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Kansas City Chiefs’ trends to watch from the Patriots game

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I don’t know if it was because of my excitement level for the first game or what, but I decided to be Arrowhead Pride’s Quality Control coach for the first game of the season.

What is a Quality Control coach, you ask? They’re the low person on the totem pole (much like this new guy here at AP) who handles the tedious responsibility of breaking down opponent film as well as from the team’s games. They chart things like formation, shifts, motion, coverage, fronts, blitzes, plays and play results, among other things.

Cult legend Jim Bob Cooter once handled that responsibility for the Chiefs. Jon Gruden was one of the first QC coaches ever. A lot of head coaches have come from the position, and tout its importance for growth as a coach due to the immersion it requires.

I charted every Chiefs offensive play from Thursday night’s win over the Patriots. Two of the All-22 plays weren’t working for whatever reason. That said here are some of the takeaways.

The first 15 plays

  • The Chiefs rolled out a lot of different personnel groups early. The first 10 plays alone the Chiefs came out in 11, 12, 13, 21 and 01 personnel groups. (The first number is number of running backs, the second is number of tight ends. Add in five linemen and a quarterback and you can figure out how many receivers.) As you can see, a diverse group of skill players early.
  • The Chiefs sent six different players in motion in the first 15 plays. Those players would be Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, De’Anthony Thomas, Charcandick West and Anthony Sherman.
  • The Chiefs spent a lot of time in condensed formations early, where the receivers splits are reduced. This trend carried throughout the game.

Patriots defense

  • This number doesn’t sound real, but it’s true: The Patriots spent 49 plays in dime personnel. Likely due to the worry about the speed the Chiefs possess on the offensive side of the football. That means the 3 DL and 2 LBs group was utilized 74 percent of the snaps. This included a few and goal situations as well as three snaps where the Chiefs were in 13 personnel. Some of the success of the offensive line could be as a result of the light personnel groups the Patriots employed.
  • When they were in dime personnel, at least four of them would line up on the line of scrimmage most of the time. Sometimes all five would be a the line of scrimmage, leaving only safeties to play at linebacker depth and beyond.
  • An additional note on the offensive line, they only had to deal with six blitzes the entire game. The Patriots were content to send only three or four most of the game.
  • The most heavily utilized coverage was some variation of cover 3, which they used on 23 snaps. The second most used was Man Free, or cover 1 at 18 snaps. That means that the Patriots kept a safety in the middle of the field 62 percent of the time.
  • The Patriots lined up with their base personnel on seven plays. The Chiefs ran it all seven times and averaged 12.85 yards per carry with a TD against it.

Chiefs notes

  • The most common group of skill players utilized was Chris Conley, Travis Kelce, Albert Wilson, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt.
  • The Chiefs running backs had free releases the majority of the game. They had very little do in the pass game the entire day. It’s hard to tell if the majority of them were five man protections or if the back simply didn’t have any work and were able to leave the backfield freely.
  • All four of the Chiefs’ touchdown passes came against different coverages.
  • The Chiefs most used formation was the condensed formation below (Note: The outside receivers would line up even tighter here and there, but I classified all of them with the same formation):
  • They ran the ball 10 of 12 plays in this formation. The only two passes were shovel passes. Look for this tendency to be broken as soon as next week.
  • All but four of the Chiefs run plays came out of condensed formations.
  • Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill were the most motioned players.
  • The Chiefs were 4/11 on third down. They spent most of their time in 3 x 1 formations on third down.
  • There weren’t a ton of doubled up pass plays, beyond the H-Post which I wrote about for the first ever edition of 45 Seconds. They did run some variations of crossers, slant-flat, curl-flat and curl post concepts.
  • The Chiefs receivers worked a couple double moves in the game, including Tyreek Hill’s TD catch.