No team needed a win more, SOMETHING positive to build upon going further into the 2014 regular season, than the Kansas City Chiefs. With early injuries ravaging a young roster in the process of a new regime’s turnover, their best player being one of those nursing an injury, and going into Sunday’s action 0-2 in a division featuring the likes of future H.O.F.’er Peyton Manning and currently popular early season MVP-pick Philip Rivers. With 2 games against Denver, 2 against San Diego, and unfavorable upcoming match-ups versus New England, San Francisco, Seattle, Arizona, and Pittsburgh the Chiefs couldn’t afford to fall to 0-3…an impossible hole to overcome.
Kansas City played two very good quarters against Miami between the 2nd quarter and 4th.
After the first few offensive drives I feared, along with many, that the offensive line would be such an Achilles heel (No pun intended Derrick Johnson & Mike DeVito) that success would be futile. With Jamaal Charles being inactive head coach Andy Reid put the ball in 2nd year RB Knile Davis’ hands, 32 times to be exact. The defense, particularly the secondary and pass-rush, stepped up when needed…despite still having forced ZERO turnovers through three games in ’14. Veteran RB Joe McKnight was one of the surprises of the day, stepping in for 6 receptions for 64 yards and 2 TDs in the absence of All-World RB Jamaal Charles. At the end of the day the Chiefs looked more aware of their weaknesses and how to make up for them, particularly on offense, sealing their 1st win of 2014.
- On obvious passing downs K.C. O-line is huge liability to team at this point. Will look better once RT Donald Stephenson returns from his 4 game PED suspension after Week 4. Until then, can’t rely on extra TE/swing tackles to shore things up every play without creativity.
- Speaking of creative blocking, at one point on 4th & 1 Andy Reid called a play with OG Jeff Linkenbach starting off in the backfield lined up as a lead-blocker and FB Anthony Sherman lined up beside the RT. Alex Smith motioned Linkenbach to lining up the left of Eric Fisher and Sherman to the backfield to lead block for Knile Davis, who successfully converted the 1st down. Well executed.
- Travis Kelce is slowly earning more snaps in the Chief’s offense, forcing the team to run 2 tight-end sets 65% of the time. If Kelce continues to make plays like he has and remain hungry, he will be Kansas City’s featured TE over Anthony Fasano sooner rather than later. His development is KEY to Alex Smith’s success, as we all know Alex Smith LOVES throwing to the tight end, especially an athletic one. If you doubt me, research Smith’s passing tendencies during his career with Vernon Davis.
- In the 1st half alone Kansas City had 7 plays of 10+ yards.
- K.C. carried their success on 3rd down over from the Denver game, going 9/16 or 56% converted on 3rd.
- On the play where Alex Smith was sacked in our endzone for a Miami safety he had Travis Kelce wide open in the middle of the field on a drag route for a nice gain and a 1st down. Smith took too long to pull the trigger, resulting in the safety. This and Smith’s fumble were his only terrible plays, playing a very efficient game besides.
- In the 3rd quarter the Chiefs offense was stagnant, very few plus plays. At the beginning
of the 4th quarter Travis Kelce had a big 3rd & 8 conversion to get the wheels, and momentum, rolling again. Kelce too big for corners to cover and too fast for linebackers. Mismatch.
- Joe McKnight played the role I originally envisioned for former Chief, Dexter McCluster. McKnight led the team in receptions (6), yards (64), and TD’s (2). McKnight let Reid’s system do it’s thing and made big plays when the opportunities were there. Good coaching to ride his hot hand and keep giving him touches.
- Joe McKnight has played in 40 professional football games in his career before Sunday, with zero TDs. He scored two in his first real action with Kansas City.
- A big point of emphasis going forward will be limiting the sacks that Alex Smith has to take. He was sacked 5 times against Miami, all but a few being no fault but the O-line’s.
- At one point, about 6.5 mins left in the 2nd quarter, 346-pound NT Dontari Poe fully extended his entire body to bat down a Ryan Tannehill pass at the line of scrimmage. Despite his enormous stature he remains one of their elite athletes.
- Dee Ford had a great pressure in the 2nd quarter against his fellow rookie, RT La’Wuan James. Ford’s pressure caused Tannehill to throw an incomplete pass into the dirt.
- Beginning to wonder when we’ll see 3rd round pick CB Phillip Gaines on defense on a regular basis. Gaines’ 4.3 speed would add another wrinkle to this defense. Considered a raw prospect coming out, he might need more time perfecting the trade in practice.
- Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey played admirably in the sweltering Miami heat. The pair
recorded 5 stops, 5 total pressures and 2 batted down passes. Poe had 1.5 sacks on the day. Before realizing these things I was clamoring for offseason free agent signee, DT/DE Vance Walker, to receive more playing time after seeing VERY limited snaps despite his price-tag. Now I won’t second-guess Sutton on it, so long as Walker and Poe perform like this.
- The day’s dominance by the Poe and Bailey duo allowed K.C. defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to play only 2 down linemen quite a big throughout the contest with much success.
- CB Sean Smith had his best game as a Chief thus far on Sunday, facing his former team. Vengeance must have been on his mind as he kept Mike Wallace in check.
- Dee Ford effectively ended the game on Miami’s last possession and 4th down. Ford has flashed much potential when he has been on the field, the problem seems to be with getting him on it.
- Tamba Hali had a sack and a forced fumbled that Miami recovered.
- Justin Houston also chipped in a sack.
Special Teams Run-Down:
- This was a rare bad day for a Dave Toub-coached special teams unit, although it wasn’t
ALL bad there were numerous times where questionable returns started the offense out in unmanageable situations. Starting behind the 5 yard line is a joke.
- Joe McKnight had a good day on special teams as well, running decisively.
- Phillip Gaines made a touchdown-saving tackle on a Jarvis Landry return. Without his blazing speed Landry would have gone all the way. Gaines also later made another spectacular play, hitting his 5th gear sprinting all out during a Miami punt return. He weaved past the blocker and stuck the return man (Landry) a moment after he caught the ball. It was a hard enough hit that I held my breath, hoping the ball would come loose.
- Punter Dustin Colquitt’s first few punts were things of beauty. He is an undervalued asset to this team and it’s hopes for making the playoffs for a consecutive season.