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Grading Andy Reid: Week 16 vs. Browns

As the Chiefs were busy clinching a playoff spot on Sunday, I was busy clenching my fists in agony as Johnny Manziel made things very interesting in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the Chiefs were able to come away with a hard fought victory for their ninth win in a row.

I don't care what the Browns record was, nor do I care how close the game was. The most important fact is the Chiefs were able to hold on in a close game and win. The Chiefs were losing these games early in the season.

Let's get to it.

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

Not all that different from last week: Frankie Hammond should not be returning punts. I would like to see Albert Wilson or perhaps a Chiefs DB returning the kicks. Wilson makes the most sense because he has experience returning punts in the preseason and also college. I don't suggest Jeremy Maclin due to the risk of an injury. I am hoping everything is going well in DAT's life and he is able to return soon. Make sure he fixes whatever issue he is having (beyond the concussion) and take as much time as needed if it is serious.

Next week Andy Reid will have a much more interesting decision to make in regards to the starting lineup. I'll talk about this in further detail in the "What I'd like to see next week" section at the bottom.

Starting Roster Grade:  12/15

Player Preparedness / Discipline

The Chiefs committed a total of five penalties that were accepted. I have very few complaints with that.

The Chiefs also turned the ball over once on a pass from Alex Smith that appeared to be tipped. However, on Smith's interception Jah Reid showed exceptional hustle to save a TD. I can't understate how huge Jah Reid's tackle was; it was one of the defining moments in the Chiefs win.

Normally I would deduct points for a turnover but I can't really fault a tipped pass from a very safe Alex Smith. I also think the huge play from Jah Reid made up for the turnover.

Player Preparedness / Discipline Grade:  15/15

Offensive Play Calling

Really Disgusting Moldy Cheeseburger that Made Me Throw Up in My Mouth of the Week: The bubble screen pass to Kelce on a third and five with about 2:45 left in the fourth quarter. It went for a gain of one yard and it seemed if everyone in the entire world knew what was coming.

Run/Pass Ratio: 21 Run, 29 Pass: 42% Run, 58% Pass. Once again Reid has passed the litmus test for running the ball consistently.

Third Down Conversion Rate: 4/12 (33%)  This is poor. Especially considering the Browns were coming into Kansas City with one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Red Zone TD Rate: 2/3 (67%) I'd like to think the Chiefs should have had more chances in the red zone against the Browns but without Justin Houston and Tamba Hali on defense the Browns were able to control the ball and keep the Chiefs from having many possessions during the game. In fact, the Chiefs ONLY had three drives in the second half.

Screen Play Count: I observed three screen passes in this game. This number concerns me because there were a number of short passes to the outside. If anyone notices I missed one please let me know and I can add them to the article.

  • Albert Wilson with 13:54 left in the first quarter.  - Gain of five yards
  • Travis Kelce with 3:17 left in the first quarter - Gain of four yards
  • Kelce with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter - Gain of one yard
Average yardage gained on the screen passes: 3.3 yards. Percentage of plays that were screen passes: 6%

Six percent of the plays were screens - this is not an overwhelming number. What is overwhelming, however, is that Reid dialed up a screen pass to Kelce on a huge third down during the game and everyone on the field knew it was coming. The screen passes have their place but running them on an convertible third and five should not be a frequently used option.

Offensive Play Calling Grade:  17/30

Game Altering Decisions

For the second week in a row Reid was faced with some pretty tricky decisions during the course of the game. Sometimes I really wish I could see exactly what Reid's thought process was during the game.

  • 4th and 20 - second quarter - 2:15 remaining - ball on the CLE 34 - Chiefs leading 10-3. This would have been a 51 yard attempt into a blustery wind for Cairo Santos. Instead of attempting a 51 yard field goal, Reid elected to punt. I'm not sure what to think of this conservative decision. As a result the Browns were pinned down at their own 10 yard line and were forced to punt. The Chiefs then went down the field and scored a touchdown on the next possession.
  • 4th and 1 - fourth quarter - 5:41 remaining - ball on KC 23 - Chiefs leading 17-13. For a moment here it looked as though Reid wanted to go for it on his own 23 yard line. While watching the game I wanted the Chiefs to go for it but that was just due to being too gung-ho and caught up in the moment. Ultimately wiser heads prevailed and Reid elected to punt which was the right decision in that situation.
I'm not sure how to grade this since punting instead of kicking a 51 FG attempt in the second quarter actually resulted in a Chiefs touchdown. I'll take off one point for lack of aggression. Sometimes being conservative can win a lot of games. In the playoffs Reid will definitely need to turn up the aggression if he wants the Chiefs to make a deep push.

Game Altering Decisions Grade:  24/25

Clock Management

Dare I say this, but the Chiefs have actually looked good as of late in the two minute drill. Reid called a time out when the Browns had the ball near the end of the second half that helped the Chiefs score the touchdown right before halftime.

Reid also did a good job of running the ball in the second half with the lead. Earlier in the season when the Chiefs lost to the Bears, Reid elected to pass the ball too much in the fourth quarter. The result was a loss to the Bears. Against the Browns Reid continued to run the ball in the fourth quarter and run the clock. The result this time around was a win due to the Browns running out of time on their final drive. Funny how these things work.

Clock Management Grade:  15/15

Challenges

Reid made a fantastic challenge call on a forward pass by Johnny Manziel that was thrown after Manziel passed the line of scrimmage. The original call was a backwards pass but Reid threw the challenge flag and the play was overturned. I'll give Reid three  bonus points for this excellent use of the challenge flag.

Week 15 Grade:  86/100

2015 Average Grade:  78.87

Initially I felt as though 86 seems too high of a grade for Reid in this game. This is due mostly to the defense not getting the Browns offense off the field and only giving the Chiefs offense three possessions in the 2nd half.  The Chiefs score more points if they have more possessions in this game.

Next Week Against the Raiders

As we've all seen the Raiders are capable of beating a divisional rival on the road in Denver. Here is what I would like to see the Chiefs do against the Raiders on Sunday.

  • Put the best team possible on the field. Do NOT bench the starters. Philip Rivers has always been full of tricks and he could always pull off a win against a division rival. The Chiefs should be playing for the AFC West title and it is a possibility the Chargers can beat the Broncos to help make that happen.
  • Keep running the ball. Reid has done a great job of running the ball during the winning streak. Running the ball will help work the clock against a good offensive Raiders team. The last thing the Chiefs need in this game is a shootout.
  • If Hali and Houston cannot play, understand that no lead is safe. The Chiefs need to be very aggressive in this game.
  • I am sure the Raiders would like nothing more than to spoil the Chiefs playoff positioning. Expect the Raiders to bring their A game this time around.
Hope everyone has a happy New Year!