DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 15: Linebacker Justin Houston
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Another quarter of the Chiefs season has gone by and we find this team roughed up, but still in the hunt.
With four more wins under their belts, the Chiefs have a good foundation to build on at the midway point of the season. The team needs to continue to recover from injuries and build momentum for the AFC West race and try to be at their peak performance for the postseason. We got some great insight from Mike Renner, Senior Analyst from ProFootballfocus.com. He Joins the podcast today:
Taking stock at the halfway point of the season is usually eye opening.
Since I’ve talked about Travis Kelce in just the last week or two, I left him out of the top 11 things I think. I am sure there are other important topics, but this is what stands out to me as Kansas City starts the second half against the Carolina Panthers.
1. Justin Houston has already had a positive effect on the KC pass rush. It’s no coincidence that Dee Ford began crushing the passer just after Justin Houston was back with the team in drills and meetings. My money says that Houston began tutoring Ford the day he returned.
2. It is just my gut feeling, but I don’t’ think we’ve seen the last of Jamaal Charles as a Chief. His meniscus “trim” is a much easier recovery than a repair. It’s not the same surgery Adrian Peterson had. A late season return could put this team over the top. As for next season… that’s a topic for a different column.
3. John Dorsey hit this past years’ draft pretty well. Chris Jones maybe the best d lineman from this draft. DJ White has contributed early. Eric Murray and Tyreek Hill have been single out for ST play. Hill may be the steal of last April’s draft.
4. Spencer Ware is my pick of the first half MVP. Its hard to replace a Pro Bowl player. Ware has done it with smooth power and an unexpected prowess in the passing game. Without Ware in week 8, the team dropped to nearly a season low at 2.8 ypc and had its lowest output of the season. Ware is leading the team in yards from scrimmage (in 7 games) and is crucial to their playoff hopes.
5. Chris Conley is still way under-utilized. And it’s not just Nick Foles. He has come up clutch this season in fairly limited targets. That needs to change and probably will. With Jeremy Malin not practicing, Conley needs to be the focus on the outside. Not Tyreek Hill, who should be targeted more. Definitely not Albert Wilson. He’s earned it. No more of this:
6. The Chiefs have a great problem at inside linebacker. Justin March is an athlete and has improved while on the field in 2016. After taking a step back, Ramik Wilson is fulfilling everything I could have asked for. An opportunistic player at Georgia, a school that I feel lends itself to the Chiefs systems, he is evolving in front of our eyes. No matter how long DJ plays, the team has capable heirs on the roster right now. Here aretwo examples: pick and punch.
7. Parker Ehinger is a bigger loss than most fans think. The rookie came to the team athletic but underpowered. Yet, the team has struggled to run the ball with him out of the lineup. He may be another long-game choice by Dorsey, but he will pay off next season. He and Morse were both position-convert linemen that have surprised me.
8. The Sutton defense is working just how Bob likes it. With some info from Mike Renner at PFF, the picture of exactly what that is comes into focus. Sutton is very comfortable putting his young DBs in man coverage. He runs some form of a man scheme a whopping 49% of the time. That’s the second-most int he NFL. And he doesn’t feel the need to help them too often either. He has called just 17.8% blitzes this season. With Houston’s return, Sutton will have even less reason to send extra rushers.
9. The steadier hand and better fit at quarterback is Alex Smith, not Nick Foles. Less flashy and less risk-taking than Nick Foles, his efficient is what stands out. The efficiency of completion percentage and yards gained per reception make a clear point below. Smith is successful in each area of the field, while Foles reliant on YAC yards short and completing the deep ball.
10. Marcus Peters won’t be able to match his rookie season performance. NFL quarterbacks are scared and they won’t let him. Drew Brees and Andrew Luck didn’t want to throw at him. More quarterbacks will follow that lead. He may not get enough targets to surpass his 2015 total. that’s ok. It will still help the defense and allow them to focus on scheming the right side of the defense.
11. Andy Reid has to keep his wits about him if this team is going to make it past the opening round of the playoffs. He has shown he can break his tendencies and maintain offensive balance. The question is can he keep doing it. Reid called a 28/72 run/pass split in weeks 1-4. Since then, Reid shifted toward the run when he could and games 5-8 were called 44% run / 56% pass. With Teams struggling to defend the run, Reid has to stay on point and keep running the ball.
Halfway through the season, that’s some of the important things I see. What do you think, Addicts?