ReFo: KC @ JAX, Week 1

The Chiefs recovered from an early error to throttle the Jags and pile some early pressure on their young QB. Sam Monson has the best and worst from the matchup.

| 4 years ago
2013 refo wk1 kc@jax

ReFo: KC @ JAX, Week 1

2013 refo wk1 kc@jaxA few short months ago these two sides had a lot in common. They both finished the 2012 season with two wins, they both selected an offensive tackle with their first pick of the draft, and they both revamped their front office and coaching personnel.

Judging by this game however, only one of these teams is making significant strides in the right direction so far — the Chiefs. They were able to dominate in almost every facet of the game and, having gone down 2-0 early thanks to a blocking screw-up which led to a blocked punt for a safety, the Chiefs then rattled off 28 unanswered points and throttled Jacksonville.

But let’s move things down to a micro level and check out some individual performances of note.

Kansas City – Three Performances of Note

Strong Showing Up Front

I’ve long said that the Chiefs have the potential to put a very good O-line on the field when everybody is healthy. In this game their ideal line-up (at least in their eyes) was missing only RG Jon Asomoah. Geoff Schwartz in his stead graded +2.9 for the game, and he was one of four members of the line to grade in the green. Only top pick Eric Fisher failed to do so, earning a -1.5 grade thanks to some iffy run blocking at times. Branden Albert, the subject of much derision at times during the offseason when the Chiefs seemed intent on trading him, responded with a +3.6 grade, the best of the unit, and allowed just a single hit from 38 pass blocking snaps.

The Chiefs have the talent to be successful, especially if they can perform well up front. Judging by this display they’re well on their way.

Old and New Performers on D

It won’t surprise anybody that ILB Derrick Johnson was a standout performer in the game. He led the team in both tackles and stops, and looked every inch the All-Pro-caliber player he is. What was perhaps more surprising was some of the other positive performances on a defense that won its individual matchups more or less across the board. NT Dontari Poe, a player the Chiefs need to take a big step forward in performance, graded at +2.7, only his third game in the green since he came into the league. Poe controlled his man at the point of attack well, but also displayed the ability to collapse the pocket and put the center on skates on more than one occasion as a pass rusher.

The New QB

Based on this evidence, Alex Smith in Kansas City is exactly the right fit. The Chiefs are obviously doing all they can to help him out schematically, with a lot of passes coming out in under two seconds, and rarely asking him to do too much in terms of throw difficulty, but Smith responded by moving the chains comfortably, making good decisions, and providing enough of a threat elsewhere that the Chiefs can maximize their running backs. Smith went deep only once, failing to complete the pass by inches, but the most important thing is that he rarely put the ball in harm’s way, and was efficient enough in the passes he was asked to attempt to make it work. At this point we all know Alex Smith will never be Peyton Manning, but he might be good enough for the Chiefs to have success with him.

Jacksonville – Three Performances of Note

The Sacks

In my weekly segment on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City previewing this game, I said the Jaguars probably had the offensive tackles to shut down the Chiefs’ pass rush. It seemed I had been way off, given the fact the Chiefs notched six sacks in the game. However, if you look at each of them only one came against their tackles, when Justin Houston beat Luke Joeckel around the edge for the fourth sack. Eugene Monroe allowed a hit and a hurry in 52 pass blocks and conclusively won his battle with the Chiefs’ outside linebackers, while Houston and Joeckel was a more even battle, but definitely not a clear win for the Chiefs.

The issue was that, while the Jaguars’ tackles held up OK, nobody else did! Two of the sacks came unblocked, and the rest came when the interior was abused by various players. Kansas City definitely found ways to bring pressure against the Jags, who are going to need to find a way to shore up the inside if they are to protect their quarterback.

Gabbert Under Fire

This will fall under the category of a bad day at the office for Blaine Gabbert. Between injuries to his throwing hand and being forced to run for his life early and often, he’ll have better days, but at this stage he is running out of opportunities in Jacksonville. Even when he did finally make a nice play down the field it was negated by a vaguely dubious pass interference penalty called on Cecil Shorts for picking off the slot corner.

As poor as Gabbert was, his interceptions tell only half the story, as both of them came with a big assist from his Jaguars teammates. The first was as the result of a total breakdown in communication with his receiver, ending with the ball being thrown straight to Brandon Flowers, while the second came when Joeckel couldn’t cut Tamba Hali to the ground out of the throwing lane as Gabbert cocked to throw to the flat. It’s safe to say Gabbert isn’t being given much help in Jacksonville, but that fact might not buy him much more rope.

