Arrowhead Showdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-game Anticipation

 

As we approach the 8:30PM ET kickoff of the 2-1 Washington Redskins at the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs, we can enjoy being the last undefeated team in the league for at least another few hours. Entering this game, the Redskins are coming off a dominant 27-10 win against the Oakland Raiders. Meanwhile, the Chiefs played a closer than we’d like 24-10 victory over AFC West rivals, the LA Chargers.

 

So far this year, the KC offense is 2nd in yards/game with 397.3 and Washington in 6th with 373.7. Although close in yards/game, those yards aren’t translating into points at the same rate. The Chiefs are in 3rd with 31 points/game and the Redskins are tied for 12th with 23.7. Let’s hope this trend continues.

 

On the defensive side of the ball KC is ranked 27th with 369 yards/game and Washington is ranked 3rd with 272 yards/game. However, the yardage per game isn’t translating to points the way the Redskins would like. The Chiefs are tied for 8th only giving up 19 points/game while Washington is tied for 14th with 20 points/game. So, despite giving up almost 100 yards/game more, the points/game is one less. Let’s hope on this continuing also.

 

A key area that seems to be mentioned in every NFL game is winning the turnover battle. KC is tied for 4th and Washington is tied for 12th, with only 3 games played. KC is +4 and the Redskins are +1. These numbers are more a reflection of protecting the football better than they are of us taking the ball away more.

 

My final thoughts before kickoff are that for the good guys to come out of this game with a victory, we are going to need Alex Smith and the offense to play the high caliber ball they have been playing in games 1-3. We also need to win the turnover battle and have our defense pressure Kirk Cousins.

 

Heart meds – check, AED – check, jersey/hat – check, let’s go Chiefs!

 

 

 

Here At the Half

 

Thanks to the local LA Charger fans, I was delayed from getting to a TV out here in La La Land until the second quarter. I walk into the hotel and look over at the bar TV. There we sit, down 10 points with a little over 10 minutes in the second quarter. What was my first thought? OMG, what have I done? I am not wearing my Justin Houston jersey nor am I wearing my ironically funny gold hair visor. I have doomed the team to a loss on game 4. As I entered the depths of despair, I began reaching and grasping for anything to save myself. And then, at the last possible second, my figurative hand struck purchase and I began to claw my way to sanity. The reason the team was losing was that I wasn’t watching. It wasn’t my wardrobe, that would be silly. The Chiefs can’t win if I don’t watch. Well, game on!

 

I quickly got my statistical bearings and caught up on where we were. In a hole. Down 10 points at home, to the Redskins. OK. So, so wood to chop.

 

Momentum changing march dialed up. We need 73 yards and a TD to regain the momentum. Well, in steps Travis Kelce to snag the TD and ice this need. A few plays later and we are trying to close out the half tied 10-10. Instead, we shank a kick and go into the half down by 3.

 

Although I have been counseling my TV screen on proper NFL coaching techniques, I decide to back off and see what it can do to regain some level of performance. Net result:

 

Chiefs 7 and Redskins 10, moving on.

 

As seems to have been the way all along this season, our Kansas City favorite Chiefs start the game too close for comfort in scoring. Even when we got some early takeaways and scored, we didn’t get beyond a two score game. I distinctly remember thinking that the Redskins were physically abusing us in the first half, but that shifted significantly in the second.

 

 

 

Second Half Anxiety

 

While the analysts talked about the games over the weekend the anxiety of a game we were losing crept in. Would this be the first game we lose in 2017? Would we end up Week 4 tied with the Broncos? Would we no longer be the last undefeated team? I sure hoped not.

 

When the team came out for the second half we seemed to have made some adjustments and were playing better. Although I would have preferred we started playing with authority and done what we wanted with the ball, I was encouraged by the momentum we were gaining.

 

At 9:20 in the third, team leader and quarterback Alex Smith, crossed the goal line for a touchdown to take the first lead in the game. We had marched 79 yards on 10 plays with a series of passes and Kareem Hunt rushes, only to have AS11 pull the ball from Hunt when the entire defense seemed to crash on him. Smith was able to walk into the end zone through a gigantic hole in the line. Chiefs 14 and Redskins 10.

 

The next 25 game minutes were a back and forth battle of scores, shifting the lead from KC to Washington, and back. Each team was making plays and keeping the game in hand. We must give credit to the coaches and players of the other red and yellow team with a native American sounding name. The Redskins were playing some good football and a real physical game. However, I also noticed a few plays where the Chiefs started to hit back and/or make the necessary yardage to keep the chains moving down the field.

