The Kansas City Chiefs head into their Week 8 game against the Cleveland Browns with their unblemished, league-best 7-0 record on the line. The Chiefs have blended an efficient offense with one of the league's top defenses and look to try to continue those winning ways.
The Browns present a bit of a different challenge for the Chiefs.
While the Texans were a good defensive team, they were pretty banged up. The Browns are a good defensive team and healthy. Unlike the Texans, their struggles have been in production, not turnovers.
The Browns will be starting Jason Campbell, their third quarterback this season. Cleveland has been successful in spots in the passing game, but has struggled mightily trying to run the ball. They traded away former first-round running back Trent Richardson and benched quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Weeden had ceded the quarterback job to Brian Hoyer, who briefly was a catalyst for the team, before being injured and lost for the year.
Stopping the Browns offense really hinges on stopping two players, wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron.
The Chiefs will want to employ press-man technique and make sure they are able to generate pressure in getting after the quarterback. I've outlined such a play in the diagram below.
This particular defense is executed out of a base 3-4 defense but can be run from a nickel package as well. It is designed to bump the tight end off his route and overload the strong side with edge pressure.
Pre-snap the safeties move to give a one-high look. This is noted by the red lines.
At the snap of the ball, the defensive backs will press their assigned men. The defensive line attacks its assigned gaps, while the left outside linebacker reads the running back. If the running back goes out on a route, he covers him in man; if the running back stays back to block, the linebacker blitzes the quarterback.
On the strong side of the play, the right outside linebacker and right inside linebacker attempt to rush the quarterback from the edge. The right outside linebacker bumps the tight end on his way to the quarterback in an attempt to knock him off his route.
The left inside linebacker picks up the tight end after he's bumped and covers him in man. The free safety, meanwhile, plays zone in a high cover one and picks up the slack if any of the receivers get free deep.
Who is Cleveland's bigger threat?
This play is designed to get quick pressure on the quarterback and force him to take a sack, throw it away or check down to the running back. If executed properly, no receivers will be open, and the pressure will get to the quarterback from the strong side before he's finished his second read.
The main vulnerability lies in the coverage of the running back.
On the weak side, the play is susceptible to a running back screen. Ideally, the play is run on first down to put the offense behind the down-and-distance markers, when the running back screen is seldom called.
Quarterback Jason Campbell is likely to have some rust, not having started in some time, and it will be important for the Chiefs to dial up the pressure on him early and not let him get into a rhythm. Keep Cleveland behind the chains, and the Chiefs will secure their eighth victory in a row to keep their record unblemished.