Chiefs vs. Jaguars: Takeaways from Kansas City's 28-2 Win
The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in a lopsided victory Sunday. The Chiefs offense scored three touchdowns, while the defense chipped in one of their own and kept the Jaguars' anemic offense at bay. Kansas City had the game well in hand by halftime, and played most of the second half with and "eat the clock" mentality.
Kansas City's defense was the impetus for victory in this game, harassing Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert at every turn. The Chiefs defense finished the game with six sacks and hit Gabbert nearly every play.
The Chiefs offense played efficiently, if not spectacularly most of the afternoon, converting all three of their red-zone opportunities.
Without further ado, here are my takeways from the game.
Generating a Fearsome Pass Rush
This Chiefs team generates a terrific pass rush. It starts up front with offensive lines trying to keep massive nose tackle Dontari Poe from generating interior pressure and often forces the offense to leave their offensive tackles on an island against linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
As we saw yesterday, this tactic can be wildly successful. The Chiefs generated six sacks and 12 quarterback knockdowns, which means they got to the quarterback nearly every other passing attempt.
As offensive coordinators look at the tape, they'll likely want to set themselves up for two blocking backs in the backfield, allowing one to chip, and then leak out as a checkdown.
The Chiefs struggle a bit covering the slot, if the quarterback got more than three seconds, allowing an 18-yard completion to Jaguars wide receiver Ace Sanders and a 55-yard completion that was called back due to penalty.
Stuffing the Run
The Chiefs did an excellent job shutting down the Jaguars' rushing attack, allowing only 71 yards on Jacksonville's 23 attempts. Jaguars starting running back Maurice Jones-Drew managed only 45 yards all game, with a long run of 10 yards.
The Chiefs accomplished this by getting Jacksonville behind the down-and-distance markers in the passing game and simply doing an effective job filling the gaps. Laterally, the outside linebackers did an excellent job in contain, which was helped by their not having to worry about Blaine Gabbert having mobility.
Up front, Poe crashed down, eating up two blockers, allowing Derrick Johnson to slide into the open gap and shut the run down at the point of attack. Safety Eric Berry was used a few times in this role, as well.
Stopping the Opponent on Third Down
The key to any defense is how effective it is on third down. The Chiefs set a remarkable precedent for the 2013 season, holding Jacksonville to a 5-of-19 day on third down, with all but one of those conversions coming on the final drive of the day.
Kansas City was helped out by Jacksonville's inability to establish the run, which allowed them to pass rush early and often, and kept the Jaguars well behind the down-and-distance markers.
Overall, the Chiefs were pretty tight in pass coverage as well, with little time to throw, and no one open. Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert was unable to convert on third down nearly all game.
The Chiefs did show some small trouble covering the slot, as Jaguars wide receiver Ace Sanders appeared to get free on a few plays, but the pass rush got to Gabbert before he had time to throw in his direction.
Establishing the Run
Kansas City's offense wasn't spectacular, but it certainly was effective Sunday, in large part due to balance.
The Chiefs set the tone early, getting the ball to running back Jamaal Charles early and often. Charles finished the day with 16 carries, but barely played in the second half after sustaining a quad injury when sandwiched between two Jaguars defenders. Charles is expected to be back with no after effects, and the move was labeled as "precautionary."
The Chiefs used several stretch plays to take advantage of Charles' speed, including on his four-yard touchdown run.
Many suspected the pass-happy reputation Andy Reid has garnered would continue, but the Chiefs finished with a 28-of-34 run-to-pass ratio, in what figures to be a largely balanced attack moving forward.
The Passing Attack
Kansas City head coach Andy Reid is a known quarterback guru and disciple of the West Coast offense. The West Coast offensive philosophy builds on short, quick passes that allow the receivers to create after the catch and supplement the run game at times.
Reid also favors "compressed" sets for his offenses to operate out of. This entails having the receivers bunched and closer to the internal formation, rather than out wide all of the time.
The advantage of this is that it puts the receivers in better position to block in the run game. It also allows them to cross off each other from the snap, creating "picks" (like in basketball) which can achieve instant separation for receivers and makes them harder to press at the line of scrimmage.
The Chiefs utilized the concepts Sunday to take advantage of the short game, rarely testing the Jaguars defense with vertical concepts. While this was effective Sunday, it may not be sustainable long-term, if the Chiefs have no threat of a vertical passing attack.
The field position game is probably the least glamorous aspect of football from a fan's perspective, but is vital to winning football games. Simply put, the further your opponent has to go to score each drive, the less likely they are to do so.
The Chiefs special teams units, outside of their first punt attempt, which was blocked for a safety, was wildly effective in pinning the Jaguars deep in their own territory.
So effective were the special teams and defensive units, the Jaguars offense only crossed their own 36-yard line twice in the game, and one of those times was on the last drive of the game, when Kansas City was playing a soft "prevent" defense.
While the offense is still finding itself in the passing game, special teams will need to continue to pin opponents deep, giving the defense the best possible chance to stop opponents' drives. This will allow the offense to remain balanced and keep the defense on its heels.
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