 

I think one of the best adjustments made in this game from the prior is the team discipline. I wrote a tongue in cheek article on KC being first in the league in penalties. Well, not this week, we were only penalized three times for 15 yards.

 

As the game approached the end of regulation, KC and Washington were trading field goals in this close game. Each team moving the ball down the field, but stalling out the drive before entering the endzone. The last Redskin drive ending with an incompletion in the endzone. That play was too close for comfort as it looked like the reception was made, but the receiver just couldn’t hold onto the ball all the way to the ground. The game of inches edging in favor of the Chiefs.

 

Heart pounding, with 4 seconds left, rookie kicker and new Chief Harrison Butker, puts the ball through the uprights. Butker missed his first kick as an NFL place kicker, but came back with 3 straight opportunities to put KC up 23-20.

 

In the end, the final field goal was enough for the victory, but Washington gave it one last try on the kickoff. The Redskins tried a return with a lateral, however that was put onto the ground. Justin Houston recovered the fumble and took it the few yards needed and scored as the clock expired.

 

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Post-game Euphoria

 

As I watched players and coaches come onto the field at the end of the game, I started to feel my heart beat return to normal. All was right with the world and KC remained the only undefeated team in the league.

 

Although it wasn’t as I had imagined we would start the season, we were 4-0, beating not only the New England Patriots, but three teams that were better than expected in the Eagles, Chargers, and Redskins. I am very encouraged by our ability to find ways to win games instead of ways to lose them. In past years, we always seemed like we could give up the one play needed to lose. That isn’t happening this year.

 

Looking back at the stats a few jump out to me as better than the score sheet would indicate or keys to victory.

 

Although I mentioned at the start of this article, we needed to win the turnover battle to win the game, it wasn’t really needed here but did seal the game with a defensive touchdown. We were only able to come up with one fumble recovery in this game. Washington did a nice job protecting the football throughout the game and only gave up the fumble on a last second gamble to score with 4 seconds left.

 

On the night our defensive effort was good enough to hold the Redskins to 20 points, which is below their season average of 23.7 per game and under 23 minutes of possession. While they didn’t register a sack on the night, they did limit the overall effectiveness of the Washington offense while they were on the field.

 

By sustaining drives and controlling the football for over 37 minutes in the game, Kansas City was able to keep the Redskins from scoring and our defense rested. Over the course of the game we ran almost 50% more plays than the Washington offense. Although it is always possible for an NFL defense to score, it isn’t near as likely as the offense. A solid gameplan will always be to win the time of possession battle, which is typically done with running more plays on offense and not turning the ball over.

 

While the game was close for most of the night, the offense and defense did their part and walked out of Arrowhead with a victory. Now comes the after action on the game to learn where we can improve and move in with the season. One thing I saw that I think we need to figure out is protecting the QB. We gave up 32 yards on 4 sacks and this seems to be about the norm per game. Negative plays, like penalties, put the team in a place where the likelihood of stalling a drive goes up. I would put this at the top of the list to fix quickly.

 

As I finally recover from a game that was closer than I would like, I take stock of where we are in the season. Record is 4-0. First in the AFC West. Defeated 2016 season Superbowl champs. Defeated both of the NFC teams we have faced this year. 1-0 in the division (12-0 in last 12 games) and haven’t lost a division game since 2015. And finally, KC has scored 24 more points and only given up 3 more than our next closest competitor in the division, Denver.

 

Our beloved Chiefs are ranked 3rd in scoring for the year, (although Miami and Tampa Bay have played one fewer game – but aren’t even close in scoring) with 122 points, behind New England and the Los Angeles Rams, and 11th in points against. However, we are first in point differential with a +45, with the next closest being the LA Rams at +37. Let that sink in for a second. We are scoring about 11 more points per game than our competition, making it a 3 score advantage.

 

Do I dare ask the question? With a quarter of the season in the books, with 4 wins and no losses, do we finally have the right mix of offense, defense, and special teams to go deep into the playoffs and possibly even win the big game?

 

While we aren’t dominating every game, we do persist and win. While we aren’t shutting out teams, or even holding teams out of the end zone all the time, we are limiting points better than average. While we aren’t breaking returns for TDs, we are maintaining good field position. Each phase seems to be playing their part and contributing to the team.

 

One thing I will say is that this team is playing as a team. The identity isn’t the “Greatest Show on Turf” or the “Steel Curtain” kind of identity. I would say it is what we hear the team leaders say when the break down a huddle, “Family”. They have the identity of all in it together. All part of the machine that wins games. Each phase ready to step up when needed. Each one capable of putting points on the board for us, or keeping the opponent off.

