There's a lot to like from the win over the Texans. Alex Smith played well. The offensive line performed above expectations. Jeremy Maclin's presence was felt. Andy Reid out-coached O'Brien to an almost comical degree in the first half. Travis Kelce went all Travis Kelce.
I could go on, but I just have to take a second to shout out to Bob Sutton. The Chiefs defensive coordinator was somewhat maligned after his first season with the Chiefs (the playoff loss to the Colts left some seriously sour taste in our mouths), but the majority of fans came around to him as the defense blossomed last season despite the absence of some key contributors.
What I like about Sutton is that he does a good job of mixing up the simple and the complex. He isn't constantly blitzing, nor is he afraid to do so if the situation calls for it. He seems aware that he's got the personnel up front to get pressure on any given snap without creative scheming (the Chiefs defense is at times quite vanilla). But man, does he like to get exotic when he mixes things up.
You all remember this play.
Fantastic blitz from Sutton. Overload left side w/ scary rushers, drop 'em all and send a CB and DJ on other side. pic.twitter.com/UuDrEnx8fI— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) September 14, 2015
This is a wonderful example of a defensive coordinator mixing up looks and creating a situation in which the opposing offense has absolutely no idea where the pressure is coming from. Take a look at what Texans QB Brian Hoyer was looking at just prior to the snap.
There are a lot of things going on here, but the focus for me is the misdirection. Sutton has Dee Ford and Justin Houston lined up ready to rush, a scary proposition for any quarterback. Additionally, Josh Mauga is lined up like he's ready to blitz, and Howard is lined up right across from the center (zero tech if you're into terminology and stuff).
So what you've got is four rushers overloading the left side. The Texans play call is for the TE to go quickly up the seam, so in theory he SHOULD be open if the Chiefs blitz like they're threatening. In the alternative, the running back is running a quick "stab" route to the middle of the field (the area the TE's route will clear even if the Chiefs don't blitz everyone). The key (in Hoyer's mind as he prepares for the wrong blitz) is to get the ball out quickly to the zone that will be left open by Houston and Ford, whether it's to the TE or RB.
Another interesting feature of this play is where Allen Bailey is lined up. He's all the way on the outside shoulder of the RT, a highly unusual spot for him. Bailey moves pretty well for a guy with his speed and strength, and so from all appearances it looks like the Chiefs are going for a one on one matchup outside with the RT.
The Texans have a play call drawn up that should beat a heavy blitz from the left side. In fact, Hoyer appears to either audible or at the very least call out protections prior to the snap, pointing at the overload on his left. As I said, the key in his mind is to get the ball quickly to the TE in the "open" zone.
Then the ball is snapped and it all goes to hell for Hoyer.
Two of the Chiefs who were (in Hoyer's mind) supposed to blitz are not doing so, which means the TE does not come open immediately. What's worse, they're both in the exact zone the RB is headed toward. Though the RB's route will eventually run him away from where Mauga and Houston are, Hoyer doesn't have time for "eventually."
That's because Bailey (who is essentially a decoy on this play) takes his rush inside. The RT follows him, and DJ as well as a TOTALLY unanticipated Phillip Gaines go utterly unblocked. Because Hoyer was looking left to start (at a read he thought would be there but wasn't), he doesn't even have time to try and take advantage of the one on one matchups to his right. He could try and loft a pass toward Gaines's receiver, but Parker has taken over coverage and a loft would be extremely risky.
The only thing Hoyer can do is go fetal and beg for mercy.
The Chiefs have a great group of players on defense, but Bob Sutton deserves credit for putting them in a position to succeed. What a fantastically drawn up play. Additionally, this play is going to give every opposing offensive coordinator something to stare at and mutter about. Because really, any blitz combination works here. And the next time the Chiefs line up there way there's a 90 percent they run it completely differently.
That's the benefit of talented, versatile personnel being combined with a mad scientist. Well done, Sutton.