Tall Task Ahead For Chiefs Secondary

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If the Kansas City Chiefs are going to defeat the Tennessee Titans this Sunday to move to 10-5 on the season, it will be their secondary that decides things.

Wait. What?

The Chiefs are playing the Titans and Chris Johnson the best second best back in the NFL. It is going to be a running game, right? Charles vs. Johnson. Whoever wins at the line of scrimmage wins the game. A ground and pound showdown!

That is what you would think, right? Even Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher thinks so.

“This game is going to probably, for the most part, amount to a 9-on-7 at noon on Sunday,” Fisher told reporters this week. “I think that both teams understand that the team that is able to run the football is probably going to win the football game.”

Give me a break. Thanks for the coach-speak Jeff. The team that wins this game is going to be the one that can defend the pass and get pressure on the QB.

I’ll explain, after the jump.

Have you ever noticed that epic showdowns in the NFL often don’t go as planned? A Patriots, Colts shootout ends up being a 10-7, grind it out game. A Steelers, Ravens defensive clash ends 34-31 with neither team punting.

If being a lifetime NFL fan has taught me anything it is to expect the unexpected. It has also taught me that teams will often do the opposite of what you expect.

When the Chiefs came out last week to take on the Rams, how many of you would have bet me that the first offensive play from scrimmage was going to be a run?

Here was Matt Cassel, in his first game back after having an organ removed, taking the first offensive snap. Wouldn’t the smart money be for him to hand it off? Let him shake off the nerves, get back in the groove?
Perhaps, though I doubt it would have worked. The Rams were likely expecting a run as well.

Instead of being predictable, the Chiefs came out throwing, trusting their QB to handle his nerves, his pain and to find his rhythm quickly. KC’s first 3 plays were passes and while they only went for 9 yards, the Chiefs send a message to the Rams that they had better back off the line of scrimmage because the passing game was a threat.

So if Jeff Fisher is coming out this week and saying that he expects a running battle then I expect the Titans to come out throwing.Thus the pressure is going to shift to the Kansas City secondary.

What will make this game interesting is that both teams will still likely come out on defense with formations designed to stop the run. Both Charles and Johnson are far to dangerous to ignore. That means both QB’s should see a lot of single coverage and the secondary that is able to stick to their man is going to come out on top.

The Chiefs haven’t been as good against the run recently but I think that has more to do with their game planning style more than a sudden drop off in talent. KC is a game planning team. The coaches could care less what their NFL ranking is in a certain category as long as they accomplish their goal and win the game.

For the most part this season, when the Chiefs have been pretty successful in their game planning, especially against teams that are very good running the football but not as great at throwing it.

The Chiefs shut down the Browns and Jerome Harrison who torched them a year before. They shut down Frank Gore the next week. They shut down Maurice Jones-Drew. They held the NFL rushing leader Arian Foster to 71 yards on 18 carries or a 3.9 yards per carry average.

They even held Darren McFadden in check in the loss in Oakland. McFadden was on fire entering the game against the Chiefs and while he had a productive day with 17 carries for 89 yards and 4 catches for 25 yards he didn’t score a touchdown. In fact, 34 of McFadden’s 89 yards on the ground came on one big run. While yards are yards, big runs are not something that the Chiefs give up very often this year. Take away that one scamper and KC held McFadden to 55 yards on 16 carries or 3.4 yards per carry.

The Chiefs lost to the Texans and the Raiders because their secondary let them down. Jacoby Ford and Andre Johnson lit up the Chiefs defensive backfield and helped pull their teams ahead.

I’m not worried about KC’s ability to stop Chris Johnson. I think if that is what Romeo wants to do, the Chiefs defenders will be up to the task.

What I am worried about is their ability to stop the Titans passing attack if they sell out to contain Johnson.

Lastly, the Chiefs had better beware of Randy Moss. He may look washed up but he is still dangerous and if he gets behind the defense, Kerry Collins is more than capable of hitting him or a big score.

It is time for the Chiefs secondary to erase their mistakes from the past. I feel sure they will get their chance this weekend.

No matter what Jeff Fisher says.

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Tags: Chris Johnson Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs

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