Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs strong safety Eric Berry (29) breaks up a pass intended for Houston Texans tight end Garrett Graham (88) during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs’ Adjustments For The Home Stretch

AA - Crowd Noise final

Any loss creates handwringing, concern and/or analysis (if you’re unlucky enough to be the Houston Texans or Minnesota Vikings, it also causes habitual quarterback changes). For the Kansas City Chiefs though, we don’t need any handwringing. We’ve lost ONE game. The teams who can say that are a small group: the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos and the Chiefs. That’s not shabby company, Addicts.

Oh, and that ONE loss came against the team that most pundits say is the best team in the NFL. Playing in their home stadium. With one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game.

The margin between a Chiefs win and a Chiefs loss last Sunday was razor thin – a  Donnie Avery drop, an Anthony Richard Sherman fumble, a Justin Houston rush that was literally less than one second too late, a near decapitation of Tamba Hali that went unpenalized. Just a handful of plays made the difference between winning and losing.

That shouldn’t  be surprising. For those of you who played sports in high school or college, think about the very best player on your team. These were the teammates that repeatedly made the clutch play, led the team in scoring and were the team captains. They were the fastest, smartest, most gutsy players on the field or court.

There’s a great chance that none of them played in the NFL. That’s because of the 15,086 collegiate football players who are seniors this year, just 255 will be drafted. That’s just 1.7% of all college players. For the best senior who played on your high school team, the odds are even worse. There are an estimated 316,697 high school seniors playing football this year. Just eight-tenths of one percent of them will get drafted.

That means that even the Sabby Piscitelli’s and Brady Quinn’s of the world are incredible and smart athletes – truly the cream of the crop. And the same applies to NFL coaches, whether an assistant, coordinator or a head coach.

With ten games gone, it’s now time for a few of these elite individuals to rise to the occasion and become difference makers. The remaining six games will determine which playoff pathway the Chiefs take, if any: Wild Card participant or divisional winner? To Andy Reid, Bob Sutton, Doug Pederson and Dave Toub: gentlemen, the time to prove your elite status is now. Every team in the League is getting one layer deeper in the chess match of the 2013 season. With four of the Chiefs remaining six games against divisional opponents, it’s time to make some adjustments. Here are a few suggestions, to get started:

1. Double down on the short-passing game. I know this one may be completely, totally, 100% counterintuitive to most Addicts. Most Addicts want (a) more deep passes, and (b) more Jamaal Charles runs. But the short passing game is what we excel at. Let’s face it, Chiefs fans, our offensive line is good but not great. And Peyton Manning showed us the damage you can do with a two-second release and short completions. Alex Smith loves this approach, as do Dexter McCluster, Jamaal Charles and Donnie Avery. Heck, I bet Eric Fisher loves this approach. Bowe and Fasano can use their big bodies to excel here as well. By doubling down on the short pass, opposing linebackers will play a bit softer, opening up lanes for Charles to run the ball. Additionally, opposing cornerbacks will play tighter coverage, opening up the occasional double move. The short passing game is the least sexiest offensive play in football, but it’s smart and it fits this team perfectly. More short passes.

2. Send Jamaal long. I know, this suggestion contradicts the first one. But the only thing scarier for opposing teams than Jamaal with the ball is Jamaal without the ball. Seeing Jamaal sprint down the field will put fear into the hearts of opposing linebackers and coaches. The Chiefs almost turned one of these into a touchdown last Sunday. Let’s see more of that.

3. Turn Eric Berry into more of a linebacker. When faced with strong tight ends like the Chiefs will face on Sunday in Antonio Gates, Berry has been the primary coverage guy. But I think his best use is as a linebacker, hovering midfield for short passing routes and making the occasional blitz. Berry is an elite tackler and pass rusher and he has a nose for the ball. It seems better to keep him in the mix for every play, rather than assigning him to a receiver.

