I've been gone for a little while but I'm back for the game that matters. Below is the game plan the Chiefs must execute to get that elusive playoff win.
1. Negate Robert Mathis as a pass rusher
That is easier said than done. Mathis is one of the most explosive pass rushers in the NFL right now. He can change a game if you give him the corner. KC must use a tight end to his side. They need to use the occasional chip. And at times max protect.
Now the other way to stop his pass rush is to run right at him. Mathis wants to get up field quickly. Some teams have used that to their advantage. They run draws and other delays right at him. He might be a difference maker in the passing defense but he can be a liability in the run.
2. Attack Luck
The defense has gotten away from this concept. Part of it was the loss of Justin Houston and another part is the wear and tear of an NFL season. The Chiefs must collapse the interior of the pocket. Mike Catapano, Jerrell Powe and Allen Bailey proved last week they could help in this department. Dontari Poe and Mike Devito cannot do it all on their own. It's going to take a rotation of fresh bull rushers to make Luck uncomfortable.
You disrupt the Colts passing game by getting Luck off his spot. I don't care how many sacks the Chiefs are capable of accomplishing in this game. I want to see Luck get hit and have to move off his spot as much as possible in this game. Luck is a player who starts to get antsy after he has sustained a couple of hits. He starts feeling pressure that isn't there. You want to stop the explosive plays? Hit Luck and collapse that pocket.
3. Who steps up when Charles gets taken away?
At some point in the game, the Colts will force the Chiefs to beat them with their other players. The Colts mission coming into this game is to stop Jamaal Charles. They do not want him getting into open space. They will roll coverage to his side. and they will stack eight in the box if they feel it is a down the Chiefs are going to run. So the Chiefs will need to use that against them at some point. If they want to take away Charles, make them pay with read option, play-action pass, multiple screens and any aggressive tendencies they show in stopping Charles.
And if they do take away Charles, split him out wide at receiver. See how they defend that while you utilize a mismatch on the opposite side. The bottom line is somebody not named Jamaal Charles needs to step up.
4. Stop the blown coverage
This team has had a problem in blown coverages. Teams are attacking the mismatches and designs of this defense. Some are utilizing formations to attack their man-to-man or even zone coverage. They are looking for certain match-ups and when they find them they attack like a puma. Teams have been looking for Kendrick Lewis, Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper.
This team must force their opponents to dink and dunk down the field. Explosive plays over 20 yards have become an epidemic for this team. One way you stop that, attack the receivers at the line of scrimmage. There will be times when the formations won't allow it. The Colts are going to run stacks against the Chiefs. They are going to run trips. They are going to run crosses. When you get a chance to get physical, take it and send a message. The epidemic has to end on Saturday.
5. Come out with intensity and focus
We have seen what happens when this team comes out with the combo of intensity and focus. See Denver at home in the first half and the Redskins, Raiders and Chargers on the road. Those football teams continued to fight and play with intensity. They never quit on themselves and they picked each other up.
This team has to start fast on Saturday and set the tempo. Rarely have the Chiefs been able to hit on all cylinders. The Denver home game was the closet to achieving this possibility. It gave a glimpse into the potential of this roster. There are five games the Chiefs can pull from for their experience in Saturday's playoff game -- the Cowboys, Texans and Broncos games at Arrowhead and the Broncos and Chargers games on the road. The Cowboys and Texans games both felt like playoff atmospheres. They had intensity to them and the defense needed to make plays. Ron Parker with a huge turnover. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston shutting down Case Keenum in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
The Chiefs coming out on fire in the first half against the Broncos at Arrowhead. KC was hitting on all cylinders during that half, moving the ball at will on offense. The defense coming up with big plays and stops. Special teams changing the field position multiple times by Knile Davis, Junior Hemingway and Dustin Colquitt. The intensity and execution the backups showed in San Diego. Now the game in Denver, the team needs to avoid a sloppy first quarter. The Chiefs looked nervous in that game. The stage seemed like it was too big for them and it took a quarter for them to settle in before they started executing properly.
Those are games that helped their team find their identity. Now for the first time this season, they must bring the intensity and focus all four quarters.
Know where they are
1. LB Robert Mathis- We spoke about him earlier. Mathis can't be allowed to disrupt your offense.
2. WR Ty Hilton- He is their Jamaal Charles. Hilton is an explosive play-maker you cannot allow to find open space.
3. TE Coby Fleener- The Colts give away a lot of their intentions on a play by where and how he is lined up. If he is lined up in the backfield, he is the lead blocker or catching a pass in the flats. If he is in a double tight, the run is coming to his side.
Remember the name
1. WR Da'Rick Rogers- He is the Colts second most explosive player. They found ways to get him open through formations the first time around. Shut him down before he gets started or he will burn you with the big play.
2. WR Griff Whalen- He has become one of Luck's favorite targets. Whalen is a tough slot receiver over the middle. He is still green but can make plays if you let him.
3. LB Jerrell Freeman- He is one of the better players on their defense. If Mathis isn't making the play, you can bet Freeman is near the ball. He has such intensity in his play and can lay the wood.
That is the game plan for this week. Hopefully we are talking again next week about how to beat Denver or New England.
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