Chiefs grades: Flying colors in win over Colts
Once the dust settled and the wounded were removed from the field, the Kansas City Chiefs achieved another milestone by dominating the Indianapolis Colts.
The Chiefs have won 15 of their last 17 regular season games. After their last loss against Pittsburgh, many pointed out that the Chiefs were poised for another long winning streak. With the next three games against teams that have a combined record of 7-14, the next true test won’t come until after Thanksgiving in Denver. Even then and after the AFC West teams will be the only ones standing in the way of a 14-2 Kansas City Chiefs team.
Sounds optimistic right? We just lost our starting quarterback and running back for possibly a significant amount of time. Oh by the way, we also lost our starting right guard. The Chiefs have rarely come out of Indianapolis without injury.
They say the field turf there is unusually tough and actually causes more concussions than other fields. But if you look at the performance of Nick Foles and the continued performance of Charcandrick West, then there is no reason to despair. The Chiefs look just fine with their depth at key positions. The catch is that if they have any more injuries, especially on the offensive line, they will be in trouble.
The Chiefs offense looked more than solid yesterday. Even having two quarterbacks in and out of the game, the offense still moved the ball well through the air. The Colts stacked the box (only 88 yards rushing) so most of the Chiefs first downs needed to be achieved through the air (16 air, 2 run).
It wasn’t a problem for Foles or Alex Smith who often found a mismatch with Travis Kelce to give him his best game of the season (7, 101, 1). Foles found his favorite target in Tyreek Hill who has definitely emerged as a real threat in this offense. The Chiefs’ opponents will have to start planning against Hill which will continue to open things up for Chris Conley and Jeremy Maclin.
The only struggles in the passing game came in getting Maclin and Conley the ball. Smith targeted Maclin early and often but it wasn’t until this corner fade for a touchdown that the connection actually worked. Conley wasn’t even targeted until after Smith came back from his first head injury. This struggle really became evident when Foles had the Chiefs in the redzone and couldn’t punch it in from the 3-yard line.
Conley was open on the two pass plays and Foles never looked his way. The emergence of Hill and the use of Kelce should open things up outside but Foles needs to go through his progressions to get it to them. This may also be improved as Foles gets more reps this week with the first team.
Stopping the Colts on their first drive is something to celebrate. The Chiefs have struggled to stop offenses on their first drives. The only other times the defense stopped an offense on their first drive were against New York and in Houston. The drive stopped in Houston was a poor throw intercepted by Marcus Peters in the end zone and the Texans scored on the very next drive.
It appears that the defense, especially the secondary, is really starting to come together. For the past two weeks, teams have refused to throw against Peters and when they pick on others, there hasn’t been all that much success.
Dee Ford impressed a lot of people on Sunday with 3.5 sacks on Andrew Luck. He used a variety of moves to put consistent pressure on the Colts’ offense. When Justin Houston comes back in the next few weeks then expect a nice rotation between the outside rushers. This will give Hali plenty of breaks and allow Houston to ease back in. As the Chiefs move forward, this defense should only get better.
Special Teams: B+
Tyreek Hill is a stud. When punter Pat McAfee allowed him to field a kick Hill averaged over 15 yards per return. He hasn’t returned one for a touchdown yet but he has been great at giving the Chiefs good field position. He limited his mistakes on Sunday by fair catching when he needed to and allowing the ball to bounce inside the endzone. As he continues to learn the position he will provide a major spark to this team.
In the kicking game the Chiefs struggled a little more than usual. Dustin Colquitt did his job, placing 3 punts inside the 20 and dropping one inside the 5. Cairo Santos missed a field goal and his surprise onside kick went directly to a Colts player. I am still very pleased Santos this season and the occasional missed kick won’t hurt the Chiefs in the grand scheme. When it really comes down to it, he has been very clutch.
Other than the aforementioned onside kick, Andy Reid coached a good game against the Colts. He called the right plays and allowed his passing system do the work against a depleted Colts defense. That system is why Nick Foles wanted to come to Kansas City and it’s a good thing he did. Reid looks like a genius by signing Foles now as Smith may be out for a few weeks. Had they instead kept Kevin Hogan or Aaron Murray they still win but not by the margin they did. The Chiefs have confidence with Foles moving forward and its all because of Andy Reid.
Bob Sutton didn’t need his normal quarterback-confusing tactics of complex blitzing to get the job done on Sunday. His front four guys consistently got pressure on Andrew Luck and sacked him 6 times. This allowed Sutton to keep the rest in the secondary and shut down the Colts’ talented receivers. Moving forward, Sutton can continue to rely on his front four as he gets back Justin Houston and plays offensive lines that aren’t exactly world beaters.