R-E-L-A-X: Don’t Do It!

 

 

From shortly after kickoff, I had an awful feeling. It was part reflection on prior games versus the Steelers and part realization of statistics. I was feeling like this was the week we lose. It was some combination of us winning 5 in a row with the dominance of Pittsburgh over us. I had concerns.

 

I watched the first half and was disgusted with our offense and defense. Offensively, we had nothing going. Defensively, we couldn’t stop Bell or Brown. This was so offensive because we knew they were the weapons. I would have been happier to have their second/third string players get the yardage. Double or triple or quadruple cover these guys, but don’t let them beat you.

 

 

On the offensive side, we didn’t do what made us successful previously. We used a lot of motion in the past. Bring someone like Hill across, then after the snap, provide multiple options into play. I re-watched (SO PAINFUL) the offense and it looked stale and flat. Of the 52 plays, I counted about 5 that had some motion and it wasn’t even the kind we used previously. I don’t think that is our identity.

 

 

 

To be successful, we need to move our chess pieces. We need to get the defense thinking about where the plays is going.  Putting Tyreek Hill on a sprint through the back field, then having combinations of Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, Alex Smith, and De’Anthony Thomas going in different directions at the snap was causing havoc previously. With the speed and skill of these players along with the creativity of Andy Reid, this strategy totally makes sense. The plays can go any direction and they are all legit threats. 

 

Instead we line up and go vanilla with the plays. This gives their defense time to get in the right position with the man they want to defend. They don’t have to hand off assignments and there really wasn’t any misdirection in the plays Reid called.  As a result, the Steelers defense was all over Hunt and Smith all day.

 

 

Sep 7, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches a play against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

 

Early on we ran a lot of short pass plays that were pretty ineffective. They were either dropped, called back for penalties, or were blown up behind the line of scrimmage. We needed the plays that were 5-10 yards downfield. We eventually got back to the run game, but it was ineffective too.

 

The long ball was present, 7 of the 34 were deep passes, with 3 completed near the end of the game. They just weren’t at the right time in the game. The Steelers were preventing the big play for a score and allowing the deep balls in front of them.

 

 

Our top receivers were Hill and Hunt, with 5 receptions each, accounting for about half of Smith’s yardage. Smith hit 6 different receivers, but struggled to keep the ball on target throughout the day. He was constantly under pressure, throwing off balance, and unable to step into throws. There were a couple to Demarcus Robinson that would have been big for KC.

 

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What this really comes down to for me is the team wasn’t ready to play and the game plan was bad. Instead of doing what has been working, we try to fake out Pittsburgh with straight up football. I can understand the idea of switching up the offense some to take advantage of our strengths and/or the weaknesses of the opposing defense.  However, we played right into their hands with this one. Ryan Shazier and the rest of the Steelers defense is known for being speedy. Why wouldn’t we want to take advantage of that tendency. We have speed of our own. We have been running a lot of plays with our own speedy players going in all kinds of directions. Speed on speed and away they go.

 

 

I can understand Reid wanting to try something different against Pittsburgh, if he thought we weren’t matched up very well. I can understand him wanting something different if we needed to change it up due to personnel changes from all of the injuries. I can even understand it if he just wanted to fake out Tomlin. 

 

It reminded me of a game I played back in high school. We were a Power “I” rushing team. Usually lining up 3 in the backfield with 1 wideout. We had a game against our biggest rival coming up. The coach switched up our offense for the week. We went into multi wideout sets, with typically only 1 running back. They weren’t ready for us on defense. Although we ended up losing it was close and down to the wire. That game plan worked for us, despite the loss. It didn’t work here.

 

However, it was obvious early on that our game plan wasn’t going to get the job done. The plays we ran, again and again, were lateral and setup perfectly for the Steelers to blow up. I was trying to communicate with Reid through the TV to change the play calling. Adjust to something else, anything else. Go back to what we did the first 5 games. Instead we plow ahead with the plays that aren’t working.

