The Kansas City Chiefs’ 48-9 victory looked a lot different on the scoreboard than most of their games have in the six-game win streak. They’ve only put up more than 22 points one other time — the Raiders. They are absolutely aiding the Chiefs with their inability to adjust their defense to the way the rest of the league has.
The Chiefs have faced 2-high safeties less than 40% of the time in only 2 games this season.— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) December 13, 2021
Week 10 vs. Raiders (28%)
Week 14 vs. Raiders (24%)
The Chiefs scored 41 points in Week 10 and 48 in Week 14, compared to 23.8 per game in their other 11 games.
However, that doesn’t take away from how well-executed the Chiefs’ offensive game plan was in Week 14. I’m not talking about creative play designs, nor various screen passes or reverse pitches.
I’m referring to the Chiefs running their staple run and pass concepts — and executing them much more than they have over the last month. One of the most fundamental ways they improved was catching the ball.
Per PFF— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) December 14, 2021
No drops for any #Chiefs pass catcher on Sunday, the 1st time that’s happened since Week 1
The team had 4 in each of the previous two games
The Chiefs still had four offensive penalties that threatened to kill drives — but it didn’t, because the offense executed on the following plays to move the sticks and eventually score touchdowns.
I looked at those kinds of plays that led the Chiefs’ offense to four consecutive touchdown drives, rather than a turnover on one and a field goal or two on another.
To set that up, I wanted to show how the only stalled drive of the Chiefs’ first half failed: a simple lack of execution.
The only time the O was stopped: the first drive. No fancy opening script. Just didn't execute.— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) December 14, 2021
Two basic zone runs, then Andy trusted Pat and Trav to hook up on a basic in-breaker at the sticks on 3rd down
Pressure prevents ball getting out on time when 87 broke open pic.twitter.com/Us89FcLW1l
To start the game, the Chiefs ran two familiar inside run plays, neither gaining more than two yards. On the ensuing third down, the play call trusted quarterback Patrick Mahomes to hit tight end Travis Kelce out of his break over the middle; his depth was just past the first-down marker.
It’s an easy completion as Kelce creates the necessary separation — if there is no pressure; a semi-collapsed pocket forces Mahomes off of his timing, and a late throw gets knocked away.
A completion here and this drive may look like any other of the opening-drive touchdowns that the Chiefs have scored in the win streak. That’s because it isn’t any different: for the most part, the opening scripts have just been the Chiefs timing up when to run their usual stuff, rather than a symphony of creative plays and formations.
The rest of the Raiders game proved the decision to operate that way correct — at least for this week.
On the Chiefs’ second possession, the highlight came when Mahomes and wide receiver Mecole Hardman made a heads-up play to take advantage of a defender falling in coverage; the play resulted in 44 yards. Following that play, they got into third-and-3 quickly.
1 word to describe the offense v. LV: execution— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) December 14, 2021
This staple pass play to beat man is timed up perfect; Kelce rubs LB covering RB, the throw hits Darrel in stride, and he makes sure to get in the EZ
Kelce should sell his route harder IMO, but doesn't initiate enough for flag pic.twitter.com/I3F2ftlDH7
To convert the short-yard situation, the Chiefs use a staple play in head coach Andy Reid’s playbook to specifically defeat man coverage; Travis Kelce’s motion confirms the defense’s intentions for man.
At the snap, Kelce directs his route path towards the linebacker that is assigned to cover running back Darrel Williams. You can call it a pick or a rub — but either way, it works to perfection; Mahomes times and places his throw perfectly, allowing Williams not to break stride as he outruns defenders to the end zone. To cap it off, Williams made sure he didn’t get knocked out one of two yards away.
The simple play looks easy, but there have been instances this season where Mahomes has opted to throw another route on the play — even as the rub is executed for the back to be open. It’s good to see him staying within the offense and trusting the play.
Another basic pass concept to move the sticks is well executed, well-timed pass— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) December 14, 2021
3rd&8: Tyreek presses both CB & S deep in their quarters coverage, then stops to find a window for Mahomes to find him
The depth of his route gives Mahomes a big window to look at above the hook LB pic.twitter.com/XcTpiPZTLu
On the Chiefs’ next drive, they find themselves in third-and-8 deep in their own territory. Yet again, the offense uses a basic concept to get a completion: a deep-stop route for wide receiver Tyreek Hill — whose speed allows him to create incredible separation.
The Raiders are in quarters coverage, meaning the cornerback and the safety on Hill’s side have deep responsibilities. With Hill appearing to work his way through them, they turn their hips to bail and catch up with Hill’s speed — but just in that instance, he turns around towards the quarterback.
A well-timed throw makes this an easy completion; it’s also worth noting the depth of Hill’s route. It allows a huge window between Hill and the underneath linebacker in coverage for Mahomes to throw into.
Another kind of execution here from 15— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) December 14, 2021
Routes initially covered well, 15 stays patient, feels the open area to get to to start scramble drill
As he gets his eyes up, he sees the LB initially covering Pringle come off to defend him. Easy completion
S/O Trey Smith pic.twitter.com/l3LCZA41FZ
On a second down just a few snaps later, Mahomes isn’t able to execute the design of the play — but he perfectly performs the scramble drill.
Off of play-action, Mahomes’ initial reads don’t appear to be open as he sits in the pocket. Once he realizes that’s the case, he moves towards the open space in the pocket — scrambling out up above the edge defender rather than behind and around him.
Once he settles into that flat area, he recognizes that the linebacker initially covering wide receiver Byron Pringle has fallen off to defend Mahomes himself. That makes for an easy 28-yard completion to set up another touchdown.
It wasn't just the pass game executing! This might be the best run of CEH's season— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) December 14, 2021
He stays balanced on contact from Crosby's penetration, gets square, ID's clogged run lanes, continues working parallel -- until he sees daylight, then quickly gets vertical for TD pic.twitter.com/sveeXog0qm
To finish off the first-half blowout, the run game has a successful scoring play — most of the execution coming from running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
His balance, vision, patience and ability to cut vertical and run through arm tackles were all on display here; this might’ve been the back’s best rush of the season.
The bottom line
The Chiefs’ scoring output against the Raiders was not some masterful game plan, some beautifully-designed script of plays that led to wide-open run lanes or ballcarriers with more running space. No.
Similar to other recent victories, this win was highlighted by defensive domination and the offense doing just enough — except this time, the offense doing just enough resulted in touchdowns drives.
It’s funny what more accurate passes, better hands and generally better fundamental play can turn into when you have the offensive talent the Chiefs have.