Kansas City Chiefs Front Seven Evaluation: NFL Week One

After an incredibly long week with a couple delays, the KPM is here!  Below, I've included the long awaited KPM/snap figure for the Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers and I'm now including Kalo's "MVP of the Week".  Let's not waste any more time and let's get to it!

  • 72.5% of the time, the Chiefs were in a straightforward 3-4.
  • The other 27.5% of the time the Chiefs were in a Nickel
  • 10.1% of the time, they blitzed a safety or linebacker.  (Preseason numbers were closer to 25%)
  • The Nickel lineup was different this week.  They ran the lineup of Dorsey-Gilberry-Vrabel-DJ-Tamba the most, but saw several snaps where Demorrio came in the game and played a 4 down lineman front:  Demorrio-Dorsey-Gilberry-Tamba, with DJ as the lone linebacker.
  • Unlike the preseason, there was no question about linebackers:  DJ and Belcher played EVERY 3-4 play of the game.
  • Early on, the linebackers seemed to be struggling with choosing the correct gap.  Also, Dorsey and Edwards were getting shoved around, but Tyson is being single blocked and is getting a pretty good shove into the backfield.
  • Tyson is AMPED in their TD series.  He's trying to get the crowd into the game, and he's getting in players faces.  Don't see this out of him very often.
  • Still Tyson in the 2nd quarter:  doing a great job of holding his ground, waiting for the running back to come within range, then shoving the blocker away and making the tackle.  Only one KPM point (gap filled), as the running back is getting past the line of scrimmage, but stellar play out of the defensive end position.  Ty Warren-esque, there.
  • Great play by DJ to sniff out a screen pass when Dorsey and Tamba bit on it.  Turned a big gain into a small one by coming from across the field.
  • Immediately after the good screen coverage, great penetration from Edwards and pressure from Tamba and Dorsey forces Rivers to throw a floater to Sproles who gets hit behind the line of scrimmage by Vrabel.  Well done all around.
  • Offensive note:  They used Vrabel as a decoy on Moeaki's TD pass.  Two defenders loaded up on Vrabel and let Moeaki run free.
  • Tyson becoming such a problem that the Chargers start shifting to double team him.  One of the first times they do, he throws one lineman to the ground, shoves the other into the backfield and allows Belcher to step in for a tackle at the line of scrimmage.  Outstanding play.
  • Dorsey was trying to get the crowd into it a lot.  Really feeding off the Arrowhead energy.
  • Another great sniff out of a screen pass when the rain starts to fall.  Dorsey and Tamba don't bite on it this time, and force Rivers to float a short one that Matthews drops.  DJ was right on top of him, though...would've been a big stop.
  • Immediately after the broken screen pass, Rivers drops back to pass and watches his entire pocket collapse.  Demorrio gets there first and pressures him forward into the pocket, where Dorsey, Tamba, and Gilberry all hit him at once.  I don't care what the NFL stats say, that's 3 guys on that sack.
  • Run defense is solid.  Not a whole lot of stops for no gain or loss, but very rarely did a run go longer than 3 yards.  Teams watching this will want to run at Dorsey when Tyson's back.  Tyson is as dominant as I've seen him thus far in his career.
  • Good switching between Ron Edwards and Shaun Smith.  Edwards was generally better, but the rest from series to series is obviously helping tremendously.
  • DJ with a couple of good coverage plays in a row.  The pass was completed, but he made sure it was in front of him and that a solid tackle was made.
  • After Tyson's injury, Shaun Smith filled in.  Vrabel cheats more to the inside with Smith than he does with Tyson.  Not sure if that's because Tyson's better at holding his own, or if it's a comfort thing.  Gilberry one series of spot duty and was promptly pulled.
  • Bad play in the 4th quarter on a Tolbert run.  Smith and Edwards do a great job catching a double team, and Vrabel steps into the gap, but misses the tackle.  Then DJ lines him up and misses a tackle.
  • Lots of great plays all game, from DJ’s forced fumble, two sacks, a couple of tackles for loss, and some great pass breakups.  Solid team effort.

The KPM's:

Glenn Dorsey 
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Glenn Dorsey played very, very well this week.  A gap filled, two double teams, three backfield penetrations, five quarterback pressures (two of which forced him out of the pocket), a tackle for loss, and a sack.  He did get shoved off the line twice and let a free man go once, but slight mishaps that this team should be able to live with.  He seemed like he was constantly around the ball at first watch, but after doing the breakdown, he was constantly in the BACKFIELD.  It seems the gap responsibilities he had this game allowed him to play that penetrating style of defensive lineman he was in college.  Fantastic job, Glenn!

