If the Chiefs weren’t playing on the short week, I may have done a full review of all the things the Steelers did on Sunday to slow down the Chiefs offense. The All-22 wasn’t kind to many on the Chiefs offense.
I came away impressed by the Steelers. They controlled the game, which is step one. The Chiefs played from behind for most of the game, and the Steelers ate a ton of clock offensively.
The lack of control screwed up the rhythm of the Chiefs offense. They weren’t able to dial up the creativity because they were trying to salvage possessions or playing hurry up. No run-pass options (RPOs). One potential shovel option. They were more predictable.
Pittsburgh then got to play the role of unpredictable. They disguised better than anyone I’ve seen facing the Chiefs all season. They caught Alex Smith on more than one occasion. We may come back to these it was so impressive.
Lastly, they didn’t give Smith or the skill players the same respect others have. Maybe that was due to the loss of Conley and Wilson. Who knows? Pittsburgh was begging Smith, just like in January, to throw vertically, outside the numbers. I saw instances where the deep coverage was pinching to the middle of the field, forcing outside throws. Middle field concepts are a safety blanket and the Steelers did a good job of taking that away. They did a good job with their eyes too. What’s more, they were squatting on the sticks and deep coverage was driving hard with. The blitzes they were dialing up had something to do with it, but they seemed to have a feel for Smith’s blind spots.
Overall, it was a great game plan. I’m not sure how many teams can duplicate it with their personnel, but it’s out there.
Anyways, here’s trends from the Steelers game.
The First 15
The first 15 plays are scripted plays to get an idea of how teams plan to defend you. The script is followed until there’s special situations like third and short, and goal plays, etc. The first 15 plays went all the way deep into the second quarter, and likely a few of these weren’t scripted.
The Chiefs used four different personnel groups in the first 15:
All of those personnel groups were used within the first four plays.
The Chiefs only used four motions in the first 15. All four motions were by different players:
The Chiefs gained 21 yards in the first 15 plays. (Note: The holding call is charted as a play but not included in the yard total)
The Chiefs ran the ball only five times in the first 15. They gained -1 yards.
The Steelers were in zone coverage for all 15 plays. They showed six different variations of zone coverage early.
The Steelers sent corner blitzes twice in the first 15 plays, one more than the Chiefs had seen through five games.
Chiefs Offense vs. Pittsburgh
The most used formation was the 3x1 look:
It was their most used because it was most of their hurry up plays were in.
Want additional proof the Chiefs were out of rhythm? I counted one shovel option (they took the run choice). If we don’t count the shovel option as an RPO (I don’t), there weren’t any the entire game.
The Chiefs shifted or motioned only 11 times. That likely had to do with the heavy zone tendencies of Pittsburgh.
Alex Smith didn’t complete a pass beyond the line to gain until the 4th quarter.
I wrote about how the Chiefs will replace Chris Conley earlier this week. Demarcus Robinson saw 70 percent of snaps as the X receiver.
Tyreek Hill saw 22 percent of snaps as the X receiver.
All but one of Smith’s incompletions came against four rushers or less.
All three of Smith’s sacks came on vertical pass concepts.
The Chiefs only pulled linemen twice the entire game.
The Chiefs generated four explosive plays. All four were passes. Kareem Hunt (2), Kelce and De’Anthony Thomas were the pass catchers. Thomas was on the field for all four explosive plays.
Pittsburgh Defense vs. Chiefs
Houston did not send more the five rushers the entire game.
They sent five or more rushers only once with Tyreek Hill lines up as the X, and that was on the first play of the game.
The Steelers were in base defense for 17 snaps. The Chiefs gained 32 yards.
The Steelers were in man coverage under 10 percent of the time.
The most used coverage was cover 3. Although they had a good mix of cover 2, 4, Quarter-Quarter-Half and 1 (man-free) in there as well.
The Steelers sent 15 different combinations of rushers. That’s a very diverse blitz package.