Kansas City Chiefs Front Seven Evaluation: Week 3

 

Here we are, in week three of the season, with the Chiefs facing the San Diego Chargers.  As per usual,  the system is located here.  Each week during the season, I will sit down and watch each play in detail and tabulate the scores.  Obviously, I will be limited to the feed that the standard fan is privy, so please, keep your complaints about "game tape" to yourself.

I will give my views on crucial plays made by the defense, both good and bad, so it will read as a sort of modified play-by-play.  Afterwards, I will pick my "Goat of the Week", "Surprise of the Week", and "MVP of the Week".  There were a TON of defensive snaps in Sunday's game, so let's get right to it!

  • 42.6% of the time, the Chiefs were lined up in a 3-4 defense.
  • 14.8% of the time, the Chiefs removed a lineman for a nickel defense.
  • 42.6% of the time, the Chiefs removed a lineman and a linebacker for a dime defense.
  • 19.1% of the time, the Chiefs blitzed an extra man or more.
  • Defensive play #1 of the game, the Chiefs are lined up in a nickel formation.  The down linemen are Gordon (strong side) and Dorsey (weak side).  Tamba and Sheffield are the outside linebackers and Belcher and DJ are inside.
  • Right off the bat, Dorsey grabs a good double team and Tamba holds the edge.  DJ steps into the gap to meet the fullback and the running back gets stopped for a short gain.  Good execution.
  • The "new standard" 3-4 lineup on the field on 2nd and long:  Tyson, Gregg, Dorsey, Tamba, Houston, DJ, and Belcher.
  • A resulting 1st and 10 has the 3-4 defense on the field again.  Gregg lets a free man through to DJ.  Tyson, however, grabs a double team, drives them behind the line of scrimmage, then releases when the running back gets to the edge to make the stop for little gain.  That's a stellar job all around by TJax.
  • Belcher allows his man to get free on a crossing route the next play for a gain of seven.  He was spending too much time watching the backfield and not enough time watching the tight end.  Houston was glued to the running back on the play, though.
  • Same drive, another running play towards the strong side of the defense.  Tyson once again grabs a double team, moves well laterally, Tamba sets the edge, and DJ and Tyson bring the back down for no gain.  No success over the strong side early on for San Diego.
  • Gilberry and Bailey come in as the down linemen in the dime formation.  Belcher out, and the rest of the linebackers stay the same as the nickel formation.
  • Stellar coverage by Houston on a 2nd and 8 call.  He stuck with the running back off the line and was glued to him.  Houston didn't get his head around, but was still able to time the breakup.
  • Confusing scheme #1:  3rd and 2, and the Chiefs line up in the dime defense.  San Diego calls a pass play, and all 6 defensive backs are at least 5 yards beyond the first down marker.  An easy short pass in the flat is completed by the slot receiver with nobody close.
  • Great job by Bailey to get his hands up and bat a ball down at the line of scrimmage on the next play.
  • Flowers is just getting beat by Jackson early on.  Decent coverage, but Jackson is hauling everything in with Flowers on his side.
  • 1st and 10, and the Chargers run to the weak side.  Gregg grabs a double team, and this allows DJ to get through the line into the backfield.  Houston also shakes his man and is ready to make the stop.  They both miss tackles, and a 3 yard loss turns into a 7 yard gain.
  • Tamba with back to back QB pressures from opposite sides of the field.  I like mixing him up and having him terrorize both tackles.
  • Immediately afterwards, Tamba dropped into coverage.  It resulted in a 10 yard gain in a predictable result.
  • Gilberry with a strip-sack!  Wallace came RIGHT UP THE MIDDLE (he was held, too) with speed and didn't lay a big hit on the quarterback, but he got enough of him to make the ball hit the deck.  Should've been a Chief recovery, but SD retained the ball.
  • Confusing scheme #2:  2nd and goal from the 3 yard line, with plenty of time for substitutions, the Chiefs leave the dime formation on the field.  That's 5 guys in the box, with 6 DB's dropped into coverage.  Piscatelli cheats forward, so now there are 6 players in the box.  Gilberry grabs a double, and Sheffield eats a blocker into the pile to form a wall.  Piscatelli comes over the weak side and whiffs on the tackle, leaving Lewis versus the running back on the goal line.  Touchdown, San Diego.  Why is this team in the dime formation on the goal line?!?!?
  • Interesting formation on a 1st and 10.  The Chiefs are in a nickel formation with Bailey out wide, covering a receiver.  Bailey then blitzes from the outside, with Tamba, Dorsey, and Gilberry already rushing.
  • First complete failure by the line on the next play.  Tyson gets a double team, but gets folded over while trying to move laterally and gets pancaked.  Dorsey lets a free man through.  The play is stopped by DJ with an ankle tackle.
  • The next drive, the Chiefs open in the nickel formation with Houston at outside linebacker and a Gordon/Tyson tandem on the line.  Houston comes in late with some pressure, and Rivers throws too deep for a Flowers interception.
  • Gregg with a great play on the next drive.  2nd down, the Chargers try to run up the middle, and Gregg has formed a wall with his double team.  After some hesitation, Gregg reaches out and brings down the running back for a short gain.
