ReFo: Broncos @ Chiefs, Week 12
It’s certainly fair to say the Kansas City defense has not met expectations this year. While the run defense has been reasonable, they have struggled both to get consistent pressure and in coverage. Some may say the issues in the secondary are because of the lack of quarterback disruptions, but that was not the case in this game as for the most part the defensive backs did a good job of limiting Peyton Manning, particularly deep, despite the pass rush pressuring him on only six of 40 drop-backs.
However, this is still Manning and a game plan predicated on keeping it close almost plays into the hands of the NFL’s most nerveless triggerman. A solid win for Denver and they must be pleased with a good, if hardly spectacular, showing from Knowshon Moreno. They will be concerned, though, about their inability to shut down the run and how the Chiefs were able to limit the destructive capacity of their pass rushers. That said, if opponents score only 9 points from here on in, John Fox will feel very confident his offense can post a winning total.
Denver – Three Performances of Note
He was hardly explosive, but Moreno (+1.2) did enough to suggest the coaching staff wasn’t stupid to prefer him to Ronnie Hillman. The fluff about differences in pass protection ability turned out to be just that, as Moreno was kept in to block on only two of 34 pass attempts — Hillman was kept back on one of four. Clearly, the truth is they trust him to get the job done as a runner and while he has none of Hillman’s game-breaking skill, he does know how to follow his blockers, as he twice almost came to a stop as he allowed holes to develop but still picked up good yardage. He never broke a tackle, picked up only 1.9 yards after contact per attempt, and the sharpness of his cuts were in stark contrast to Jamaal Charles, but neither did he fumble in picking up his 111 yards from scrimmage.
Maybe They Were Right
One of the main topics of conversation in camp this year was how Mike Adams (+4.9) was going to solidify the secondary. After a sound, if not highlight-filled, tenure in Cleveland it was probably just another example of the bloated expectations that come with preseason. This looked to be the case early, as his start to the season somewhat mimicked his time with the Browns — safe and subdued.
However, in this game he played very well indeed, and probably had the best game of his career. His seven tackles resulted in four stops, his only rush garnered a hit, his coverage deep on Jamar Newsome probably saved a touchdown, and he forced a fumble. This was high-quality safety play in all facets of the game.
So maybe MLB, Joe Mays has limitations — we know he has issues in coverage, but what we also know is that coming forward he relished contact. He was a good (and at times excellent) run stuffer. Following his broken leg, replacing him with Keith Brooking (-2.3) was always going to present problems, particularly as run defense was not Wesley Woodyard’s strong suit either. This game was a coaching tape in and of itself of how to attack the Broncos — get a lineman to the second level. Time and again both Brooking and Woodyard were taken out of their lanes. And not just by linemen. Watch the ease with which WR Newsome blocks Brooking with 11:23 to go in the third quarter and puts him on his backside.
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
Sink or Sink?
There’s nothing more pathetic in the NFL than seeing a coach go down in a blaze of padding and shrink-wrap. If you make a change at quarterback to a clearly inferior player (in my opinion at least) then the least you can do is allow him to play. I’m no Brady Quinn (-1.6) fan, but if you understandably make a swap, at least let the guy play — what can go wrong that would be worse than what’s currently going on? The idea of playing conservative football against Manning with Quinn at QB has about the same credence as Mitt Romney trying to take on Barack Obama on a pro social welfare ticket — you may lose by less, but you’ll still lose.
Before the fourth quarter and the Hail Mary etc, Quin’s average depth of target was a mere 6 yards and that was bolstered significantly by the 40 yarder that Adams only just managed to defense. After that his next longest throw was nine yards. This is only speculation, but the fact that when he did later go deep two consecutive balls fell out of bounds and uncatchable suggests he was wound so tight into not making errors he never gave himself a chance to succeed. Either that or he’s just inaccurate — you decide.
It’s difficult to be definitive on this because the Chiefs’ game plan was so limited, but when rookie LT, Donald Stephenson (+2.2) gives up only one hit to the combination of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil you have to be satisfied as a KC scout. Filling in for the injured Branden Albert, Stephenson not only performed in pass protection but showed some decent ability as a run blocker too. Watch the way with 9:39 left in the fourth he moves up to the second level, gets good position on Woodyard and keeps him moving backwards — well over 15 yards.
Routt and the Baby
You never know what’s going on behind closed doors, but on the field of play Stanford Routt was released on the basis of two (very) bad games. Against Tampa Bay and Oakland he gave up 284 yards and three touchdowns. In his previous five games he’d allowed an average of 41 yards a game and no touchdowns.
Sometimes, in a rush to look tough on incompetence, along with the bathwater so goes the baby. Clearly 2.33 yards per coverage snap (YpCS) is unacceptable, but by way of comparison Aqib Talib’s number is 2.36. Perhaps the better comparator is Jalil Brown (-2.3) whose YpCS is 2.26 overall, and 2.87 in this game. He was the only player in the secondary to play poorly and ended up allowing 112 yards and a touchdown (although to be fair his coverage on Demaryius Thomas on the play was not bad). Last year I screamed like a stuck pig when the Bears Tim Jennings was benched after two poor plays. The coaches will tell you “that’s what made him the player he is now”. Todd Haley will tell you he ‘made’ Derrick Johnson by benching him for a year. Personally, the only thing I think it made was the coaches look stupid.
— Just to confirm, Joel Dreessen is the blocking tight end and Jacob Tamme the receiver. Tamme spent 22% of his snaps blocking, compared to Dreessen’s count of 65%.
— Former 26th overall first-round pick Jonathan Baldwin ran 15 routes, was targeted once and never had a reception. Second-year free agent Jamar Newsome ran six routes and was targeted three times with one 10-yard catch.
— In this game, Tyson Jackson doubled his quarterback disruptions for the year. After a hit and hurry he now has four overall on 183 pass rushes. Talk about building up a head of steam.
Safety Mike Adams‘ performance was so well rounded it’s difficult to look elsewhere.
Follow Neil on Twitter @PFF_Neil