The Chiefs suffered their first loss of the season last Sunday at the hands of the Colts, and it was just like old times all over again. Luckily for you guys, I’m not here to tell you over and over again that run defense doesn’t matter. There are other people out there that will take care of that.
I will say that the run defense would have mattered even less had the Chiefs pass rush been able to convert pressures into sacks, because the secondary held up their end of the bargain.
I mentioned last week that the Detroit Lions and the Houston Texans pose the biggest threat vertically to the Chiefs secondary. After last weeks game that still holds true, because the Colts had absolutely no shot at challenging them vertically as you’ll see in this review.
First play we have to give Spagnuolo some credit. He’s done a really good job this season of anticipating when teams want to take a shot downfield against his defense and called plays to counteract that.
Easiest way to counteract deep shots off of play action, especially against ones that are two man routes is call deep zone coverage.
Chiefs come out in basic cover three and there’s nowhere to go with this ball. Everyone gets good depth and Juan Thornhill keeps everything in front of him. This play has no chance, but nearly gains a first down because the Chiefs can’t get home and Jacoby Brissett is able to find his outlet at the very last second.
I know we focus on the secondary in these reviews, but credit must be given where credit is due. Darron Lee makes a really good play here in zone coverage.
Colts get everyone flowing to the short side of the field and want to sneak the tight end across the field knowing the receivers have cleared out everyone on with deep routes.
Lee recognizes the tight end coming the other way and makes the play to hold him to a short gain. That recognition was the difference between four yard gain -on a great play design- and a play that goes for chunk yardage.
Here’s the interception by Tyrann Mathieu. The Colts are trying to take a page out of the Chiefs book and want to flood his zone. The Chiefs are in Tampa two (a coverage that I absolutely despise), and their objective is to force Mathieu into making a decision. Help the linebacker carrying the seam route or take away the sideline route.
Wilson does a really good job of carrying his man up the seam which allows Mathieu to hold his ground between the two routes and keep his eyes on the quarterback.
The receivers actually do him a favor by not getting enough distance from each other which essentially allows him to cover two guys at once with his range. He reads Brissett and finishes with the interception.
We’ll finish this review with another example of the Chiefs and their really solid night in coverage. Bashaud Breeland was actually flagged for holding and it was honestly one of the worst calls of the night because the receiver tripped on his own.
It’s extremely interesting as to what the Colts saw on film, and why they decided to go with so many play action passes. Not just play action but plays that are designed to take shots down the field. This is also all the visual evidence you need that running the ball effectively does in fact NOT increase your effectiveness on play action, but that’s another conversation.
Brissett finished the game 1-of-5 on passes 10-plus yards down the field. The one pass he completed was during the two minute drill to Hilton before the end of the first half.
Morris Claiborne only saw 24 snaps as he was eased back into the lineup wasn’t targeted but looked good during his snaps. Expect to see more of him against the Texans on Sunday, as they’re assuredly going to take more and better designed shots downfield both on and off script.
Don’t expect him to come in and immediately take Chavarius Ward’s snaps, one, because Sunday will only be his second game this year and two, because quite frankly they need the depth at corner so Ward has to keep playing.
The Chiefs secondary played extremely well against the Colts and had it not been for the fact that the defense as a whole only forced five total third downs in the second half they’d have been able to get off the field more.
Sunday will be a huge test for everyone in the secondary, that includes Spagnuolo who can help them out with the proper calls like he did against the Colts.