John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Five Keys to Victory: Chiefs vs. Texans 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.

It was a “gritty” – some would say ugly – win against the Houston Texans, but the Kansas City Chiefs – your Kansas City Chiefs – are now 7-0. They hold the best record in the NFL. The road to the Superbowl goes through the middle of the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City Missouri. Chew on that for a minute.

Original comments are in normal type and my follow up comments are in bold.

Key #1: Stop J.J. Watt from Trying to Eat Alex Smith Like a Burrito

The reigning defensive player of the year is dangerous. He was something special as a rookie and then came back last season looking twice as dangerous. The Texans 2-4 record has nothing to do with the relentless, vicious and exceptional play of Watt. He can line up anywhere on the defensive front, and has earned the name “J.J. SWAT” for his ability to get his long arms up and knock down balls at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line will have its hands and feet and everything else full trying to contain the defensive powerhouse that is Watt.

For an offensive line that’s been pretty offensive, I thought the Chiefs front five performed quite well against Watt and the Texans defense. Watt ended the day with six tackles and one sack on Smith. Considering the guy is the reigning DPoY from last season, I call this a win.

Key #1: Achieved

Key #2: Control the Houston Running Game

The Texans have what I think most Chiefs fans wish the Chiefs had: two very good running backs. While I’m not taking anything away from Cyrus Gray or Knile Davis, neither of them can run with the Texans’ number two back, Ben Tate. Combined with Arian Foster out of the backfield, they give Houston a powerful ground game. The Chiefs defense has shown flashes of brilliance against the run, but with the Bob Sutton Attacking Scheme, sometimes they let a big play slip through their coverage. If they let Foster or Tate find the open field too much, they’ll make this defense pay.

Yes, I know Arian Foster went out of the game after only running for 11 yards. But as I said, Ben Tate is just as viable an option as Foster. Tate is a legitimate starter if he plays behind anyone besides Foster and the Chiefs defense still held him to only 50 yards. On the day, the Texans were only able to gain 73 yards on the ground. Considering the Chiefs have been giving up more than this to lesser rushing offenses, I call this a huge win.

Key #2: Achieved

Key #3: Exploit the Weakness – Destroy the Rookie QB

Building up to this game there was much speculation on who would be under center for the Texans. Incumbent starter, Matt Schaub, went down last week with an ankle injury, backup T.J. Yates stepped and in and quickly picked up where Schaub left off by throwing a pick six. With their starter out this week, the Texans turned to their “diamond in the rough” rookie QB, Case Keenum. He could be the most prolific passer to come out of college in the history of prolific passers, but until you actually have Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe bearing down on you, you just don’t know how you’re going to react. The Chiefs need to rattle this kid early and keep the pressure up through the game.

In the first half, Keenum looked like he was channeling his “inner Tom Brady” and  throwing all over the field. His first NFL touchdown pass, a beautifully thrown ball to rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone made me cringe with how the game was going. Then, the second half came. Keenum was welcomed to the NFL properly with a sandwich sack by both Hali and Houston. He was terrorized by Flowers. And, of course was the victim of not one, but two Hali strip/sacks, the second sealing the victory for the Chiefs.

Key #3: Achieved

Key #4:  Exploit the Other Weakness – Run the Ball

While the Houston Texans boast the best defense in the NFL in regards to total yards allowed, they’re ranked 25th against the run. The Chiefs have one of the best running backs in the league. This should be an easy mismatch to exploit. Charles as well as his stable of backups need to get it done on the ground. This could be (and let’s hope) the week that Jamaal Charles breaks one of his 80 yard sprints to the end zone.

The Chiefs picked up 123 yards on the ground with Jamaal Charles gaining the lion’s share with 86 and a touchdown. Alex Smith burned the Texans defense with his legs as well, rushing for 28 yards and a touchdown himself. The Chiefs had no qualms about exploiting the Texans porous rushing defense, and took it straight to Houston.

Key #4: Achieved

Key #5:  Attack the Strengths – Pass the Ball?

While the Chiefs should have an easy time running the ball, passing the ball could prove to be more difficult. In addition to having the best defense with yards allowed, the Texans also boast the best passing defense. This is dangerous because passing the ball is where the Chiefs offense has struggled the most this season. I wouldn’t look for Smith to post huge numbers this week (do we ever?) but after wearing the defense down with the short passing game, this could be the week we see him go long.

