ReFo: Chiefs @ Redskins, Week 14
The Chiefs ran away with this one thanks to some great special-teams play, leaving Washington to possibly make major changes in their organization.
ReFo: Chiefs @ Redskins, Week 14
After three straight losses, many had begun to see the Kansas City Chiefs as a team destined to go one-and-done in the playoffs, with little reason to get excited in the past month. The best way to remedy that is to go out and put together a dominant performance, and that’s exactly what they did when they visited the Washington Redskins yesterday.
Dominated in all three phases of the game, Washington fell behind early and was never able to recover, with the game over by midway through the second quarter – and that’s perhaps being kind. The loss leaves more questions for the organization, and you have to wonder what changes will be made in the near future.
It was a game that featured a plethora of impressive performances, particularly from the Chiefs, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at who stood out on the snowy field in Landover, Maryland on Sunday.
Kansas City – Three Performances of Note
Putting the Special in Special Teams
It’s not often you see a team go out and dominate like this on the road, but the Chiefs took care of business in all phases of the game, including leaving Washington in their wake with some big plays from their return units in the first half. Dexter McCluster got things started on 4th-and-6 with 9:05 left in the opening quarter, taking advantage of a poor punt by Saverio Rocca to speed past most of the coverage unit on his way to a 60-yard return that set the Chiefs up at the Washington 13-yard line. He wasn’t finished there, however, as he did one better on 4th-and-1 with 10:05 to go in the first half. Receiving the ball at the 26-yard line, he made one cut and then followed his blocks, again blazing past the Washington coverage unit, this time all the way for a touchdown.
Trailing 31-0 with 3:49 to go in the first half, Washington put together a quick 80-yard drive to score their first touchdown but, if there’s ever a sign that it’s just not going to be your day, it came on the ensuing kickoff. Quintin Demps caught the ball at his own five-yard line and, thanks to some solid blocking, had a reasonably clean run to midfield. After that he was able to avoid a fairly feeble attempt by kicker Kai Forbath to force him to the sideline before cutting inside two Washington defenders at the 10-yard line to give the Chiefs a 38-7 lead.
Strong Showing from the Front Seven
As we head towards the end of the season, there’s no secret that a large part of the Chiefs’ success has been how well their front seven has played, and Sunday’s victory was no different. From the seven players who started the game, Frank Zombo (-1.0) finished with the lowest grade, and was the only one to come away with a negative grade. Up front the trio of Mike Devito (+2.1), Dontari Poe (+2.5) and Tyson Jackson (+3.1) combined for eight defensive stops, with Jackson recording his third and fourth sacks of the year.
At linebacker, the play of Zombo highlighted how good Justin Houston has been, but Tamba Hali (+3.2) was able to play well enough that the Chiefs got by without him. Hali finished with two sacks and three hurries from 34 pass rushing attempts, giving him a Pass Rushing Productivity Rating of 12.5. Meanwhile, on the inside, Derrick Johnson (+3.0) had an impressive outing, with his interception of Robert Griffin on 1st-and-10 with 2:39 to go in the opening quarter the highlight of his day.
Charles Goes Off
The fact that Jamaal Charles (+3.0) had his best game of the season so far is impressive enough, but when you consider we was able to rush for 36 more yards than he has in any other game this season in just three quarters, you realize just how good he was on Sunday. He was a handful for Washington defenders when he was on the field throughout, but watch what he does on 1st-and-10 1:22 left in the third quarter. Cutting past, and running through, four attempted tackles, he raced downfield for a 33-yard gain, with only a chasing Brian Orakpo stopping him from taking it the distance. For the day he finished with six missed tackles forced from 19 carries and an average of 5.11 Yards After Contact Per Attempt, giving him an Elusive Rating of 145.9.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
RGIII – Jekyll and Hyde
As he continues his comeback from the knee injury late last season, the only thing we’ve been able to count on this season from Griffin (-3.6) is that he’s likely to be really good or really bad. Unfortunately the bad has outweighed the good this year, and that was the case again against the Chiefs. The interception by Johnson was particularly bad, with him just completely missing the linebacker and allowing him to break on the ball and almost take it back the other way for a score. Completing just 37.5% of his pass under pressure, Griffin looked uncomfortable for most of the game before sitting out the final quarter with the game over by some distance. His sensational rookie year seems a distant memory, with just three games left to try and turn around a dismal second season for last year’s second overall pick in the NFL Draft.
If there was a bright spot for Washington against the Chiefs, it was the play of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (+2.7) who was one of just four Redskins’ defenders to finish the game with a positive grade. With just 14 pass rushing opportunities he was able to register a hit and a hurry, not earth-shattering but certainly not bad given the lack of opportunities he had, however it was against the run where he really stood out. With four of his six tackles resulting in a defensive stop, the former first-round draft pick came away with a stellar Run Stop Percentage of 11.1%, with the highlight being beating the lead block of Anthony Sherman on 2nd-and-10 with 13:41 left in the third quarter to record a tackle for no gain.
Beaten in the Middle of the Field
In a game that they never really had any control in, the Redskins didn’t find themselves giving up big plays through the air, with the Chiefs attempting just five passes that traveled 10 yards or more through the air, with two completions for 38 yards and an interception. And yet Alex Smith was still able to get the ball to his receivers when he needed to, beating them with quick, short passes across the middle. 10 of his 20 attempts came between the numbers and traveled fewer than 10 yards through the air, with seven completions going for 72 yards and a touchdown. That’s what happens when you can’t wrap up, with missed tackles by the Redskins helping the Chiefs’ receivers to pick up 91 of their 154 yards after the catch.
– Washington missed 12 tackles on defense, with safeties Bacarri Rambo and Reed Doughty combining for five.
– The Chiefs forced seven missed tackles on the ground, with the Redskins failing to manage any.
– After struggling in recent weeks, Marcus Cooper allowed just 39 yards to be completed into his coverage, and came away with two pass breakups as well.
It was a dominant all-around performance with plenty of worthy candidates but Jamaal Charles was able to have his best rushing day of the year so far, despite resting for the final quarter.
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Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.