The Kansas City Chiefs should be flying pretty high | Forum

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at this point in the season.Coming off the big Sunday Night Football shredding of the Cincinnati Bengals Len Dawson Jersey , they now turn their attention to a rematch with the Denver Broncos. Against the Bengals — like most of the season — the Chiefs offense was clicking on all cylinders, and looked as unstoppable as ever.But so far this season, the defense that gave the Chiefs the most trouble for 60 minutes was the Denver Broncos. Normally a game like this could be considered a trap game — as it comes after two high-profile, primetime football games against playoff-contending teams, but since the Broncos have been the only team to hold the Chiefs under 30 points this season, there should be plenty of motivation for the Chiefs to play well. Having the Broncos come into Arrowhead should spark some energy, but the Chiefs certainly will have to execute at a more consistent level than in their first meeting. While being one of Patrick Mahomes’ more impressive games of the season, the first Chiefs-Broncos game isn’t a recipe for success this time around, as it asked the young quarterback to make one incredible play after another while on the run.So down in The AP Laboratory, I spent some time looking back at the original game plan against Denver, and focusing on what the Broncos were doing to slow down the Chiefs. Basic game planThe plan of attack for this game should be nearly identical to the Chiefs and Broncos first match-up:Use alignment and clutter to generate separation for receiversMove the second level with RPOs or misdirectionAttack favorable matchups —even in tight coverageLet Kareem Hunt eat against “even” boxesRead the full Advanced Scouting Report here.Adjustments that need to be madeIn order for this game plan to work, the Chiefs will have to make some adjustments in either coaching or execution.In the first matchup, the Chiefs’ timing appeared to be substantially affected by the Broncos pass rush. Mahomes was often flushed (or was scrambling) from the pocket as receivers broke open, and the receivers were unable to uncover quickly. There a few big plays in the running game, but there wasn’t a consistent threat to move the sticks on the ground. And until late the in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs consistently struggled to find success with the favorable matchups they were getting. Kareem thriving outside the hashesKareem Hunt had a massive game against the Bengals last week and played very well against the Patriots the week before.A ton of that success on the ground was from outside runs — not just the outside zone runs, but also Bucksweeps, off-tackle power runs, and even pitch plays. Hunt has quickly become one of the top running backs on outside runs — thanks to his quick decision making, silly balance, and great body control to turn the corners and accelerate quickly. In this play — similar to quite a few snaps against the Bengals — Hunt gets out to the edge with two pulling offensive linemen in front of him. One is used to kick out an unblocked edge player, while the other works into the second level. Hunt does a great job working off the inside hip of the kick-out block and then works outside of Kelce’s block.The Chiefs should continue the use of these sweeps and other outside runs, forcing Broncos linebackers to run to the sideline, and Denver’s defensive backs to tackle Hunt in space. Trust the tight end mismatchIn the first meeting, Travis Kelce had a big second half to help the Chiefs come back — but even in the first half, his issues were much more about his execution rather than Denver slowing him down. Kelce should be in line for another big game — like he always has against Denver — as they struggle to find a real solution to slowing him down. Demetrius Harris presents another mismatch opportunity when the Broncos try to slow him down with linebackers. Here — ignoring the false start/not false start slow get-off he had — Harris is matched up with an inferior athlete. Harris takes an inside release and easily works back outside and vertically on the slot fade.While the linebacker has decent position, Harris clearly has a step on him going downfield. This same matchup should be exploited in the next game — and hopefully, Kelce will bring more of his A-game early on. The Chiefs HAVE to generate more separationThis is easy to say, but in the last meeting Derrick Thomas Jersey , Chiefs receivers — outside of Tyreek Hill — did a terrible job of creating their own separation. Losing Sammy Watkins to injury early in the game definitely hurt their cause, as Demarcus Robinson and Chris Conley were blanketed most of the game. Whether via coaching and more man-beating route concepts — or by players simply being better — the Chiefs have to generate more space against the Broncos tight man coverage than they did last time.The Chiefs have used mesh concepts similar to this one, but if their receivers are not winning their single matchups early in the game, they need to dial up their inner Sean McVay and run more of them against Denver. Robert Woods caught about six passes on these short/intermediate crossers and drags from these mesh concepts.If Watkins and Hill aren’t winning, Andy Reid needs to start scheming these easy