How did the Bills game change things going forward?
Everyone was hoping for a battle between two high-powered passing attacks coming into this game. Both teams struggling the week prior and coming off losses. The storylines wrote themselves for what the game potentially could have been. The rain put a damper on that, if you will, which led to Kansas City electing to run the ball more.
Chiefs fans were already nervous with all of the changes along the offensive line’s interior due to injuries. Daniel Kilgore was starting at center, replacing Austin Reiter, and Mike Remmers was filling in at left guard. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz left the game after only eight snaps forcing Remmers to move to tackle and 2019 seventh-round pick Nick Allegretti to take over at left guard. Despite all of the changes, the offensive line had a remarkable day against the Bills.
After watching the running backs hit walls of defenders in the backfield against the Raiders in Week 5, it was a pleasant experience. The shuffle of players wasn’t the only thing that brought massive success this week, though. Reid was creative in his formations and play calling that helped get the run game going early.
With Anthony Sherman shelved on the COVID-19 reserve list, the offense had to make adjustments for a run-heavy game in wet conditions. One of those adjustments was taking it up a notch with their misdirections and utilization of top playmakers.
Travis Kelce lines up in the backfield as the lead blocker for Clyde Edwards-Helaire, working to the left side. Once the ball is snapped, Kelce runs through the offensive line to the second level. The linebacker, unsure whether the star tight end is running a route or blocking, is forced to wait instead of immediately crashing the line of scrimmage. Kilgore climbs to the second level taking the backside linebacker, leaving only the safety as the only man unblocked.
Later in the game, the Chiefs come back to that same alignment. Kelce works vertically out of the backfield, forcing the safety to wait in coverage. It’s not until Kelce gets past the offensive line that the safety begins to crash downhill. Allegretti does an excellent job on this play to force number 61 across Kilgore’s face, allowing Kilgore to wall off the run lane before climbing to the second level and taking the linebacker out of the play.
Another example of how Kansas City utilized their playmakers to open up the run game is this play with Hill. The pre-snap motion allows Mahomes to read the defensive coverage, and by Hill running a route into the flat, it takes the safety on that side of the field out of the play. Allegretti does a good job once again to help Eric Fisher perform a reach block by giving a good punch to Ed Oliver. He struggles to regain his balance moving from the combo block to the second level, but Clyde sells the run to the right, buying him time.
Since Mitch Morse left to sign with the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City has struggled without their athletic center to pull or climb effectively to the second level. The interior of the offensive line has struggled in general since his departure. They lack the athleticism to climb to the second level and mirror linebackers while also lacking the power to move defensive tackles off their spot for gains up the middle.
By drawing up plays to slow down second and third-level defenders, it allowed the offensive line to perform their combo blocks and effectively attack the second level of the defense. Linebackers were consistently on their heels in an attempt to diagnose what was happening, allowing for an easier target for the climbing blockers. The duo of Kilgore and Allegretti in the middle seemed to add better chemistry and more power to that interior group.
Several times Allegretti assisted either Kilgore or Fisher with powerful punches before climbing to the second level. It allowed his teammates to successfully get ahead of their blocker and wall off the run lane. While not the most athletic lineman himself, Kilgore looked remarkably better at getting to his assignments at the second level than Reiter has over the last season and a half.
Andrew Wylie often struggles with these combo blocks. He looked significantly better against the Bills, but there were still some struggles.
Here is an example of Wylie struggling in both areas of combo blocks. Number 94 is lined up shaded over the inside shoulder of Mike Remmers. Kilgore is unable to reach the defender in time coming all the way over from center because Wylie does very little to slow the lineman down before climbing to the next level resulting in negative yardage.
In this play, Wylie is taking over the block on number 94 to allow Kilgore to climb to the next level. He cannot gain leverage over the defensive tackle, which keeps Kilgore from climbing till late in the play. The defender can still control Wylie, flashing his helmet inside to force Edwards-Helaire outside and into traffic.
The additions of Kilgore and Allegretti limited these mistakes on Monday night. Allegretti did an excellent job of assisting in his combo blocks before climbing most of the night. Kilgore consistently was able to get to the second level when working with his left guard. Considering how well the two played together against the Bills, the Chiefs have a tough decision to make moving forward. Placing Reiter back into the lineup over Kilgore could take away the potential we saw against the Bills.
As defenses provide lighter boxes and drop as many defenders into coverage as possible, the Chiefs have to exploit those matchups. That’s one of the primary reasons they elected to grab a running back so early in the draft. Unable to take advantage of these lighter boxes has caused the offense to struggle at times, even in 2020.