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Grading Andy Reid: Week 6 vs. Vikings

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If the Kansas City Chiefs continue losing, Andy Reid will need to evaluate the roster, which is why I have again decided to change the grading scale in our weekly report cards for the Chiefs head coach.

Very reasonable and serious questions need to be asked about the starting lineup the Chiefs have been putting on the field, which is why I have decided to add a starting roster grade criteria. The new grading criteria looks as such:

Grading Criteria (Points Possible)

  • Starting roster (15)
  • Player preparedness / discipline (15)
  • Offensive play calling (30)
  • Game altering decisions (25)
  • Clock management (15)
  • Challenges +/- a range of 5 points.
Once again, comments are welcome to adjust the grade. For now, let's see how Reid fared against the Vikings in Minnesota.

Starting Roster

This section was added due to questions with the starting lineup Reid has been putting on the field without having much success. Heading into the game the Chiefs were 1-4, so technically their playoff hopes were still alive. With their current 1-5 record and depending on what happens over the next few weeks, some reasonable questions will begin to pop up.
  • Why keep starting Alex Smith if the team has no hopes of making the playoffs?
  • Why keep starting the same offensive line when the results have been so poor?
  • If the Chiefs keep losing why not look at other players that may or may not help the team?
One has to look at the goals of the season. Obviously you play to win the game but what would it harm to give some developmental players game time experience. If the Chiefs end up tanking the season, and Murray / Daniel offer a better chance of winning, then it would follow Reid should continue start Smith.  However until the Chiefs lose seven games, they should do everything they can to keep winning.  You never know what can happen.

At the same time, Reid has constantly preached checking his ego at the door in regards to his football decisions.  It's hard to fathom that Reid is being honest with this statement if Smith continues to struggle and another QB isn't given a chance. Benching Smith would send ripples through every aspect of Reid's regime in Kansas City. Benching Alex Smith is not something to be taken lightly.  Perhaps using Smith's thumb injury is a clever way for the situation to take care of itself without drawing extra attention to the demotion.

There are factors that played into the starting roster grade:
  • The Donald Stephenson at LT experiment should have ended before the game in Minnesota. Fisher is outperforming Stephenson and it is time for Fisher to resume playing LT. As far as putting Stephenson at RT, that should be a decision between Jah Reid, Jeff Allen (where is he?), and Stephenson.
  • The Chiefs need a jolt in the worst way. Sometimes changing a teams starting QB can provide such a jolt. If the Chiefs continue to lose and Smith continues to play poorly one of the backup QBs has to be given a shot.
All that said, Reid can only do so much with this roster right now. It's up to GM John Dorsey to get him talented players, and it appears the lack of quality talent at places such as the offensive line is hurting this Chiefs team.

Starting Roster Grade:  12/15

Player Preparedness / Discipline

Last week, the offensive intensity didn't match the intensity on defense in the Chiefs 16-10 loss.
  • Travis Kelce drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing his helmet in frustration after the Charcandrick West fumble. I have no problem with Kelce unleashing his frustration after this play as it was an extremely disappointing play.
  • Another play that was somewhat due to frustration was Jaye Howard's late shot on Teddy Bridgewater. As the Chiefs were still in the game and it was third and long for the Vikings; this was a bad penalty.
  • The Chiefs OL had three holding penalties in the first 16 minutes of the game. At least they were trying? These holding penalties were likely caused a little from lack of discipline, but perhaps from lack of talent.
Reid can't put the pads on for his players. He can however do his best to prepare his team. Without Jamaal Charles and the lack of OL talent, the Chiefs could have fared much worse.