passes. Heavily rely on slants, drags, and mesh concepts if the receivers are struggling like they did in Week 4 meeting with Denver. Understanding their frontsDenver brought good pressure from the slot in the first game, often aligning two or three players over a tight end — or tightly aligned wide receivers — in an effort to disguise what kind of defense they were playing.In addition, they would crowd the line of scrimmage with multiple linebackers and defensive backs to show pressure from five, six, or seven players, and mix up who was dropping into coverage and who was rushing the passer.It wasn’t extremely complicated, but it was enough confusion that Mahomes’ clock was shorter than normal — and when the first read wasn’t what he expected. it tricked him into scrambling. On more than one occasion, Mahomes left a clean pocket expecting pressure that was shown, but didn’t actually come. Denver also sent the pressure plenty of times, too.At the start of the game, this really threw off the Chiefs’ offensive plan. On this particular play — with Denver running Cover 0 — Hill gets single coverage on a nine route.Against the coverage, it’s certainly a viable option — except the cornerback is playing press-bail technique.As soon as Mahomes sees the cornerback retreat off the snap, he has to come off that read. To the right — the passing strength of the formation — there is a big cushion for all three receivers. As soon as the cornerback bailed on Hill, Mahomes should have come back to the right to look for other options with soft coverage, as they are running in/back breaking routes. The bottom lineAfter seeing how both teams were playing up to that point, most people expected the Chiefs to roll into Denver on Monday Night Football and come away with a big victory.Instead, it turned out to be a nail-biter.This time around, the Broncos and Chiefs are both coming off of impressive performances, and are looking to chain together big wins. If the Chiefs are able to remain healthy through the game, they should have plenty of success — and have no problem going over the 30-point mark. The Chiefs should continue to run an offense heavy on RPOs, forcing the linebackers to stay home, and allowing Kareem Hunt to get out towards the sideline and turn upfield. If Sammy Watkins plays the entire game, it gives the Chiefs a reliable second wide receiver against man coverage — against which pure ability is often needed to break free. If this doesn’t work Joe Montana Color Rush Jersey , Reid should run a lot of mesh concepts that create natural picks.That said, the biggest thing that will help the offense be more productive is Mahomes being comfortable with Denver’s pressure fronts and slot blitzes. Correctly identifying them — and knowing who is the hot receiver — will help.So will recognizing when the pressure drops back, so he will know he can let routes develop. Normally I don’t try to boil these reports down to If Mahomes can be great - because he has been, and that’s not the most exciting read every week.But this is a huge game for him.It’s a defense that has now seen twice. His performance in Denver earlier this year was very, very good, but they forced him into playing the kind of hero ball you don’t want to rely upon for an entire game.As long as he can process the fronts quicker — like he’s done in more recent weeks — this should be another high scoring affair for the Chiefs offense. The Kansas City Chiefs host the Baltimore Ravens at Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday.The Ravens will present a challenge the Chiefs really haven’t yet faced on the way to their 10-2 record: a defense that is strong across the board.So it’s not surprising that during Wednesday’s media sessions with head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, many of the questions they were asked — and the answers they gave — focused more on the upcoming opponent than usual.Here are some of the key takeaways from Wednesday’s media sessions:Reid and Mahomes have a lot of respect for the Ravens defense.Photo by Rob Carr/Getty ImagesThe Ravens defense is led by defensive coordinator Wink Martindale — no, not the TV game-show host — who was the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator in 2010, and served six years as the Ravens linebackers coach before being named defensive coordinator this season.He’s popular among the defensive players — and is a fascinating character, too.“They do a lot of things,” Reid said. “They have been doing that system for a long time, so they are good at it. They are smart players. They added [defensive back] Eric Weddle into the mix, [whom] we [have] seen for a number of years when he was in San Diego. He’s a smart player, and he’s helped in that area. They all play extremely hard. They have a wide variety of pressures they can throw at you. They’re strong up front. They are a deserving number one defense.”Mahomes said the Ravens defense is unique.“Yeah, they have their own scheme,” he explained. “First off, it’s different than most teams — if not all teams — in the league. Then they also have the players that are talented [enough] — as well as smart enough — to run it. It does present a different challenge that you don’t see every single week, but at the same time you’re ready for challenges like that.”Mahomes also said that he’s sure the Ravens — like most defenses the Chiefs have faced this year — will do their best to fool or confuse him.