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Grading Andy Reid: Week 12 vs. Buffalo Bills

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The win against the Bills was a huge victory for the Chiefs. Not only did the Chiefs show their ability to come back from a deficit but they also helped themselves significantly in the playoff standings. Last week I shared an interesting Andy Reid quote, and this week I'm going to share another interesting quote. This one is from Jeremy Maclin:

If I'm even, I'm leavin'.

I love this quote. The Chiefs should adopt this in their approach to the playoffs. Right now the Chiefs are fairly 'even' with a lot of other teams in the Wild Card race. Hopefully they'll be leavin' the other Wild Card hopefuls in their dust starting with the Raiders next Sunday.

Before we get to the grade, I'd like to note another completely off topic and mostly irrelevant subject. I haven't done any research into this but does it seem like Alex Smith plays his best against teams that wear blue? I don't know what made me think of this but the Bills, Chargers, Patriots, and Colts all wear blue. Maybe there is something to this ...

That being said let's move on to the grade!

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.

Starting Roster

The big question heading into the game against the Bills was the availability of Charcandrick West. West was unable to play and Reid had the choice of giving a share of the work to Knile Davis. Instead Reid chose to stick with Spencer Ware and this proved to be an excellent decision. Reid put a good lineup together for the game against the Bills.

Next week Reid is faced with a very difficult task of assembling an OL with so many players injured. If none of the Chiefs injured offensive lineman are able to start next week against the Raiders the OL could be be LT Stephenson - LG Allen - C Fulton - RG LDT - RT Reid. We'll see if Reid sticks with this group.

Starting Roster Grade: 15/15

Player Preparedness / Discipline

The Chiefs committed eight penalties against the Bills which was not good. One of them was a killer by Demetrius Harris that gave up a first down on a punt and eventually led to a touchdown for the Bills. Harris also negated a 38 yard return by Knile Davis earlier in the game.

The Chiefs continue to take care of the ball. Make no mistake, the reason the Chiefs have turned things around so well has a lot to do with their ability to take care of the ball.

Player Preparedness / Discipline Grade:  11/15

Offensive Play Calling

We'll continue to break things down like we have been in the offensive play calling section, but I'd like to take a slight detour to appreciate a fantastic red zone play call by Reid. The play would have been described as a 'good cheeseburger' by Reid. Execution was great, the play was very clever, and the result was a touchdown. With 7:01 left in the second quarter, the Chiefs were knocking on the door of the end zone. This was the play where Ware scored the three yard touchdown. Albert Wilson came streaking down behind the line of scrimmage and Smith faked the handoff to him. The Bills had already seen this particular run play by Wilson earlier in the game heading the opposite direction so it was imprinted in their memories.

You can see Smith faking the handoff to Wilson. The majority of the Bills LBs and some of their defensive lineman shift as they see Wilson potentially taking the handoff. This is a play that looks like something it is not. The execution on this play was fantastic as Smith made a great fake handoff but most of the credit should go to Spencer Ware. Look at Ware in this play. It appears as if he is going to run to the right and block for Wilson. After Wilson doesn't take the handoff Ware cuts back immediately as the play reverses its direction. Ware then sledges through a soft spot of the Bills defense that was created with the help of the great misdirection by the entire team. This, my friends, was a 'good cheeseburger.' What a play call by Reid, for so many reasons. (Good execution helps too.) I hope everyone appreciated this one as much as I did because it was fantastic. Maybe I should start adding the 'good cheeseburger' of the week in each of these articles.

Run / Pass Ratio: 21 run plays, 36 pass plays.  37 percent run, 63 percent pass. Uh oh. Reid needs to run the ball more than 40 percent of the time as he has gotten in trouble in the past by not sticking to the run enough. That said, Alex Smith was very effective with his passes in this game.

Third Down Conversion Rate: 6/13 - 46 percent. The NFL leader is converting 47 percent of third downs on the season.

Red Zone TD Rate: 2/4 - 50 percent. The deep ball was working for the Chiefs and they scored a touchdown outside of the red zone. Remember we're considering the red zone a fresh set of downs starting inside the opponents 25 yard line.

TD to FG Rate: 3 TDs to 3 FGs.  50/50 mix. This will need to improve against better teams.

Screen Play Rate: I recorded four screen plays during the game for a rate of 7 percent screen plays. This fails the litmus test I created last week of 5 percent screen plays. We're still working on this part of the grade though. The four screen plays I recorded ended up as follows:

  1. Screen pass to Maclin, 3rd and 7, 4th quarter with 13:05 left. Looked like a bubble screen that was forced to the middle of the field. No gain.
  2. Screen pass to Maclin, 3rd and 4, 4th quarter with 8:26 left. It was a bubble screen to Maclin for a gain of 9 yards on a really important drive.
  3. Screen pass to Maclin, 3rd and 6, 4th quarter with 6:27 left. This play was all about Alex Smith, he made a fantastic audible and Maclin gained 11 yards for a big first down.
  4. Screen pass to Wilson, 1st and 10, 4th quarter with 5:42 remaining. This was a bad, bad play call by Reid. It was the third bubble screen of the drive and almost resulted in an interception. Fortunately for the Chiefs the Bills were called for roughing the passer. Would have been no gain but we won't count this one in the averages below because of the penalty.
The average screen play against the Bills went for 6.7 yards, which is fairly good production. However, Reid went to the bubble screens too much at the end of the game. He needs to mix the screens in so the defense is caught off guard. (Once again, my one year old son was running around during the game and if anyone caught a screen that I missed please let me know.)

Offensive Play Calling Grade:  25/30

Game Altering Decisions

Strangely enough there were no 'game altering decisions' for Reid in this game. Most of the times the Chiefs had to punt the ball it was because the ball was deep in their territory. The only fourth and short in the game for the Chiefs happened at the end of the second half where Cairo Santos bonked the cross beam. Since Reid made no mistakes (like going for it on fourth and seven) we'll award him the full points.

Gamer Altering Decisions Grade:  25/25

Clock Management

Did anyone else notice the Chiefs offense almost scored twice in the last two minutes of the first half in the game against the Bills? I wonder when the last time this happened for the Chiefs. The Chiefs moved the ball relatively well and did a good job of using the clock at the end of the second half. It appeared as if the offensive play calls were coming in quicker than usual. In the second half the Chiefs did a good job of mixing run with pass to work the clock with the lead. Overall this was a good game in regards to clock management.

Clock Management Grade:  15/15

Challenges

Reid made a fairly bad decision to challenge a first down reception by Sammy Watkins. I noticed immediately sitting at home that the play wouldn't be overturned. We'll deduct three points from Reid's grade for this poor challenge.

Week 12 Grade:  88/100

2015 Average Grade:  75.63 percent

Next Week Against the Raiders

Here are a few things I'd like to see/am curious about against the Raiders next week:

  • Who's going to start on the offensive line?
  • With the decimated o-line, the Chiefs will need to work out the short passing game and run the ball a LOT.
  • Speaking of running the ball, with the Raiders having a poor defense and a good offense, I want to see a 50 / 50 run to pass ratio. This will work the clock and keep the ball out of the hands of the Raiders offense all the while keeping the defense fresh.
  • No more bad penalties.
  • Call plays to keep Alex Smith safe.
  • If Charcandrick West is healthy I want to see a mixture of both West and Ware. This should be good for accomplishing the 50 / 50 run / pass ratio.
If you were Reid what would you do to increase your chances against the Raiders?