  • Houston with a badly blown coverage on 3rd and 3.  The running back ran out into the flat and he was stuck watching the quarterback's decision.  He allowed the back to get into open field for a big gain.
  • Confusing scheme #3:  3rd and 1 just before halftime, the Chiefs are once again in the dime formation.  2 wide receivers, and a fullback alongside the running back.  Six defensive backs do no good in this situation.  The offensive line blow a hole in the weak middle of the formation and the play goes for six yards.  Frustrating.
  • Sheffield with a nice play near the end of the first half.  As the running back was coming out of the backfield, Sheffield got a nice chip on him to throw the timing of the play off and allow DJ to come over for the coverage.  Sheffield then rushed the passer and forced a bad throw to the aforementioned running back.  Strong play by the linebacker.
  • And that's the end of the first half...with 42 defensive plays.  DJ and Tamba have taken all of them, and the dime formation occupies over half of the snaps.  That is WAY too many.
  • First play of the second half, the Chiefs are in the nickel formation.  Gordon grabs a double team and Dorsey beats his man off the line.  The run play goes to that side of the field and Dorsey wraps up the ballcarrier for a loss of 3 yards.  That's a great play by Dorsey.
  • The very next play, the Chiefs are in the 3-4 formation and Belcher comes on the blitz.  The running back is forced to play Jovan, leaving Tamba without a chipping blocker.  Tamba comes up with a sack as the pocket collapses all around the quarterback.
  • 3rd and long, and the Chiefs are in the dime formation (THIS is the time to utilize it).  Bailey gets a double team, and Gilberry lets a man through.  Wallace gets his hands on the back at the line of scrimmage, but a weak arm tackle is broken and a 10+ yard gain is given up.  It was still short of the first down, but if this team is going to spend as much time in the dime as they are, routine tackles are even more crucial.
  • The next drive, 1st and 10, and the Chiefs are in the nickel formation.  Belcher is blitzed, and DJ is hanging around about 2-3 yards from the line of scrimmage.  The tight end runs a route through the center of the field, and actually gets a couple yards deeper than DJ.  This leaves a 10-15 yard gap between the linebackers and the defensive backs, and the tight end picks up a HUGE chunk of yardage.  Not good coverage.
  • The next play, DJ makes up for it with great zone coverage but DROPS the easy INT.
  • Next play, the Chiefs are in the dime formation, and the Chargers run it up the gut.  Gilberry gets absolutely pancaked right off the snap, and DJ shoots the wrong gap.  Gain of 9 on a 2nd and 10.
  • 3rd and 1, the Chiefs are in the 3-4 defense, with Gordon spelling Gregg at nose tackle.  The quarterback gives a hard count and Gordon jumps offside, giving the offense a free first down.
  • First and 10, and the Chiefs are in the 3-4 again.  Somehow, Houston ends up as the coverage man against Vincent Jackson.  Predictable result, there:  big gain and a San Diego first down.
  • As the Chargers get the ball back in the 4th quarter, the defense looks a little bit revitalized.  A LONG drive by the offense really helped the defense get their legs back under them a bit.  Chiefs line up in the nickel formation with Demorrio spelling Belcher.  Demorrio does a good job of sniffing out a screen play for a short gain.
  • 2nd and 6, Gordon gets thrown to the ground and smushed by a single lineman.  Huge hole that allows the running back to pick up the first down.
  • San Diego is abusing the dime formation with slant routes.  DJ is forced into helping with tight end coverage (usually Piscatelli's man) and that leaves the center of the field wide open for a receiver on a slant route.  The cornerbacks don't stand a chance on those routes.
  • Zero room to run over the strong side of the offense with the 3-4 defense on the field.  Tyson Jackson has created a wall, for the most part, and Belcher is able to shoot the gap at will for the stops.
  • The next play, Tyson shifts his formation, causes the offensive tackle to jump, and Tyson gets out of his stance quickly to make sure the call is made.  San Diego is having trouble with him.
  • Belcher gets into the gap AGAIN, following yet another double team by Tyson and a double team by Gregg.
  • Final drive for San Diego, it's 2nd and long and the Chiefs are in a dime defense with Tyson and Dorsey on the field as down linemen.  Tyson goes up high as the pass is released and bats the ball into the air.  Guy is EVERYWHERE.  Good pocket collapse by Dorsey and Tyson, too.  I liked that setup.
  • After those two stops, the Chiefs blitz with the usual dime personnel, and Piscatelli blows the coverage for a big gain.  Ugh.
  • The resulting 1st and 10 is manhandled by Gregg and Dorsey as the running back is stopped for no gain.  Both players were able to get by their men and hit the back head on.  Good tag team effort.
  • 4th and 1 in a pivotal moment, the Chiefs are lined up in a modified goal line defense.  Houston, Tyson, Gregg, Gordon, Dorsey, and Studebaker are playing with their hands in the dirt, and DJ, Belcher, and Demorrio are standing a yard behind the line.  Gregg gets very low on the double team, forcing his blockers to bend over at the waist, and Belcher jumps in to make sure the quarterback does not pick up the first down.  Phenomenal stand by the defense.
KPM Rankings

