Tale of the Tape: NFL Week 6 — Chiefs at Texans
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A LiveBall Sports Game Tape Review.
The first section looks at how the Chiefs offense fared against the Texans defense.
- The Chiefs are formation diverse, part of an NFL trend beginning this year that emphasizes spread concepts with fewer receivers.
- In this game, the Chiefs ran a lot of single receiver stuff with Dwayne Bowe, likely because of Chris Chambers being inactive. Clearly, the weakness of the Texans is their secondary.
- Jamaal Charles did not run with great vision or explosiveness in this game. One thing that sticks out about Charles is his patience in letting plays develop. He has an uncanny sense of timing and anticipation for his blocks. He just needs to be able to find the hole. Thomas Jones just isn’t all that explosive anymore, though he got loose a few times in this game.
- An under-publicized reason for the Chiefs success this year is that their offensive line, which has been a sieve since 2007, is playing well as a unit. They were the better in the trenches than the Texans DL in this one.
- WR/RB Dexter McCluster really had a shot to get loose in this game, and just never made that one cut he was drafted to do. He had increased opportunity with Chris Chambers sidelined.
- Matt Cassel had a really keen sense of his own team’s gameplan, knowing pre-snap when he would be outnumbered by the Texans pressure schemes. This was the key to the game, because if the Texans were going to win on the side of the ball where they have not had good results this year, they were going to need to confuse Cassel. The Chiefs were able to go without a back in protection on a lot of plays without Cassel being noticeably or critically indecisive in his reads. He was also as accurate today as I have ever seen him.
- The Texans have a strong tendency to show the opposing quarterback their coverages pre-snap. They aren’t good enough in the secondary to show quarters or cover two before the snap and then cover the voids in the zone. Matt Cassel ate that up.
- In a cruel twist of fate, Demeco Ryans might have defensed the TD pass to Dwayne Bowe had he not torn through his Achilles on the very last step before getting there. This is what it’s like to play on the Texans talent-laden yet ineffective defense.
- Houston will mix it’s coverages, but it won’t play any of them well.
- Leonard Pope is an embarrassingly poor blocking TE.
- LT Branden Albert, who played mostly Guard in college at Virginia, is clearly athletic for the position, even by standards of an NFL left tackle.
- Mario Williams took a while to figure out that he would do better against Albert on the bull rush than on the speed rush, but his ability to get pressure on Cassel in the fourth quarter was a big reason the Chiefs scoring pace slowed a bit.
- I didn’t see a convincing reason in this game to buy into future stock in rookie CB Kareem Jackson. He’s a starter, but he’s a starter on one of the worst pass defenses ever.
- One of the many facets of the Chiefs gameplan was to make Mario Williams work do anything.
- RT Barry Richardson is the weakest link on the Chiefs OL right now, and it’s a bit surprising that the Texans did not exploit him more.
- It was hard to find Brian Cushing on tape in this game. He looked slow and couldn’t get off blocks.
- Bowe’s second TD was a “where were you when?” moment of futility for the Texans. It’s a single-high safety zone coverage, to which the Chiefs run Bowe on a slant. The playside corner, Glover Quin, feels the route and comes in a step late to break up the pass. Bowe is strong enough to break his tackle. The playside linebacker is David Nixon. He essentially plays this entire play at 50% speed, and never makes any effort to tackle Bowe who breaks the Quin tackle and runs right by Nixon. FS Eugene Wilson, who I remember as being a useful coverage player at some point, hesitates trying to figure out what Nixon is doing, never does, then makes a horrific dive where Bowe’s legs were at some point. At some point during the run, backside CB Kareem Jackson is running next to Bowe stride for stride until Bowe cuts inside him, then beats him in a foot race to the pylon.
- David Nixon is no longer listed on the Texans roster. For good reason.
This next section looks at the Texans offense against the Chiefs defense
- The first Texans touchdown was a breakdown in pass rushing discipline by Tamba Hali. Hali thought he could beat Rashad Butler to the inside, but when Butler won the match-up, it makes it too easy for Schaub to escape to the left side. That was the only reason Schaub was able to get it to Dressen.
- Schaub hit Andre Johnson on a post corner route earlier in the drive, getting Brandon Carr on a double move. That happened because the pressure on Schaub (4-man rush) was non-existent. Schaub literally set up in the pocket off of play action and didn’t move until 5+ seconds later when he threw to an open Johnson.
- NT Ron Edwards had a sack on Schaub when the Chiefs brought a linebacker and both RG Antoine Caldwell and Arian Foster went to pick up the backer, leaving Edwards clean. This is the kind of thing the Texans will do that makes you check your calendar to see when the season starts.
- CB Brandon Flowers is the best defensive player I have seen on tape all of this season. He is an absolute monster who shuts down a side of the field, not dissimilar to how Champ Bailey used to play back in the day.
- Andre Johnson vs. Brandon Carr was an interesting match-up. Not the mismatch you might have expected.
- ILB Jovan Belcher is a very disruptive, useful linebacker who is excellent taking on blocks in the 3-4 scheme. Mike Vrabel is getting by on pure guile at this point, but that’s not a bad thing if you look across the field and realize that no one on the Texans defense is getting by on anything.
- It was hard to not come away from this one extremely impressed by LT Rashad Butler of the Texans, who might be proving himself a better player than Duane Brown, who is serving a suspension.
- Tamba Hali wasn’t great in this game. He had perfect position to seal the edge on Derrick Ward’s TD burst in the third quarter, but couldn’t make Ward pay for an ill-advised bounce cut to the outside. From that point, Ward ran through some pretty sorry tackling all the way to the end zone.
- On Chiefs DL watch: Glenn Dorsey is really blossoming under new DC Romeo Crennel in a way the team didn’t think possible when they traded him. The team did just trade it’s second rounder from 2009, Alex Magee, who apparently was unimpressive enough to get the boot after winning a starting job last year. It’s NT Shaun Smith who is starting at LDE in place of Tyson Jackson, who has missed four games with a knee injury and is dangerously close to getting the bust tag. DE Wallace Gilberry is a very useful package player.
- The only reason the Chiefs got a stop in the second half was because Texans LG Wade Smith got called for a leg whip on the first drive of the half. With Hali neutralized, Schaub went to work, playing more or less a perfect half of football.
- I’m a believer in the Chiefs defense, but this wasn’t a good effort in the second half of this game. They didn’t need to necessarily keep Houston out of the endzone to win, but putting them in a third down and five wouldn’t have hurt.
- While Andre Johnson is going to be the hero of this game in the papers, the Texans don’t win without a great individual domination of his role in the offense by Owen Daniels. Johnson played at a high level all game, but by himself, he wasn’t going to be enough. Daniels is all the way back from his ACL injury last season.
- Johnson’s game winning touchdown was just a standard-level scramble drill. A receiver who was on the exact same brainwave as his quarterback from the start of the play to the finish.