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 another gritty win for the Chiefs, which has become quite a theme with this team. But, as many have said, a win is a win and there is no asterisks applied for “ugly” games. Let’s see how the Chiefs did with our Five Keys. As always, my original comments are in regular type and my follow up comments are in bold.
Key #1: Score Touchdowns in the Red Zone
This season, the Chiefs started off quite well in this regard. They didn’t kick field goals. Though Ryan Succop was “Mr. Irrelevant” and has been anything but during his time in K.C., he was quite irrelevant the first couple of games of the season with the exception of extra points. Since about week three, the Chiefs have gotten off this track. While they still score touchdowns in the red zone (Jamaal Charles, I’m looking at you) they’ve been stopped quite a few times. Six is better than three, if you’re trying to stay undefeated.
The Chiefs first five drives ended in scores, but only two of them were touchdowns. On the first drive, Alex Smith missed a short pass to Jamaal Charles on third and two which resulted in a Succop field goal. On the second drive, Smith missed a wide open Anthony Fasano on second and eight and then was sacked on third down, which led to a second Succop field goal. It wasn’t until the Chiefs’ third possession that Smith found the end zone for the first time in four games, hitting fullback Anthony Sherman on a perfectly executed screen pass. The second Chiefs touchdown was technically outside the red zone. The Chiefs have to get better at putting up six in the red zone instead of three, because that’s not going to cut it going forward.
Key #1: NOT Achieved
Key #2: Good for a Kansas City FIRST DOWN!
The Chiefs must convert on third down. This has been a problem throughout the season as they have one of the lowest third down conversion rates in the league. Last week against the Houston Texans the Chiefs did much better than they have been on third down, but they’ve got to get better. They have to sustain drives to get this offense going.
The Chiefs got it together this week on third down. The team was able to convert 10/19 third downs and picked up a total of 20 first downs on the day. This is a marked improvement from previous weeks where the team really struggled to sustain drives. Their first down making ability was quite evident in the first half as they scored on their first five drives of the game.
Key #2: Achieved
Key #3: Attack Jason Campbell
Last week against the Texans, the Chiefs defense was quite passive against the pass in the first half. This led to a couple of scores that could have been avoided. The Chiefs “D” needs to do what they do and beat the QB down early and often. A rattled quarterback will throw picks and the Chiefs need to get back to their winning ways in regards to the turnover battle…
The Chiefs did not look themselves on defense. They only had one sack the entire game. Other than a monster game by Derrick Johnson, who seemed to find the ball carrier on every play, ( he led the team with 12 tackles) the defense just really looked out of sorts. It’s understandable that they had an off day, but there was absolutely no pass rush on Campbell which, as much as anything, allowed the Browns to stay in this game.
Key #3: NOT Achieved
Key #4: Win the Turnover Battle
…which leads me into my next point. For the first time all season, the Chiefs lost the turnover battle last week. Alex Smith’s interception and Jamaal Charles’ fumble against a Case Keenum INT isn’t good. While the Chiefs still got the victory, they need to continue to dominate the turnover differential like they have the other six weeks of the season.
In probably the weakest defensive performance of the Chiefs all season, the only turnover didn’t happen until nearly half way through the fourth quarter. The Chiefs punted from their own 10 yard line and wide receiver Davone Bess muffed the kick which was recovered by linebacker Frank Zombo. Even though the Chiefs didn’t score points off of the turnover, it allowed them to flip the field and pin the Browns back deep in their own territory instead of starting a drive at mid-field with momentum on their side. The Chiefs didn’t give up the ball at all, thus winning the turnover battle at a +1.
Key #4: Achieved
Key #5: Passing?
I suppose we’ll keep harping on this until it happens. The passing game looked better last week as Smith was more accurate than he has been previously and had nearly 250 yards. He even had a touchdown — though it was called short — with Anthony Fasano. Get the ball to Dexter McCluster. He showed what he can do in the offense last week. Get the ball to Bowe. Get the ball to Avery. We’re still waiting.
The passing game was as advertised. The Chiefs made good use of the WCO to get the ball to the play makers. For the second week in a row, Dexter McCluster was the Chiefs leading receiver in both receptions and yardage. He also came back into the game after injuring his wrist to catch a 28 yard laser from Smith for a touchdown. Charles and Avery both caught passes well. In all, Smith spread the ball around to eight different receivers. While Bowe was the least of those in receiving stats, his contributions in drawing away the Browns top defensive back, Joe Haden were much needed.
Key #5: Achieved
There it is, Addicts. Neither side of the ball was outstanding this week, but the Chiefs managed to continue their winning ways. They only completed three of the five keys, but remain unblemished at 8-0. What do you think? Am I off the mark? Did I miss anything? Sound off below.
Until then, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!