Led by Andy Reid, the Kansas City Chiefs are in the midst of the longest winning streak in franchise history.Ten consecutive wins is an incredible feat and we should all take a moment to appreciate the unbelievable turnaround the Chiefs underwent this season.
When Reid was let go by the Eagles he was pursued by a number of teams but he chose (for $7M per year) to coach for the Chiefs. The Chiefs now know they're lucky to have a coach who won more games in his first three years than Marty Schottenheimer.
Let's get to the grade. For Week 17 we will use the same grading scale as before.
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.
The offensive line continues to shuffle due to injury. Jah Reid was a late scratch last week and so Reid chose to start Donald Stephenson at RT. This was the correct move as Stephenson is their best option for filling in for injured offensive lineman. I am curious to see what line Reid decides to play if Mitch Morse and / or Jah Reid are unable to play next week in Houston.
Once again Reid continues to let Hammond return punts. I spoke with some people from the Battle Red Blog (the Texans SB Nation blog) and they said the Texans are doing a very good job covering punts. If Hammond is put in a bad situation he could potentially make a game changing mistake. Alex Smith has already suffered bad fortune at the hands of a punt returner in the playoffs and I would hate to see him go through that again. I would really like Reid to let Jeremy Maclin or Albert Wilson return punts instead of Hammond.
Also regarding special teams, I am beginning to wonder if long snapper James Winchester isn't becoming a liability...
Starting Roster: 13/15
Player Preparedness / Discipline
The Chiefs committed a total of five penalties that were accepted. This is a low number and I would be happy if the Chiefs only committed five penalties against the Texans in the Wild Card game.
The two Alex Smith interceptions weren't pretty but it wasn't like Alex Smith was in Brett Favre rogue mode and gunslinging the ball recklessly. The interception for the pick six was far too telegraphed and Smith will need to stay away from these mistakes in the playoffs if the Chiefs want to make it far. The good thing is that the interception is clearly the exception and not the rule.
The crazy special teams gaffe where Cairo Santos threw a three yard pass to Anthony Sherman was caused by a miscommunication from the long snapper, James Winchester. This is not the first problem Winchester has had during the season. Hmm.
Player Preparedness / Discipline Grade: 11/15
Offensive Play Calling
Really Good Cheeseburger of the Week: MNChiefsFan wrote an article about the play I wanted to use as the RGCW, so I decided to switch gears and choose the following play:
This was the very first play of the game so it is a perfect example of Reid scripting a successful play. The thing I like most about this play is that Anthony Sherman is used to block 99.9 percent of the time. There is no way the Raiders could expect he would run out to the flat and catch a pass. Thanks to Maclin's blocking he was able to pick up 18 yards. Smith does a good job selling the run with the play action which allowed Sherman to have a lot of open space after catching the pass. I like the use of Sherman in unexpected situations and I think the Chiefs would be well served to use a play like this against the Texans.
Run/Pass Ratio: 31 rushes, 32 passes. 49% run, 51% pass. This is the most balanced attack the Chiefs have put on the field since I have been keeping track of this stat. This definitely passes the 40/60 litmus test. The Chiefs are at their best when they can run the ball well consistently.
Third Down Conversion Rate: 6/13 = 46%. This is a successful third down conversion rate. I would be tickled pink of the Chiefs can convert 46% of their third downs against the Texans.
Red Zone TD Rate: 3/4 = 75%. This is a good rate for touchdowns. If the Chiefs can have this efficiency in the playoffs they will go far.
Screen Play Count: I didn't count a single screen play in this game. Did anyone else catch one? Weird.
Overall I really liked the way the Chiefs offense functioned in this game. Reid continued to run the ball throughout the game which helped work the clock as well as give the Texans less passing looks to prepare for. The run game was working effectively and it was good to see the Chiefs help close out a game by pounding the rock. Great teams can run the ball late in the game to win and the Chiefs did just that. The game would have been completely out of reach had the special teams debacle not taken place.
Offensive Play Calling Grade: 30/30
Game Altering Decisions
- 1st quarter, 2:53 remaining, 4th and 1, ball on OAK 43. The score was 7 - 0. Reid chose to go for it here, with an excellent play call on a designed run for Alex Smith. The result was a first down. Great decision and great play call here.
- 2nd quarter, 2:04 remaining, 4th and 4, ball on OAK 39. The score was 14-10. Reid elected to punt the ball here. The Chiefs were in no mans land and Reid chose to punt on a potentially convertible 4th and 4. Ultimately, this was the right decision as the Chiefs defense continued to be dominant.
- 4th quarter, 1:40 remaining, 4th and 5, ball on OAK 42. The score was 23-17. Reid elected to punt here as well. Once again this was the right choice as a mistake here would put unnecessary pressure on the defense. The defense ultimately kept the Raiders offense at bay and the Chiefs won the game.
The Chiefs did a relatively good job managing the clock. Has anyone noticed the trend of Reid calling timeouts at the end of the half on defense to give the offense a chance to get the ball back and score? I like how Reid is taking this aggressive approach.
I'd also like to add that Reid did a good job working the clock by running the ball in the fourth quarter - a nine minute drive with all runs. This was a huge part of the Chiefs victory.
Clock Management: 15/15
Reid did not throw a challenge flag so no points will be deducted or added to his grade.
Week 17 Grade: 94/100
This is where I typically place Reid's average grade for the season but I feel some bonus points should be given to Reid. There are two reasons for the bonus points.
- The Chiefs made the playoffs
- Reid was able to lead a team to 10 straight victories after starting 1-5. This is a historical accomplishment.
2015 Regular Season Final Grade: 84.5 percent
Next Week vs. the Texans
I would like to see Reid employ the following:
- Please let Maclin or Wilson return the punts.
- I would like to see a lot of play action passes.
- I would also like to see a number of screens. (Yes, I said it)
- Let's have some more unexpected passing plays to Sherman.
- Do NOT become overly conservative. Playoff games are often won by being aggressive. Continuously punting and letting the defense work their magic will eventually come back to bite the Chiefs against better teams.
- Get nasty out there. It's the playoffs, no need to hold anything back. The Chiefs should exert their will on the Texans. Having success running the ball will help accomplish this goal, which is easier said than done against the Texans. Spencer Ware could be just the running back to punish the Texans defenders, so feed him the ball.