Giants vs. Chiefs: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Kansas City
The Kansas City Chiefs dispatched the New York Giants in convincing fashion on Sunday. The Chiefs, winners of their first four on the season, knocked off the Giants 31-7 in a game that wasn't even close. Kansas City dominated throughout and—save for one busted coverage—would have blanked New York on the scoreboard.
Though each team turned the ball over three times, the Giants were unable to capitalize on the turnovers, going 1-of-13 on third down and losing the time-of-possession battle by over 10 minutes.
Without further ado, here are the positional grades for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith had arguably his best game as a Chief. Smith threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns. While his completion percentage was a rather middling 58.5 percent and he did throw two interceptions, the box score belies his performance. Both interceptions were the result of tipped and dropped balls by his receivers, who dropped many other catchable balls on the day.
Smith also chipped in 37 yards rushing on seven carries. While this may seem a modest total, Smith's early runs helped to keep the Giants from pinning their ears back, which bought Smith extra time down the line.
The Chiefs have been running Smith early in games all season, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's by design given the struggles in pass protection by the offensive line.
It was a tough day between the tackles for Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles. He finished with 65 yards on 18 carries for a rather pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry, struggling to gain much traction outside of a 24-yard run.
Through the air, however, Charles was more effective. He finished the day with 62 yards on five receptions and was Alex Smith's favorite target with 11 looks his way.
Given the way the Chiefs use the short pass to supplement the run, it's more important to view Charles' entire body of work rather than simply his yards on the ground. That said, the Chiefs will need to learn to get those tough yards, or they may find themselves struggling to salt leads away down the stretch.
Chiefs third-string tight end Sean McGrath is rapidly becoming a fan favorite in Kansas City for his hard-nosed blue-collar attitude and ability to pick up the "dirty yards" when the Chiefs need them. McGrath had his second solid game in two weeks, catching all five targets thrown his way for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Receivers Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster, largely silent against the Philadelphia Eagles while fellow receiver Donnie Avery had a career day, saw their contributions reversed. Bowe and McCluster combined for nine receptions, 106 yards and a touchdown between them on 12 targets.
Avery, coming off a career game against the Eagles a week ago, struggled with drops and finished with only two reception for 23 yards, though he was targeted 10 times.
It's good to see different receivers stepping up week to week for the Chiefs, but some consistency might be nice for the Kansas City receiving corps going forward.
The offensive line played a much-improved game for the Chiefs in Week 4, even with an injury to starting right tackle and top overall draft pick Eric Fisher.
Kansas City had been plagued by sacks in earlier games this year but found itself surrendering only one against the Giants. Of particular note was the fact that the Chiefs didn't need to hold tight end Sean McGrath back from running routes and keep him in as additional pass-blocking help.
The line was hardly flawless, though. Kansas City struggled to get push in the run game despite a heavier-than-usual commitment to it.
The Chiefs also had yet another special teams opportunity spoiled when the Giants blocked a punt in the first quarter. The struggles in special teams production have moved past nuisance and are now bordering on embarrassing. Kansas City needs to rectify this issue immediately. It can't afford to give away free points when playing a style of football that is predicated on the field-position game.
Center Rodney Hudson also caused a Kansas City turnover when he snapped the ball, thinking Alex Smith was under center when he was in reality back in the shotgun.
Kansas City's defensive line has been a prominent factor in the team's early success this year. The Chiefs' ability to penetrate gaps and push the pocket has kept opponents on their heels and allowed the linebacking corps to get to the quarterback a league-leading 18 times.
While the defensive line was not as effective as expected, given the missing starters all along the Giants' offensive line, it was able to free linebacker Tamba Hali up for two sacks and had one of its own, Allen Bailey, pick up a sack.
The defensive line struggled in run contain at times against the Giants; however, New York was unable to exploit that further due to its scoring deficit.
Though NFL leading sack machine Justin Houston was held mostly silent on the day, his counterpart, Tamba Hali, reaped the benefit, picking up a pair of sacks on the day. The Chiefs' linebacking corps continues to be the bulwark of the Kansas City defense and the team as a whole.
When not picking up quarterback sacks, Hali, Houston, Derrick Johnson and Akeem Ayers were all over the field, pressuring the quarterback and shutting down the run. With Kansas City traveling to Nashville to take on a surprisingly stout Tennessee Titans team in Week 5, the Chiefs will need the linebackers in top form to contain Chris Johnson and Jake Locker.
The Kansas City Chiefs were concerned about their secondary going into the Week 4 matchup with the New York Giants. Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers was ruled out with an injury, and his replacement, Dunta Robinson, hasn't been known for his man-coverage skills on the outside.
Robinson wound up surrendering the Giants' lone touchdown when he was beaten badly by Giants receiver Victor Cruz, but that actually brought about a bright spot for Kansas City. Rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper, a seventh-round selection of the San Francisco 49ers who was later waived, replaced Robinson and was a revelation in coverage the rest of the way.
Cooper provides much-needed depth and gives the team some breathing room given the concerns about the lack of options behind Flowers and Sean Smith.
Safety Eric Berry again found himself around the ball all day. Though he only showed up in the box score with two tackles and two passes defensed, his presence altered throws and looks by Giants QB Eli Manning and kept him off balance all game.