 

 

What is baffling to me is that we have repeatedly made good half time adjustments this season. We came out of the locker room and had to punt on the first two series. On the third series, we turned it over on downs at the Pittsburgh 4 yard line. This last series was a little painful as we passed on a field goal, which would have brought us within 6 points. Instead we went for the TD on fourth down.

 

While I can understand the decision to be aggressive, since we should have been able to move the ball 2 yards for a first or 4 yards for the TD, we ended with a broken play and Alex Smith scrambling. He did a nice job extending the play, made a nice throw high to Demetrius Harris, who actually caught the ball and came down with it. I now believe this was a touchdown and we should have challenged it. Heck, even if Reid wasn’t sure a challenge in this close of a game was worth it. Worst case is it ends up the same way and we lose a timeout. He is already known for using timeouts at the wrong time, so this wouldn’t be new.

 

 

 

I wondered about the ruling and looked up the NFL rule on touchdowns. I will just put the relevant parts in here.

 

 

 

Article 1 Touchdown Plays. A touchdown is scored when:

4. (d)  any player who is legally inbounds catches or recovers a loose ball (3-2-3) that is on, above, or behind the opponent’s goal line; 

SUPPLEMENTAL NOTES

(1) The ball is automatically dead when it is in legal possession of a player and is on, above, or behind the opponent’s goal line.

(2) the player is attempting to catch a pass, the ball is not dead, and a touchdown is not scored, until the receiver completes the catch. See Rule 3, Section 2, Article 7.

Rule 3, Section 2, Article 7:

Article 7 A player is in possession when he is in firm grip and control of the ball inbounds (See 3-2-3).

To gain possession of a loose ball (3-2-3) that has been caught, intercepted, or recovered, a player must have complete control of the ball and have both feet or any other part of his body, other than his hands, completely on the ground inbounds, and maintain control of the ball long enough to perform any act common to the game. If the player loses the ball while simultaneously touching both feet or any other part of his body to the ground or if there is any doubt that the acts were simultaneous, there is no possession. This rule applies in the field of play and in the end zone.

The terms catch, intercept, recover, advance, and fumble denote player possession (as distinguished from touching or muffing).

Note 1: A player who goes to the ground in the process of attempting to secure possession of a loose ball (with or without contact by an opponent) must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, there is no possession. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, it is a catch, interception, or recovery.

Note 3: If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball will not be considered loss of possession. He must lose control of the ball in order to rule that there has been a loss of possession.

CATCH

A catch is made when a player inbounds secures possession of a pass, kick, or fumble in flight (See 8-1-3).

Note 1: It is a catch if in the process of attempting to catch the ball, a player secures control of the ball prior to the ball touching the ground and that control is maintained after the ball has touched the ground.

Note 2: In the field of play, if a catch of a forward pass has been completed, and there is contact by a defender causing the ball to come loose before the runner is down by contact, it is a fumble, and the ball remains alive. In the end zone, the same action is a touchdown, since the receiver completed the catch beyond the goal line prior to the loss of possession, and the ball is dead when the catch is completed.

 

 

 

After reading through this several times, I believe the refs missed this one. 

A. Harris was legally inbound and in possession of the ball, as he had control and both feet hit the ground. It wasn’t tucked into his chest, but that isn’t stipulated as a requirement.

B. The play is considered dead when a player has the ball on, above, or behind the opposition goal line, unless a player is making a catch, in which case it isn’t dead until completes the catch as per Rule 3, Section 2, Article 7.

C. In Rule 3, Section 2, Article 7, it does state that a catch isn’t made if the receiver simultaneously loses the ball while touching both feet or if there is any doubt they were simultaneous. Harris had both feet down and then took a step with his left foot while fighting to maintain the ball, which he did.  After the step with his left foot, the ball came loose.

D. In Note 2, it states that in the end zone it is a touchdown if the ball comes loose before contact, if they have completed the catch beyond the goal line.

