So how did the Kansas City Chiefs REALLY play against the San Diego Chargers?
Every week we like to take a hard look at the previous game by going inside the numbers with our friends at Pro Football Focus. PFF grades every player on every play of every game. You can read about the PFF grading system here.
Now, let’s go inside the numbers and find out the real story of who played well on Sunday.
Matt Cassel: +3.1
While Cassel graded fairly well in this particular game, his actual PFF QB rating is 30th out of 31.PFF takes into account yards through the air, dropped passes, removes yards after catch, spikes and things like that. It is like a better version of the traditional QB rating. Cassel is ahead of only Kerry Collins and sits behind McNabb.
Dwayne Bowe: +2.0
Dexter McCluster: +2.1
Another solid day for Bowe and McCluster. Breaston received a +0.8.
That is pretty much it for the good. The bad comes along the offensive line, particularly in the run blocking department. Let’s take a look. These are the overall grades on the line.
Branden Albert: -2.0
Casey Wiegmann: -3.7 (oof)
Lenny Pope: -3.5
These three had the worst overall grades. The other lineman averaged out decent grades by doing well in one particular area. Still, nearly all the Chiefs’ lineman received poor run blocking grades.
Gaither: -1.1 (played only eight snaps)
This is just bad news for the Chiefs. The run blocking is bad and so are the running backs. Part of the problem is that this line is built to zone block. They are supposed to be athletic and light so they can block for speedsters like Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster. Their job isn’t really to overpower the defense but to move swiftly to create a crease for runners with superior vision and speed.
That is why it is no surprise that Dexter McCluster is the only back that is having any success. Thomas Jones is too old and slow to run outside the tackles or to get through creases. McClain is a big lumbering FB and Jackie Battle is nearly big enough to play FB. Jones, McClain and Battle needs a big, strong line that is going to open up big holes for them to run through.
Unfortunately, unless the Chiefs get some backs that better fit their system, their running game is likely going to continue to struggle. They might be able to open up some holes with some creative runs and blocking schemes but not on a consistent basis. It isn’t that the linemen are bad, they are just blocking for the wrong backs.
The only good along the line came in the pass blocking department. Jon Asamoah +1.2 and Barry Richardson +1.3 both graded well.
The overall team grades:
Pass Blocking: +0.3
Run Blocking: -12.1 (sheesh!)
The Chiefs gave up one sack, two QB hits and four pressures.
Talking about the D is tough because the Chiefs use soooo many players and sub-packages that it is just a lot of data to try to explain to you. I’ll do my best but will primarily focus on telling you who played really well and very poorly.
Not surprisingly, the defense graded out pretty well over all. There were trouble spots of course (looking at you Shabby) but this game was a nice improvement.
Jovan Belcher: +1.3
Brandon Flowers: +1.5
Tyson Jackson: +2.3
Kelly Gregg: +1.4
That is it for your rock starts. It is not surprising that Gregg playing well meant that Belcher and DJ also had good games. The ILB’s in the 3-4 need solid line play to operate.
Now for the bad.
Amon Gordon: -1.9
Gordon actually started the game at NT over Gregg, however he only played 17 snaps compared to Gregg’s 27. The Chiefs seem to be high on Gordon and focused on keeping Gregg’s snap count under control. Gregg has played 27, 28 and 27 snaps in each game respectively. I think this is smart because Gregg is a veteran but he’s older than dirt. The fresher he is the more effective he is likely to be.
Gordon struggled a bit this week but he graded well last week playing 28 snaps. I am really high on this guy and I think he has a ton of potential. I am glad the Chiefs are giving him a chance to play. Keep an eye on big #99.
Justin Houston: -2.0
Houston is struggling against the run. He split time evenly with Cameron Sheffield, both playing 36 snaps. We know this kid has a ton of potential, he just isn’t making an impact yet. He is at a -5.1 for the season. Ouch.
Jon McGraw: -1.5
McGraw. I’d be harder on him if the alternative wasn’t Shabby Piscitelli. Quick Draw is actually pretty good against the run but he can’t cover to save his life. Of his total -1.5 grade, -1.4 came in coverage.
And the star of the defense:
Shabby Piscitelli: -3.7
Unlike McGraw, Shabby is terrible both against the run AND the pass. Seriously, Clark Hunt should consider firing Scott Pioli just for the simple fact that he brought this guy in, and he should fire Haley for not only keeping him on the team but actually PLAYING him.
Shabby played 34 snaps. 34!
I know Eric Berry got hurt and all but not having anyone else on the roster that can play safety was flat out negligent by Pioli. I could go on but this post is long enough.
Most of the rest of the defense graded out average or slightly above. The run defense was pretty good. Glenn Dorsey +1.4 and Tyson Jackson +1.9 did a nice job.
Tin Man (Jackson, for the uninitiated) actually had a decent game. He had three tackles and a batted pass. All three of his tackles were “stops” or a play that constituted an offensive failure. He even generated a little pass rush, grading at +0.2. Tin Man actually has a +2.6 for the season. His run defense looks to be much improved. Let’s hope the improvement continues. If he could get up to at least Dorsey’s level, I’d be thrilled. He would still be way overpaid but at least he wouldn’t be an overpaid liability.
Overall the pass rush was terrible. The team graded -1.1 over all. Tamba Hali is having a rough year, mainly because teams are double teaming the crap out of him. He has a sack in this game, but he isn’t generating the ludicrous number of pressures we are used to thanks to the double teams. In fact, he recorded no pressures in this game.
There does appear to be some good news though. Cameron Sheffield appears to be the guy ready to take advantage of the Hali double teams. While he recorded no sacks, Sheffield had four QB pressures and graded out +1.4 in pass rushing.
Sheffield, like Houston, is struggling against the run. He graded at a -1.6 in that department. Still, his pass rush seems to be improving every game. He has two pressures against the Lions and four against the Chargers. If he continues to improve, he could wrestle more playing time away from Houston. He is definitely a player to keep your eye on this week.
The Chiefs used a lot of defensive backs against the Chargers. Kendrick Lewis had an slightly better than average day and played 71 snaps at free safety. Also playing free safety for 52 snaps was Donald Washington. Washington was inactive a couple of weeks ago. He actually didn’t play terrible, grading at -0.1. He missed a tackle of course, but missing tackles is what Donald Washington does.
Still, D-Wash played a hell of a lot better than McGraw and Shabby and that might have made the difference for the Chiefs.
Allen Bailey played 27 snaps at RDE, splitting time with Dorsey. He was used mostly on passing downs to try to generate pressure, probably since Dorsey can’t. Unfortunately, neither can Bailey, though he did bat down a pass. Sweet.
Gilberry was in for 27 snaps. 22 of them were passes. He got one sack and no pressures.
Arenas played only 28 snaps. He graded out at +0.7.
The Chiefs missed only six tackles last week after missing 19 over the course of the first two games. Two missed tackles went to McGraw, one to Shabby, one to Washington, one to Arenas and one each to D.J. and Houston.