Chiefs vs Rams: Breaking Down Kansas City's 31-17 Loss
It wasn't a good game second preseason game for the Kansas City Chiefs in St. Louis. Thankfully it's just preseason, and the coaches will have the opportunity to correct mistakes. The nature of preseason is that the schemes on both sides of the ball are pretty vanilla, and that certainly was the case for the Chiefs.
Things will get more complicated once the regular season arrives, and each time, the Chiefs will devise a game plan based on their scheme with the intention of stopping their opponent as opposed to the focus now, which is to get a good look at the players to see how they respond in certain situations.
There also were some positives from the game, namely Matt Cassel and Kevin Boss. The Chiefs also showed they could run on the Rams in the red zone. Despite a few positives, the coaching staff should be concerned with how the first-team defense played.
Let's take a look at a few plays from the game to see what the Chiefs are doing right and what they are doing wrong. All my examples are from the first-team offense and defense because those are the guys who will be playing the most and will have the most impact on the games when the regular season arrives.
Rams Personnel: Three WRs, one RB, one TE
Chiefs Personnel: 3-4
The offensive line blocks to the strong side, and both Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher move with the offensive line to the strong side. The only problem is Tyson Jackson falls down, leaving a wide open hole for Steven Jackson.
Once Tyson Jackson falls down, both linebackers are completely out of the play. Steven Jackson sees a lot of green space in front of him, and no linebacker is within five yards.
The secondary did a good job of getting to Steven Jackson in a hurry, but if Austin Pettis blocks Kendrick Lewis instead of falling down here, Steven Jackson might have been off to the races.
Result: 18 yards
Belcher's over-pursuit to the strong side of the play took him out of position, and as a result, there was a huge hole behind Tyson Jackson. Nothing wrong with Belcher stepping play-side, but he needs to be mindful of a cutback run. It also would help if Tyson Jackson did not fall down with almost no contact. It's a good example of how the defensive line and the linebacker have to make a mistake for a running back to be able to get 18 yards running off-guard.
Rams Personnel: Three WRs, one RB, one TE
Chiefs Personnel: Base 3-4
Justin Houston and Tamba Hali rush, leaving the wide receivers in one-on-one coverage on the outside with a single safety over the top. It's man coverage, so Johnson and Belcher will be responsible for the running back and tight end.
The offensive line blocks all five Chiefs without a problem. Steven Jackson, with no one to block, leaks into the flat with Johnson following. Lance Kendricks runs a "sluggo" route.
Belcher plays the first move of the route, and Kendricks easily slips behind him for the catch. Lewis has his feet in quicksand, because he's still near the goal line well after Kendricks catches the ball. It's like Lewis has hardly moved since the start of the play. Lewis has a couple choices here to make the tackle. He can step up, or step to the right if he thinks Kendricks is agile enough to give him the slip.
Result: Lewis does neither, and the big tight end uses a stiff arm and his big frame to plow through Lewis for the touchdown as Belcher trails. Difficult tackle for Lewis to make, but he's rarely going to make the take on a player with 50 pounds on him by playing flat-footed.
Quarterback Recognition and Line Play
Rams Personnel: 4-3 (eight in the box)
Chiefs Personnel: Two WRs, two TEs, one RB
Situation: 3rd-and-3 from the Chiefs 48
Cassel has a called run play to the left with seven blockers against eight defenders. The play can work, but one of his offensive linemen will have to get to a linebacker. The cornerback is playing off coverage, and Cassel easily could throw the slant here for the first down by making a hot read and signaling his wide receiver.
The offensive line has this pretty well-blocked, but one of them is going to have to get to a linebacker, or he's going to, at very least, string out the running back for no gain.
Rodney Hudson has the best chance to get a block on the linebacker to spring Shaun Draughn down the left sideline, even if it isn't Hudson's primary responsibility. The result of the play is a punt, because the Chiefs can't get three yards to extend the drive.
A pretty conservative call and requires an offensive lineman to win two battles for the Chiefs to get a first down. The smarter play would have been to throw a quick slant to the outside receiver, but a play like this is what makes the preseason tough. It could be that the entire play is handled differently in the regular season, but in the preseason they run it as called to see how the offensive linemen perform in this type of situation.
Rams Personnel: 4-3
Chiefs Personnel: Two WRs, two TEs (right), one RB
Situation: 1st-and-goal from the 10
The Chiefs are going to have the two tight ends block the two defensive linemen and hope to open up a hole on the right side. The linemen will try to get to the second level to block the linebackers and potentially get Peyton Hillis in for the touchdown.
Great execution gives Hillis a big hole on the right side and two offensive linemen are out in front. Hillis plows ahead and gets five yards on the play, which is very good considering how condensed the defense is in the red zone. Hills would get four yards on the next play, and then dive into the end zone on third down.
There were some positive things for the Chiefs to take away from this game despite the score, but that doesn't mean there weren't a few areas, particularly on defense, that should be tightened up in the next two weeks.
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