Film Study: A deep dive of the Kansas City offensive weapons
17 September 2017 Eagles News
To compliment Kelly’s excellent article, in which she closely analyzes the Kansas City Chiefs defense, I’ll focus on providing some analysis of the Kansas City Chiefs offensive weapons. Let’s take a look at how Kansas City did on offense in week 1 versus the Patriots, and what we can expect to see in week 2.
The Chiefs starters come into the game completely healthy and are all expected to be on the field versus the Eagles on Sunday. Reserve LG Parker Ehinger is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game, after logging three straight limited practices during the week.
The Kansas City offensive line dominated the Patriots front 7 from the very beginning of the game, providing a consistently clean pocket for QB Alex Smith, and wide rushing lanes for RB Kareem Hunt. The Eagles defensive line will have their hands full, specifically RE Brandon Graham, and DT Fletcher Cox. The right side of the Chiefs offensive line is their strength, and they will test that area of the field often.
On this run, Kansas City overloads the strong side of the formation, with the offensive line all pulling to the right on the snap. Hunt follows the line, and quickly identifies the hole created by the seal block from the left guard Bryan Witzmann and the kick out block from center Mitch Morse.
This run highlights arguably the best player on the KC offensive line, center Mitch Morse. Morse gets two blocks here, the first he knocks over the defensive tackle, then Morse readjusts and picks up the pursuing middle linebacker. Not too many players can make a play like this, let alone a center. Morse could potentially make it very difficult for DTs Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan to be their usually disruptive selves.
The Chiefs use TE Travis Kelce very creatively, working to get the ball into his hands a lot of different ways. Week 1 Kelce struggled to really get anything going as a receiver, but he had quite a few nice blocks during the game. LB Jordan Hicks and S Malcolm Jenkins will need to keep an eye on Kelce at all times, ensuring he doesn’t get open looks down the seam.
This play is possible because of the incredible cut block by TE Travis Kelce. Kelce pulls out in front of RB Kareem Hunt and gets the key block to spring Hunt for the long gain. Kelce is definitely a strong blocker, and has the ability to win one on one versus safeties and corner backs.
Here Kelce ends up switching positions with QB Alex Smith and taking the snap as a Wildcat QB. This is not out of the ordinary for Kelce, and he looks the part as he fakes the pitch to WR Tyreek Hill and takes the carry for a short gain.
Kelce runs a drag route versus the Pats defense, and pulls in the reception before getting low bridged by Pats S Devin McCourty. Kelce brought in 5 receptions for 40 yards in week 1, but Kelce was very clearly the player the Pats defense game planned to take out of the offense.
Andy Reid historically likes to ride with one primary ball carrier (when talent permits), and this season appears to be no different. Reid leaned on rookie RB Kareem Hunt all afternoon versus the Pats, despite an early game fumble. Hunt made the best of his 22 touches, totaling 246 total yards and 3 TDs. The Eagles LBs and safeties will likely be tasked with stopping Hunt on Sunday.
This run epitomizes why I believe Kareem Hunt will be a very good back in the NFL, and why he’s the key to the Chiefs offense. Hunt uses his vision, agility, and elusiveness to peel back across the line of scrimmage, then uses a stiff arm to keep the defensive tackle at bay. He finishes the run by leaping over the corner and taking the linebacker on a ride for a few yards. This play was all Hunt.
One big reason that Hunt thrives in this Kansas City offense is because of his duality as a runner and pass catcher. He may not be elite in either category, but he’s very good at both, and very dangerous. Here Reid dials up a quick dump off pass to Hunt in the red zone and Hunt punches it in for an easy TD. Hunt had 5 receptions versus the Patriots.
Hunt uses his speed and tackle breaking ability to take this toss from QB Alex Smith and score his third TD of the game. After watching the Chiefs vs Pats game, it’s clear that the team trusts Hunt to be an every down contributor. The Eagles defense will need to key in on Hunt and prevent him from grinding out over 100 total yards on the ground and through the air.
