clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kansas City Chiefs defensive trends and tabulation for Week 13

The Chiefs saved one of their worst defensive performances for this week against the Raiders

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

That performance was uglier than Oakland Alameda Coliseum.

The Kansas City Chiefs defense laid a stinker this week against the Oakland Raiders offense. They forced three turnovers, which ended up being very impactful to the outcome of the game — but allowed an awful Raiders offense to move the ball at will and put 33 points on the board.

It was sloppy. It was lackadaisical. It was all around poor.

This week — as I do every week — I’ll break down the numbers from Sunday’s game. We’ll hit the highlights, find where the Chiefs won, lost and bucked trends, and then we’ll move on to some clips of their good, bad and under-the-radar plays.

The numbers

Quarter/Down/Distance - Week 13

- 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 Avg Week 13 Success
- 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 Avg Week 13 Success
Q1 5.48 53.03% 4.41 58.82%
Q2 6.19 49.23% 5.53 46.67%
Q2-Under 2:00 6.18 55.00% 0.00 75.00%
Q3 6.47 52.30% 8.88 56.25%
Q4 5.70 54.75% 6.82 36.36%
Q4-Under 2:00 6.44 55.56% 6.29 42.86%
1st Down 6.51 51.48% 6.11 57.14%
2nd Down 5.74 50.58% 5.91 47.83%
3rd Down 4.60 60.96% 8.33 25.00%
4th Down 6.14 38.10% N/A N/A
Yds remain 0-3 4.41 36.44% 4.64 27.27%
Yds remain 4-6 5.37 47.75% 6.22 44.44%
Yds remain 7-10 6.42 53.70% 6.56 53.49%
Yds remain 11+ 5.65 77.03% 8.71 57.14%

A week after touting the Chiefs defense trending upward in their late-game play, they laid an egg this week. A 36 percent success rate in the fourth quarter when they needed to kill the game off? That’s not good. What’s worse than that was the Chiefs third-down success rate this week — only able to get off the field on 25 percent of the third downs they saw.

Short and medium yardage continues to be a problem, and that aligns with the “eye test” of the Chiefs run defense and short passing defense. The Chiefs were better than their season average on first downs for the year, and they came out of the gates well in the first quarter again this week.

Defensive Formation - Week 13

- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 % Week 13 YPP Week 13 Success
- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 % Week 13 YPP Week 13 Success
1-4 0.91% 8.75 62.50% 0.00% N/A N/A
2-3 15.60% 4.94 58.39% 15.07% 5.27 50.00%
2-4 53.64% 5.71 50.11% 56.16% 7.12 47.50%
3-3 6.26% 4.29 47.27% 12.33% 3.00 62.50%
3-4 21.41% 6.53 41.49% 12.33% 7.89 44.44%
4-3 1.03% 0.11 66.67% 2.74% 0.50 50.00%
4-4 0.91% 0.38 50.00% 1.37% 1.00 0.00%

Another week, another poor performance out of the Chiefs two-down linemen, four-linebacker nickel defense, and an even worse one out of the Chiefs’ “base” 3-4 defense. Over two-thirds of the game, the Chiefs defense lined up in a formation that averaged over 7.1 yards per play and found defensive success on less than half of the snaps it saw. While these numbers could be characteristic of a bend-but-don’t-break defense, the 100 percent red zone touchdown conversion rate tells a different story.

For the second game in a row, the Chiefs implemented a bit more of their three down lineman, three linebacker nickel defense with it faring well above their season average. The 2-3 Dime defense continues to be the highest performing formation that the Chiefs run on a regular basis.

Rush Numbers - Week 13

- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 % Week 13 YPP Week 13 Success
- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 % Week 13 YPP Week 13 Success
Rush 3 11.71% 5.36 51.43% 2.27% 0.00 100.00%
Rush 4 73.41% 6.26 51.48% 79.55% 7.86 45.45%
Rush 5-6 14.72% 4.72 54.55% 18.18% 0.38 71.43%

A bit of a surprise this week with Sutton blitzing more than he traditionally has against Derek Carr. He’s found success in the past by rushing three and not rushing five or more against Carr — not blitzing at all in the Chiefs second meeting with the Raiders in 2017 in a great performance. He found a lot of success by sending extra rushers this week, holding the Raiders to 0.38 yards per play and a 71.4 percent success rate.

