The Kansas City Chiefs face a very recognizable opponent when the New England Patriots come to town on Monday evening. This will be the fourth time overall the Chiefs have faced the Patriots in primetime and first at Arrowhead since 2005.
The Patriots won't look like the offense of New England past. The offensive line has struggled in keeping Tom Brady upright while the receiving corps has been sluggish to get open leading to hits on Tom Brady. Rob Gronkowski has been the shining light for the Patriots passing offense.
Here is a snapshot of the duress Brady has been under this season:
Hit: 25 of 123
Hurries: 54 of 123
Sacks: 7 of 123
Passes under 5 yards: 26 of 38
Passes between 5-9 yards: 27 of 33
Passes between 10-15 yards: 12 of 22
Passes 16 yards plus: 2 of 21
*All the passes above are based on how far he threw them from the line of scrimmage not the yards after catch.
The pattern from the Patriots first three games has been interesting. The Patriots weren't able to establish a run game against the Dolphins and attempted to throw 63 times in the game. Brady was hit 15 times in the game and hurried 32 times. The Vikings game was unique because the defense consistently put the Patriots in Vikings territory. They relied on their running game and limited Brady to 21 passing attempts. The defense forced four turnovers and the special teams blocked a punt. The Raiders the next week had similar success as the Dolphins with seven hits and 14 hurries on 39 passing attempts.
It will crucial for the Chiefs to pressure Tom Brady early on. I asked Bob Sutton on Friday how important it was to force Brady to rush his mechanics and get off the spot.
"Well, I think it's critical," Sutton said. "Like we say, you don't want him to be out here in seven-on-seven, where he's completely in rhythm, comfortable, visions good, everything's there and go. And like I said, Tom Brady has seen every coverage, you guys could draw up a couple and if they'd work, we'd take them too. But he's seen these coverages. We're not going to stun him with a new coverage concept or something so we've got to play the coverage really well and understand where your help is and if you're the guy that's got the tough job, ‘Ok, I've got to live with that in this coverage and understand that.' If he finds the place that's the easiest to hit, he finds it. Then you've just got to move on and change it up and don't give him the same thing all the time. But you definitely want to affect the quarterback, you want him not to be sitting there, boom and go. Now if he wants to throw it as fast as he can, there's probably nothing we can do about that but that doesn't always kill you."
Here a couple of pressures that Sutton likely saw on tape while studying the Patriots offense.
This was the Dolphins second sack of the game. Miami brings a four man rush on the play. Jared Odrick fights across the right guards face with a dip and rip.
Once Brady has completed his three-step drop he already has Odrick and McCain in his face. He attempts to elude the defenders before Cameron Wake joins the party but he is sacked for a nine yard loss.
The Raiders were able to attack the right guard of the Patriots with similar stunts as the Dolphins but illustrated a new weakness with left tackle Nate Solder. The Raiders' Khalil Mack and Justin Tuck had a successful day against Solder. Check out this spin move from Mack:
Solder had to respect Mack’s speed to get up field. Mack knows this and uses it to his advantage for his counter move. The first rounder gets up field and waits until Solder has overextended himself.
Mack then uses his spin move and pivots around Solder while also using his right arm to smack Solder to the ground. If Brady had not gotten the ball out quickly it would have been another brutal hit.
This is a match up where the Chiefs pass rush and Bob Sutton can thrive. I repeat: The Chiefs pass rush can and should win this battle.
The Chifes began to find an identity last week with their pass rush and defensive line rotation. Sutton did a good job of using different subpackages and continually keeping the pass rush fresh. The Patriots receivers are not getting the same separation this season. The Chiefs need to take away the run game so Brady does not have play-action at his disposal. It will be crucial for the Chiefs to disguise coverage and take away the quick screens, smoke routes, drags and slants. The Chiefs will be able to create pressure with five rushers. They just need to limit Gronkowski’s ability to cleanly get off the line.
This is the most favorable match up this defense has faced in 2014. It's time for the Chiefs defense to feast and send a message to the country on national TV.