Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid talks with quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Finding The Flaw: Andy Reid’s Strength

AA - Crowd Noise final

Andy Reid is smarter than your average bear. A brief recap is in order:

  • Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the season opener, Reid focused like a laser on the weak offensive front five of the Jaguars, crushing their line, and allowing the Chiefs to hide big portions of the offensive game plan in a blowout. The result? A 28-2, decisive win.

  • Against the Dallas Cowboys, Reid let Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant get his yards but shut down everyone else, relying upon his defense for a 17-16 win against a very good Cowboys team.

  • Against the Philadelphia Eagles — at the time, one of the most hyped, intriguing teams in the NFL — Reid discovered the soft spot in the Eagles defense: the underneath pass, which Donnie Avery capitalized on, and then kept Chip Kelly’s offense off the field with total domination of possession time, resulting in a 26-16 victory.

  • Against the New York Giants last weekend, Reid dialed up defensive pressure against an already suspect Giants offensive line, and softened up the defense with more long pass attempts from quarterback Alex Smith.

In the meantime, he has gotten more out of Dexter McCluster, Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs’ offensive line and the entire special teams squad than any coach in recent memory. Reid has been a game-planning genius.

This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs meet the Tennessee Titans. What makes this game particularly hard to plan for is that the Titans are essentially a mirror image of the Chiefs. The challenge for Andy Reid is, how do you defeat yourself?

To wit: both team are coming off terrible seasons last year but promising starts this year. Both teams have elite tailbacks (although I would take Jamaal Charles over Chris Johnson ten times out of ten). Both teams have superb wide receivers in Dwayne Bowe and the promising Justin Hunter. Both teams, to date, have had great and error-free quarterback performances, using both arms and legs, in Alex Smith and Jake Locker. Both teams have moved to an aggressive, blitzing, press-style defense, led by Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and his counterpart on the Titans, Gregg Williams of bounty-scandal fame. Both teams have great defensive lines and very good offensive lines, with first round picks Eric Fisher for the Chiefs at tackle and Chance Warmack for the Titans at guard. Finally, both teams have absolutely destroyed the turnover differential at +9, two ahead of defensive juggernaut Seattle. Just for kicks, the Titans also have several former Chiefs players – Jackie Battle, Bernard Pollard and Ropati Pitoitua.

So again, how do you defeat yourself? Well, for anyone who has truly looked in the mirror, it’s difficult. It takes brutal honesty. Some imagination. And a bit of risk-taking. This game is going to be difficult. Maybe our most difficult thus far. Even with Locker out, this Titans team is performing in all phases. They are playing as a team, they are young and aggressive, they have talent and they are playing at home. Their recipe for success is the same one Reid has used.

With such an evenly matched set of teams, if I were Andy Reid this week, I would focus on key, individual match-ups that the Chiefs can exploit over and over again.

Thus far, the Titans’ secondary is an area of strength. They rank 15th in the league, giving up just 6.9 yards per attempt (by way of comparison, the Chiefs are first at 5.8 yards per attempt). Titans corner Alterraun Verner is tied for the league-lead in interceptions, with four. While the secondary may seem an odd place to focus, the individual match-ups may prove otherwise.

Verner is clearly the Titan’s top cornerback. He’ll be on Dwayne Bowe. Verner stands 5’10”; Bowe is 6’2”. That leaves 6’0” Jason McCourty on the Chiefs’ second receiver, Donnie Avery. But here’s where Reid can gain the advantage. I think we play the 6’1” Junior Hemingway early and often, forcing McCourty to cover Hemingway and leaving third corner Coty Sensabaugh to cover Avery. This one simple move would leave both Bowe and Hemingway with height advantages and Sensabaugh covering the much faster, and better, Avery. Coupled with the fact that Verner and McCourty are converting to press-style coverage for the first time and Alex Smith has already begun experimenting with longer range passes, the Chiefs’ offense can really take advantage here with fade routes, stop-and-go’s and complicated crossing routes. Additionally, for Addicts who are old enough to remember, we know that a bit of play-action will fool Titans’ safety and former Chief Bernard Pollard.

