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Grading Andy Reid: Chiefs playoff win vs. Texans

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So that's what it feels like to win a playoff game. I had almost forgotten. It's also 11 wins in a row as the Chiefs continue to extend their franchise record longest winning streak. Can Andy Reid and the Chiefs make it one more on Saturday against the Patriots? Before we get to that, let's review how Andy Reid did last week in Houston.

We're going to change things on our grade this week in terms of the total points possible. As the Chiefs go deeper into the playoffs the total score of the games will increase. I'm doing this because a Wild Card game should affect Reid's total grade more than a regular season game, right? Bigger game, more important. Everything is magnified in the playoffs.

Here is how the totals will change throughout the playoffs:

  • Wild Card Game - 200 points possible
  • Divisional Game - 300 points possible
  • AFC Championship - 400 points possible.
  • Super Bowl - 500 points possible.
I really hope I am grading Reid on a 500 point scale later this year if you know what I mean - *wink *wink. Now that we know the total points possible for each playoff game, here is the Grading Criteria for the Wild Card game against the Texans.

Grading Criteria (Points Possible)
  • Starting Roster (30)
  • Player Preparedness / Discipline (30)
  • Offensive Play Calling (60)
  • Game Altering Decisions (50)
  • Clock Management (30)
  • Challenges +/- a range of 10 points.

Starting Roster

Once again we continue to talk about the offensive line. With Mitch Morse out and Jah Reid dinged up Reid elected to trot out the o-line combination of Fisher-Allen-Fulton-LDT-Stephenson. This group did well starting out and continued to play well once Jah Reid replaced LDT at right guard. Reid started the right OL grouping.

I'd like to take a moment to question myself. What if Frankie Hammond isn't as big of a liability as I have been continuing to preach about the past few weeks? He had a decent return that was brought back due to a penalty and it also seems he is getting more comfortable catching the ball on punt returns. Maybe all the playing time is starting to pay off as Hammond is becoming less 'scary' returning punts. The jury is still out on him but...

Next week Reid may be short of players. It will be really interesting to see how he handles all of the injured players; Maclin and Ware specifically.

Starting Roster Grade:  30/30

Player Preparedness / Discipline

The Chiefs turned the ball over once and committed five penalties. Each of these can be lived with against a team like the Texans. The Chiefs will need to play without committing a single turnover against New England next week as it is very, very difficult to win in Gillette Stadium in January.

The Chiefs were clearly ready to roll in this game. The Chiefs demolished the Texans and it was clear the Chiefs rose to the occasion.

Player Preparedness / Discipline Grade:  30/30

Offensive Play Calling

Really Good Cheeseburger of the Week:

Reid continues to use the Albert Wilson sweeps in combination with Spencer Ware near the goal line. Amazingly, they keep working. I wouldn't be surprised to see Reid hand the ball to Albert Wilson against the Patriots, especially with as many times Ware has taken the handoff on this play. Or maybe that would just be overthinking things because Ware seems to be pounding the ball into the end zone just fine on these plays.

Run/Pass Ratio: 35 Run, 27 Pass.  56% run and 44% pass.  This was an extremely run heavy game by Reid. The Chiefs were able to exert their will on the Texans. If the Chiefs can run the ball well in New England they will be well served.

Third Down Conversion Rate: 4/11 = 36%  The Chiefs were facing one of the best third down defenses in the league. I'll give Reid a little slack for having a low third down conversion rate.

Red Zone TD Rate: 2/3 = 66%  The Chiefs did a fair job punching the ball into the end zone when they had opportunities against the Texans. The only time they settled for a FG was when they were in garbage time. The Chiefs will need to have great red zone efficiency against the Patriots.

Screen Play Count: I counted five screen passes during the game.

  • 1st Quarter 12:51 remaining - Screen to Kelce for four yards.
  • 1st Quarter 8:54 remaining - Screen to Kelce.  The pass was dropped, no gain.
  • 2nd Quarter 1:29 remaining - Screen pass to Wilson for a six yard gain.
  • 3rd Quarter 5:53 remaining - Screen to Kelce for six yards.
  • 4th Quarter 4:49 remaining - Screen pass to Frankie Hammond of all people. Three yard gain.
Average gained per screen pass - 3.8 yards. Leading up to the game myself and many others felt the Chiefs could have some success against the Texans with screen passes. I was wrong as the Texans did a good job of shutting them down. 3.8 yards per play isn't terrible and Kelce sure had an awful lot of room to run on the one he dropped though...

Offensive Play Calling Grade:  52/60

Game Altering Decisions

  • 4th and 1, 2nd Quarter 12:56 remaining, Chiefs 7 Texans 0, ball on HOU 31. Reid elected to kick the field goal in this situation. This was the right decision at the time given the Texans great front seven and the defensive nature of the game.
  • 4th and 1, 2nd Quarter 7:11 remaining, Chiefs 10 Texans 0, ball on HOU 30. Reid elected to kick the field goal again. Once again this was the right call due to the defensive nature of the game. It was also becoming more apparent that Hoyer was not going to have a good day, so the offense didn't appear to need to put up a ton of points. Reid make the right decision to take the safe points in this situation.
  • 4th and 1, 2nd Quarter 0:31 remaining, Chiefs 13 Texans 0, ball on KC 47.  Reid chose to punt the ball here. The conservative decision was the correct decision at this point in the game.
Reid made some very conservative decisions in this game, and rightfully so given how it flowed. Next week against the Patriots Reid will need to be more aggressive.

Game Altering Decisions:  50/50

Clock Management

I have no problem with the way Reid handled the clock in this game  Reid ran the ball consistently to work the clock in the second half which was the best choice. Reid also called a timeout on defense in the second half in hopes to get the ball back with more time to score. Dare I say I like the way Reid has been handling the clock as of late.

Clock Management Grade:  30/30

Challenges

Reid didn't throw the challenge flag in this game. No points will be added or subtracted.

Wild Card Grade:  192/200 = 96%

Reid lands a solid A for this week. Going on the road and winning by 30 points in the playoffs should probably deserve nothing less.

2015 Season Total Grade:  85.8%

Next Week Against the Patriots

I've spent a lot of time searching for ways to beat the Patriots, and although things will not be easy in New England, I would really like to see Reid do the following:

  • Feed the ball to the Chiefs lesser known players. Belichick will try and take away the Chiefs best players, so I want to see Reid getting the ball to players like Wilson, Conley, Harris, and Sherman. Sherman could have an effect on the game on delayed routes.
  • Run the ball, and run it often. The Chiefs should work in every run play in their playbook; jet sweeps to Albert Wilson, designed runs for Smith, etc.
  • Go for it on fourth and one instead of kicking field goals. I don't see the Chiefs being able to win in New England if they have to settle for a number of field goals. The Chiefs and Reid need to be very aggressive in this game.
  • Once again, be nasty, like Eric Fisher finishing his block on JJ Watt nasty.
What's your take for how to approach the Patriots on Saturday?