 

I think the refs thought it was simultaneous or possibly simultaneous, therefore ruled it not a catch. Or, they were applying the “Calvin Johnson” rule. However, I don’t think the Calvin Johnson rule applies, as Harris wasn’t going to the ground. He was standing until a couple seconds after the catch in the wrestling match for the ball. He actually clearly caught the ball and it wasn’t loose, landed on his left, then right, and then as Davis was pulling him down, took a step with his left foot again. All of this while clearly holding the ball and it not moving. If he was diving for the catch or falling down, then I would agree with the Johnson rule. 

 

Since he wasn’t falling, the play was dead when he secured the ball and had two feet down in the end zone. I think a challenge by Reid would have had this overturned and we’d been awarded a touchdown.

 

After reading through the rules, they are somewhat complicated and do allow for some interpretation. This is in addition to trying to make the call at game speed. This is where the challenge could come in to help. It allows the play to be viewed from different angles, at slower speed, and get some other experts to help make the correct call.

 

 

All that being said, I am not sure we deserved to win this game. The score shouldn’t have been that close. While I think the Pittsburgh defense did a fantastic job and are very talented, I don’t think we were prepared to play them. On the defensive side of the ball, we let Brown and Bell tear us apart, again. We knew that was what the Steelers were going to do and we didn’t take it away. 

 

Before I sign off for this week, I wanted to bring up one other point. I read a number of articles on the game and then the comments. I found it interesting that when someone writes an article or makes a comment criticizing the loss, that some commenters feel like the writers are abandoning ship or are saying the season is over. I don’t feel that way at all. It is simply calling the game what it was, bad.

 

 

I am happy with where the team is right now, but disappointed in the way we lost the game. I don’t think the Chiefs are broken or that we need to make massive changes. We shouldn’t use that game plan anymore though. So, just because there are negative comments and articles, there isn’t any need to be so dramatic and infer they are saying the season is over or that we should win every game.

 

I had predicted we would be 5-1 at this point in the season, but thought we’d beat Pittsburgh and one to New England. We are still in a good position. Still #1 in the league rankings. Still a talented team. So, enough in the rear view mirror. On to Oakland.

 

What are your thoughts on the loss? Is the season over? Do we need to start an immediate rebuild? Should we trade aware our talent this year to secure more draft picks next year? Or, maybe the fans should R-E-L-A-X and let Reid do his thing.  

 

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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  • Chiefly Bacon

    Good explanation on the Harris TD. That’s pretty much where I stand.

  • tm1946

    If it matters, raiders just signed LB Bowman, former 49er, to match our signing of CJ Spiller at RB.

    • ladner morse

      Oakland… where old 9ers go to die.

      • Roswell Incident

        I thought that was KC. 🙂

  • KCMikeG

    It’s hard enough to lose the game – even though we deserved to playing as poorly as we did but to lose it to a terrible call by the refs is total BS! Plays in the end zone should ALL be reviewed! Being called a TD or not shouldn’t make any difference. Still don’t get why we ran Hunt 9 times against the 28th ranked run defense and tried to pass horizontally against the #1 ranked pass defense?? Enough for me – on to the failing faiders! We better dominate and CRUSH them!

    • Roswell Incident

      Just the flipside of what we did in Pit last year: threw short passes when Pit’s weakness was the vertical game. Agh!

  • Roswell Incident

    The hardest part about the loss to me was how much it looked like last year’s playoff loss. We have looked so different from that team to this point, and then to see the game unfold the way it did evoked feelings from last winter.

  • Second guessing everything. Here is how I see the game that way: Harris’ non-catch was a catch and a TD. The fluke tipped ball TD wouldn’t have happened it was thing of chance and they occur in every game. That one went to the Steelers. If it had not happened and they only got a FG, then the whole game is hinging around 16-13, like that. Then the 4th and miss play(a bad move), is a FG tying or a 1 possession game or the Chiefs lead. Changes the whole picture right? A TD that was ruled a non-catch, an fluke TD by the Steelers and then what?

    The Chiefs did not deserve a win and played that way, both sides of the ball. Bottom line? When you play so poorly that you have to believe the Ref call is the game? You are not deserving the win pure and simple. The Harris non-catch though? I watched it over and over and that was a TD and you are correct.