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Arrowhead Report: Wednesday, October 13th

Posted Oct 13, 2010

Negative plays are disappearing for the Chiefs offense, but third downs are an area of emphasis this week

What a difference a year makes, at least that what right tackle Barry Richardson says.

Think back to last year at this time, when the Chiefs carried a winless record after the first quarter of the season. There were plenty of on-field issues that prevented winning, but probably none more evident than high amount of negative plays (and, conversely, big plays allowed on defense).

Head Coach Todd Haley would talk about it during nearly every press conference, it seemed. Quarterback Matt Cassel tried to dissect the issue when he took the podium. The offensive linemen were hounded relentlessly about the topic. Negative plays were a pain in the …

Four games into 2010, there isn’t much talk about negative plays, because the negative play has all but been eliminated. Currently, the Chiefs have yielded just 17 negative plays; good for the second-least in football. Only three of those 17 negatives are sacks, which is the least amount in the NFL.

“It’s just learning the scheme and being in the offense for two years,” Richardson attributed to the improvement. “You get more comfortable with your job, picking up the blitz becomes easier with time and you just execute the plays better.”

A year ago, Haley decided to part ways with offensive coordinator Chan Gailey just prior to the start of the regular season. The offensive philosophy switched with the change and adaption process showed when Kansas City yielded 13 sacks over the first four games of the season. Add in the 29 penalties and 16 stuffed runs and that picture is painted.

“We’re just in a better position,” Richardson said. “You know defensive tendencies when they line up in different formations, whether they bring two-weak or two-strong. The coaches have just done a good job of putting us in a situation that helps us out.”

There are new faces on the line. With the additions of Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja, 40% of the starting five were overhauled this season. That number goes up to 60% if you count Richardson, who started just one game in place of an injured Ryan O’Callaghan last season.

The new faces, coupled with the continuation of 2009’s offensive foundation, have provided a nice blend thus far.

“I think we’re comfortable, and I think we’re bonding. Ryan knows me by now and I know Ryan and what he expects of me; when he’s going to come help me on a defensive end or when he is going to go over and help Casey. We’ve bonded a little bit.”  

Last year, the Chiefs finished with the second-most negative plays in the league at 111. This year, they are on pace to commit just 68. That total would have qualified as the fewest in the league last season, seven better than New England and Indianapolis’ total of 75.

Injury Report

DE Tyson Jackson (knee) and T Ryan O’Callaghan (groin) both seem to be progressing nicely in their bid for availability this weekend. Neither player was active in Indianapolis, though each traveled with the team and watched the action from the sidelines. The pair has followed somewhat of a natural progression over the past two weeks in their recovery and that continued today as both players practiced in full.

Carrying only two healthy offensive tackles for the first five weeks of the season, O’Callaghan’s return would be welcomed. The two-tackle situation was exposed on Sunday when 11-year veteran G Brian Waters shifted to play left tackle for the first time of his career after Branden Albert suffered a minor injury. Rookie Jon Asamoah came into the game at left guard for limited snaps just prior to halftime.

Reshard Langford (ankle) continues to miss practice time with his ailment and P Dustin Colquitt was absent from practice today. Colquitt’s absence was not injury-related as he’s battling an illness.

Throwing Out Indy

Kansas City showed a new wrinkle to its defensive scheme in Indianapolis, playing almost exclusively nickel and dime sets while dropping eight defenders into coverage at times. Safety Jon McGraw served as the Chiefs nickel back, often playing at the linebacker level and aligning to TE Dallas Clark for much of the afternoon.

The scheme seemed to keep Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis passing game off-balance up until the Colts final drive, but Houston QB Matt Schaub recognizes that Kansas City is likely to go back to their base defense this Sunday against the Texans.

“The x-factor there is playing against the Colts,” Schaub said. “Everyone has their own plan when they play the colts and they are a tough team to gage off what’s going to happen to you on film. You know, everyone’s got their plan to play Peyton Manning and how you are going to attack their passing games with minimal motions and difficult formations.

“That’s always a tough game to take a lot off of tape and prepare for your game,” Schaub continued. “So you have to look at other areas and things of that nature.”

Schaub should know. This is his fourth season playing in the same division as Manning. The Texans routinely see teams whose last game tape is against the Colts.

3rd Down Focus

The Chiefs are once again going back to work on their third-down offense this week. The squad was deficient in the area against Indianapolis, converting just 10% of third down attempts. Overall, Kansas City is just 14-of-50 on thirds, converting 28% of the time to rank 29th in the NFL.

“I think one thing we really are trying to concentrate on this week as an offensive unit is third down,” QB Matt Cassel said. “I think that is an area that we have to get better at. I think we were one of 10 on third downs. You have to be able to convert and stay on the field, keep the defense off the field and maintain drives. That is an area offensively that we definitely need to continue to get better at.”

 

Last week the Chiefs went three-and-out on two of their three fourth quarter drives and Indianapolis held the ball for nearly ten minutes in the final quarter.

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