By playing Hemingway, the Chiefs can create favorable match-ups — particularly for Bowe and Avery — which may be the path to victory on Sunday.

Addicts, Andy Reid has been a master of the game plan. What’s your best strategy for stopping a very good Titans team?!

Tags: Featured Kansas City Chiefs Popular

  • berttheclock

    Excuse me, but, I differ as to your saying the Chiefs have a very good offensive line. Yes, through the efforts of the excellent strength coaches Reid assembled, they have become stronger in the 4th quarters of play, but, their lack of pass blocking and even run blocking in the early parts of the games have caused the Chiefs from not being able to pull away in the 1st halves of play. The O-line is still very much a work in progress without enough solid depth. One fear I have about this upcoming game is the fact the Titans have brought 5 players to pass rush on 45 per cent of their plays. This has been consistent for all four of their games. I really do not want to see another 1st half of Alex Smith having to scramble.

    • freshmeat62

      Ditto! One other statement he made about play action – for play action to work, you have to be able to run the ball! So far the only times they’ve been any good at that, has been in the 4th qtr.

      • sidibeke

        I think as long as we have Charles, D’s have to respect the run. He can bust it any time, and that’s why D’s stack extra defenders, opening up more of the passing game. Just like Tamba make’s Houston better and vice versa, Charles makes AS better, and vice versa.

    • tm1946

      Big worry for me also. They do not seem to be getting that much better from game 1 to 4. Injuries have shown the backups are able to step to at least finish games, that is good.

    • Calchiefsfan

      The O-line has been my major concern for several years now. Against the bigger D-lines the Chiefs have been dominated. I’m hoping that with Alex Smith behind center it will be handled better. His ability to scramble and extend plays is far superior to Cassel plus Smith is able to read defenses and find the open man quickly. That being said, this could be a long day for both quarterbacks. Special teams just might be the difference maker on Sunday.

      • sidibeke

        I agree with you about the past, and the O line needs to get better (false starts, missed assignments, etc.) but we have bigger bodies on the line compared to the Casey W. and Lilja lines that got pushed around by Bal and Seymour, etc.

    • Troy Utt

      Alex Smith week 5 is within a couple-hundred yards of eclipsing his season high average in rushing… I have to beg to differ with “very good offensive line.” Across the board from Albert to Fisher, & all points in between the
      O-line has been our weak link this season. To the point it has caused problems with our QB & passing game… Just as many have pointed out when Smith is scrambling trying to extend the play thats one thing. Appreciated in the fact that you are able to see the desire to win as he forges for yardage, but when caused by repeated lack of protection is another. He must at least have time to set & read in order for the WCO to be successful. I am hopeful that it is a matter of needing time together to make them a cohesieve unit… WAR CHIEFS!!!

      • KCMikeG

        The OL will gel and develop in time. They have had injuries and have not played any serious amount of time together other than Asamoah & Albert. I understand your concern but AS11 has always been the type of QB to get some yards when they are there. He likes running and he runs really smart. Go back and watch him. He gets down. He doesn’t take the big hit for one more yard. He said it in an interview yesterday that when he sees nothing but backs and green he is going to take advantage of that. He is another dimension to our developing offense which the defenses have to account for.

        • Troy Utt

          I personally don’t mind him running, although there is a mild concern when you think about about the concussion issue, I almost cringe everytime I see him get hit. I fully expect the line to gel, I just find myself adjusting my expectations of what I had originally thought to be a strong point? I’ve not yet heard an update on Fishers status for playing this week? But am now relieved knowing we have Stephenson who is capable of stepping in and holding down the fort! I would say this season bodes well for the Chiefs so far on the bargaining table when contract talks come up with Albert… As my oldest son somehow went went foul, & cheers for the Titans I am looking
          forward to enjoying my bowl of chili with the family this weekend as the Chiefs move to
          5-0! WAR CHIEFS!!!

    • KCMikeG

      If they bring 5 we will counter with quick slants and screens to Dex & Charles.