Anger Worth the Pick?

I’m not likely to endorse taking a punter with a third-round pick any time soon, but this game would be a good one to use if anybody was going to try it. This offseason we re-vamped our punter grading system with the help of NFL veteran Chris Kluwe. We have included several more facets of kicks and, in the new system, Anger punted his way to a +4.7 grade. He was particularly good on directional punting, and, as strange as it seems, the ball just sounds a little different when boomed off his foot compared to other punters.

Game Notes

– Brandon Flowers made life tough sledding for the Jaguars. He was thrown at 11 times, and allowed just 5 catches for 49 yards, while breaking one up and picking one off.

– Despite a quiet game, Dwayne Bowe was actually the Chiefs’ joint-most targeted receiver, and leading receiver in terms of catches. Kansas City, however, threw to five receivers five or more times, spreading the ball around.

– Discounting YAC, Blaine Gabbert threw for just 22 yards in the air.

PFF Game Ball

In what was one of the best graded defensive performances we’ve had at PFF this week, Derrick Johnson was the standout performance.


Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • Ben Fitzgerald

    What new “facets of kicks” have you guys put in your system? Thanks

  • DC5BOM

    Anger may have graded well in your system, but there is a problem with him. He out-kicks his coverage almost every time which gives the returner a chance to do something with the ball. He may kick it 50+ yards in the air every time, but when the return guy averages 8-9 yards on the return, it negates the advantage of a long kicker. Either the gunners need to speed it up, or he needs to put more hangtime and a little less distance on his punts.

  • Tarkus

    I don’t know about Smith moving the chains comfortably, considering they were forced into 10 punts, and their longest drive of the day was 57 yards.

    • C

      I think we can all agree that the Chiefs weren’t as agressive in the 2nd half considering the lead and the way the defense was playing. That safe style of playcalling will make it a lot easier for the Jags to defend.

  • Ben

    In Gabberts first pick I am nearly certain Shorts ran the wrong route. Had he run the curl the Gabbert threw, it would’ve made a classic curl-flat route combination. Unfortunately (and mind you I haven’t gotten a look at any tape for the game, so I can’t be sure) Gabbert still managed to make the wrong decision in a simple Hi-Low concept.

    • Ben

      EDIT: curl *that* Gabbert threw

  • Matt Dickson

    Sam, remember the Chiefs took Colquitt in the third round too… That appears to have worked out as well. Great punters can be real weapons in consistently pinning offenses deep against their own goal line. Setting up defenses to tee off; sometimes for safeties as the Chiefs accomplished last year with their win in New Orleans.

    Besides what’s the general success rate of a third round pick? Probably less than 40%. So if you’ve got a sure thing Punter, who’ll stabilize the position for a decade or more, available in the third I think it’s a no-brainier.

    Otherwise, great game analysis. Go Chiefs!!

    • Keenan Jones

      You couldn’t tell any of our fans that and they believe it. In-depth, objective analysis doesn’t seem to go over very well with many of them. Our previous GM was so maligned amongst the fan base that nothing he did was good in their eyes, even though we’re all on the outside looking in, with little to no information to form our opinions on. I guess my point is thanks for making sense of a topic that usually resorts to illogical comments when discussed amongst others who participate in comments boards on sites such and It’s rare that you ever have good analysis go on in either of those forums.

      • Matt Dickson

        Thanks Keenan– don’t know if you happened to catch the Chiefs-Cowboys game yesterday but our punter (Colquitt) came up big, consistently pinning the Cowboys deeps and always giving their offense long fields.

        Several times he pinned them within their own 5-yard line, several more times within their 10.

        It ended up a 1 point game differential, so it’s pretty easy to see how the Chief’s All Pro caliber punting was likely the difference in outcome.

        Good luck with your Jags this season!

        • Keenan Jones

          No, I didn’t manage to catch any of the other games other than the disappointment that was the Raiders vs. Jags. I remember a few of Anger’s points having them start behind their 20 though. I’m looking forward to our defense getting to the point where our defense can start taking better advantage of the field position though, as we’re not the point just yet.

          Thanks for the well wishes, as we’re going to need them.