Beat the RT with an inside move for a sack in the mid-2nd Qtr. Smith tried to run, but Cox caught him and made the tackle. Almost got a sack on the final play of the half. Chased Smith and got his hands on him, but Alex somehow was able to break the tackle and get clear to throw the ball. Fought off block of the LG on stretch play and forced Charles out of bounds for a short gain to open the 3rd Qtr. Threw off a running play by driving Fisher into the backfield. The RB had to re-route and stay wide. Enabled pursuit to catch him. Drew holding call on that. Made critical mistake on 4th Qtr run play. Engaged the RG. Then moved to inside. Charles ran through gap where Cox had been. That run set up 1st/GL. Split double-team and tackled RB for short gain on run play on critical 4th Qtr drive. Showed strength, athleticism on that play. Finished with 4 tackles, TFL and a sack.
SOPOAGA - Did a good job of pursuing plays, both run and pass. Pushed the pocket on a 2nd Qtr pass and forced Smith to scramble. Got held on 4th Qtr stretch play, but there was no call. Got a shot on Smith after Graham had already hit him and started Smith to the ground. Got walled off by the C on run play in the 4th Qtr. The C then got him off balance and put Sope on the ground. Not good. Coaches had him moving down the LOS at the snap on some run plays. Worked well on one 4th Qtr play. Sope tackled Charles for about 3-yd gain.
THORNTON - Lined up at NT in some looks. Fought off block of LG and moved down the LOS to tackle RB on inside run. Not flashy, but that was excellent interior defense. Got some push on 3rd down pass play by driving the C backward. Blew up 3rd/1 run with spin move. Totally lucky, but it worked. Spun to get off block and Charles was right there to be tackled. Had another spin move later in the 1st Qtr where he stuffed Charles for no gain/short loss. Odd. Flowed out wide on roll-out pass play. Fought off a couple of blockers and fell on Smith as he tried to dive for the 1st down. Kept him short. Credited with 6 solo tackles. Also got some push on pass plays throughout the game.
CURRY - Great game. Literally. Didn’t play all that much, but made a true impact when he was on the field. Got on the field in the late 1st Qtr. Played LDE. Fought off block of RT and pressured Smith into throwing the ball away. Vinny was tough to block and showed good closing speed on the play. Lined up at LDE on 3rd/5 in the 2nd Qtr and got some put on Fisher. Very quick off the ball from DT. Exploded into the backfield on 3rd/3 late in the half and rushed a pass by Smith that was almost picked off. They had no idea how quick Curry would be. Got his first NFL sack in the 3rd Qtr. Chiefs tried to block him with a TE on what was going to be a play-action pass. Curry was so fast off the ball that the blocker had no chance. Nor did Smith. Curry got a handful of jersey and dragged him down. Great play for the young man. Got some penetration on the next play by beating the LG and Smith was sacked by Cole. Next play was 3rd/25. Curry exploded up the field and drew a holding call on the LG. He flushed Smith and forced him to get rid of the ball quickly. Pass was incomplete. Great series. You could see how much the coaches confidence in Curry had grown when they had him at LOLB on critical 3rd/10 in the 4th Qtr. Got double-teamed on the play. Came back a few plays later on 3rd/2. Lined up on outside shoulder of RG. Used quick burst and rip move to shoot to the inside and immediately pressure Smith.
GEATHERS - Blew up a run play in the early 2nd Qtr. Shoved the RG backward, then grabbed the RB. Held play to minimal gain. Showed great hustle in the 4th Qtr when he chased down Charles and tackled him 18 yards downfield.
LOGAN - Played NT, DE and DT. Did poor job on run by Davis in the early 2nd. OL was able to seal him and give Davis big running lane. Bennie can’t get sealed like that. Held his ground vs a double team on the next play and helped to bottle up a run. Got some pressure on a pass play late in the 2nd Qtr, although Smith helped him by holding the ball for a long time. Somewhat quiet.
SQUARE - DNP.
COLE - Felt like a quiet game when I watched it live, but was better than I realized. KC tried to block him with 2 RBs on 2nd Qtr pass play. Trent got by both and forced an errant throw by Smith. Blew up a 3rd Qtr run play to Charles. Tried to block Trent with TE, but he got into the backfield and tripped up Charles. Poor play design to run against 3-4. Got a sack in the mid-3rd Qtr. Came upfield and was blocked so he spun to the inside. Rushers had flushed Smith and Cole had the perfect route to get him. Trent was able to trip him up for the sack. Came off the edge unblocked in the late 3rd and got a good hit on Smith. Flew down the LOS on run play away from him and helped tackle Charles. Great hustle. Used very quick burst on 3rd/5 to get some pressure on Smith. That came on the super-long drive in the 4th Qtr.
