Chiefs vs. Cowboys: Breaking Down Tape Of Kansas City’s First TD Drive


John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0 after defeating a good Dallas Cowboys team at Arrowhead.

This Andy Reid led team is a vasty different group from last year’s team, and it’s a team that looks like it could make some noise in the NFL this season.

Defensively, the Chiefs are going to be aggressive and will look to put their stamp on opposing offenses. Speaking of offense, Reid is known as an offensive-minded coach, and you can already see the differences in Kansas City’s scoring unit.

Adding a steady, accurate and athletic quarterback like Alex Smith was the perfect move for Kansas City, and we were able to see some of what this unit was able to do yesterday against the Cowboys’ defense.

The first drive of the game for Kansas City was a beautiful one, and while most will focus on Smith’s touchdown pass to  Jamaal Charles, there are two plays in that drive in particular that I think we should focus on.

The first was Kansas City’s first offensive play of the game. It was first and ten from the Chiefs’ 23 yard line. The Chiefs came out with two tight ends, two receivers to the left, and Smith and Charles in the backfield. The kicker here is that Kansas City puts Dexter McCluster in an “orbit” motion, which means he’ll motion to the heel of the tight end and then arc around the backfield:

Believe it or not, this is actually a read-option play for Alex Smith. He has the option to hand it off to the diving Charles, but notice how he reads the defensive end coming down the line of scrimmage (who was left unblocked on purpose because he’s the read man), which is a clear pull read:

The play now moves to the second phase of the read-option, which is the two-man pitch. I’ve circled the pitch read:

At this point Smith is charged with attacking the pitch read, thus forcing him to pick one player to cover. It he attacks Smith, he will pitch it to McCluster. If the pitch read plays McCluster or tries to slow-play the option, Smith will attack up field, and that’s exactly what the Chiefs’ quarterback does. The read-man tries to cut the option in half, and that gives Smith a nice running lane:

Smith only picks up four yards, but the play-call was creative from Reid and his staff, and it was executed well. Smith relied on his ability to read the defense, and his athleticism:

The second play we’ll take a look at isn’t as intricately drawn up, but there are two specific things I’d like to take a look at. This happened on third and 15, and it was arguably the marquee play of the first drive.

The Chiefs lined up in an empty formation with the tight end to the right, obviously looking to pass:

Here are the things I’d like you to notice here. First, the protection wasn’t half bad. Notice the pocket right away, but also check out how No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher is riding his pass-rusher downfield. That’s great pass protection against a quicker defender. Just take him downfield, which allows the quarterback to step up:

Smith did precisely that, which opened up a huge running lane:

From there, Smith’s athleticism and drive basically got him to the sticks, and he was even willing to put his body on the line in an effort to get the first down, which he did.

I bring this play up for a few reasons. First, it was good to see smart pass protection from the Chiefs’ rookie right tackle. Second, and most importantly, this play kept the first drive alive and was the difference between a field goal try and a touchdown.

For those who still question if Smith as the best option for the Chiefs at quarterback, I present these two plays where he got it done with his feet. Having him at quarterback allows Reid to scheme creatively and keep defenses on their toes (triple option anybody?), but it’s also rather clear that Smith has what it takes to be the leader of this offense.

After all, he also went 21-of-36 for 223 yards and two touchdowns.

The Reid-Smith combo really is a perfect fit, so if you’re a Chiefs fan, there’s plenty to be excited about after reviewing the tape of Kansas City’s first drive.