Monday, September 9, 2013
Upon Further Review: Chiefs Week 1
By Adam Teicher
An examination of four hot issues from the Chiefs’ 28-2 win over the Jaguars:
The Chiefs' Justin Houston consistently hounded Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert on Sunday.
The Chiefs unveiled the pressure scheme of new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and showed they have the personnel to make it work. The Chiefs had six sacks, at times overwhelming the Jaguars not with numbers but plain force. Outside linebacker Justin Houston, who brought down Jacksonville quarterback Blaine Gabbert three times, served notice that he will be among the league leaders in sacks this season. The Chiefs also received considerable push up the middle, much of it from nose tackle Dontari Poe. On the back end, coverage held up nicely. A bigger challenge awaits Sunday when the Chiefs play against Tony Romo and the Cowboys in Kansas City.
The Chiefs were last in the NFL in turnover differential last season at minus-24 but got off to a good start in Jacksonville, where they were plus-2. The Chiefs not only scored a defensive touchdown on linebacker Tamba Hali’s 10-yard interception return, but also set up the offense with favorable field position after a Brandon Flowers' interception. Such help will be key for an offense that doesn’t figure to get a lot of big plays and will struggle if it has to go 80 yards each time it takes possession. The Chiefs committed zero turnovers, no small factor in the victory. The Chiefs led 21-2 at halftime, and it was evident at that point the only way the Jaguars would rally was if Kansas City provided some help. While the offense didn’t score in the second half, it also didn’t make any mistakes that would have given Jacksonville a chance to get back into the game.
The running game was sluggish in the preseason, but Jamaal Charles found plenty of running room in Jacksonville. Charles averaged a healthy 4.8 yards on his 16 carries. Run blocking was far superior to that in the preseason, when the Chiefs were occasionally overwhelmed at the point of attack. Backup right guard Geoff Schwartz, subbing for injured starter Jon Asamoah, was one of Kansas City’s best linemen. Charles left the game in the second half with a quad injury but should be ready to play against Dallas.
The Chiefs were outstanding in the kicking game in the preseason, but special teams allowed Jacksonville to score its only points when assignments were missed on the first punt of the game. The kick was blocked and went out of the end zone for a safety. The special teams recovered nicely. Dexter McCluster returned a punt 36 yards to set up the Chiefs’ first touchdown, which came after a drive of just 24 yards. The offense will succeed if it consistently gets help like that from the return game.