BARWIN - Another solid game. Had 6 total tackles (5 solo). Used inside move to beat Fisher on opening play and got good shot on Alex Smith. Hustled out wide to get hit on McCluster on early 3rd down. Tackled Avery on the 3rd down play where he got 15 yards late in the 1st Qtr. Was off balance, but missed tackle of Avery on 3rd/5 play in the early 2nd. Turned into big play. Tackled Smith on pass play when he started to scramble up the middle. Gave up just a yard. Had a chance to make a monster play late in the half. Curry exploded upfield on a pass play. Smith hurried a pass on WR screen. Ball went right to Barwin, who had gotten into the passing lane. Hit him in the hands (although above his head) and he wasn’t able to hold on. Might have been a pick-6. Mis-read play in the early 4th. Tried to cover TE, but it was an outside run. Edge was wide open for Charles.
GRAHAM - Played DE and OLB. Helped blow up early 3rd/1 run. LG tried to block him, but Brandon pushed the guy into the backfield. That forced Charles to stay inside, where Thornton stuffed him. Beat the LG on 3rd/long in the early 2nd Qtr. Flushed Smith, which stopped the drive. Got a sack in the 4th Qtr. Lined up at ROLB and used a good bull rush to drive back the LT. Smith started to move up in the pocket. Graham moved to the inside and got him. Dropped back a couple of times in the game. Still looks awkward. Felt good to see him get a sack and impact some plays. Needs more snaps.
KENDRICKS - Sloppy game. Wasn’t as bad as I expected, but still missed too many tackles and made too many mistakes. Started off well, though. Made terrific play on early 2nd/GL. Chiefs tried option pitch to their right. Kendricks looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Exploded upfield and tackled McCluster for a loss of 4. Great play. Chased Smith out of bounds on broken pass play that turned into a scramble. Wisely didn’t make contact as Smith stepped out. Missed tackle of Charles on short pass that led to 1st down. Had blocker to deal with, but that was a makeable tackle. Attacked the FB on iso run and clogged the running lane in the early 2nd Qtr. That blew up the play. Looked like Kendricks had good underneath coverage of Chad Hall on RZ play where Smith tried to hit him in the endzone. Pass was incomplete. Whiffed on Charles after short pass into the flat late in the 2nd Qtr. Gave up an additional 14 yds on that play and put them in FG range. Came up quickly to force Smith to slide on scramble late in the half. That kept him from getting a 1st down and ended the drive. Chased ball to outside on run and helped tackle Charles for short gain. Got caught flat-footed on 4th Qtr run by Charles. Kendricks was then slow to get wide and unable to catch Charles. That run set up 1st/GL. Kendricks has to read that play quickly and get wide. Looked like MK might have been slow to come up and cover the TE on pass play in the 4th Qtr. Did make the tackle. Got hit in the head by Charles in the 4th. Left game for a snap. Came back on next play and made a sloppy tackle of FB after catch. Gave up 1st down, but should have stopped the guy short. Did poor job on inside run that netted 8 yds. Kendricks waited for the ball and didn’t see the runner until he was right on him. Needed to make that play in the hole instead of down the field. Had a chance to make key tackle on 4th Qtr run by Charles. Did a good job of moving to his left and getting in position, but then missed the tackle. Ugh. Got driven way downfield on Charles long run on final drive. Led the team with 8 solo tackles.
RYANS - Had a worse game than I thought upon re-watching it. Had 7 solo tackles, but erred on too many plays. Overran inside run by Davis in the early 2nd Qtr and was taken completely out of the play. Made clean tackle of Charles after short catch in the early 3rd Qtr. Chased Smith out of bounds on scramble at the end of the 3rd Qtr. Tried to cover the TE McGrath on 3rd/4 in the early 4th, but McGrath got open and made the grab. Got caught in trash and was unable to get out wide enough on Charles TD run in the 4th Qtr. Ryans has to see the field better than that. Stuffed a run play near the LOS on drive in the 4th Qtr. Whiffed on Charles on run that moved KC into FG range in 4th Qtr. Terrible. Made good tackle of Davis at the LOS in 4th Qtr. Got blocked out of run play by TE on final drive.
MATTHEWS - Came into the game at LOLB in the mid-2nd. Got some pressure on Smith when he was flushed toward Casey. Forced Smith to throw the ball away.
KNOTT - Came into the game in the 4th Qtr. Kendricks got hit in the head on the previous play. Jake helped stuff a run to his side.
GOODE - Only a STer.