I’ll get some arguments here, but the Chiefs excelled here as well. Prior to Sunday’s game, the Texans passing defense (the best in the league) was only allowing 129 yards per game through the air. Alex Smith and his stable of receivers (he completed passes to eight different receivers, including one to himself) nearly doubled the average yards per game. Smith threw for 240 yards, which greatly surpassed what the Texans were allowing to this point. While there were no scores through the air (still miffed about the botched call on the Anthony Fasano touchdown and Smith’s late decision to not throw on 4th and goal) the Chiefs were still able to put up decent numbers against a stingy defense.

Key #5: Achieved

While the game may have appeared “gritty” or “ugly” or whatever other negative adjective you want to use to describe it, the bottom line is, the team met every goal we set out for them and won the game. There are plenty of lessons to be learned here, and the team will continue to improve, but getting better when they’re currently the best team in the NFL is an encouraging thought indeed.

Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Priest4Prez

    I agree on all these points; there had to be an expectation of a close game. The score was no surprise and the Offensive line stepped up; I’m happy with those big boys up front. The defense went ghost for almost three whole quarters and the offense had to drive, score and be the spark. I gave Alex a word or two for throwing that interception but overall this team keeps coming through in the clutch. That’s a winning style of play and that’s a playoff style of football. 7-0, sitting atop the AFC West; hell we’re atop the WHOLE NFL. I’ll take it!!

    • Jason Seibel

      Yeah, I believe the words out of my mouth were $#@ dammit, Alex! I’m with you!

    • KCMikeG

      The pick wasn’t his fault. I thought it was until I heard Boomer call it on the national broadcast I watched when I got back home. McCluster got grabbed/held/stopped running his routs. AS11 was throwing to where Dexter was supposed to be. Now my bone to pick with our QB is why he didn’t throw the ball to The Beard so he could make a play in the end zone? He threw it clear out of bounds not giving him a chance. His one hand catch was impressive even though it didn’t count. But since this is the same QB who, while the defense was off balance, led us on 82 yard and 97 yard TD scoring drives, running in one on his own. Seven and 0 – Nevemind

  • berttheclock

    er, Watt did have 3 hits on the QB in addition to the sack and he was the one who stripped Charles of the ball. Pro Football Focus gave him their highest grade, but, I was glad to see the offensive line had much to do with Mercilus receiving a poor grade.

    However, I would like to thank Mr Watt for honoring the late great Bum Phillips by doing his hat imitation of Bum following his sack. I will, always, remember the comment by Bum when he was asked why he didn’t wear his ubiquitous hat inside the dome. His reply was his Mother had always told him not to wear a hat indoors.

    • Jason Seibel

      I gotcha, Bert, but considering he’s the best DE in the league right now, I can deal with one sack, three hits and forced fumble. As for the FF, he really didn’t do anything. I think it’s the ammount of air he displaced as Charles ran past him, it pushed the ball out of JC’s hands. The only explanation I can give. I’ve watched the replay several times and didn’t really see him do anything.

      • berttheclock

        I am reminded by the comment of Pederson before the game when he said Watt will be Watt. What I liked about that is Pederson put in a game plan which concentrated on nullifying the other defensive players of the Texans. Mercilus ended up looking lost.

  • berttheclock

    Someday, there will be special recognition of the trainers and conditioners who have worked so hard to make this 2013 team into beasts of the 4th quarter of play. Both offense and defense remind me of the days of yore when the offensive line would come to life in the 4th quarter and play smash mouth football down the field. I remember Phil Sims taking issue with the KC coaches for calling a TO inside the 20 after a long drive. His comment was “But, you had ‘em on their heels. Why let up?” Sure enough the defense regrouped and stopped the next play. It was either against the Seahawks or the Raiders, but, they were gasping for air.

  • Tony Harris

    The offensive line played so much better then we are accustom to seeing. They left Alex up for most of the game (and he actually looked pretty good aside from 2-3 plays). The line didn’t have but a couple penalties, which usually is a thorn in our side for this team. If the offensive line comes together and Alex has more than 2 seconds to throw we could have a much better offense. Funny how Bowe got tons of looks in this game when Alex has time to throw.

    • berttheclock

      One minor point about penalties. I said it at D’s Bar before I heard Sims say it. It was “When, you are playing at home, how do you get a false start penalty?”

  • Calchiefsfan

    Probably the best the O line has played all year. Can they be coming together? Let’s hope so. AS11 had more time to throw the ball and his numbers showed it. The O still needs a lot of work but nice to see Bowe getting involved. Bowe would have had a lot more yards if he hadn’t fallen down due to Smith’s awkward placement of the ball on the one pass. Imagine, when this offense gets more polished in the coming weeks, how much better this Chiefs team will be.