Conversely, the four-man rush that had been so dominant for the past few games struggled to bring consistent pressure against the Raiders’ quick passing game. Carr got the ball out in 2.1 seconds on average against the Chiefs four-man rush, leaving little time for Dee Ford and Chris Jones to get home as often as they have recently.

The Chiefs rushed three only once, on a second-and-6 in the red zone that resulted in an incompletion. They also only dropped an outside linebacker 13.6 percent of the snaps that the Raiders threw the ball.

Coverages - Week 13

- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 % Week 13 YPP Week 13 Success
- 2018 % 2018 Avg 2018 Success Week 13 % Week 13 YPP Week 13 Success
Man 54.35% 5.72 51.38% 45.45% 6.20 50.00%
Zone 45.15% 6.19 52.96% 54.55% 6.42 45.83%

The Chiefs really mixed and (pattern)matched their coverages this week. Their Cover 3 shells, including pattern matching variants, squeaked out their Cover 1 shells for the most run coverage of the week. Coupled with the amount of Cover 2 that the Chiefs ran this week, the defense was in zone coverage more than man.

Their Cover 2 defense was the worst performing of their regular shells — coming at a 37.5 percent success rate. Cover 1 was the highest performing at 53.3 percent success rate. When in man, the Chiefs secondary pressed 50.6 percent of the time, playing off-man more than usual to react downhill and try to stop the Raiders short passing game.

Something good

Chris Jones may not have had his best performance of the year, but he still showed high effort and flashed throughout the game. While most may remember his sack — bending the edge well on a stunt with Ford — this run stuff showcases his powerful arm over, a go-to move for him.

The left guard is blocking down, but Jones’ first step is able to get across the face of the lineman and club with his inside arm in one motion. Shifting his weight to the inside foot and bringing the outside arm over the top of the guard, he’s able to knife through the gap laterally as his club knocks the lineman’s balance forward. After he’s through the line, he’s able to make a strong lateral step to stay with the running back’s cut, and Jones is able to drag the back down by the feet.

While this arm over can expose a defensive lineman to more losses due to poor leverage, Jones’ speed makes it difficult for offensive linemen to react quickly enough to exploit it. Coupled with a strong bull rush, Jones does a good job mixing in the arm over to keep linemen off-balance in their sets.

Something bad

This is a play that stuck out in most people’s minds this week, as Eric Murray was unceremoniously relegated to the dime safety after this play. However, there’s much more wrong with this play than just Murray’s terrible play.

Bob Sutton has committed eight to the box with the Raiders in 21 personnel. The Raiders run outside zone, and Murray crashes hard into the backfield, unblocked. However, he doesn’t play contain — forcing the running back to cut back into the teeth of the defense — and he doesn’t attack the back at the mesh point. He doesn’t try to attack the fullback, allowing another blocker in space, and he gives up the edge for the running back to work into space. It’s a terrible diagnosis of the play by Murray.

Looking at the Chiefs linebackers, Justin Houston gets completely blown out of the play by a single blocker. He doesn’t really fight to get through and shows poor effort to get off the block — a problem with Houston throughout the day. Houston getting driven backward pushes him all the way to the second level, where a hesitant Reggie Ragland is forced to work around the backside of Houston’s block. That leaves an easy chip from the fullback to prevent any angle that Ragland might have had to the ball.

Meanwhile, Ron Parker gets eight yards of depth after starting 15 yards deep. He identifies the run and takes a horribly shallow angle while trying to squeeze the sidelines 18 yards behind the line of scrimmage. As the run approaches, he continues to retreat, allowing another 10 yards on the play while trying to bring the back-down.

This play could have been blown up by Murray in the backfield, and he gets deserved criticism for the poor play here. But this run is a failure at every level of the defense.

Sutton’s schemes were far from blameless this week as well. I highlighted Jared Cook in scoring position last week when in my Advanced Scouting article, and the Raiders dialed up a great play to stress the safeties and try to get a good matchup for him here.

The Chiefs are in a Tampa 2 coverage shell, while the Raiders broke from the huddle and lined up in a 3x2 empty formation. They run five verticals out of this formation, focusing on attacking the Chiefs’ split-safety look. Oakland was certainly trying to prey off of some blown coverages that have come in the red zone from the Chiefs defense in their Cover 2 looks throughout the year.

