Chiefs gameplan: stick to what works

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Oct 18, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) carries the ball during the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings defeated the Chiefs 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another blown opportunity. The Chiefs under Andy Reid have shown a knack for finding a way to lose. In four of the last five weeks, the team has either given up a double-digit lead or failed to come back to win a game that was within reach. Despite suspect playcalling, the offense had the ability to run a balanced offense. That has changed now.

With the Charles injury the run game has floundered. With Charles in the last few weeks, the team averaged 4.8 yards per rush. In the first contest without Charles, that average fell dramatically to 3.2 yards per rush in Minnesota. The Vikings are not a particularly stout rushing defense and are currently only 19th in defending the run. So, you can expect that trend to continue this week against the Steelers, who are currently 6th defending the run.

Watching film the last few weeks has shown a few aspects of the Chiefs offensive game that can be built on. Reid likes to experiment. He likes to use motion and mis-direction. Sometimes ii proves useful but for the most part, it produces little. Andy Reid is being too cute. He is flipping around some tried and true mechanics of gamecalling.

Yeah, we’ve tried to utilize their talents… He’s learning as we go here. But the effort’s good, and again, he’s had some good downs for us.” – Andy Reid on James O’Shaughnessy 

He has tended to call bubble screens and draws as staples, trying to start games off with these useful, but fragile concepts. He has neglected the setup for these plays. These are concepts that need to be used as a change of pace rather than a staple. Without the threat of downfield routes, defenses can sit on the short area and stop these screens. For the most part, that is exactly what the opposing defenses have done for the first 5 and half weeks of the season.

There is hope however. Late in week six, Reid got back to basics. On the team’s second possession of the fourth quarter, Reid finally put the horse before the cart. He called, and Smith executed, four consecutive passes targeting receivers between five and 11 yards downfield. After a scramble and an incomplete, Reid stretched the field with a 20-yard go route for Albert Wilson on the right side of the field. At that point, after using five downfield patterns to establish the drive, Reid came back with the wide receiver screen that Wilson scored on. Reid found success by going back to the classic jab-jab-cross combination.

If he can learn the lesson and permanently correct his gameplan, the Chiefs offense has the talent to be successful even without Jamaal Charles. Here are four more areas that can be the basis for success going forward.

Next: Fast Start down the Middle