ReFo: Chiefs @ Raiders, Week 15
At the end of the day, football is about providing entertainment. You wouldn’t know that if you watched the Chiefs travel to Oakland, though then again, you probably weren’t watching. It seemed as if both teams and their coaches were fighting for better draft position, and the game itself didn’t matter.
Kansas City succeeded in moving a step closer to the No. 1 overall pick and performances like this really do suggest they need an infusion of talent — they had just four players grade in the green. On the other side, the Raiders did a good job of taking advantage of some poor competition, but it’s hard to say more than that. The Chiefs’ offensive line, for example, looked about as likely to pick up a blitz as Brady Quinn did to complete a downfield pass.
Let’s look at some individual performances.
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
Defensive Ends’ Differing Fortunes
You could have been forgiven for thinking Ropati Pitoitua (+3.4) was the third overall pick, while Tyson Jackson (-1.1) was the street free agent. The former Jet didn’t look interested in being blocked by either left guard Cooper Carlisle or left tackle Jared Veldheer as he was active all game long. Pitoitua had three tackles around the line of scrimmage and did a good job of preventing runs going outside of him on a number of other occasions. His highlight was probably the tackle he made short of a first down facing a 3rd-and-2 in the fourth quarter. From right end, he forced Veldheer a couple of yards into the backfield, disengaged, and made the stop in a display of textbook technique. The Washington State product wasn’t as effective as a pass rusher, though he did generate a pressure on one of 12 drop-backs (negated by penalty).
Starting down the line from Pitoitua, the underwhelming Jackson continues to occasionally make plays in the run game but generates absolutely nothing on pass plays. In 31 run snaps he managed a pair of defensive stops, but there were too many times when offensive lineman got the better of him. Khalif Barnes is not a good run blocker, but there were times when he dominated Jackson. Against the run, Jackson graded exactly average (+0.0), but you would have liked his chances to win the matchup before the game began. This game also suggests that his sack-and-pressure performance last week was an aberration in a career that has featured alarmingly little pressure in so many snaps.
Berry Playing to his Potential
Whenever a safety is drafted in the Top 5 you expect them to be special. Eric Berry (+5.7) was inconsistent as a rookie and then came back this season from injury and looked lost. It seems he simply needed some time to get acclimated, however, because he’s been a force since the bye. In the past eight weeks he’s amassed a +8.8 grade, putting some early-season struggles behind him. It’s not always a good thing when your safety leads your team in tackles, but seven of Berry’s 11 came around the line of scrimmage. The Raiders allowed him to play the majority of his time around the line by opting to forego the deep ball to their speedsters, and he took full advantage.
Five of his stops came when unblocked, but he still had to diagnose quickly and take good angles. The most impressive play came with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter. With the Raiders facing a 3rd-and-1 with a single wide receiver, Berry came into the box. Oakland ran a stretch play right at him but Berry was having none of it, as he cut down an oncoming Marcel Reece trying to block him and reached out to tackle Darren McFadden for a 2-yard loss.
It was a quiet day in terms of targets for Berry, but he made an impressive play on one of them. Covering tight end Brandon Myers on an out route with six minutes remaining in the second quarter, Berry undercut a Carson Palmer throw to make an athletic pass deflection. His only other target resulted in a 7-yard reception.
When Derrick Johnson (-1.9) and Tamba Hali (-1.8) struggle, you know Kansas City is in for a long day. Both have dominated on a fairly regular basis over the past few years, but they couldn’t overcome a stout Oakland front Sunday. Hali’s form has dipped significantly of late and Veldheer ensured that continued. He rushed the QB only 22 times, but generated just two hurries for a -0.2 pass-rushing grade. It was Hali’s run defense that really let him down, as the left side of the Raiders’ line handled him. In fact, he managed just a solitary stop in 47 run plays.
