Friday, September 25, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - KC

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The defense is front and center this week. Let's face it, we're playing a Chiefs offense that has 3 TDs in 2 games. We should be able to shut these guys down. And that's what good defenses do...they bully around teams they are better than. I want to see Sean McDermott turn the guys loose and let them attack.

Trent Cole and the D-line need to spend a lot of time in the backfield. The Chiefs have some talented OL, but we should be able to get pressure. We better get pressure, blitz or not. I'm sure KC knows we'll come out aggressive and they'll be planning to use screen passes and draw plays. We have to focus on getting to the QB, but do need to play under control as well. Last week we had DL and LBs that were overaggressive and it cost us.

Bunk and Patt need to do a better job of controlling the middle of the line. I like our interior guys vs their interior blockers. We must clog the running lanes and control the LOS. We did a great job of that in the opener, but not last week.

One player with some pressure on him is MLB Omar Gaither. The team isn't exactly thrilled with what they've seen from him so far. He has 7 solo tackles in 2 games. Gaither isn't learning a new scheme or position. He knows MLB. He knows the defense. NO was able to run on us way too easily last week. Gaither certainly isn't the only guy at fault, but he needs to pick up his play this week.

I'd like to see us be more aggressive with our coverage. KC likes to throw a lot of short stuff. Why give them underneath routes for free if that is what they want. Mix in some press coverage and challenge their receivers.

OFFENSE

Sounds like Kevin Kolb will get start #2. Kevin showed his potential last week, but needs to play better this time out. He understands what it is like to start now. He needs to build on his good start. The key for him is eliminating the turnovers and getting us into the endzone when we get the ball deep. Kicking FGs might be good enough to win this time out, but you never want to have that mentality if you can help it.

Mike Vick
will make his Eagles debut. Yay. Andy gets another toy. I'd prefer we ran more of a conventional offense, but Big Red wants more Wildcat and that's what we'll see. Vick will run the Wildcat and have a chance to make some plays. I expect him to see about 10-12 snaps in the game. We need him to get some experience and to adjust to the speed of the game. Regular season football is another notch up from the preseason. At the same time, you do have to make sure Kolb and the base offense run smoothly. I thought the offense did a pretty good job last week of getting correctly lined up in the exotic packages. The plays were well executed, even if they didn't fully work out each time.

Temper your expectations with Vick. He was very rusty in the preseason. I'm sure he'll have some plays that work great, but there will be some bumps in the road. He's been out of football for a while and is working his way back. He also is on a new team and playing a new role. As The Joker says in Tim Burton's 1989 version of Batman, "You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs."

The big news is that Kevin Curtis isn't practicing on Friday. He is now doubtful for Sunday. Andy says that Jeremy Maclin will start in his place if Kevin does miss the game. Reggie Brown will be active. Interesting news. Curtis hasn't stood out at all in the first couple of games. If he does sit, I'm happy to see Maclin get a chance to show us what he can do. If Maclin really struggles we know that Reggie is the guy to go with in the future. The flip side is that Maclin could show us that's he's quietly learned the offense and adjusted to pro football and is ready to contribute.

Westy's ankle should be good to go and he will start. Shady should also get plenty of work. Hold on to the ball, rookie. That's an order. I mentioned the other day that Westy struggled some last week. He looked terrific in the 1st half. It was the 2nd half where his ankle bothered him that he looked slow. Brian had 4 carries for only 7 yards. He showed no wiggle or burst. We'll find out pretty quickly on Sunday if we're getting 1st half Westy or the old guy from the 2nd half.

The OL will be a repeat from last week, Peters-Cole-JJ-Max-Winston. They need to play better this time out. They will face a 3-4 defense for the first time this year, which will pose a challenge. The 3-4 counts on linebackers to rush the passer and get most of the pressure. The offense isn't sure which linebackers are going to rush. That means that the blockers need to study the defensive front prior to each snap and try to figure out which guys will attack. The offensive linemen need to each see the same things and communicate well to make sure no blitzers go unblocked. This is why teams love continuity up front. The more guys play together the more likely they are to think alike and communicate well.

I haven't said a lot about the Wildcat and the various things we may see. Vick's presence makes that package limitless. Rather than speculate on exactly what we'll see I'm just keeping an open mind. Last week I saw an NFL team do some very strange things. This week could be even crazier. All I can do is take my old friend Shrub's sage advice and "Hide 'n watch".


STs

Hold on to the ball, Hobbs. That's an order.

DeSean, don't catch punts inside the 5. That's an order.

Yo blockers...please find someone to block on KOs and please quit blocking in the back on punts. I know you guys get little credit and plenty of blame. I know what you do is a thankless job. I'd say I feel sorry for you, but me and most of the world would love to have thankless jobs with 6-figure paychecks. Do the dirty work, guys. Hobbs and DeSean need good, clean blocks.


KEYS TO THE GAME

* Limit turnovers. This is Football 101 obviously, but it is important against a team like KC that struggles to score points and come up with big plays. Make them go the long field.

* Run well. I'd prefer a conventional running attack, but in the end it doesn't matter if the yards come from Vick, Maclin, Westy, Shady, or Steve Van Buren. Just run the ball effectively. I want yards and 1st downs. Touchdowns are also welcome.

* Pressure. We must hit Cassel early and often. We need sacks, hurried throws, and poor QB play from him.

* Front lines. We need to control the LOS on both offense and defense. We're better up front and need to play like it. Last week the Saints won the LOS battle and it allowed them to win (along with Brees and his band of evil-doers). Nick Cole was terrific in the opener, but not so much last week. Nick, if you ever want a full-time starting gig you must be consistently good.

* Kolb. Kevin did a lot of really good things last week. We need more of that, but he's got to eliminate the mistakes. He has thrown several pick-6's in his young career. Good tackling hurt him on 2 of the returns, but Kevin has to be better with the ball. The Chiefs have game tape on him and will have some ideas of how to attack him. Kevin has to play better than last week.

* Familiarity. Todd Haley runs the KC offense. Clancy Pendergast runs the defense. Both came from Arizona. They know our team and our systems. They know how to beat us. We also know what they like to do, but we don't have as good a feel for them because they're with a new team. This could be an x-factor in the game.
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1 comment:

Stephen said...

This offense lately seems to have wandered off in some strange direction. I wish we would get back to whats made us a top 10 offense so many years in a row, offtackle runs with westy, getting the tight end involved early (we even have a good one now!) and a mixture of intermediate passing and screen passes. Our offense seems to be at its best when we really mix in the run the intermediate passing game.

We really can't afford to drop this one to KC, I know most people think we're a lock to win, and I anticipate it, but I really hope the guys don't lay another egg out there. Starting 1-2 is not where we want to be.