Don't Kill The Mellinger

Chiefs-Eagles rewind: downfield blocking, Tamba Hali and more

Updated: 2013-09-26T14:49:47Z

By SAM MELLINGER

The Kansas City Star

Like every week after a Chiefs game, through the (expensive) miracle that is NFL Rewind, I bring to you some looks that come through only after watching a few more times.

I have a few pages of notes I took during two rewatches, and right now I’m typing them into this blog while watching the Giants get annihilated by the Panthers. Carolina had scored 30 points combined in the first two weeks, then beat the Giants 38-0.

The more I think about the Chiefs-Giants game, the more I think it’s an incredibly difficult one to predict because you don’t know what the Giants are about. They were 9-7 last year, and won the Super Bowl the year before that. Even as this isn’t the same group — some departures, some players diminished, etc. — you would expect it to be a group with pride.

Anyway, we have a few more days to talk about that. Here’s what I saw watching the Chiefs-Eagles game again:

- Quintin Demps returned the opening kickoff 57 yards because of terrific blocking, but if you look closely, you see Dexter McCluster breaking off toward the left sideline. In practice, he serves as a blocker because someone on the Eagles’ cover team has to head out that way. But in theory, it sets up the trick play where Demps could throw the ball across the field where McCluster would have more room.

Wouldn’t be as cool as this one …

… but, you know, still cool.

- Demaris Johnson’s dropped punt came with virtually no pressure from the Chiefs. He just whiffed it. Chiefs got lucky a few times like this.

- The offensive line isn’t getting much of a push on short yardage plays, it seems. There’s a 3rd and 1 where Jamaal Charles gets stuffed early, and it wouldn’t be the last. Terez wrote about Eric Fisher’s struggles the other day, and Fisher obviously needs to get better. What’s interesting is the guys at Pro Football Focus have the Chiefs as the third-best run blocking unit and sixth-best in pass blocking. We’ll talk more about the line later.

- LeSean McCoy is the best running back the Chiefs will face this year. He might be the best back anybody faces this year^. The Chiefs are well-equipped to defend McCoy, because they have fast and smart linebackers. From what I could tell, they played pretty well against him, too, with a few exceptions we’ll talk more about. But McCoy is just too good, he’s going to shake tacklers and get yards other backs aren’t going to get.

^ Adrian Peterson is averaging, I believe, 2.8 yards per carry after his first (huge) run of the year.

- On Vick’s first pick, Derrick Johnson made a good read on Vick’s eyes and jumped the route. He deflected the pass, the ball hopping into Eric Berry’s hands, and it’ll never stop making me giggle when announcers (Brad Nessler, in this case) call this "the tip drill." One thing I didn’t catch live: Vick’s pass wasn’t just telegraphed, it was wide. Probably going incomplete if DJ didn’t tip it. Just an awful play by Vick.

- It’s hard to watch this game and believe Michael Vick will make 16 starts this year. On the touchdown to Avant, for instance — a perfectly thrown ball — Vick just got crushed on a delay blitz by DJ.

- One of the main differences with Andy Reid is that Jamaal Charles is becoming more involved in the passing game. That’s already started to show up on the film, giving the defense something more to account for, but Charles has also dropped a few passes. Charles will need to clean that up to take full advantage of this.

- The Chiefs played a really good game defensively, obviously, but on a lot of the plays they gave up … I’m just not sure how much these are indications of what the Chiefs need to clean up, and how much these are indications that the Eagles are unlike any other team in the NFL. Like, on Vick’s 61-yard run, they split two receivers wide on each side, which forces a more open middle. Vick is in the pocket, fakes out Mike DeVito on the read option, runs past Dontari Poe, then Kendrick Lewis, and finally Eric Berry. He’s the fastest guy on the field. I just don’t know what the Chiefs could’ve done about that.

- The Eagles tried that swinging gate thing after scoring their first touchdown, and it looked like Dave Toub’s guys were really well prepared. It’s also interesting that Tamba Hali and DJ were in on the tackle.

- Randy wrote about the Chiefs’ receivers getting yards after the catch, and that was especially true of Donnie Avery on Thursday. When this part of the Chiefs’ passing game is talked about, a lot of the focus will be on Reid’s playcalling and Smith’s accuracy (and relative weakness throwing deep), but a big chunk of the credit and focus should go toward the Chiefs’ receivers blocking downfield. Dwayne Bowe is especially good at this.

- Jamaal Charles is right. He doesn’t get enough credit for being tough.

- Andy Reid and Alex Smith are doing a really good job working around the offensive line’s warts. Smith is making good and quick decisions. When you hear people talk about the Chiefs needing to throw deep more — and they do — remember that Smith needs time to do it.

- Tamba’s sack was vintage, old-school Tamba. Beat a good left tackle going around the end, just a relentless effort.

- Brad Nessler called Knile Davis "Bryce Brown."

- Our weekly recap of the one or two throws from Smith that could’ve been intercepted. Midway through the second quarter, he tried to laser one between two defenders toward Chad Hall in the end zone. Then, a little later in the second quarter, it looked like a bubble screen to Bowe but Eagles’ defensive lineman Conner Barwin made a good read and play on the ball — if he was somehow able to make the interception, it would’ve almost certainly been a pick-6.

- At the 7-minute mark in the second quarter, Vick escaped what should’ve been a definite sack from Tamba. I watched this six times, and I’m not sure what happened. It looks like a glitch in the video.

- More about the downfield blocking … at 5:08 in the second quarter, Avery catches a short pass that turns into a 26-yard gain on a play where Cyrus Gray, Junior Hemingway, Dexter McCluster and Bowe all had good blocks.

- AJ Jenkins had a HUGE smile after making his first catch. If you’re curious, Jon Baldwin still hasn’t been active for the 49ers.

- Sean Smith dominated Riley Cooper.

- Tyson Jackson played another really good game. Good push. His is the kind of job that’s easy to overlook, especially watching live, but he’s been consistently effective.

- McCoy had two long runs in the second half that were more about running through holes than making remarkable moves. The one in the fourth quarter, in particular, the 41-yard touchdown run … Dontari Poe got pushed out of the way by Eagles center Jason Kelce. Don’t often see Poe get worked like that without a double-team.

- Eric Berry is having a hell of a season. It really is all coming together for him.

- Brandon Flowers played well, in a sort of bounce-back from the week before against Dez Bryant. Flowers was burned once by DeSean Jackson, playing without safety help, but that’s going to happen.

- Justin Houston had a nice play on McCoy in the second half, shedding a block and then tackling McCoy for a loss. He’s not "just" a pass rusher.

- The offensive line has had some rough moments, but for the second straight game, they were great when they needed to be. The Chiefs ate more than 8 minutes of the clock in the fourth quarter, in large part because of the blocking.

- The Chiefs defense really was terrific. There’s a chance the Eagles don’t score fewer than 16 the rest of the season.

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