SD-KC grades: Chiefs’ offense fuels comeback

Kansas City sees its defense struggle, but makes enough big plays on offense to produce a big comeback win.

| 10 months ago
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

SD-KC grades: Chiefs’ offense fuels comeback

Kansas City Chiefs 33, San Diego Chargers 27 (OT)

Here are the highest-graded players and top storylines from the Kansas City Chiefs’ Week 1 win over the San Diego Chargers:

San Diego Chargers

Quarterback grade: Philip Rivers, 73.7

Rivers finished with a solid game statistically (25-of-36 for 243 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions), but the Chargers’ passing game stalled after top target Keenan Allen (six catches on seven targets, for 63 yards) left the game with an apparent knee injury. Most of Rivers’ attempts were underneath throws to RB Danny Woodhead (five catches on five targets for 31 yards and one TD) and WR Travis Benjamin (seven of seven for 32 yards). Rivers attempted just eight passes that traveled more than 10 yards downfield, and while the Chargers were protecting a big lead for much of the game, their last three drives ended in punts and their offense did not have a possession in overtime.

Top offensive grades:

RT Joe Barksdale, 82.9

C Matt Slauson, 81.7

WR Keenan Allen, 79.3

RG D.J. Fluker, 78.3

LG Orlando Franklin, 75.1

O-line leads the San Diego offense

San Diego’s offensive line was excellent in pass protection in this game, allowing only seven total pressures (including one sack) on 41 pass attempts. C Matt Slauson and RG D.J. Fluker were both perfect in pass protection, and Fluker and RT Joe Barksdale stood out for their work in the run game. Running backs Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead took advantage of the strong blocking in front of them, combining for 145 total yards (68 yards after contact, five missed tackles forced).

Top defensive grades:

CB Brandon Flowers, 80.3

OLB Melvin Ingram, 74.6

DE Corey Liuget, 74.1

CB Casey Hayward, 73.7

CB Jason Verrett, 71.5

Attaochu makes the case for more playing time

NT Brandon Mebane earned a better pass-rush grade in this game than he did during the entire 2015 season, after totaling two sacks, a hit and three hurries on just 18 pass-rush attempts. OLB Jerry Attaochu was used strictly as a situational pass-rusher (28 of 33 snaps were pass plays), and stated his case for a larger role in the defense. Attaochu finished with one sack, two hits and two hurries, while starter Kyle Emanuel did not record a single pressure in 19 pass rushes and also earned negative grades for both pass coverage and run defense. CB Brandon Flowers allowed 4 of 8 completions for 36 yards into his coverage, earning the best grade among San Diego defensive backs.

Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterback grade: Alex Smith, 78.8

Smith grades well in leading comeback effort

Alex Smith led the Chiefs back from a 21-3 first half deficit, finishing 34 of 45 for 363 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also added the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a speed-option run, his only designed rushing attempt of the game. Smith finished 9 of 14 for 176 yards and a touchdown on passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield, and picked on Chargers LB Manti Te’o throughout the game, completing all seven of his passes for 51 yards into Te’o’s coverage.

Top offensive grades: 

TE Travis Kelce, 82.3

RG Laurent Duvarney-Tardif, 79.4

QB Alex Smith, 78.8

RB Spencer Ware, 76.3

RT Mitchell Schwartz, 75.7

Line helps fuel Chiefs’ offensive success

Even though they fell into an early deficit and were forced to abandon any semblance of run/pass balance, Kansas City’s offensive line did a nice job protecting QB Alex Smith. None of the Chiefs’ starting offensive linemen earned a negative pass-protection grade, and RG Laurent Duvarney-Tardif followed up last season’s strong second half (no sacks or hits allowed after Week 8) with an encouraging start to 2016. Duvarney-Tardif was perfect in his 55 snaps in pass protection, and also graded positively on run plays.

Top defensive grades:

OLB Tamba Hali, 77.4

SS Eric Berry, 71.6

CB Philip Gaines, 67.8

CB Steven Nelson, 52.6

FS Ron Parker, 52.3


Chiefs’ front-seven play is worrisome

Outside of OLB Tamba Hali (team-best 77.4 overall grade, three hurries), Kansas City’s front seven was consistently ineffective. Despite finishing with eight total tackles, LB Justin March-Lillard struggled to get off of blocks in time to make a positive impact, and finished with a team-worst 31.5 grade. Starting defensive ends Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard combined for 51 pass-rush attempts without recording a single pressure, and LB Derrick Johnson missed three tackles.

Get access to grades for every player, complete with positional rankings, in our Player Grades tool.