Player Preparedness / Discipline Grade:  10/15

Offensive Play Calling

It's difficult for a head coach to lose their best weapon and still be successful on offense. It's also hard to say the Chiefs shouldn't run the ball less without Charles. However, when the offense is consistently doing the same thing over and over again, it becomes easy for defenses to read. Once again Reid relied too heavily on the pass. Even though Charles is injured the run game can still help the Chiefs. The best defense against self inflicted negative plays is to run the ball more frequently.
  • The Chiefs opened the game with five consecutive pass plays. Most of the error with these plays was poor execution by Smith. However the first two plays of the game were eerily similar WR screens and perhaps Reid shouldn't call the same play twice in a row after getting the defenses attention.
  • The offense once again lacked balance. Passing the ball roughly 41 out of 57 plays will spell for disaster. This allows for defenses to relentlessly pressure the QB with no fear of the run game keeping them honest. Not having Charles hurts, I get it, but the balance between run and pass really needs to improve. Asking Smith to lead the Chiefs to victory by dropping back 40 times a game is a problem.
  • The Chiefs first half was abysmal. Reid has time to game plan the opponent and he has to be more effective in dialing up the plays at the start of the game. The Chiefs are not built to come back from games. Apparently, they're not built to get the lead in games either.
  • Once again the Chiefs offense was miserable on third down: 3/12.
Reid can't throw the ball, he can't block, he can't catch the ball, he can't do anything on the field. There are plays where the receivers are open and Smith is not seeing them. There are plays were the offensive line simply crumbles and leaves no hope for a play. There are plays where the receiver flat out drops the ball. Maybe, just maybe, the offense is making Reid's play calling look worse than it actually has been. Or maybe Reid isn't calling the plays to best put his team in a position to succeed. Which one is it?

Offensive Play Calling Grade:  22/30

Game Altering Decisions

With the Chiefs in desperation win-or-go-home mode, one would think Reid would be more aggressive with his decision making. This was not the case in Minnesota.
  • 2nd Quarter 1:03 - 4th and 2 on MIN 46. With the Chiefs down 10-0 and one minute left in the first half Reid decided to punt the ball. The Vikings offense wasn't having their way with the Chiefs defense at this point in the game, so the risk of giving the Vikings the ball with good field position was ... well, not too risky. On the road with a 1-4 record, down 10, with the end of the half nearing, I believe Reid should have went for it here.
  • 3rd Quarter 4:34 - 4th and 1 on MIN 7. With the Chiefs trailing 13-0 Reid elected to go for it here. Kicking a FG would have kept the Chiefs at a two possession deficit but there was still ample time left in the game. I believe the Reid ultimately made the right decision here with the Chiefs lack of ability to move the ball thus far in the game. They had to swing for the fences when they had the opportunity. Some may disagree and say the FG would have gotten the Chiefs closer but in this situation being aggressive is the correct thing to do.
On the road with a 1-4 record, the Chiefs should be as aggressive as possible.

Game Altering Decisions Grade:  20/25

Clock Management

The Chiefs offense still needs to hurry up when the situation calls for it. I am going to attribute the lack of hurry up offense to Reid. I've wondered, because I don't have access to the Chiefs headsets, if the reason the Chiefs are so bad at moving the ball in a hurry up situation is because Reid will not let Smith make his own play calls. Each play must be brought in from the sideline. This would make some sense as to why the Chiefs hurry up offense appears so much slower than the average NFL team. Aside from that I felt Reid did a good job managing the clock in this game.
  • In the 4th quarter with roughly five minutes remaining in the game and the Chiefs down by six points, Reid elected to call all three of his timeouts in succession after Vikings run plays. I found this to be extremely interesting. Ultimately the plan appeared smart as the Chiefs had the ball with a shot to drive down and win.
Reid's decision to call the timeouts as if there were two minutes left in the game really matched up with how the Chiefs perform in their two minute drill. Those timeouts also gave the Chiefs another shot at getting the ball back after the West fumble. Reid's decisions to call the timeouts with five minutes left in the game actually gave the Chiefs a better chance at winning due to their four minute version of the two minute offense.

Clock Management Grade:  14/15

Total Grade:  79/100

2015 Average Grade:  62.83

If we're being honest with ourselves here, Reid has a tremendous task ahead of him for the rest of the season. I'll continue to believe he is a good coach and the Chiefs can win with him if the quarterback play improves. I have faith in Reid and I also believe if both the Chiefs fans and upper management stay the course with Reid, good things can happen. That being said, the quarterback play has to be addressed and Reid is the one responsible for that.

If Andy Reid can't elevate the QB play in Kansas City, then who can?