Overall KPM:  27 Points

Snaps:  69

KPM/Snap:  0.391

Tyson Jackson 
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As seen in the bullet points up above, Tyson was in rare form this week.  Six gaps filled, four double teams, and a quarterback pressure on the positive side, with two free men on the negative side.  Before his injury, he was causing all sorts of problems for the right side of San Diego’s offensive line.  They couldn’t budge him off the line, and while he let two guys get to the second level, both of those plays he made up for it by stepping into the gap and making the tackle.  He’ll be missed against Cleveland, as he looked every part of a stud strongside 3-4 defensive end this week.  Keep that fire, Tyson!

Overall KPM:  12 Points 

Snaps:  35

KPM/Snap:  0.342

Ron Edwards 
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Who is this man and what have you done with the Chiefs starting nose tackle?!?!?  Ron was HUGE this week with a whopping eleven double teams, two backfield penetrations, a quarterback pressure, and a tackle for loss.  He was also shoved off the line once, was pancaked once (although on a double team, so still semi-effective), and he let two free men through.  Ron opened up the game for everyone else on the defensive side of the ball.  Dorsey, Jackson, Belcher, and DJ all looked great because the man up the middle did his job and did it VERY well.  He looked fresh all the way through the game (remember his huge stop on 2nd and goal at the end of the game?) and even had some solid knifing penetration.  He strung plays along well and didn’t allow himself to get pushed around after the first series.  This is what a competent nose tackle looks like, defense from last year.  What a difference it makes when there’s not a gaping hole in the middle of the defensive line.  Kudos, Ron!

Overall KPM:  25 Points 

Snaps:  34

KPM/Snap:  0.735


Wallace Gilberry 
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Wallace was solid as a nickel pass rusher this week.  He was double teamed once, had one quarterback pressure that forced him out of the pocket, and recorded a sack.  As noted above, he played a bit in place of Jackson as a 3-4 DE, but didn’t command a double team on either of the two running plays that San Diego ran that drive.  He seems to take a very long route to the quarterback when rushing the passer, opting sometimes to go all the way around the tackle when lined up in front of the guard.  He’s certainly quick enough to get there, but I wonder if taking the inside line might result in an up-the-gut penetration sack for him.

Overall KPM: 9 Points 

Snaps:  21

KPM/Snap:  0.429


Shaun Smith 
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Shaun Smith was a more than solid backup nose tackle and defensive end for the Chiefs this week.  In relief of our starters, he logged two gaps filled, seven double teams, two quarterback pressures (both forced him out of the pocket), and a sack.   He did let a team-high three free men go, and he was pancaked once.  While not nearly as impressive as Edwards was, Smith was still light-years better than anything the Chiefs fielded last year.  He was very strong against the run and got good push up the middle of the pocket on a couple of pass plays.  He looked good on Monday night, and it’s nice to see that he stepped up his game with the rest of the defense.

Overall KPM: 18 Points

Snaps:  29

KPM/Snap:  0.620

 

 

Mike Vrabel

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Vrabel had moments of greatness this week.  He had two gaps filled, one forced checkdown, two quarterback pressures, a tackle for loss, and one forced opposition penalty.  However, he was hurt by being late to the gap once, allowing a first down pass, and missing a tackle.  With Tyson handling the strong side of the line well, one would think that Vrabel would make more of an impact.  He seemed to struggle with getting around the right tackle when in the 3-4.  In the nickel, he seemed a step slow in coverage.  I’ve seen better out of him, and he showed better a couple of times this week, but bringing it to the table every play is key.

Overall KPM:  7 Points

Snaps:  64

KPM/Snap:  0.109

 

 

Tamba Hali

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Another standard night for Tamba:  two sacks, two quarterback pressures (one forced him out of the pocket), and a tackle for no gain.  The "no gain" stuff was a good one where Tamba came from the opposite side of the field and used his speed to catch Matthews off the opposite tackle.  He didn’t need to be strong against the run, but could’ve done better against the pass.  Once again, he was held badly after beating his man on a couple of occasions.  Eventually a referee somewhere will see this and start throwing the yellow, right?  RIGHT?!?

Overall KPM:  14 Points

Snaps:  69

KPM/Snap:  0.202

 

 

Demorrio Williams

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After spending all preseason looking like a strong/leading candidate to start at the 3-4 weakside inside linebacker, Demorrio played…a down lineman in the nickel?!?!?  He recorded a filled gap, a tackle for no gain, and a quarterback pressure that led to the first sack of the game.  He honestly didn’t look that bad as a pass rushing lineman and made plays while he was on the field.  Can’t ask for a whole lot more in a limited amount of time.