WR Tyreek Hill is the Chiefs X-factor on offense, and like Hunt and Kelce, his ability to do multiple things makes him tough to stop. After losing CB Ronald Darby week 1, the Eagles turned to journeyman CB Patrick Robinson, and Robinson played well. Robinson will start again week 2, and will team up with fellow CB Jalen Mills to slow down Hill consistently on the outside. Hill will also see coverage from the Eagles LBs and safeties when he lines up in the slot or backfield.
Here’s an example of the Chiefs using Hill as a conventional receiver. They line him up in a bunch formation to the right, and Hill hesitates his route and runs the drag route for a first down. The Chiefs offense utilizes the drag route often, as do most West Coast Offenses.
Hill runs an angle route lined up in the back field, and picks up an easy first down for the Chiefs. This is the same play that Eagles LB Nigel Bradham got burned on, giving up a long TD to Washington RB Chris Thompson.
Andy Reid does a great job of game planning Hill open in a variety of ways, making sure his explosive play maker gets consistent touches. Hill gets a carry lined up as a traditional RB, and takes it for a short gain. This is all a part of Reid’s long term plan, as he forces defenses to account for Hill all over the field.
Special Teams is where Hill is most lethal, but thankfully that’s an Eagles strength due to ST coach Dave Fipp. This is a short return, but it illustrates Hill’s short area explosion and elusiveness.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith needs to get credit for an almost flawless execution of Reid’s game plan. Smith didn’t just check down to his backs and tight ends, but continued to take shots down field like he did during the preseason. Smith will test Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson often, while also finding Hunt and Kelce. The defensive line is the key against Alex Smith, because when you pressure him he becomes erratic.
Alex Smith delivers a straight dime to Kareem Hunt on the wheel route, and Hunt splits the linebacker and defensive back to take the reception to the house. Smith has a completely clean pocket, which was a consistent theme in the Pats game. If the Eagles want to win, they’ll need to pressure Smith and move him off his spots.
This is masterfully done by Alex Smith, though most folks will only see a “busted” play. Smith uses his eyes to move the safety away from the deep middle, and snaps his head back around to identify Hill running wide open. Smith unleashes a dart that hits Hill in stride for an easy TD. The Chiefs offensive line once again provide a clean pocket for Smith.
Alex Smith keeps opposing defenses honest by using his legs if/when necessary, and here uses the option to continue feeding Kareem Hunt. Smith is also more than capable of keeping the pitch and taking the run for a decent gain.
This is an illustration of the fact that Alex Smith is still Alex Smith, and is capable of making almost incomprehensible missteps at times. Here he just stumbles over himself in the pocket and takes a sack when he easily could’ve thrown the ball away. This is the key to stopping the Chiefs offense, as Smith can make or break the momentum of his team.
Let’s be clear, the week one victory for Kansas City was not a fluke. From an offensive standpoint, Andy Reid created a multifaceted game plan that QB Alex Smith executed expertly. There are arguments to be made about the overall legitimacy of the Patriots defense, but the Chiefs are a dynamic offense, and that can’t be taken away from them.
With that said, history still suggests that this Chiefs team will struggle if pressured to make the short plays continously to move the chains. Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt provide the offense big play ability, along with WRs De’Anthony Thomas and Chris Conley. When the Chiefs are forced to put together long drives to score, it exposes the inabilities of Alex Smith.
The Eagles pass rush, along with their consistent linebacker play, should make it a lot harder for Smith and company to operate unimpeded. The clean pocket that Alex Smith had in week 1 made it easy for him to make his reads and hit his pass catchers on time.
To win this game, the Eagles defense will need to limit Kareem Hunt in the running game, play physically with Hill in the passing game, and pressure Alex Smith often. These are not far fetched goals, as the Eagles have the players and defensive system to slow down and even stop Kansas City.