Many of us are still recovering from the shock of our first legitimate playoff game for a while. I know we went in 2010, but that was when we were this year's version of the NFC East only worse, meaning no one was good, but someone had to go. This year it was supposed to be different. Correction: this year was different. We were a different team, a better team all around.
We started out 9-0 and we were one of the first teams to be locked in for the playoffs.
Were we better? No doubt.
Were we perfect? No. We started out with a very conservative (although more effective than many care to admit) offense, but the Defense was lights out! We started the season by demolishing the teams we were supposed to beat (Jags) and beating teams many thought would destroy us (Eagles and Cowboys anyone?). And the Defense? Lights out. The D was really something special. We were manning up and attacking. It looked like a match made in Heaven. Sutton was making adjustments and at the time his scheme seemed to be brilliant. It actually was brilliant. It was changed slightly by the time we hit the playoffs. Hopefully Kalo will be able to shine some light on the differences from early on to the playoffs for us.
The offense......we will just say that they turned it up a notch. After scoring over 30 once in the first half of the season, we scored over 30 5 times in the 2nd half of the season including the playoffs. When it came to scoring, we were getting it done at a rate we hadn't seen for 10 years or so.
Side note- Many have said that Sutton stopped making adjustments after the first half of the season. At first I didn't agree with that. But now I wonder if he ever really made any adjustments. I will have to go and re-watch some of the games, but I believe that he did the same thing all year....until the playoffs. I thought it was a brilliant idea to take Whitten out of the Dallas game instead of focusing on Bryant when actually, he seemed to just take the TE out in every game. And he usually was conservative in the 1st half, and then released the hounds the 2nd half. Why he stopped in the playoffs? I am getting to that.
Ok. Back on the subject. Although the D (the line in particular) was destroying teams, we were giving up the occasional big play. But with the way we were attacking that was to be expected. But there was a glaring stat change that really alarmed me. We went from one of the most prolific sack teams of all time to almost no sacks. Now much of that had nothing to do with the Chiefs per se. We were playing better QB's and many teams knew that if they were going to have a chance, they were going to have to start getting rid of the ball early. I know that those adjustments were made, but our sack total the 2nd half of the season was still down right disturbing.
We had a few injuries to some key defensive players and our secondary was really exposed, the safeties in particular. I don't know if it was bad play calling, bad execution, or a little bit of both (I am leaning toward both), but we gave up some awful big plays, and none worse than the play that cost us our season in the playoffs.
So what was the real problem?
Andy Reid? He has a well earned rep of being a bad manager of time. This wasn't a big issue for us this year and hopefully it stays that way. Our time mgmt 2yrs ago was probably the worst I had ever seen.
Sutton? I don't know what he was doing the second half of the season, but it was not the 2nd half blitz fest we had seen early on in the season.
The Safeties? EB is a straight monster, but Lewis......not so much. And Demps had to fail geometry because he takes the worst angles EVER. We definitely could use an upgrade back there.
The QB? Contrary to what some people would have you to believe, the QB is set, hopefully for years to come.
The Playmakers? We have playmakers. Say what you want about Bowe, but he makes plays. McCluster? Playmaker. Alex Smith showed us that he can put this team on his back and play well enough to win any game. And Jamaal Charles is THE playmaker. We could make some improvements, but for anyone to say we don't have them is absurd.
But there is one problem that negates the good things we have, and it amplifies our problems. It is my only real gripe with Andy Reid......
We are too nice!! We don't have the killer instinct.
Tom Brady has been my favorite QB for years, but he cemented himself as my number 1 QB in 2007 when he was asked about the amount of points the Pats were scoring against other teams in their record breaking 2007 season on a radio show. And I quote "we're trying to kill teams, to blow them out if we can."-Tom Brady You can see more of that here Tom Brady Interview snippet Transcript.
Andy up until this point is just too nice of a person to run up the score as it is called. It was very obvious to me early on that he was pulling his foot off of the gas. And I will be honest, I don't know if he purposely slowed the offense down in the playoffs or not because we simply had too many injuries to be able to tell.
But I do believe that the defense began to go to a prevent mentality. I was noticing way more zone in the 2nd half of games than I had been early on in the season and the DBs weren't nearly as physical as they had been.. We honestly should have scored 70 points in that playoff game against Indy, and we should have blitzed the entire 2nd half. We knew they had to pass to score.
The Broncos are a great example. I have thought for years that Peyton Manning's greatest asset is not his arm strength, his accuracy, or his football mind (though with the exception of his aging arm, they are all exceptional). I believe his greatest asset is his ability to take the hope away from his competitors and make his team feel like they can win just because they have him on their team. He couldn't care less about running up the score on adult men who earn an obscene amount of money. That is why they are where they are in the minds of nearly everyone.
We have to adopt some of that. I don't think you ever let up on a professional adult team. If we beat a team 65 to nothing, then so be it. It happens in college all of the time and many of them are kids! But no matter who we put on the field or what our record is in the regular season, if we don't get the killer instinct and show no mercy as far as the score is concerned, we might be in for the same fate in the future.