Overall KPM:  4 Points

Snaps:  8

KPM/Snap:  0.500

 

Derrick Johnson

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Before I start, I know some people are going to look at DJ’s numbers and claim I don’t know what I’m talking about or that I need to reconfigure the KPM.  I will say right now that DJ played like a house on fire and really showed up when we needed him.  He was everywhere, but he had some bad moments.  His positives:  an incredible ten gaps filled, one pass broken up, two forced checkdowns, one forced fumble, one quarterback pressure, and one tackle for loss.  However, he did hit the wrong gap once, allowed three completed passes to players he was covering (two of those for first downs), and he had two missed tackles.  The wrong gap was very early in the game, as were two of the completed passes and one missed tackle.  The other completed pass and missed tackle were very late in the game.  If I were to take the first half of the first quarter and the last half of the fourth quarter out of the equation, he’s got 14 more KPM points and absolutely no negative plays.  As it was, I do have to count those things, and that’s why his score is lower than some will expect.  He still played his ass off and this was front to back the best game I’ve witnessed him play.  If he can start and finish the game without the small errors, he’d essentially play the perfect game.

Overall KPM:  11 Points

Snaps:  69

KPM/Snap:  0.159

 

 

Jovan Belcher

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Jovan was much like Vrabel this week:  solid but unspectacular.  He registered six gaps filled, two forced checkdowns, a quarterback pressure, and a tackle for no gain.  He also shot the wrong gap once, and allowed two completed passes, one for a first down.  It was a bit surprising to see that Jovan hadn’t gotten into the game very much since our run defense was good and the Tyson/Edwards combo in front of him played lights out.  He seemed more hesitant than I saw in the preseason, but to be fair, DJ was flying around and just got to things quicker than Jovan did.

Overall KPM:   6 Points

Snaps:  51

KPM/Snap:  0.118

 

**************************

KPM Rankings:

Defensive Line:

 

1.  Glenn Dorsey                    27

2.  Ron Edwards                    25

3.  Shaun Smith                    18

4.  Tyson Jackson                 12

5.  Wallace Gilberry                9

 

Linebackers:

 

1.  Tamba Hali                       14

2.  Derrick Johnson                11

3.  Mike Vrabel                       7

4.  Jovan Belcher                    6

5.  Demorrio Williams             4

You may notice how few players are on the list this week.  It seems that the Chiefs are going to stick with a set player rotation this year for the entire game.  Last year, there were many players swapped in and out of the defense from play to play; linebackers extensively were swapped.  In week one, we saw DJ, Dorsey and Tamba go the distance and play every snap of the game.  Regular rotational players like Mays and Studebaker only saw special teams snaps.

You’ll also notice how well the defensive line played this week.  Their solid wall up front coupled with some decent pass pressure meant that they got a lot more KPM credit than the linebackers did this week.  Another reason behind the linebacker’s low scores was a strong emphasis on deeper passes by San Diego.  In the preseason against Philadelphia, there were many short to medium passes, which the linebackers were able to defend, and the defensive line suffered because there wasn’t much time to get to the quarterback.  This week, the onus was put on the secondary’s ability to cover, as Rivers preferred to go after the cornerbacks and safeties rather than the running backs and tight ends that were being covered by the linebackers.

 

KPM/Snap Rankings:

Defensive Line:

 

1.  Ron Edwards                    .735

2.  Shaun Smith                    .620

3.  Wallace Gilberry               .429

4.  Glenn Dorsey                   .391

5.  Tyson Jackson                 .343

 

Linebackers:

 

1.  Demorrio Williams             .500

2.  Tamba Hali                       .203

3.  Derrick Johnson                .159

4.  Jovan Belcher                   .118

5.  Mike Vrabel                      .109

 

New this week, I’ve added the KPM/Snap figure.  This will be one to keep an eye on throughout the season, as it tells us how many snaps it took a given player to record a positive point.  Luckily, there were no negative point totals, so I didn’t have to get into that this week.  I’ll keep track of these weekly so they can be correlated at the end of the season to see how often a given player makes a positive play.

As you can see, close to 75% of the time Ron Edwards was on the field, he made something positive happen for the defense.  On the flipside, Vrabel and Belcher positively affected the defense around 10% of the time.  Obviously these numbers are affected by situational defenses (Demorrio only got 8 snaps, after all), but those players on the field during those times will still show their ability to play positively.

 

**************************

And now, time for Kalo's MVP of the Week!  This week, it's RON EDWARDS!

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It was a tough decision this week, and it came down to Ron and DJ.  Both made a bunch of fantastic plays and showed up far better than expected.  However, after not having a solid nose tackle performance all of last year, Ron really shone through this week.  By playing as well as he did, he allowed the defense to run how it was planned.  Dorsey routinely had his choice of gaps to penetrate and get into the backfield, Tyson was able to be disruptive with his bullrush, and Belcher/DJ were able to hit the gaps without having an offensive lineman all over them.  All of that and he still got some push into the backfield and created a big tackle for loss at the end of the game.  Stellar performance, Ron!  Keep it up!

 

Well, that'll do it for this week!  Thanks for taking the time out to read and comment!

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