New York Jets Week 9 Know Thy Enemy: Kansas City Chiefs
Oct 26, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) drops back to pass against the St. Louis Rams at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won the game 34-7. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
This week I spoke with Ben Nielsen, editor of FanSided’s Kansas City Chiefs’ site Arrowhead Addict, about this week’s game between the Jets and the Chiefs. His answers to Chiefs’-related questions and his prediction are below. Since the Chiefs don’t use their wide receivers to attack down the field and their systems mirror the Jets offensively (West Coast offense) and defensively (Bob Sutton runs their defense using Rex Ryan’s playbook) I think this game is closer than most think but Kansas City’s pass rush will overwhelm the Jets in the end with Kansas City taking a 27-21 victory.
Question 1 – Alex Smith has a sore shoulder. How is he progressing? Will his injury have an effect on his play on Sunday?
A: Smith should be fine for Sunday. He was a full participant in practice all week and didn’t look to be bothered much by his shoulder in last week’s win over the Rams. A lot of us were surprised to hear he was hurt the day after the game.
I don’t think his injury will impact much of what the Chiefs like to do on offense if Smith’s shoulder flairs up.
Kansas City doesn’t attack downfield much. Instead they like to get their playmakers in space and let them make plays after the catch. The Chiefs rank in the top five in yards after catch so they’ve been pretty successful with this concept. Because they don’t throw the ball down field much it takes a lot of pressure off of Smith’s shoulder since he won’t have to worry about launching the ball downfield often.
Sep 7, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton (left) shakes hands with Tennessee Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt during warm ups at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Question 2 – How similar is Bob Sutton’s scheme to his former boss Rex Ryan?
A: Schematically the Chiefs are almost identical the the Jets its just that the ingredients are different. What the Chiefs lack in interior defensive line play – outside of Dontarti Poe the Chiefs are pretty then on the defensive line – they make up for in outside pass rushers with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali.
The Chiefs have been without four starters on defense for most of the season – Derrick Johnson, Mike DeVito, Joe Mays, and Eric Berry – so the defense has been altered a bit to adjust for the new starters.
Conceptually, the Chiefs and the Jets are very similar with their attacking style and trying to confuse the quarterback. It’s been pretty successful for the Chiefs through KC’s first seven games this season.
Oct 19, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid grimaces during the first quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Question 3 – What has been the biggest surprise this season for the Chiefs?
A: That KC is in the playoff hunt.
Most fans braced for a step back given how difficult the schedule is for the Chiefs this season. They’ve already played Denver, New England, San Francisco, and San Diego and still have games left against Seattle, Arizona, Denver, and San Diego. It just seems every other week the Chiefs are playing a high level opponent.
Add to that all of the injuries and suspensions the Chiefs have had to deal with and it seems even more improbable. Along with the four injuries I mentioned earlier, the Chiefs are missing starting guard Jeff Allen and Donnie Avery. Dwayne Bowe and Donald Stephenson have each missed games due to suspension. Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, De’Anthony Thomas, and Marcus Cooper have also missed games to injury.
For the first four games of the season the Chiefs were averaging about seven missing starters per game. It was getting pretty insane at points. Yet somehow the Chiefs are in the mix for a wild card spot at the midway point of the season. Few predicted this for the Chiefs, especially after week one.
Oct 19, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt (2) and tackle Eric Fisher (72) celebrate with kicker Cairo Santos (5) after he kicked a 48 yard field goal with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter to defeat the San Diego Chargers 23-20 at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Question 4 – What has been the biggest disappointment?
A: Aside from the injuries, the biggest disappointment has been the slow development of rookie Dee Ford and second year tackle Eric Fisher.
Fisher has battled through injuries and a position change from right to left tackle. He missed virtually all of the offseason workouts and was held back in training camp so there is some hope he’ll start looking more consistent in the second half of the season. Still, one would hope for better production at this point from a former number one overall pick.
Ford, the Chiefs first round pick this year, has barely seen the field. He did record his first sack last week against the Rams but he’s had a lot of moments where he’s looked completely lost on the field.
Both players are still very young and there are high ceilings for both but many fans wish they were seeing more out of their first round picks at this stage of the season.
Oct 26, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) rushes for a touchdown during the second half against the St. Louis Rams at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 34-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Question 5 – What is your prediction for the game, including score?
A: The Chiefs are in the easiest stretch of their season with back-to-back home games against the Rams and Jets followed by a road trip to Buffalo. The Chiefs absolutely have to win all three of these games if they want any shot at making the playoffs this season so I don’t expect a flat performance (*fingers crossed*).
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The last time the Chiefs faced Michael Vick it was in Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia in a Thursday night game. In that game Vick was 13-for-30 for 201 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions with 99 yards on the ground. Vick was also sacked six times and lost two fumbles. None of that really means much now given that he’s on a new team with a new scheme but the Chiefs at least know how contain him via the air.
Assuming Jamaal Charles gets about 20 touches this game – something that’s been a problem early in the season – the Chiefs offense should be balanced enough to control the clock and put up about 27-30 points on the Jets. That should be enough to win the game.
Final prediction: Chiefs 27, Jets 10