I’ve been told that Ocean’s Eleven is a remake. Some nerd named Sinatra is in the original apparently. The 2001 movie I’m familiar with stars the worst version of Batman, Jason Bourne and the “What’s in the boooox?” guy.
If you haven’t seen it, a group of con men sets out to rob a casino on the night of a major boxing match. Danny Ocean (played by former Dark Knight George Clooney) tells the owner it’s going to happen, and that he’ll walk out the front door with the money.
Sure enough, in an elaborate ruse, Ocean and all his friends walk out of the Casino in plain sight (albeit, in S.W.A.T. team costumes) with generational wealth in their duffel bags.
Also if that was spoilers, it’s 2017. The movie can legally drive. I regret nothing.
Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Matt Nagy has been able to provide a spark to the offense with a steady diet of run-pass options (RPOs) and getting teams on their heels much more than they’ve been in recent memory. This is more critical than some may realize. Teams have to honor all the moving pieces and parts to the offense when the Chiefs are moving the ball. More than any team in the NFL, the Chiefs need and feed off misdirection and movement.
When the offense is stale, it’s easier for teams to pay attention to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. This week, because of the activity and diversity of the offense, the Chiefs were able to use an elaborate ruse to hide Kelce (like Ocean and his friends) in plain sight for a near touchdown.
45 seconds is a deep dive into one play a week, or the roughly 45 seconds from the start of the play clock to the play being blown dead.
Here’s this week’s play:
The logical play off the fake swing screen to Hill is the swing screen to West. Potential Hall of Fame linebacker NaVorro Bowman thinks so too. Nope. The Chiefs broke logic with this Y-Middle Screen. pic.twitter.com/QaVOhSTCu0— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 12, 2017
The imagination to be able to utilize this particular motion with Tyreek Hill is in and of itself impressive. Watch how it affects the safeties. Teams have been rolling safeties when Hill crosses the formation to get defenders moving downhill for edge runs to him. The Raiders were no different, with the safety seeing the initial motion as a threat. Hill uses his quickness to quickly pivot into the backfield briefly, only to run a swing route to the same side he started. It looks like a swing screen to Hill off a unique motion which is a logical play concept. Only it’s a fake.
Tight view is just as fun. Any time you can use an agility drill for a motion, you've got to. Also, Travis Kelce is special. pic.twitter.com/JXJvFOyFgh— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) December 12, 2017
An entirely logical progression to the fake swing screen to Hill would be a swing screen to Charcandrick West, running the same route to the opposite side. It’s been used before. All these defenders have seen it before. But this is what has been so fun about the Chiefs offense the last two weeks: they’re bypassing the next logical progression of a play development. They’re playing off sound, principled defense and skipping a step at times to generate big plays.
No one is thinking Y-Middle screen. The blockers don’t look like a middle screen. No one would blame the Raiders for flowing to the sidelines in fear of Hill and West. NaVorro Bowman may be a Hall of Famer someday and he’s even flowing towards West. The defense is accounting for both legitimate progressions to the play that would get the ball in the hands of two players capable of doing damage in space. The Chiefs skipped them both, and parted the sea for one of the best tight ends in football in doing so.
Instincts of defenders rarely get them thinking about a third option. If it’s play action, defenders immediately scramble to pass coverage responsibilities once they see it’s not a run play. If you see a fake swing screen and a second swing to the opposite side, your instincts are usually right.
I continue to use the word chaos in this series. When the Chiefs are right, they’re operating in chaos and using it to their advantage. However, it can only be created when other things are working. The usage of more RPOs has been an important solution. Success with packaged plays forces teams to focus and be more disciplined on what can wind up being just a simple zone run play. Even the most basic things now have to be paid attention to.
You can only prepare for so much. The most demoralizing thing for a defense is to play it right and still be beat. Nagy has put the Chiefs in position to comfortably be able to get to more fun, creative and lucrative options off their plays.
Not that Andy Reid hasn’t played an integral role, but the intentionality to add more for a defense to think about has put the Chiefs in more control on offense. They may have used a couple good bullets the last two weeks, but they needed to. They were desperate for a win.
I trust that the Chiefs can continue to build off the success and the details they’re forcing teams to pay attention to. The same way simple things were giving the Chiefs problems in that rough stretch, a different set of simple things has helped them get back on track. The offensive momentum is real, and could yield success these last three regular season games and beyond.