Oct 6, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith (27) and cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) celebrate a win over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. The Chiefs beat the Titans 26-17. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Five Keys to Victory: Chiefs vs. Titans Follow Up


 

Every week, we here at Arrowhead Addict break down the Kansas City Chiefs’ matchup of the week and predict five things the team will have to do in order to win. Once the game is over, we take a look at the Five Keys and see how well the team did. Welcome to Five Keys to Victory Follow Up.

Well, well, well, the Chiefs are 5-0. Who would have thought that possible after last season? It was another hard-fought, gritty win on the road for the Red and Gold, but they were able to pull it out. Let’s see how they did this week. My original post is in normal type and my follow up comments are in bold.

Key #1: It Starts and Ends with Jamaal Charles

Charles has to get the ball 25-30 times a game for the Chiefs to greatly increase their chance of winning. Ideally 15-20 of those should be rushing plays where he can get to the edge in space and then hit the afterburners and the remainder should be passes out of the backfield to take advantage of his versatility. Getting Charles involved early and often is the best way to beat the Titans who tout a defense, although not as tough as the Chiefs, are pretty damn good.

What do you know, the Chiefs listened to me. Charles picked up 108 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown, and added five catches for another 37 yards. This is the recipe for success with this offense. Period, dot, end of story.

Key #1: Achieved

Key #2: Get in the Face of Fitzpatrick

With the Titans starting quarterback Jake Locker watching the game from the sideline, the team turns to back up quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Chiefs fans are all too familiar with “Fitzy” as he’s burned them on more than one occasion. The last time the “not-so epically bearded one” took the field against the Chiefs was in game two of last season. Fitzpatrick and the Bills picked the Chiefs apart and his stat line was 178 yards 2 TDs with the final score 35-17, Buffalo Bills. However, the time before that Fitzpatrick ruined the Chiefs home opener during the dreaded 2011 season. While the game included a cheapshot low hit on Eric Berry by receiver Stevie Johnson that sent Berry to the sidelines for the year, it also included Fitzpatrick and the Bills shredding the Chiefs for 208 yards and 4 TDs through the air. The final score was 41-7 and it was the start of a miserable season. I know this is longer than normal, but there’s a lot of history between this quarterback and the Chiefs. In his last two appearances against them, he’s thrown six TDs and zero INTs. That can’t happen against the Titans. If the Chiefs defense can get in the QB’s face, he will get flustered and throw interceptions. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton has a better track record against Fitzy during his time with the New York Jets. Let’s hope he put an end to this.

Ole’ Fitzy tried to work some of that magic on the Chiefs but the defense held strong. Getting to him three times on the day for sacks and several hurries (especially in the first half) was key to him not being able to get in a rhythm with his receivers. The two touchdowns the Titans scored on were improvised plays that were based more on desperation and luck than any kind of superior play. All in all, I’ll take it.

Key #2: Achieved

Key #3: Third Down Conversions

The Chiefs offense has to convert third downs. Currently the Chiefs are 14th in the league in third down conversion at 38 percent. While that’s not bad, that means that a lot of offense is being left on the field because they’re not able to convert. Though I hold my breath every time Alex Smith takes off, I expect him to do it on more than occasion today to pick up the first down. Chiefs have to make this happen and be closer to the 50 percent mark than the 30.

If there ever was a “but what” this is it. The Chiefs offense was one for 12 on third downs. While they were able to squeak out this win, having an absolutely dismal showing on the third down won’t cut it with other teams. The offense has got to get past that hump and convert on these downs.

Key #3: NOT Achieved

Key #4: Expose the Weaknesses

After the first few weeks of the NFL regular season, teams are starting to get banged up. Thankfully, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has done a fantastic job of bringing in players who, though they aren’t starters, are able to step into that starting role for a short time while their counterparts get healthy. The Titans may not be as lucky. The right side of their offensive line is severely lacking. Between injuries and rookies, it is ripe for Houston, Hali, Poe, Berry and whatever other defender wants to come through to push the pocket back. They Chiefs need to take advantage of those weaknesses.

While it wasn’t an overpowering exposure, I think the Chiefs defense found the soft spots as much as they could. This was much more evident in the running game, where they held the guy who thinks he’s better than Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson (or CJ2K if you’re into overhyped nicknames) to 17 yards of rushing. As a team, the Titans were held to 55 yards by running backs (105 if you count the broken plays Fitzy converted with his legs) and 37 of those 55 were on a single Jackie Battle (glad to see he’s doing well, I always liked him as a Chief) run that was broken lose by a great block. The biggest victory here, though was the goal line stand which has been a strength for the Titans all season (scoring on 100 percent of their previous goal-to-go situations. The Chiefs defense held them out of the end zone from inside the five yard line on four consecutive attempts.

Key #5: Achieved

Key #5: Turn Turnovers into Points

The Chiefs defense (among other things) leads the league in the turnover battle at +9. However, on several of those turnovers, they haven’t converted those opportunities to points and thus has led to close games (and heightened blood pressures) when it was unnecessary. If the defense does the work to take the ball away from Tennessee, the offense needs to put it in the end zone. It’s that simple.

