Kansas City Chiefs: Building a firewall for Peyton Manning


Nov 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) passes in the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t you hate it when your computer gets a virus? You have this machine that you use on a regular basis for whatever purpose that has run smoothly with no problem and then all of a sudden it happens, a virus has entered your computer and the computer’s defense has been compromised. This is generally a result of navigating into troubled waters without a strong enough defense to withstand the attacks on your computer. The same could be said of football’s ultimate trojan virus Peyton Manning.

Each season it’s as if were installing a new update to the team’s defense to  protect our beloved Kansas City Chiefs from the Peyton Manning virus. Yet every season that nasty virus finds a way to get in and sabotage our machine. Now, there have been times that the virus didn’t do nearly the same amount of damage as it had in the past but it’s still enough to chalk up a victory in its favor. So what has Kansas City done with its most recent update?

Other than signing Tyvon Branch from the OaklandRaiders and resigning our free agent defensive back Ron Parker the Chiefs didn’t really make many moves in free agency on the defensive side of the ball. This was mainly due to the fact that they that they were in pretty bad shape with cap room but all so they were getting many key pieces back this season that were missing last season.

Players like Derrick Johnson, Mike DeVito are designated returning starters and hopes are that Eric Berry at some juncture can return back to the safety position. But then there’s also some young promising players coming back that could play key roles like Mike Catapano and Sanders Commings which well provide more depth.

Fast forward past free agency to the NFL Draft and the Chiefs did another virus update with addition of cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Steve Nelson along with three other defensive players. The Chiefs had the second best pass defense in the league in 2014 and adding these corners will just further root them in being once again a great pass defense in 2015. You throw in the injured players  returning like DeVito and Johnson who statistically are good run stoppers and you could make a case for this team having possibly a special defense in 2015.

Manning is public enemy number one in Kansas City as he has led his team to 6 straight wins against the Chiefs and three straight division titles in the AFC West. Losing to a team six straight times is actually harder to do than you think, even Tom Brady loses to the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets occasionally. Manning has an overall 11-1 record against Kansas City in which he’s thrown 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions keeping him at a modest 99.6 quarterback rating in the span of 12 regular season games. Do you see what I mean by the Chiefs needing to get rid of this virus?

Kansas City seems to be the most vulnerable team in this epidemic, even the Raiders has beat him twice. Both games last season the Chiefs were in the game until the fourth quarter and there does seem to be a trend that’s been taking place on why they may be coming up on the losing end. In five of the six match ups since Manning has joined the Broncos they have had slow starts and been behind at half time. The one exception was in 2013 where they actually started off better than usual scoring 21 points but came out flat being out scored 14 -0 in the 3rd quarter.

The point here is that Denver has set the tone in just about every game and bullied Kansas City. The Chiefs have to learn how to become the bully and dictate the pace of the game themselves. This comes from not only upgrading talent but executing the plays called to perfection. If you look at the teams that have beaten Denver, regular season or playoffs you’ll see a defense that carries a mantra and swagger that refuses to allow Manning intimidate them.

For example, in 2013 the Patriots who historically have had success against Manning were losing 24-0 at half time. Denver only scored once more the rest of the game as the Patriots came back and routed a win against the Broncos. Do you think this was a result of Denver letting off the gas? No, the defense came out and refused to allow the Patriots to dictate the second half of the game allowing the offense to score enough points in to win in the second half. Granted,  the Patriots have Tom Brady so I understand the point there but the defense came through in a critical time to stop Manning.

Here is a summary of Peyton Manning’s stats in the 4 games the Broncos lost.

@ Seattle

  • Pass Attempts/Completions 31/49
  • Touchdowns/Interceptions 2/1
  • Pro Football Focus Grade  +1.1

@ New England

  • Pass Attempts/Completions 34/57
  • Touchdowns/Interceptions 2-2
  • Pro Football Focus Grade  -.02

@ St. Louis

  • Pass Attempts/Completions 34/54
  • Touchdowns/Interceptions 1/2
  • Pro Football Focus Grade  -3.6

@ Cincinnati

  • Pass Attempts/Completions 28/44
  • Touchdowns/Interceptions 2/4
  • Pro Football Focus Grade  -.07

Under Pressure:

Stats below by PFF are based on passing under pressure.

  • No Pressure – 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, +15.7 score
  • Under Pressure – 8 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, -12.0 score
  • Under Pressure with blitzing – 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, -11.5 score

A few interesting pieces of information here, in both games during the regular season that Manning threw more than 50 passes he lost. Manning had four games total in the regular season where he threw over 40 passes and went 2-2. So it would appear that if you stop the running game and force Manning to throw a lot you have a better chance of beating him. Also, being that every loss was an away game it’s imperative that the Chiefs take advantage of their home game in the second week of the season. Last but not least, based on what PFF is reporting it appears that this quarterback crumbles under pressure and isn’t immune to blitzing as some think.

With all this said, the offense also has a huge part to play in getting a win or two against Manning this year. It will be critical to score three or four touchdowns each time we play them to give us a stronger chance of winning but it will all boil down to as every game if Kansas City has a strong a strong enough defense to withstand the Manning virus. Here’s hoping that this last update does the trick.