Over the course of last season many criticized the Kansas City Chiefs for forcing a 3-4 scheme on a defense that was comprised of personnel ideal for the 4-3.
However, in an ironic twist of fate, the Chiefs showed some offensive potential by utilizing the unique talents of their skill position players and the big men up front.
In an earlier article, the potential of the dual halfback backfield was elaborated upon, and the Chiefs are now using the triumvirate of capable runners in dynamic ways.
The strength of Kansas City’s offense was epitomized on a single play. With last year’s star Jamaal Charles and shifty rookie Dexter McCluster lined up together in the backfield, quarterback Matt Cassel took a snap in the shotgun. Jamaal Charles, with pulling linemen ahead of him went out on a screen pass drawing the defense with him. Cassel quickly turned back to the other side of the field and found McCluster in open space.
The designed play displays how the team will exploit matchup problems with their athleticism. The respect demanded of Charles, McCluster, and incoming veteran Thomas Jones in the backfield as runners and receivers will open up the passing game on the outside.
Kansas City is also capitalizing on the individual strengths of their linemen. Many have questioned Branden Albert’s skills as a starting left tackle, but his speed and nimble feet make him a nightmare for defenses when he gets on the move.
Albert was blowing up would-be tacklers down field, helping runs extend for bigger gains.
Effective downfield blocking is key for runs of 20 or more yards. Kansas City head coach Todd Haley was applauded for instilling the need to block into his receiving corps in Arizona, but in Kansas City, the offensive linemen are pulling and blocking downfield as well.
Also, expect second year free agent out of Mississippi State, Lance Long, to be a stronger asset to the passing game than incoming free agent Jerheme Urban. Long is not an every down receiver but shows the ability to get open on short and intermediate routes.
Even though the Chiefs only surrendered two sacks in their last game, their pass protection will be in question all season.
It appears offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is compensating for Kansas City’s pass blocking woes by providing Cassel with a multitude on check downs.
Kansas City will pick their spots and take shots downfield with wide receiver Chris Chambers, and will look to former first round draft pick, receiver Dwayne Bowe on the fade inside the redzone.