4. Give Junior Hemingway a chance. Look, depth charts are there for a reason. We all get that. Hemingway is young, probably a little raw on his route precision and hasn’t learned the finer arts of using his body to position himself for receptions. But as a unit, the Chiefs’ receivers are not operating at a high level. Avery was great in the first half of the season but lately, has dropped a few. Bowe seems to actually have lost a step from last year. Hemingway, at minimum, is a change of pace. At maximum, he could be a great one. But he needs repetitions for that. Already, he has shown great downfield blocking skills, no doubt learned from Bowe. He may catalyze this receiver corps over the next six games.

5. Block a punt. Addicts, we were spoiled in the preseason and in the New York Giants game with great punt returns by Dexter McCluster. But opposing punt coverage has been tighter lately. By going for a punt block, opposing teams will be a bit more cautious letting everyone fly down the field, opening up running lanes and perhaps springing McCluster for a long gain.

Addicts, what are your chess moves going into Week 11?!!


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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Todd Worrel

    Anthony Sherman fumble* ;)

    • Miles Yi

      Good catch, Todd!

      • berttheclock

        Anthony Sherman has been a great pickup, but, geez, wouldn’t it have been nice if only Pioli had selected Richard Sherman in that infamous (Stanzi, Gabe Miller) 5th round of old, so, he could make a fumble on occasion for the Chiefs?

  • Todd Worrel

    Where do you see new addition love fitting in at? Backup or getting playing time?

    • berttheclock

      I know you are asking Miles, but, in my opinion, I believe it depends very much on the healing process this week to both Jackson and DeVito. Frankly, I believe this signing will turn out to be another coup by Dorsey. Others gave up on him because they really did not understand Diabetes Type II and thought his weight loss had something to do with the disease itself. He had lost the weight due to finding out he needed to drop unneeded carb weight and has maintained his weight with a proper diet. Type II is caused by the body producing excessive insulin which can lodge in one’s extremities. I have it and before the VA discovered it, my right shoulder froze from the excess. All is very much under control, now. I’m positive he will maintain his weight and will provide an extra spark on defense.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    I think we’ll see Kyle Williams get some real playing time this week. He’s better than Chad Hall so he might be able to give us something in the passing game.

  • cd3382

    Great write up Miles. I have been lobbying more PT for Jr. Hemingway since the beginning of the season. I think he has all the tools to be a good possession WR in this league, that TD in the back of the end zone against the jags was no fluke. The man has already showed he can run pretty good routes and has reliable hands as well. I also agree with EB playing more of a linebacker roll, it just seems like every time we play a team with a good TE, EB gets stuck on a island all by himself against them and he ends up getting toasted for a few yards . I’m not saying he is bad in coverage, but he is liability sometimes against good TE’s. I trust Reid and the coaching staff to correct that. But most of all, the WR’s and JC need to hit the ball machine after practice…way too many drops last game…way too many. We are too good of a team to have that many drops. Go Chiefs!!!

    • Todd Worrel

      I think gates has field days vs EB in the past or am I completely wrong

      • cd3382

        Oh No! Your Right.

  • berttheclock

    I, also, commend your excellent article, Miles. Your mention of Sabby Piscitelli reminds me of a scene from “Save that Tiger” with the character played by Jack Lemon talking about his beloved Cubs and he mentions that even the worst player in the Bigs is better than the thousands out there who would love to be there if only they had the talent.

  • Todd Worrel

    Maybe an update on where aj Jenkins is? I mean Jon Baldwin was a starter, is Jenkins up to date on the offense yet?

  • Larry Devore

    Step up the blitz more. read some where that when the Chiefs blitzed at least 40% of the time, the had 35 sacks. Last few games when the blitz has dropped off, KC has 1 sack.

  • Jim Harper

    I am in complete agreement with you Miles. Great logic! Are you sure your last name is not Reid? The only one I am concerned about is going for the blocked punt. Seems like more often than not these decisions turn out badly with a roughing penalty and giving the ball back. Takes a lot of repetition to accomplish this one, but I can find no fault in your logic. Nice job!

  • war-painted-wolf

    Yes, Jamaal lined up as a wide out with Knile in the backfield, let Alex take what the D gives up in that package! Stir, and enjoy!