As the verticals break, Anthony Hitchens must “run the pole” to get depth on his zone drop. Cook sells a dig route underneath, Hitchens bites on the route, and Cook is able to find the space over the top of the linebacker and between the two safeties for a score.

It’s a well-designed play, for sure. However, my greater question is why Sutton is implementing Hitchens as a Tampa 2 linebacker in the first place. That’s typically the spot for a smaller linebacker with range to get that depth easily and react quickly — made somewhat famous by Derrick Brooks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Anyone who has watched the Chiefs this season knows that Hitchens has struggled with range, change of direction and reading route distributions. Putting him in this situation forces a player to implement some of the worst parts of his skill set.

It’s not just this week that the Chiefs have run Tampa 2 coverages. It happens often enough to have a sample size on the range and ability of the Chiefs linebackers. Quite simply, Sutton should know better than to square peg a linebacker with Hitchens skill set into the round hole of a Tampa 2 coverage.

I’ve talked about it at length this season, but the lack of switching from the Chiefs coverage defenders is a real head-scratcher. With as often as the Chiefs run man coverage schemes, opposing offenses are going to run pick plays and rubs to get players open in the middle of the field.

On this play, the Raiders are in their 11 personnel and a 3x1 alignment. Kendall Fuller is lined up opposite the slot wide receiver, and Dorian O’Daniel opposite the tight end with the Chiefs in a Cover 2 man shell. The Raiders run a slant/flat route combination with the two receivers, and due to both Fuller and O’Daniel lining up even in their depth, they collide, creating a pick that frees the slot receiver for 18 yards on a third-and-13.

Neither Fuller nor O’Daniel communicated a banjo/switch, something that likely would have mitigated the yardage on this play with both defenders in closer proximity to a potential receiver than Fuller was to the slot receiver. This is a taught behavior — and it’s something that the Chiefs implemented regularly last year. While implementing a banjo call might put a “worse” coverage defender on a better receiver, situations like this third-and-13 are a perfect time to lean on it — maybe only allowing six or seven yards, instead of 18.

Mitigating yardage on this play forces a fourth down and a punt or a long field goal. Instead, the drive continued and a touchdown was scored right before the half. Better situational implementation of concepts that used to be a staple of Sutton’s cornerbacks could result in a few more stops a game.

Something you may have missed

With so much in the “bad” section, I figured we’d end on a lighthearted note.

Dee Ford has an explosive first step. This has always been the case. However, this play showcases his lateral agility and explosiveness so much that he ended up flipping himself upside down.

The Raiders right tackle tries to cut block Ford on this quick screen, and Ford is able to jump inside of the block, leaving the tackle with nothing but air in front of him. However, Ford’s lateral explosion sends him into the right guard, which takes his legs out from under him and goes flying on this play.

He’s got so much lateral momentum that he can flip himself ass over teakettle just by running into the guard. That’s fairly impressive.

The bottom line

The Chiefs were overall pretty sloppy this week. I think most can agree with that. There were far too many blown coverages, missed tackles and lack of effort out of the majority of the defense.

This defense looked like it had reverted to Week 1 again.

Coming off the bye against a bad offense should have resulted in a much better team performance by the defense — especially considering the strides they had made up to and through the Los Angeles Rams game.

Oakland turned the ball over three times on three running back fumbles. That ended up being the difference in the game for the Chiefs last week. They definitely should be praised for that opportunistic nature, as that’s how they’ve seen their resurgence as of late.

However, I think many would have liked to see the defense put the clamps on a bad opponent, much like they did to the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks back. Locking down a bad offense is what a good defense should do, and it feels like there might be some regression here.

What I’m hoping comes of this loss is some accountability. I know that Sutton is awful with that — terrible inside linebacker and safety play has haunted this team while players slowly get mixed in or don’t get mixed in at all. Murray was benched for poor play this week, but for Dan Sorensen, who is struggling as well. We got glimpses of Jordan Lucas for a couple of weeks, and now he can’t find the field outside of special teams.

If Sutton and the coaching staff aren’t able to hold the type of accountability that the defense needs, hopefully, someone in the locker room can.

And hopefully, that somebody is running out of that tunnel this Sunday. This team needs him now more than ever.

NEW: Join Arrowhead Pride Premier

If you love Arrowhead Pride, you won’t want to miss Pete Sweeney in your inbox each week as he delivers deep analysis and insights on the Chiefs' path to the Super Bowl.