On this week’s game preview edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we talked about three points on offense — and three on defense — to watch as the Chiefs try to avoid a colossal upset against the New York Jets.
Here are the storylines on both sides of the ball:
The Le’Veon Bell Revenge Game
Not only is Le’Veon Bell getting a chance to chase a ring, but he also has the opportunity to play well against the destitute team that he just moved on from. The former Jet in a Chiefs uniform was very good running the ball in the first look against the Broncos; the passing game had some hiccups that will be fixed over time. It could be resolved as soon as this week — and it’s a good chance for Bell to shoulder a heavy workload and exact revenge against his former employer.
Explosive pass plays
The Chiefs’ offense has looked a little different this season — teams have sold out to eliminate explosive pass plays as much as they can. The opposition continues to do a good job of forcing the Chiefs to run the ball and take easy plays underneath in the pass game. This could be a good week to try and aggressively establish the fun with some downfield passing.
Fixing pass protection
There were shots down the field that were missed last week because protection for Patrick Mahomes didn’t hold up long enough for him to take a shot. Mecole Hardman — for instance — ran a great double move that allowed him to run uncapped down the sideline but didn’t get the ball due to pressure. Gregg Williams’ defense will likely try to dial up some pressures to heat up Mahomes — something teams have largely avoided, but Williams won’t be able to help himself. When the Jets don’t try to manufacture pressure, Quinnen Williams is an absolute problem in the middle. Nick Allegretti will get some chances to prove himself along the interior.
There are ailments racking up for the Jets — and they’ll enter Arrowhead beat up. Whether they can play or not, players like Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman, George Fant, Mekhi Becton, Frank Gore and Sam Darnold are all being treated for injuries and have had their practice time affected. This is an injury-riddled unit that the Chiefs could potentially tee off on — and fix some things in a game setting.
Linebackers against the run
There have been positive signs for players like Anthony Hitchens and Willie Gay against the run and pass. The flashes are there, but the consistency is yet to materialize. In a season that’s building toward the defense of a world championship, games like this week against the Jets are opportunities to grow. The Chiefs need consistency in the run game from their linebackers — from both a processing and execution standpoint. This week gives them a chance to show growth.
Pass rush production
The pass rush has been a little up and down over the course of the first seven games of the season. The most consistent players have been Chris Jones and Frank Clark, but the remainder of the defensive line group has struggled on a game-to-game basis. Steve Spagnuolo has countered inconsistent disruption from his pass rush by manufacturing pressure — benefactors of this include players like Charvarius Ward, who recorded a sack last week. This is a beat up and already poor offensive line. The Chiefs should be able to get home. Hopefully, the secondary players can step up and disrupt.
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