Post-primetime perspective. On Monday Night Football, we witnessed the AFC West divisional matchup between the Chiefs and the Broncos. This game was high in altitude as it was in Denver, but also high in people’s expectations for an NFL game. Kansas City’s offense had been on fire going into this contest. The question was could they keep it going? Here are my thoughts on the Chiefs-Broncos game.
I decided to incorporate songs from classic rock bands in this article. It starts in the title with, appropriately the opening track on Led Zepplin’s debut album.
Run Run Run
The Broncos greatest success in this game was running the football. Much like the Velvet Underground song, whenever an RB got the ball they would Run Run Run. Whether it was missed tackles on defenders not getting off blocks, the Chiefs had a hard time stopping the Denver run game. On the Broncs first 7 carries on 1st down, they ran for 69 yards. Three different players had at least 18 rush yards on one play. One of those players, Emmanuel Sanders, was not even an RB.
All of this success begs the question. Why did they ever stop running? On the opening drive two of the Broncos first three plays were runs that went for 1st downs. Afterward, they proceeded to pass three times and were forced to kick a field goal. Moving forward, other teams can take away that the Chiefs are very vulnerable to runs, especially up the middle.
Long Distance Runaround
At key points during the game, the Chiefs offensive line made some key plays. On Kansas City’s opening drive, they had an early 4th-and-1 on their own 34. Andy Reid decided to go for it even though they were stuffed for no gain on the previous play. Kareem Hunt ran right up the middle and it set the tone early for the offensive line. They only allowed 1 sack in the entire game, which is impressive considering that Von Miller was among those rushing the passer. Part of that can also be attributed to Patrick Mahomes for getting the ball out quickly, and the play calling for getting him quick quality options.
One member of the offensive line that I truly admire is right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, M.D. Early in the Chiefs first TD drive, he helped clear space up the middle for a 1st down run. Two plays later, he pulled out to the left side and, along with TE Travis Kelce, made key blocks on Hunt’s season-high 45-yard run. It brought to life the Yes song Long Distance Runaround. They used Duverney-Tardif a few times on outside runs and it worked well. The entire o-line deserves credit, including right tackle Mitchell Schwartz who was often successfully blocking Von Miller.
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Too Much of Anything
So far in 2018, Andy Ried has employed several pre-snap motions in the offensive plays. This normally causes confusion on the defensive side and can lead either to mismatches or open players. As The Who song, Too Much of Anything is too much. On one particular play in the first half, there were 4 different players with pre-snap motions, most of which were crossing the formation. Unfortunately, De’Anthony Thomas miss timed his move and got in the way of the ball as it was snapped. Fortunately for the Chiefs, QB Patrick Mahomes was able to get on top of it. The reason that Kansas City felt the need for all of this trickery was the fact that the Broncos defenders were playing tight coverage on most of the receivers. Tyreek Hill‘s speed was usually respected with some sort of cushion, but most Chiefs were not afforded that.
New Kid in Town
At times Mohomes demonstrated impressive awareness. On a particular play, he scrambled and when it looked like he would take off and run, Kelce got open. Mahomes tossed a 29-yard dime when he was right on the line of scrimmage. Just before throwing, he even swerved slightly sideways to ensure that he did not cross the line of scrimmage. It was the type of play that I would expect Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson to make, and not many others. I am not saying that Mahomes is on that level yet, but a path to his NFL ascension is available. It is possible that is just the New Kid in Town, like in the Eagles’ song and that he is simply Patrick come lately. However, I believe this is only the beginning for Mahomes.
Wild West End
One thing is for certain, taking after the Dire Straits song it certainly was a Wild (AFC) West End to a game. As much as the Chiefs looked impressive on offense, they still could have lost the game. With 22 seconds left, the ball was at the Kansas City 28. Demaryius Thomas got open and would have scored if not for a Case Keenum miss. Down 27-23, that probably would have won Denver the game.
On the next play (4th down), Keenum completed a pass to Courtland Sutton right at the first down marker, or so it seemed. The rookie wide receiver attempted to lateral the ball to Emanuel Sanders but it fell to the ground. Had it worked, it appeared that Sanders had a shot at running it into the end zone. If Sutton had caught it, there would have been 12 seconds left, probably enough time to line up and spike the ball. That would have given the Broncos one last chance to score.
If either of those passes was completed, we may have been talking about a defensive breakdown that led to a Chiefs loss. Instead, people are probably celebrating Mahomes’ exploits, as they should. However, this game demonstrated that this defense has a lot of work to do if Kansas City plans on competing for a Sper Bowl.
Thank you for reading. I hope that this article primed you to read other content from Full Press Coverage.