 

I am really looking forward to the next 12 games of the regular season and seeing where we can go from here. What do you guys think? Where will this season take us?

 

Until next week, there’s The Rub!

 

 

 

 

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Frank Leggio
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Frank Leggio

Frank Leggio is an operations director living in the Columbus, OH area.He has two sons and a couple of Beagles.He was born in Germany, went to high school in KS and college in CO.
Frank Leggio
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  • berttheclock

    The injury bug has hit the Colts very hard. Poor Chris Ballard is trying to rebuild that team, only to see players go down with injuries.. He has just lost his starting center to a torn quad, so, he had to sign the oft traveled Mike Person, who spent the summer with the Chiefs at St Joe. Also, he had to dip into the stock of the Redskins to pluck Kyle Kasil from their PS. Kasil plays both OG and center. He was a highly touted player coming out of a HS in Lakewood, Oh and Ohio State fans were furious with him when he opted to play for Michigan. With the Redskins this summer he was beaten out by a rookie from Wyoming, but, was placed on their PS.

    What this really means is all GMs, including Veach, must keep a full file index on every PS player out there. Several PS players have been moved up already or out to another team and the season is only a quarter of the way along.

    • ladner morse

      The number of player who went down with an injury for the Redskins last night looks like the list of players that go down for a whole season normally. Injuries are decimating a bunch of teams right now. When you consider that LT Eric Fisher almost didn’t play last night and that the OL was playing with Witzmann, Fulton and Devey as subs… then only RT Schwartz was 100%.

      It makes the Chiefs win even more unlikely.

      • berttheclock

        Yes. LDT was hurt on his second snap. Devey played the rest of the game.

  • Laurels and limitations

    and it’s now time for facts that do your soul good….

    Through the first 4 games, we have now outscored opponents 57-13 in the 4th quarter.🔟 Observations 📝 https://t.co/HAjalJlFMc pic.twitter.com/OKa26rTroe— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) October 3, 2017

    you want to go far? you close games by never stopping…Kc is doing that this year.

  • Laurels and limitations

    uh-oh….Kc is getting more and more love…now I’m starting to worry.

    The Chiefs are the last undefeated team left in the NFC, and they're legit https://t.co/fW1UoVbI9D— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) October 3, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    The #Chiefs haven't turned the ball over since their first play from scrimmage.— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) October 3, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    Chiefs' point differential by quarter: their +41 in the fourth is the best for any team in any quarter this season. #RadarResearch pic.twitter.com/AYx9jIZgUS— Sportradar US (@SportradarUS) October 3, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    Kareem hunt is ahead of all leading RB by at least 162 yrds this dude is real deal holyfield— hunt goin for 35 td' (@tstk2008) October 3, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    “The core of this team has been through a lot, played on big stages…this is a little different this year.” https://t.co/yy7MQXkCc1— BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) October 3, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    but we saw a couple last night, Dan was sent once, at least….

    These teams have the lowest percentage blitz through 4 games!#ChiefsKingdom #Steelers #Colts @NFLFilms pic.twitter.com/9dOv2Jefku— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 3, 2017

  • Laurels and limitations

    I remember seeing Ragland fall into coverage a few times, and I don’t remember him having to make tackles while doing do so hopefully D. Bell is correct and Ragland’s pass defense is not as bad as some (ME!!!!) believed…

    I asked Andy Reid why they decided to start Reggie Ragland on Monday. Here's what he had to say: https://t.co/v4YVFJFT3z— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) October 3, 2017

    • thank you. I am pleased with things as it is working out. He got his game feet on and it will grow and grow.

  • Laurels and limitations

    what in the hell is happening to my copy past here? post fail.

    • Laurels and limitations

      crap, lol, NOOOOOOW it works, hehe.

      • Laurels and limitations

        alright, got no clue what is happenin’.

        • Chiefs-Kings-A’s

          Welcome to my world

          • Laurels and limitations

            lol, tell me about it.

  • Laurels and limitations

    Derrick Johnson being the stud that he is…
    “We got stronger as the game went on,” veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson explained. “I am proud of the guys. We showed that we’re a second-half team. You want them all to be blowouts, you want them all to be easy, but these games you learn what kind of character you have on the team.
    link:ww.chiefs.com/news/article-2/Chiefs-Display-Something-Special-in-Win-Monday-Night-Over-Redskins/4b8ab6b1-03f1-43cc-8aff-6c25213fac44?sf118629100=1

    • I think this mentality will help throughout the season. If the team believes it, then it will show.

  • I would agree with the idea of a roster that embraces unity.

    Balance is a good word: All three phases of the game.