“Every week we get a different coverage or a different unscouted look that defenses don’t usually run,” he said. “I know teams will try to throw whatever they think is the best to stop what we’re doing on the offensive side of the ball. Our job is to adjust — either on the sideline or on the field — and go out there and execute whatever way we can.”While making those kinds of adjustments on the field would be a challenge for any quarterback, when Reid was asked about the thing that has surprised him the most in Mahomes’ development as a first-year starter, his ability to adjust to blitzes would be at the top of the list.“He will have a nice test this week with what they give him,” said Reid. “That is one of the tougher things to do with all the different protections you have. Calculating in that split second, diagnosing it, then making things happen.”Just the same, Reid said that the Chiefs are still going to do Chiefs things against the Ravens defense.“I don’t think it changes what you do,” he said. “You have to be efficient with what you do when you have the opportunity with the ball. That is always our challenge, though. You have to take care of business when you have the opportunities.”“They’re going to come with the physicality,” warned Mahomes. “And they’re coming to get in the playoffs. It’s going to have that playoff atmosphere, and I’m excited to be in Arrowhead and get to play against a good defense like this.”Both Reid and Mahomes also expressed a lot of respect for the Ravens offense — especially Lamar Jackson Dustin Colquitt Jersey , who will likely have his fourth start against the Chiefs on Sunday.Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsThe Ravens offense is led by Marty Mornhinweg, whom Andy Reid knows very well.Mornhinweg served Reid as a senior assistant, assistant head coach and offensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles from 2003 to 2012.He’s in his third season as theRavens OC. “First of all, Marty does a great job with that offense,” said Reid.“Very creative. You know what they have done, because [when] Joe Flacco [was] hurt, then Lamar Jackson [had] an opportunity to play. They are kind of doing the same thing they were doing when they were rotating the two of them; they are just doing more of it. You don’t slight [Jackson] — don’t slight him as a thrower at all. I made that statement to you at the Combine: Give him a shot at quarterback. He is pretty good at that. I will stand by that. He is a unique player.”Jackson — drafted out of Louisville with the 32nd pick of the NFL draft last spring — became the starter when longtime Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was injured in the Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.“He’s as fast as a wide receiver, can run like a running back and can throw like a quarterback,” Reid said of Jackson. “You have to make sure you cover those areas. That’s hard to replicate out at practice, but you do the best you can and go with it. He’s unique. He was the best player in college football. and is doing a great job right now in the National Football League.” The loss to the Steelers was the Ravens’ third in a row. But since Jackson has become the starter, the Ravens have won three straight against the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons.“I saw him out at a camp two offseasons ago,” Mahomes said of Jackson. “He can sling the ball. He can throw it. He has a cannon for an arm. They played the Raiders last week, so I got to watch him play them, and he’s making a ton of plays over there. There rallying behind him as they’ve won these last few games, and I expect him to come out and give the best effort to play against us.”Other notes from the Wednesday media sessionsReid said that “everybody” would be on the practice field Wednesday, and when asked about Eric Berry, gave an unsurprising answer: “Yeah, he will get out there and move around. He is literally day-to-day. He will be in there running around, we will see how he does. No one knows better than the player on how they feel. When you have a guy like that that loves to play, you don’t worry about it. You go off of what he is saying and what the docs, obviously, will say.”Mahomes — who led the Chiefs in rushing against the Raiders on Sunday — was asked if he likes getting yards on the ground:“I don’t necessarily like running. I’m not too fast, but I like scrambling around extending plays. I thought the offensive line was blocking really well and they were putting a lot of guys in coverage, so I just kept extending the play and letting those guys work and get open. Guys were making plays out there when I did.”Mahomes was asked if the cold conditions expected at Arrowhead on Sunday will have an effect on him: “I don’t think it changes at all. Coach Reid has us outside like every single day, so I’ve been prepared. It’s almost a change when we go to these warm weather environments, because we don’t practice in it. It’s awesome to be back in Arrowhead. Hopefully we can stay here for even more than these three games. Our job is to go out there and use that home field advantage to our advantage. and go out there and win these games.”
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