Kansas City Chiefs film room: Anatomy of a sack

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Sack #2

Alright, we have Poe and Allen Bailey from left to right with a hand in the dirt. Behind them are Hali, Mauga, Abdullah and Houston, also left to right. The Chargers tight end will release into a pattern, once again leaving six in to block.

Initially, it appears Kansas City is bringing the house. Instead, Mauga peels off the blitz and drops into the short-middle zone. The fake works, however, with the Chargers pinching the line toward the center. This allows for Houston and Hali to each get man-to-man blocking assignments.

As aforementioned, Houston got a 1-v-1 blocking assignment against the right tackle. Look at that side of the screen. See the red train wearing #50 bearing down on Rivers? You can guess the rest. All of this works because Mauga sold his fake toward the center well, forcing San Diego to adjust for blocking. The pre-snap read of a double A-gap blitz was a beautiful call by Sutton to spring Houston.

Sack #3

I love this look. Sutton again drops Abdullah into the box, coming off the left edge. Poe is the only man with his hand on the ground, with Mauga to his immediate right. Ford is between Poe and Mauga. So why do I love this formation? Hali and Houston are next to each other on the right side. Chaos is about to ensue.

This whole sack is set up because of Abdullah. He sells hard that he’s blitzing but then drops, leaving the left tackle to block air. Meanwhile, Mauga has also dropped into coverage. This leaves the Chargers’ four linemen and a scrambling running back to block Poe, Ford, Hali and Houston. We know Poe must be double-teamed (at least), so San Diego is in deep… trouble.

Poe draws the predicted double-team, Ford draws the running back, and Houston hammers Rivers. Why? Because all this movement and the pre-snap reads force the Chargers to block Houston with one man. There is not a right tackle in the league capable of stopping Houston by himself. Hell, the New York Jets triple-teamed him for most of the game and he got three sacks.


Give Sutton a ton of credit. He figures out ways to scheme his best players into advantageous situations. It seems so simple, but it really is an art. So many coaches waste their top athletes because they don’t know how to use them correctly.

On the field, everything starts and ends with Poe. He is such an immovable, destructive force that opponents have to commit two, sometimes three guys to stop him. When you have to pay that much attention to the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, you need to pray the outside linebackers can be stopped 1-v-1. With Hali and Houston (and occasionally Ford) in those spots, you are put in a brutal spot.

Most teams decide to keep six or seven blockers in, and hope to beat you in man-coverage down the field. San Diego chose to flood the field with receivers and tight ends, and paid the price. I’m not sure why Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich didn’t start using max protection in the second half, but he chose against it. With a weak offensive line to begin with, the Chargers had no chance.

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