    Here is another item: Come from behind* to win. Here I mean they went down 10 points before doing any damage and went on to win this game. This is VERY IMPORTANT. Think about past seasons. They have played well from ahead or even, but coming from behind. This was “huge” in my mind. They were not shaken. They settled in and went about there business. No down dobbers.

    EDITED IN: It’s the MCL not the ACL So LD-T will miss time but will be back(unless something else is found wrong). That’s good news because he may be as strong a starter as we expect now, Now Mind You, of Fish and of Course Schwartz. OTOH: I really liked seeing Devey bully the hell in his run blocking. Strong I tell you and this is what he may have needed to kick start out of the gate with a strong NFL career. Again, over on the left side? Witzmann did well as well. That is a pretty strong center set of the OL and having the depth guys make an impact will be a huge factor down the road. No. RIGHT NOW>….>>>>

    Depth: No other way to looking at. a. Berry is gone for the season. Engher and Morse were out, leaving guard and center with 2 players who are not starters(Witzmann and Fulton). I am not knocking Fulton because he does better than mere journeyman at center(not guard). We are fortunate to have an OG/OC among the mix and he could play Tackle. A really good member of the OL group. But even more>LD-T went down and Jordan Devey stepped in. I tried to watch him and he has power, and he did pretty dang well for stepping in. I am not knocking Devey at all. For his first KC serious number of snaps? He played well. Again, he has power and can be a bully from what I saw. So here depth was very important. Fish was almost out but played. However, Parker E, Morse and then LD-T were out. Even Witzmann. Sheesh. This is looking better and better to me. I hope LD-T is a minor problem, not major. Haven’t had time to see a report. That left Fish and Schwartz as the only two starters on the offensive line in the game. VERY IMPORTANT For the season. Very.

    Hunt: He only had 25 or 30 yards in the first half but finished strong and had 101 yards rushing(Plus other plays as a receiver). VERY IMPORTANT. The offense didn’t make my number of 27+ but scored 23. Should have been 26(Butker’s miss).

    Horrible officiating. I see over and over again, Kelce getting knocked off his square and no call. This was not the only one but the one that stands out. BTW: Kelce had a close call on another Unsportsmanlike. He may have larned something.

    The Chiefs had numbers in this last game: 29 points(LoL on the final 6) — this is what i would like to see them do each game, average 29+. 27 is a good number to win most of the games in any season(say, 13-3. like that). My number on the point where you should win if you hold the opponent to a number; That is 17. The Skins were +3 on that number.

    Slow start? I didn’t like that but the Chiefs had 2 drives that were high positives before the half. Butker’s miss compromised that but heck, it was his first profession FGA.

    Al Smith: 293 in the aerial game. He continues work “wonders” Now for me? I have suspected that he could and would do this with the right tools on the field. Oh. The defense finally scored 6. All the other points the Chiefs have scored have been on the offensive side of the ball.

    Did the talent contribute across the board? Uncle you bet. And I have to give Wilson some credos here. Playmakers? Hill, Hunt, Smith, Kelce, Conley, Houston, DJ, and yes, Butker, Wilson and Zombo all made big plays when they were needed. Oh. Front three. Big credos.

    The Redskins physicality was top notch but the Chiefs “wore them down”. This was DJ’s view essentially — we got stronger as the game went along. I have seen this year after year and what happens is finally the run game gets into the opponents secondary. Chains move. It matters. The physicality of Fulton, Devey and Schwartz was apparent. Fish was good enough.

    The Secondary: They all played well. Yes two TDs on Peters but he was on top of both plays. Yes there were big gainers by the Skins offense but look at the overall numbers. Cousin’s btw did his usual good play(save one or two or three major plays where he was the cause of a problem). but heck, he is a playmaker. Sure understand the money: 20 last year, 23 this. He has earned the QB position.

    NFC East. This team and the Eagles are the surprise of the conference. Pederson has a team and is showing he deserved the HC job. At Washington, Gruden is in his 4th year and things are settling out for him. These two NFCE teams are pretty dang good.

    Downside? Too many damned penalties again.

    Downside? Slow start. Inefficiency. Penalties.

    Upside: They didn’t let adversity knock them out of the game. Above? See the Come from behind asterisk.

    Did I mention the OL? Both Witzmann and Devey did a pretty damn good job. I saw some real bully stuff from both of these men. Bodes Well and it is Needed. Cam Erving needs to get snaps btw.

    Al Smith. Gotta love him.

    • With you on everything but the penalties. 3 for 15 is a pretty large improvement from the prior 3 games.

      • they had at least 5, 2 declined if i recall correctly.

        • Fair enough. Still a large improvement from the prior 3 games, if including declined penalties.