ALLEN - Best game of the year. That doesn’t mean he was anything special, but he did have some highlights. Broke to the ball quickly and helped break up pass to Bowe on opening play. Tackled Charles on inside run near the GL. TE blocked him initially, but Nate got off the block and made the stop. Encouraging. Made a great play on 3rd/GL. Started by covering on the GL area. Saw Smith start to scramble. Nate didn’t have a specific man to cover so he flew upfield and sacked Smith. Love the result, but how he did it is just as important. Nate was decisive. No hesitation. Made a smart decision. Wasn’t risky since he didn’t leave a player open. And he made a sure tackle. Came up quickly to tackle the TE on a short pass to open the 3rd drive. Decisive tackle. Knocked down the Hail Mary pass at the end of the half. Came up quickly to help tackle Charles on run in the early 3rd Qtr. Made open field tackle of McCluster late in the 3rd Qtr. Wasn’t a clean, wrap-up tackle, but got him down. Made one huge mistake. Nate was the end man on 1st/GL. His sole job was to keep contain. That means staying wider than the widest. No one gets outside of you. FB came at him and Nate engaged the guy. Was strong, physical initially. But Nate then pushed him backward. On most plays that would be good. Not so on a GL run where Nate was the edge man. By getting too involved with the FB, he let Charles get wide of him for the TD. Nate gave up a TD because he was too physical. Mark that down on your calendars. Great effort by Nate, but poor technique. Has to stay wide. Mike Mayock got on Allen for being slow to come up in coverage on 3rd/10 pass play to Avery in the 4th Qtr. Nate stumbled coming forward, but almost got a hand on the pass. Mayock knows DB play worlds better than me. I’m frustrated that the coaches didn’t have Fletcher jam Avery at the release. Had 5 solo tackles, sack and PD. Good numbers.
CHUNG - Bad game. Took a poor angle on 3rd/15 pass to Avery late in the 1st Qtr. Needed to stay in his lane. Got too aggressive and left big void for Avery to run in. Was blocked in the back on that play, but still took a poor angle. Helped stuff a run play late in the 1st Qtr. Got held by the RT when blitzing off the edge on 3rd down in the early 2nd Qtr. Missed tackle of Avery after catch over middle in the mid-2nd. Turned into 51-yd gain. Critical mistake for Chung. He was unblocked and the play was in front of him. Just missed it. Tackled Avery after short catch over the middle late in the 1st half. If only he’d done that more. Made solid tackle of FB in the flat after a short catch late in the 3rd Qtr. Whiffed on Avery in the late 3rd on crossing route. Play should have gotten 5 yds. Instead, it got close to 20.
WOLFF - Continued to get mixed in. Got blown up by RB on blitz in the early 2nd Qtr. Charles put Wolff on his butt. No shame in that. 2 guys going all out. Hustled in pursuit on Avery’s long catch and run. Able to make the tackle downfield. Tackled Charles for only 3-yd gain on screen pass in the early 4th Qtr. That was an impressive read and tackle. Missed tackle on key run by Charles in the 4th Qtr. Tried, but couldn’t get him down. Had a couple of tackles late. Finished with 5 total tackles.
COLEMAN - Only a STer.
FLETCHER - Helped to break up a pass to his side in the 1st Qtr. Missed tackle of Charles after short pass to his side in the late 1st Qtr. Tackled Davis on an inside run, but only after a gain of about 12. Blitzed off the edge in the mid-3rd and that forced Smith to move up in the pocket, right to Cole for the sack. Solid game.
WILLIAMS - Pass came to Bowe on first play. Cary got in there quickly and helped break it up. Probably more drop than anything, but Cary did hustle to Bowe to do what he could. Gave up a short completion to Avery in the early 2nd Qtr. Had a chance to get Charles down on key run, but tried to hit him instead of wrapping up. Charles ran right through that. Dumb. Gave up 4-yd catch to Jenkins late in the 1st half. Had tight coverage on WR on 3rd down play late in the game. Pass was incomplete.
PRATER - DNP
BOYKIN - Quiet game. Didn’t have many passes come his way. Used as a blitzer quite a few times. Still funny to see him battling an OT to get to the QB. Missed a tackle of Avery.
POYER - DNP.
Bad game by the STs unit. Dave Fipp has done an amazing job with his group, but they all seemed to pick the wrong night to struggle. Mistakes were made by both of the kickers, various cover guys, blockers and a returner. This was a unit meltdown. Very odd. And costly.
JONES - Only averaged 37 yds per punt. 2 were inside the 20. Had an early shank that went just 37 yards and gave the Chiefs good field position.
HENERY - 1 of 2 on FGs. Missed from 48. Only had 1 touchback. Quintin Demps was determined to bring KOs back and had a couple of good returns. Henery had to make the tackle on one. Got called for horse collar tackle.
- MISC -
KOR – Damaris Johnson averaged 26 yards per KOR.
PR – Johnson muffed the first punt of the game and gave the ball to KC inside the RZ. Huge blunder. Returned 3 other punts and averaged just 4.7 per return. Johnson’s mistake on the muff came when he failed to get under the ball. It seemed to go wider than he expected and his body wasn’t totally under it. Needed to take another step to the right. Dave Fipp will work with him on that.
* The Eagles tried the swinging gate play after a TD. They hoped for 2 points, but the play failed due to faulty blocking. Go read this piece by Jimmy Kempski for more details and some visual aids to understand what happened.
* Quintin Demps had 58-yd KOR to open the game. Looked like Colt Anderson got out of his lane. Good hustle by Cary Williams to make the tackle.
* James Casey made a good tackle on punt coverage.
* Chung made terrible tackle attempt on 3rd Qtr KO and Demps got by him easily. Henery then ran over and made the stop, but drew a horse collar penalty in the process.