Capitol Mil's Tip Drill: Chiefs red zone offense falls 'flat' Week 7


On the first offensive drive of the game, Alex Smith and the Chiefs have driven 73 yards to Pittsburgh's 11 yard line with a 3rd and 3 to go. Today we take a deeper look at this red zone play, and break down why this passing attempt failed to convert. (For those of you who like spoilers, it wasn't the play call.)

Pre-snap Information


The Chiefs break the huddle in '11' (One TE, RB and three WRs) personnel and are ready to snap the ball 10 seconds after De'Anthony Thomas' 7-yard reception. Shotgun formation with wide receivers on the right spread out, and Travis Kelce is just off the left tackle to the short side of the field.

Like last week, we saw a tight end lined up ahead of the tackle, and it indicated a possible passing play cue. This week, Travis Kelce is lined up ahead of the tackle but has a squatted stance, so it's hard to tell what he's going to do.


Pittsburgh has no shame in showing six pass rushers on this play. Fisher identifies the middle linebacker and pass coverage is divided. Pittsburgh is also showing man defense at the corners with a single high safety.


Offensive Strength Pre-snap

The blitz isn't hard to identify here and the Chiefs do just that. With six rushers and a deep safety, there is a clear numbers advantage for a passing play. Our five receiving options should win against four primary coverage folks.

Here's the start of an Inception-level twist: Alex Smith knows that THEY know that Travis Kelce is quite a good receiving threat, and will probably want to focus on him.

Defensive Strength Pre-snap

This blitz show dictates that the play will be very quick, win or lose. If the offense doesn't pick up the blitz, the play will be over almost instantly. If the offense does pick up the blitz, there still isn't much time before someone gets to the QB. With an A gap blitz showing, it's very likely that there will be blocking issues in the middle of the formation.

Inception-level twist No. 2: Pittsburgh knows that Alex knows that Pittsburgh thinks Kelce is good threat, and that Smith may want to throw to West quickly when they are showing blitz. Knowing this, they aren't going to cover Kelce with No. 21, and they disguise this very well.

Post Snap

KC has a man beater called up, directing the left corner back and No. 21 safety (supposedly) covering Kelce to turn midfield while West breaks out in the flat.

Play at the end of QB dropback

Kelce releases upfield, but his man doesn't follow. No. 21 has started to break towards the flat converging with West's route.

However, with Conley moving up and in, No. 21 is lost in the fog of war and isn't seen by Alex Smith.

Before we see what happened with the ball, let's take a look at this blitz pickup.

Not bad. With five blockers and six rushers, every blocker picks a guy up, and leaves the slower, outside threat of Harrison free because even with a free break to the QB he's not going to be quick enough to be a factor in this play.


No. 21 broke for the flat, and snuffed the play to the flat. In good luck, West dropped the ball.


This is a great example of how much goes on before the snap. According to the presnap read, this is an ideal playcall given the blitz look and four defenders covering five receiving options.

However, this is where tendencies get in the way, and Pittsburgh played to the tendencies in a superb way. Kelce WAS left open, but unless Alex had Kelce as his first read (which wouldn't seem ideal according to the presnap coverage), I don't think this could have got to Kelce on this play. Too much pressure.

This play was determined before it started. Pittsburgh took a gamble: By showing a blitz look, Alex would likely throw it to the 'uncovered' RB for no gain or get completely embarrassed if Alex was going to try to get it to Kelce no matter what.

Most Chiefs fans know where to put your chips on that bet.

Others took note of this play. Stands out to you once you realize what the intent of the play was.

Week 6 Tip Drill Minnesota

Week 5 Tip Drill Chicago

Follow me on Twitter: @Capitol_Mil

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.