The Chiefs continued their domination of the turnover battle category this week. Though they gave away a rare Alex Smith interception and a rarer Jamaal Charles fumble, they were able to grab a fumble of their own and a pair of interceptions. However, the key here was points off of turnovers, and this week the Chiefs delivered. From the aforementioned turnovers the Chiefs took away from the Titans, they scored 13 points. In case you’re not paying attention, the final score was 26 – 17 Chiefs. That means by winning the turnover battle and scoring points from those turnovers, it won the game for the Chiefs. That fact makes this the absolute, single-most important point for the whole game.

Key #5: Achieved

There you have it, Addicts. The Chiefs hit four of the five marks we set for them and they come away with the win and a still unblemished record. What did I miss? Sound off below. As always, thanks for reading, and GO CHIEFS!!!

 

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • berttheclock

    On that outstanding goal line stand, have you seen such a wild play in recent games as that Bailey batting the pass straight back to Fitz? Watching that play at D’s Bar in Portland, no one knew what had actually happened. So, the defense is in pass rush mode and it suddenly has to turn into a stop the run mode

    However, the one play I have not seen discussed this AM at AA was the controversial UR call against the Titans LB. Even those watching the game at D’s were in disagreement about whether or not that was the right call. Of course, the concensus ended being “Well, it is pay back for the ignorant call against Berry and we’ll take it”. It looked to me as though it was a bang bang play and the league has been telling the refs to try to protect QBs. Whatever, as I was one of those yelling at the refs for that Berry call, glad to see that call go our way.

    • Jason Seibel

      My take on it was “hey, the Chiefs get plent of calls that don’t go their way.” Look at that ridiculous “out of bounds” call on the Bowe catch where he burned the corner and had nothing but green grass in front of him. The one replay they showed, you could see green between Bowe’s foot and the chalk. That was it, they never showed it again. Bad calls happen both ways. To say the game rested on one bad call is silly. If any Titans fan is saying that, then they’re reaching.

      • KCMikeG

        I was furious! The ref that made the call came running up the sideline from about 30 yards into the defensive backfield. NO WAY he could have seen that clearly form that distance. He should have allowed the play to complete and then called it back. Then replay would have provided the right call. AS11 had a foot on the white and was completely off the playing field when struck. He was clearly going out of bounds and the tackler could have very easily pulled up instead he launched himself leading with his head.

        • Danny W

          Agreed that was a touchdown to Bowe and it was blown by that ref. It’s my opinion the guy needs fined for the blown call. Why? Because it could have cost us the game for one, (glad it didn’t) two, every scoring play is reviewed in the NFL no matter what. I try not to use foul language all that much but man I’m telling you on that play I was on fire and didn’t use a non swear word for an entire paragraph. Don’t even get me started on the Eric Berry pass interference call. The refs in general were a joke with many of their calls. Honestly though we do need to be more discipline with our offensive false starts. Not only lineman but veteran wide outs are jumping off. Just ridiculous. We had like fifty yards in false starts!

      • Danny W

        That ref needs to let him score there. I know they get graded for playoff games and bonuses or whatever but every single scoring play is reviewed in the NFL now. He blew a big gain and huge numbers for Bowe in which he deserved. That guy could have very well cost us the game on that play. That ref needs fined five grand in my opinion.

      • d-block

        I think I had steam shooting out of my ears when that official from the bleachers said Bowe went out. Just as bad as the replacement refs.

  • KCMikeG

    I agree on the 3rd down conversion rate but we need to keep in mind that this was a VERY good defense. Best we have played. A major point about our fantastic defense that needs to be mentioned – the Titans only scored 3 points off our 2 turnovers! While our offense got 13 points from 3!
    The goal line stand brought back memories of the 1969 divisional playoff game against the Jets. Willie Lanier was roaming up and down the line yelling to his teammates “They’re not going to score” repeatedly gnashing his teeth with tears running down his face. He became my hero that day and the inspiration for me to play MLB every game of my life. They held the NYJ three plays in a row and the settled for a FG. Yesterday was a four play stand yielding NO POINTS. I believe we all blessed to be fans at the dawn of one of the greatest periods in our history.

  • Darkwolf1414

    I like the “guy who thinks he’s better than Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson” dig. I remember commentators and analysts referring to Jamaal as a poor man’s Chris Johnson. But no more! Johnson and Jamaal are remarkably similar in size and speed, which links them. However, they have totally different demeanors. I remember seeing clips from the 2010 Pro Bowl practices when both Jamaal and Johnson made it. The cameras were hanging around the RBs. Jamaal kind of laughed and jokingly said, to the camera, “Man, there’s just too much speed on the field right here.” Pointing to Johnson and himself. Johnson blew Jamaal off like, “Dude, you’re not even in my league.” All things equal, I’d take Jamaal over Johnson ANY day. Jamaal is a quiet, humble kid. His interviews on NFL Network, etc are kind of painful. He’s just not comfortable with a camera in his face and doing interviews. There’s nothing wrong with that. He’s just not a “talker”; he’s an actions guy and I’d rather have it that way.