Let's get the obvious out of the way. The Kansas City Chiefs collectively shot themselves in the foot on Thursday night. Remember the "Worst Day Ever" when the Chargers fumbled a snap right before a sure victory? Thursday night was the Chiefs version of that. You can find out a lot about someone by how they bounce back from a trying time. This applies to the Chiefs players and coaching staff entering next week's game in Green Bay. Ultimately it is how the team bounces back that will define them, not one bad night. It's a long season.
I chose to wait a few days to write this article as I wanted to maintain a balanced mind. The grading scale has been changed slightly. Let's take a look.
Grading criteria (Points possible)
- Player preparedness / discipline (10)
- Challenges (15)
- Offensive play calling (30)
- Game altering decisions (30)
- Clock management (15)
Five points have been removed from clock management and placed into offensive play calling. The reasoning is because the play calling affects the entire game. Clock management can have a pivotal affect during the game, but typically those decisions are compacted into a much smaller portion of the game. We will adjust as we go.
Let's start assigning the grades. I'd like to note that Reid is a great coach and one game does not a career make.
Player Preparedness / Discipline
The team appeared to be very pumped at the beginning of the game. This worked against them though as it appeared the team was too pumped. A lot of penalties and nervous mistakes were made throughout the game. It seemed almost as though the game was too big for the players at times. Experience will help with these problems. Below are factors that help form the grade.
- The Chiefs committed six penalties that were upheld. Three of these penalties were false starts on offense at home.
- The Chiefs fumbled three times all of which were lost.
- Alex Smith threw two picks.
- The defense had opportunities to intercept a number of passes but failed to do so.
- Overall the team appeared to lack focus when it came to the most important plays in the game.
Offensive Play Calling
- Correct me if I'm wrong, but I only saw one screen pass the entire game. Maybe Reid saw something I didn't, but one would think screen passes would be effective against an aggressive pass rush.
- The offense was 0/7 on third down. This will not fly if the Chiefs hope to have any sustainable offensive success.
- We'll cover the "other" play calling decisions that affected the game in the next section. Even though they were part of the offensive play calling, they had such an effect on the game's outcome that they must be covered in the game altering decision section.
Game Altering Decisions
- Reid elected to pass the ball twice beginning a possession with roughly 2:30 left in the second quarter. Denver was out of timeouts. A run play would have allowed the clock to run to the two minute warning. Charles had also been moving the ball well for the most part. The goal of that drive is to keep Denver from getting the ball back with time as well as possibly put some points on the board. In hindsight running would have accomplished this task most effectively. Outcome: Alex Smith threw an uncharacteristic interception and Denver scored an eventual TD. I understand Reid trying to keep the foot on the gas pedal. In fact the first play was a deep ball to Maclin. The second pass however was a short pass that offered no benefit better than a run could have. It's hard to make sense of the decision to go with a short pass over running the ball in that situation. Perhaps someone in the comments can rationalize it because I am having a hard time doing so.
- Reid elected to run the ball in a tie game with roughly 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The goal of the drive should have been to get down the field quickly and to possibly get in FG range. Instead of running a quick pass play that wouldn't eat much time Reid elected to run the ball. I'm unsure of what potential gain a run would have in this situation. The Chiefs did have one timeout left, but one might think that a short pass to the middle of the field with Denver playing prevent defense would be a better option. The other alternative is that Reid could have accepted overtime and taken a knee to run the clock out as Denver had no timeouts left. Outcome: Don't even want to go there.
- Timeout No. 1 - second quarter 4:03. Manning was moving the ball well and this may have been called to get the defense settled.
- Timeout No. 2 - second quarter 2:36. This was an odd one. Reid and Sutton must not have liked what they saw as they called another time out immediately after Denver had called one. Whatever the reason the extra timeout didn't help as the Chiefs proceeded to give up a touchdown on the very next play. It would have been nice to have that extra timeout on the next drive.
- Timeout No. 1 - third quarter 6:40. This appeared to be a timeout caused by the offense not being prepared for the next play.
- Timeout No. 2 - fourth quarter 0:40. The Chiefs were on defense and trying to figure things out with Denver in the red zone.
- Timeout No. 3 - fourth quarter 0:36. This was called after an Alex Smith scramble for 11 yards.