  • Guest

    also Locker is out for a couple of weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be starting.

    • Arrowhead Magic

      That’ll take away any threat of the QB scrambling out of the pocket, which will help our pass rush.

      • berttheclock

        Yeah, interesting reunion. Fitz has had the upper hand in defeating the Chiefs, but, he faced very little pass rush in those wins.

        • KCMikeG

          He has never played a KC defense like this one. Time we get some sweet revenge!

          • sidibeke

            And then take it again against Buf!

  • Arrowhead Magic

    I don’t know who plays center for the Titans off the top of my head but after the big game by Hali and Houston playing the way he is, I’m thinking they’ll end up giving Poe some one on one match-ups against him to try and cover Hali and Houston. Also what’s the story on Flowers? Is he going to be able to play on Sunday?

    • berttheclock

      He is Rob Turner. He came over from the Rams. But, the interesting part was he walked on to the Jets from New Mexico and spent five years with the Jets. So, Sutton should be very familiar with him.

    • sidibeke

      I heard somewhere that the Titans O gets rid of the ball quickly, so if you can get pressure up the middle, that can be a game changer. Hard for the edge guys to get there in time…of course, that’s assuming Fitz has someone open. Love KC’s 2ary…hope Flowers can get back in there.

  • tm1946

    Easy game plan – play it safe. Let A. Smith do what he does best, run as much as you can, hit Avery in crossing patterns, try to get Bowe involved, somehow. TEs will be the difference maker, Tenn defense will likely say if you pass, pass to the no name TEs, Bowe, Avery, Charles, and McC will not get loose .
    Oh, yeah, play defense like you are absolutely nuts and special team, no blocking punts.
    Reid is such a driven HC, I say wait and watch.

  • Chris Tarrants

    First offensive play of the game Smith needs to go bombs away for Avery or Bowe to the tune of about 50 yards deep! They don’t even need to catch it, the message will be sent and Charles should have some running room. Then somebody needs to tell Poe that every time he puts Johnson and Fitz on their rears that he gets a snickers bar

  • Aaron

    I definitely think the O-Line needs to step up this week. I watch the Titans every week here in the ville and we need to control that, we will definitely win this game by moving the ball and time of possession. Watch out for the deep passes to Hunter and Washington will be key for Berry. Berry should welcome fellow UT grad to a big hit to put a little fear in that.

  • micah stephenson

    WtF!!!! He ‘LET” Dez Bryant get his catches. Lol. O k. No comment. Lol

    • KCMikeG

      He meant they could have doubled or even triple teamed him like teams have done to Bowe to take him out of the game. Meanwhile you are gambling every where else on the field. Instead he put his best CB on him and took his lumps but shut down everyone else.

      • berttheclock

        Dez was shut down in the 2nd half. Sutton began to drift a safety over to him. In fact, there were fans of the Cowboys who were furious their OC had stopped trying to get him involved in that 2nd half. OF course, they were, also, furious the OC had gone away from the run game. But, then, aren’t they always furious when the “boys” are losing?

    • Tom Sparks

      Micah, you never cease to amaze me and cause me to have Chronic LOL Syndrome……

      • micah stephenson

        Well I try to do what I can when I can.

        • Tom Sparks

          And I, for one, appreciate your effort, Micah! It is great to be a Chiefs fan at 5-0, no matter who says what! We are ALL still Chiefs Fanatics at ❤️

  • sidibeke

    I totally agree with your assessment of Reid’s game planning. I was thinking earlier today (because I’m an addict) the KC has looked different in each of its games. For instance, Hemmingway didn’t ever really get on the field against NY but had gotten some looks, and even a TD, in the 1st 3. It could be he’s in the doghouse, but my thought was that Reid altered his personnel to match up with his opponent. Could be giving him too much credit, but I don’t think so. Running option with Smith against Jax off the bat, taking deep shots this past week, the crossing routes against Philly…It’s great to see someone actually analyzing the game and planning instead of taking a “this is what we do, and if we can’t do it then we don’t deserve to win” mentality.