  • Brandon Chester

    Alex Smith led the Chiefs back from a 21-3 first half deficit, finishing 34 of 45 for 363 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

    He did have an INT. I’m curious to see how accurate these grades can be especially with how fast you guys grade them.

    • Paddy Holland

      he did miss a few guys and held onto the ball too long on at least one of the sacks. however, that was a really impressive second half showing, i wouldnt expect the chiefs to win if smith has so many attempts. I imagine grading someone like smith is tough because his good work pre-snap may lead to positive, but simple plays. for example, he had a number of relatively simple throws to spencer ware for significant gains on plays where he identified the weak spot (teo single coverage) and exploited it. other qbs might rely on their arm more, resulting in the good execution of needlessly higher difficulty plays and greater applause from pundits and critics

      • Brandon Chester

        Absolutely agree his first half was worrisome. Along with everyone else for the most part.

        You hit the nail on the head with Smith. He doesn’t force many throws in there. He uses his brain to out maneuver his adversaries. Smith will have a career year. Let’s hope that defense can maintain decent play to keep KC’s head above water.

    • cyberry

      That interception was a awesome play, It hit Maclin right in the hands and somehow the CB (in very tight coverage) came up with ball.. I can see why Smith didn’t get much if any negative points. If a person would have blinked they probably swear it was a completed pass..

      But I thought Eric Berry looked very rusty in the 1st half, he had some missed tackles from where I was setting.. I’m a Big fan of Berry, But that score seems high..

      • Brandon Chester

        Agree with the INT. Great pick. Nothing anyone can do about that. Mac had the ball taken away from him.

        EB was a little rusty. Everyone was for the most part. DJ missed tackles. Parker struggled. Peters struggled coveting Allen. Howard and Bailey had zero pressures out or 50+ snaps. This defense needs time to gel. Good thing they have that offense to fall back on. I can’t wait for Charles and Ware to get on the field at the same time.

        • cyberry

          I wonder if March is ready for a starting role at this time.. He wasn’t reading the play well and out of position..often, (He was attacking..that’s being nice.. the wrong gap).. Then he was letting the guards control him and shitting tackling..

          • Brandon Chester

            Id by lying If I said he was. The only problem is Barrington injured his hamstring versus San Diego. He fits that mold as a run stopping LB. I can’t blame it all on March tho. That defensive line was manhandled. They were a top tier defensive line primarily for their run stopping abilities. Even DJ struggled as he missed 3 tackles. This was definitely a learning experience for our defense. Veterans and youngsters alike need to review the tape and grow from it. I would try out Barrington I’d healthy. He was decent for the packers in 2014, I’ll be waiting for the injury update in practice.

      • shawnthesheep

        The pick was amazing. Verrett reached around the receiver and ripped the ball away with one hand. I thought the game was over for sure at that point.

    • 816KillaCityRoyalChief816

      Don’t short change him. 24-3 in the 2nd half half is more impressive.

      • Brandon Chester

        Huh? Who was I short changing?

        • 816KillaCityRoyalChief816

          Was adding on to what your were saying. You said 21-3 first half deficit and I said 24-3 in the 2nd half is more impressive.

      • Brandon Chester

        My comment above was to the writer of the article. When it first was published he had smith throwing zero INT’s. I was correcting him.

  • pzebich

    I had KC picked on my Survival board, thought I was out already! Good comeback.

  • 24AHAD

    More Chris Jones please Andy

  • Chris

    How come these grades don’t match the PFF subscription player grades page? Where is Melvin Gordon with the 80.5 grade or Brandon Mebane with the 81.7 grade?

  • crosseyedlemon

    A win is a win but I’m a little concerned at the imbalance of the Chiefs offense. 19 rush attempts won’t be enough to get the job done once they start facing stronger teams.

    • Malachi

      andy reid loves abandoning the run, always has

      • cyberry

        All teams abandon the run when they are behind by 3 TD’s..

        • Malachi

          you clearly are missing the bigger point. go ask brian westbrook about it

    • cyberry

      Are you serious? The Chiefs where down 21-3 at half time and your concerned because they quit running the ball .. When a team gets that far behind the game plan goes out the window

      • Brandon Chester

        Right I think they averaged like 4.4 yards per carry. What is that not enough?

  • Malachi

    if eric fisher made the all-week-1-team with an 82.0 then why is he not listed in KC’s top 5 off players?

  • Malachi

    KC’s vaunted D looked mortal without j. houston

  • ThunderBuddy

    What’s Mike McCoys grade?