Even though the Kansas City Chiefs currently sit at 3-0 and on top of the AFC West, they are not a perfect team. There’s a lot of room for improvement, which is great news for a group that’s already getting excellent results. The Chiefs can benefit by learning from their Thursday night victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, and making adjustments that will only make the team better.
The best part is, they have time to do so. What’s great about a Thursday night victory is that the following week gives you extra days to prepare. Below are the top three things the Chiefs can take away from Thursday night’s game, and focus on improving as they prepare to face the New York Giants at Arrowhead next Sunday.
Reduce the penalties
The Chiefs committed 9 penalties on Thursday, costing them 65 yards. The most frustrating calls in football are the correctible ones, especially pure mental errors.
Here are the penalties from Thursday, the offending players, and how Kansas City will correct them:
- Illegal Formation – Branden Albert (twice), Donnie Avery
Illegal Formation penalties are the worst, because they are due to a lack of focus. Albert and Avery are both veteran players and should know how to line up. I expect this to be addressed, and would be willing to put money on zero Illegal Formation calls next Sunday.
- False Start – Branden Albert
Another focus penalty. Though these calls happen and are a part of the game, you have to know the snap count. This is another penalty that I expect Albert to avoid in Week 4.
- Delay of Game – Alex Smith
This was a strange one last night. There was a lot of confusion on the field, and things like this happen, but it’s also avoidable. Look for Andy Reid to get his calls in on time next week, and avoid unnecessary penalties like this.
- Facemask – Dunta Robinson
I never saw this penalty, and they didn’t show a replay. In the heat of the moment, a facemask sometimes gets grabbed. It happens. We’ll let this one slide.
- Illegal Contact – Eric Berry
This was a bogus call. Berry was simply run into by the Eagle’s receiver.
- Holding – Eric Fisher (twice), Jon Asamoah
All three of these calls happened in the 3rd quarter, and it was that very same quarter when the offensive line looked out-matched for a stretch. I attribute this to Reid temporarily abandoning the run game. At that time, the Eagles were thinking one thing: pass. Because of this, Fisher and Asamoah started to hold. These holds accounted for 30 of the Chiefs’ 65 yards of penalties. We’ll talk more about running the ball in the next two points, but I ‘ll say this: the holding calls will decrease, if defenses respect the run.
As you can see, a majority of these penalties are avoidable, and I expect them to be addressed by Andy Reid and his coaches this week.
Protect Alex Smith
Chiefs Kingdom was buzzing after Thursday night, with most fans drooling over the defense. After all, 6 sacks in a game is incredibly impressive, right?
It is. That’s why it’s a tad disconcerting that the Eagles sacked Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith 5 times.
Smith is pretty shifty in the pocket and is great at pulling the ball down and taking off. He’s also showing that he’d prefer to take a sack than throw a stupid pass. This is going to result in a few more sacks this year, and is something we’ll have accept with Smith at QB. What we shouldn’t accept is an offense that doesn’t run to at least keep a defense honest.
I know, I’m beating a dead horse here. But if the Chiefs intend on letting the Giant’s defensive line (one that’s much better than Philadelphia’s) attack Smith without respecting the run game, it’s going to be a long afternoon for the Chief’s line.
Can they keep Smith upright? Yes. However, I expect to see more max protection next week, and an added focus on the run game.
Run the ball, and run it downhill
Don’t get me wrong; Jamaal Charles had a great game on Thursday night. I love the way he’s being used, and think it’s incredibly effective. However when the Chiefs run the ball, the plays seem to be slow to develop and almost lateral in nature. Sure, Charles can beat most defenders to the edge, but we’ve also seen him excel on quick-hitting runs between the tackles. He hits the whole so fast, and so hard that it catches defenses off-guard and really let’s the offensive line attack, instead of react. By throwing in a few quick hitting, “downhill” running plays, the Chiefs can do the following:
- Keep the Giant’s defenders on their heels
- Keep the Giant’s defenders off of Alex Smith
- Keep the Chief’s line from holding
That’s my take on what the Chiefs can learn from their Thursday night victory over the Eagles. Share your thoughts in the comments below!