Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum (7) is sacked by Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs Must Plan, Not Panic

AA - Crowd Noise final

The Kansas City Chiefs have lost three straight games. But no one inside the locker room is panicking and nor should we.

The Denver Broncos are, by Vegas experts, tied with the Seattle Seahawks for odds-on favorite to win the Super Bowl. Losing twice to one of the very best teams in the NFL and one of the top five quarterbacks ever to play the game – and by close margins no less – is no reason to panic.

Unlike any other team sport, the NFL is truly a one-game-at-a-time league. With just sixteen games, players and coaches simply cannot afford to dwell on past performances nor look ahead to the weeks ahead. The focus can only be on the very next game. And that’s where the learning and subsequent planning that coaches and players conduct between games becomes a make-or-break factor.

This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will play Washington, which was eliminated from the playoffs with their loss to the New York Giants last week. The Chiefs should do on Sunday what they’ve done all year – beat the teams they are supposed to beat. The matchup looks promising on paper:

  • Washington is 3-9 and fans are calling for head coach Mike Shanahan’s job.

  • Right tackle Tyler Polumbus gave up multiple sacks to the Giants’ Justin Tuck last week.

  • Washington receivers dropped the ball all over the field.

  • Washington is -2 in turnover differential; the Chiefs are +14.

  • Washington is 19th in the NFL in points scored per game at 22.4; the Chiefs are 9th at 24.8 points.

  • Washington’s secondary is giving up 265 passing yards per game and starting cornerback DeAngelo Hall hurt his hip last week while strong safety Reed Doughty suffered a concussion.

  • On defense, the Chiefs have allowed 17.8 points per game while the Redskins are second-to-last in the league at 30.2 points allowed per game.

In many ways, Washington is the perfect opponent for the Chiefs. Washington provides the Chiefs with an opportunity to dominate each phase of the game, which we haven’t seen since probably Week 4 against the New York Giants. Washington’s pass defense is bad and two of their starters may be out or at least slowed down by injury. Donnie Avery is out to prove himself after dropping  too many balls last week. We may also see more passes to Junior Hemingway and AJ Jenkins. And Dwayne Bowe may continue his resurgence.

Similarly, Washington’s offensive line has not provided quality protection for RG3. With Justin Houston likely out for one more game, Bob Sutton will unleash some creativity and see what sort of pass rush the Chiefs can apply.

With a third straight game of passing prowess and revitalized pressure on the quarterback, the Chiefs can actually accomplish two objectives. First, the Chiefs can win, and win big, which is just what the doctor ordered as we head into the homestretch of the season. And second, the Chiefs can show their remaining opponents – the Raiders, Colts, Chargers and a potential Wildcard game against either the Bengals or Colts  - that the Chiefs can beat teams in multiple ways, on both sides of the ball. Watching the Broncos offense makes you understand the incredible uncertainty they cause in opposing defensive players in deciding, within a split second, who to cover and where to apply pressure. If you’re Kendrick Lewis, do you cover Eric Decker deep or Demaryius Thomas deep? If you’re Akeem Jordan, do you step up in case of a Knowshon Moreno/Montee Ball run, or do you hold back and play the crossing routes? If you are Marcus Cooper, do you play inside your receiver or outside?

Until a few weeks ago, opposing defenses were able to focus singularly on stopping Jamaal Charles, in the run and screen pass game. Watching tape of the Chargers and Broncos game – and perhaps this one against Washington – opposing defensive coordinators will now have to also contend with Alex Smith’s arm, going downfield to Bowe, Hemingway, Fasano, Avery and even Jenkins. And with a renewed pass rush and tight man coverage, the pressure will be on opposing offensive coordinators to gameplan for the Chiefs defense, rather than identifying easy holes to exploit.

What we haven’t seen yet is unpredictability on both sides of the ball. That split second of uncertainty and indecision makes the difference between making the big plays or having the big plays made at your expense.

The Chiefs can and should win on Sunday. How they go about it may impact the final three games of the season. and the first Wildcard playoff game as well. That’s going to take planning, not panic. Addicts, let’s keep our heads down and stay focused on Washington. One convincing win will do wonders and can help our chances to win the final three games.

Addicts, what is your plan for success for the Chiefs?!

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  • berttheclock

    Back to basics? Yes, how about addressing the two major causes for our last two losses. First, Bob Sutton’s refusal to have his DBs play bump and run. No receiver in the last two games was knocked off stride at the line of scrimmage. I could not fault any of the DBs for having to lay off and try to run wind sprints with the receivers. If you lack timely pass rush for whatever reasons, then, slow up the receivers and make the opposing QBs hold the ball longer.

    Secondly, the poor clock management near the end of games. Against SD, Pederson called a TD pass for Bowe and he scored. WOWIE! But, that left too much time on the clock for Rivers who was able to throw against DBs laying off the receivers. Against Denver on the crucial 4th and 4, instead of going for the 1st down and driving time off the time, Pederson went back to trying to hook up Bowe. Denver, for some strange reason, had studied the tape of the SD game, so, they brought help over to cover Bowe. Yes, he beat his man, but, help stepped in front. But, the big thing about that was the fact it was the wrong play. Had Bowe scored, the ball would have gone back to Manning who thrives in such situations, especially, when, his receivers are not knocked off stride.

    I have been so freaking livid about those two horrendous mistakes, this is my first post since that horrible and unneeded loss.

    • tm1946

      I heard a few days a ago on AM radio. Hali is quoted from training camp. Paraphrase – the defense wants to impose its will on other teams offensives. Make them change the way they operate.

      Bases on last 4 games the defense does not seem to be making effective changes at half time. Could be plan or players ability or coaching. But a defense who is not working but keep trying the same thing over and over, seems insane.

    • Calchiefsfan

      I wondered where you went to Bert. Maybe it’s time to put Flowers back on the #1 receiver. He’s a master at playing man coverage. Coop needs more experience to improve his technique. He was totally out gunned against Denver.