    A lot of comments all over the internet how the Chiefs are paper tigers but the truth is, no one wants to play us right now. That sure win against the Chiefs, that every fan checked off on their team’s schedule at the beginning of the year, looks a lot different now!

    Things to look forward to; the o line playing well; Bowe coming on more and more; Fasano getting up to speed; special teams continuing to improve and making even more plays; lots more sacks!

    GO CHIEFS!!!!!!

  • berttheclock

    One other point about the defense of the Texans. Yes, overall, they have been very good against the pass and decent against the run, except in the Red Zone, where they ranked near the bottom of the league. Had only that sequence described correctly by Jason, above, about the botched call on Fasano and the poor pass attempt to McGrath, the Chiefs would have scored everytime they entered the Red Zone.

  • Blake Molina

    I agree with the keys, and I’d say all were achieved, but some of them have shades of gray; we prevented Case Keenum from doing too much, but I had high expectations to absolutely shut him down

  • Jim Harper

    You’re getting pretty good at this Jason! Right on all counts! berttheclock hit on a very important fact. Strength and conditioning coaches have this team in tremendous condition, and that is why they continue to come on so strong in the 4th quarter wearing out the opposition. I grew up a fan since the 60′s and aside from the Super Bowl team in Super Bowl IV, this is the most talented team in every aspect of their game. It sure feels good to have Denver looking up at us for a change. The Colts gave us the blueprint for beating the donkeys. Pressure on Manning. And that has always been his Achilles heel.

    • BWrangler

      Amen on your comment about Manning. You hit him hard once or twice in the first half, he gets happy feet. He doesn’t like being knocked on his ass and starts making mistakes when he is. KC is made to give the Denver Mannings a huge headache.

  • RepOurChiefs

    #wusaaaa

  • micah stephenson

    Wow. When I watched NFL network, when talking bout the Chiefs game, they talked about how good Keenum looked but nevered mentioned Alex Smiths name. They then went into a story talkin bout how good Geno looks. When they gone start talking bout how good Alex Smith is?

    • Jason Seibel

      I would argue that Case Keenum looked good for exactly 30 minutes of football. Then, he looked like the rookie first-time-starter that he was. Geno is Geno. He’s not horrible, but he’s not anything to write home about. You can talk about him “winning the game” all you want, but let’s not forget that he threw a pick six earlier in the game to get the Jets into that predicament. A pick six in the red zone, no less. That’s a 14 point swing. You can rave all you want about Alex Smith, Micah, and it’s ok. You’re entitled to your opinion and you make me laugh. But the fact remains that after just 7 games with a brand new team, Smith is undefeated and hasn’t lost a football game that he started since last October. There is no other QB in the NFL that can say that right now. 7-0 is all you need to worry about.

      • Jason Seibel

        The Chiefs don’t need the NFL Network, ESPN or anyone else to talk about how good Alex Smith is. They just need to keep winning football games. Period.

        • micah stephenson

          Still don’t want to admit Alex ain’t much, its ok, I was like that with Cassel for a while, making excuses for him, saying its the oline, wrs, playcalling, everything but the QB, now I know Cassel sucks and Alex ain’t much better. He better than Cassel. We need a better QB than Alex.

          • Jason Seibel

            Alex is 1,000 better than Cassel. Look at where Cassel went and how they’re playing. He can’t start behind Ponder and Josh “Garbage” Freeman. Smith has played 7 games with this team and won them all. Is he perfect? No, but he hasn’t even known some of the guys he’s throwing to for more than a few months. Could you walk into your job on the first day with a new group of people and excell? If you say yes, you’re crazy. Most “experts” say that a team with a new QB and new head coach need at least a year, sometimes two to gel. A year. This team is undefeated after seven games. That’s unheard of. I get it that you don’t like Alex because he’s not flashy like Kaepernick and he doesn’t have the big arm and deep ball like Rodgers or Brady. But you have to admit that he was the best QB for this team in this offseason. There wasn’t anybody else available to get. And HE’S UNDEFEATED! You can’t argue with that.

      • micah stephenson

        yea but that was Keenums 1st game, its on the road at arrowhead and he had more passing yards than Alex. I think Keenum might have more upside than Alex. So do Geno and EJ. Geno threw a int, shortly after that so did Tom Brady. Picks happen. Also look how Geno looks after 7 games. Now look at how Alex looks after close to 90 games. Alex hasn’t lost a game for us but hasn’t won one for us ether.

        • Jason Seibel

          You and I will never agree on this because we both look at it from completely different sides. You say Alex hasn’t “won us” any games? How about those long, clock burning, 4th quarter drives in the Cowboys game and the Titans game? You don’t call that winning the game for us?