Defensive Line:

Linebackers:

KPM/Snap Rankings

Defensive Line:
Tyson Jackson 0.63
Kelly Gregg 0.48
Wallace Gilberry 0.21
Glenn Dorsey 0.20
Allen Bailey 0.14
Amon Gordon -0.07

Linebackers:
Jovan Belcher 0.31
Cameron Sheffield 0.19
Tamba Hali 0.13
Derrick Johnson 0.04
Andy Studebaker 0.00
Demorrio Williams 0.00
Justin Houston -0.10

**********************
Goat of the Week
Justin Houston - Houston was dropped into coverage quite a bit this week, and didn't get many opportunities to rush the passer.  He showed moments early on where he was glued to his man, and showed his coverage skills are there.  However, he blew a big third down play by not covering the running back in the flat, was late to seal the edge on some running plays, and (albeit a bit unfairly) was abused by Vincent Jackson.  He started well, but fell off after the first quarter.  If he can be the player that he was at the start of the game, he's going to be a phenomenal coverage 'backer.

Surprise of the Week
Jovan Belcher - Belcher did a great job this week of getting into the gap and making a play.  He wasn't flashy, and he has shown the Chiefs that he can play to this potential, but for one of the first times that I have watched, he was consistent throughout the game.  He definitely got help from his linemen, but the hesitation that he normally shows against the run was nearly nonexistent.  And, of course, the great play to make a 4th down stop and put the team in a winning position didn't hurt.  Great job, Jovan.

MVP of the Week
Tyson Jackson - Is there any doubt?  The guy had a whopping NINE double teams against the run, batted a pass away, and had a tackle for no gain.  He keyed Belcher's success, and completely overshadowed the poor run defense by the outside linebackers on his side of the field.  He collapsed the pocket fairly well in the passing game, especially in his one dime formation snap that he got the batted ball.  This wasn't a "quietly good" game like he normally has.  This was just a damn fine performance by the third year man.

*****************
Final Observations

The Chiefs were in the dime defense nearly half the game.  HALF THE GAME.  That's ridiculous, and it allowed the center of the field to be abused by runs up the gut and slant passes across the middle of the field.  I understand that without Berry, the safeties are weak.  I also understand that Brandon Flowers went out hurt, so help was needed.  However, this defense was s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d all day, and it led to some big gains in the second half after the base defense created advantageous positions.  This team is putting an extra defensive back (or two) on the field to stop the opposition from passing the ball at will, and the opposition still is doing just that.

On the flipside, I liked the blitz calls and the pressure brought throughout the game.  The Chiefs forced Rivers into a couple of bad throws with pressure, and were generally a nuisance to a good quarterback.  More of this will be needed if the Chiefs want to be successful against good quarterbacks, as it seems the coverage just isn't quite there.

That's it for this week.  I appreciate your questions and comments below!  GOOOO CHIEFS!
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