Johnson, meanwhile, looked worse against the run than he has all year. He started particularly slowly, having trouble with opposing fullbacks and tight ends. Mike Goodson also broke a couple of his tackles leading to big gains. A -2.8 grade in run defense shows it all, really.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Goodson shows McFadden
Darren McFadden (-2.3) has really struggled of late — taking far too many of his runs too far outside. That led to some big losses and some crucial failed conversions. The contrast between him and Mike Goodson (+2.7) was striking. While the former left good yardage on the field by refusing to go north and south, the latter followed his blocks with patience and then added yards after contact.
McFadden ran 30 times for 110 yards, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry. He also had only 62 yards after contact and a pair of forced missed tackles. Goodson proved it was predominantly the former first-round pick’s poor vision rather than the play of his line as he racked up 13 carries for 89 yards, of which 73 came after contact. He also had three forced missed tackles. DMC also had a crucial mistake in the passing game when Brandon Siler was able to force a fumble after he made a reception. The backup again flashed in just his solitary target. Goodson took a screen for 14 yards and a first down showing good speed on the play.
Raiders’ Defensive Ends Dominate
Lamarr Houston (+4.7) and Andre Carter (+4.2) put up impressive grades. The left defensive end’s performance was even more impressive when you consider he was going against one of the better right tackles in the league in Eric Winston — Houston had a hit and three hurries in 34 rushes. On the other side, Carter really got after it on his 27 rushes with a sack, three hits, and three hurries, albeit against a rookie third-round pick.
Both also won their fair share of battles in the run game, with Houston beating up on Winston once again. He had only a pair of tackles around the line of scrimmage, but you have to consider that was in just 11 run snaps. Carter also made an impressive play in his six reps, including beating TE Tony Moeaki for a tackle for no gain. Moeaki isn’t exactly the same player he was as a rookie, but he had been in form of late.
Secondary Takes Advantage
It didn’t seem to matter which corner Brady Quinn faced, he couldn’t make anything happen. Philip Adams (+1.1) started but was injured after just 10 snaps. Making his first NFL start, Adams logged a tackle for a loss before being forced off. His replacement, Brandian Ross (+3.1) — a 2011 free agent who’s been active for only a handful of games — played like a Pro-Bowler against the Chiefs’ passing game, allowing just three receptions on six targets for only 12 yards. He also made an impressive tackle around the line of scrimmage in his only contribution in the run game.
When he had to move back to safety because of an injury to Matt Giordano, Coye Francies came in and forced an incompletion. Slot corner Joselio Hanson (+2.2) had his second best game of the season, making an impressive interception and tackling his receiver for no gain on 4th-and-1. Finally, to converted safety Michael Huff who was manning the left corner spot again — despite being targeted five times, Huff didn’t give up a single completion. He also broke up a pass on a deep pattern intended for Jonathan Baldwin in the fourth quarter. In an odd note, the Texas product has now given up a QB rating of just 39.6 on three different occasions this year.
Still, it’s hard to ignore the quality of competition. The Chiefs’ offensive skill players feature the invisible former first-rounder Baldwin, 2011 street free agent Jamar Newsome, and an ineffective Dexter McCluster. None of them could generate separation and Quinn couldn’t hit the tight windows. Newsome, McCluster and Peyton Hillis all contributed with drops, to make matters worse. This offensive failure was on the coaches as well as the players — it’s amazing Jamaal Charles continues to be underused even with Todd Haley gone.
– Jamaal Charles’ stat sheet reads: nine attempts for 10 yards, but he gained 15 after contact and forced a missed tackle.
– The Raider’s defense had four sacks, seven hits, and nine hurries on just 38 Kansas City drop-backs.
– For the season, Brady Quinn now has stats of 2 of 15 for 81 yards and two interceptions when he goes deep. Few QBs look deep less frequently than Quinn, who looks for the long ball on only 9.4% of his pass attempts.
Not many players walked away from this game with any great credit (and few of those were on the Chiefs’ roster), but it’s hard to overlook the day Eric Berry had as a disruptive force around the line of scrimmage.
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