Red Zone

Moving on, part two: A look at the Chiefs-Colts offensive game film

Updated: 2014-01-14T13:39:55Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

This is a continuation of my snap-count and film-room observations from the Chiefs'' 45-44 playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts. I covered the defense yesterday, so if you missed that, feel free to click here.

Today, let's dive into the offense.

*I'm not taking anything away from Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery, but those two owe the Colts' coaches thank-you cards for their long gains. Bowe's 63-yarder and Avery's 79-yarder both came in single coverage against cornerback Greg Toler, who could barely run because of a groin injury. I have no idea why he was playing. None.

*Surprise, I know, but let me reiterate ― defensive end Robert Mathis is a stud. The guy was unblockable for most of the game. The Chiefs tried all sorts of things to slow him down. They chipped him. They pushed him upfield. They doubled him. But the man was relentless. He only finished with two tackles, but his third-quarter sack of Alex Smith resulted in a forced fumble that changed the momentum of the game. He also had six quarterback hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.

*Don't get me wrong, injuries played a huge role in the loss. But Indianapolis also made a ton of plays to win this game.

For instance, on a crucial third-and-7 from the 44 early in the fourth quarter, Chiefs coach Andy Reid called a downfield screen for A.J. Jenkins, of all people. It was a great call and it was executed perfectly, which led to a 27-yard gain in which Jenkins got a great block from tight end Anthony Fasano and showcased the speed that made him a first-round pick in 2012.

Fasano Block

The play worked so well that Reid went back to a version of it later in the game. Trailing 45-44 and facing a third-and-17 at the Indianapolis 49, Reid called a slightly modified version of the same play for receiver Dexter McCluster, who was running a shallow cross. McCluster caught the ball and was beginning to accelerate when cornerback Vontae Davis swooped in out of nowhere to tackle him for a 6-yard gain.

mccluster

This was a heck of a play, one that was easy to miss in the deluge of big plays that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck made to will his team to victory.

*A quick note on Jenkins: I think the Chiefs were pleased with the strides he and Junior Hemingway made this season. Despite a meager season statline of eight catches for 130 yards, Jenkins came on strong at the end of the year, catching four passes for 94 yards in the final two games.

I believe both players will get a hard look in camp. Perhaps the best thing going for Hemingway is the fact he comes cheap. As a former seventh-round pick, he will be paid a meager base salary of $495,000 next season, which makes him a great value when you consider he also plays special teams.

Jenkins, meanwhile, does not contribute on special teams and his base salary is a bit higher at a little over $1 million. However, he was a first-round pick for a reason, and toward the end of the season he began to display the speed that could make him a weapon in Reid's offense.

*Don't sleep on Indianapolis defensive end Cory Redding. He doesn’t get the attention that Mathis does, and for good reason, but Redding is a nice player in his own right. He had some really nice moments against the Chiefs, even beating sturdy right guard Geoff Schwartz twice with two particularly nasty swim moves, one of which you can see below.

Redding

*I thought center Rodney Hudson and left guard Jeff Allen had nice games. The Chiefs took a developmental center in Eric Kush last April but Hudson may have won over the coaching staff with his dependability. He's a smart, tough guy who improved as the season went on.

Allen, meanwhile, seems to have improved a great deal the last half of the season. His Pro Football Focus grade over his last five games was 1.7, compared to the negative-13.6 grade he earned over his first ten games. That's a terrible number, obviously, but you must remember that Allen was dealing with nagging groin, knee and hand issues from weeks four through eight. He stuck it out and played through it, and by the end of the season, he looked a whole lot better.

For instance, look at the way Allen, the left guard, picks up the following stunt ... but not before he throws Redding to the ground.

*Speaking of Allen, this was easy to miss, but he missed two snaps, presumably due to injury. I thought it was very interesting that second-year pro Rishaw Johnson, who showed some real flashes the previous week against San Diego, got the nod in his place instead of Jon Asamoah. Asamoah was the starter at right guard for the first half of the season but lost his job to Geoff Schwartz midway through the year. Both he and Schwartz are free agents, but it appears the team would rather have Schwartz back.

*Still, Asamoah did contribute against the Colts, as he surprisingly earned nine snaps at right guard — a high amount for a normal backup. But the film showed the Chiefs used him primarily in their heavy sets, whenever they shifted tackle Donald Stephenson to tight end.

Redding 2

They did this six times against the Colts, and I think Asamoah earned his other three snaps at right guard when Stephenson had to head to the sideline following a handful of these plays due to NFL rules.

*One last thing; I believe Reid called a heck of a game. To put up 44 points in a playoff game without Jamaal Charles … I mean, would anybody have predicted that earlier this season? I covered Alex Smith's strong play in a story that ran earlier this week, and he deserves a lot of credit for the Chiefs’ scoring outburst. But it was also fun to see a play-caller like Reid really throw the kitchen sink at an opponent, calling all kinds of stuff we haven't seen in weeks. I think it's fair to criticize Reid’s clock management skills at times, but the man knows how to call a game, and he also won his players over by treating them like the grown men they are, unlike past regimes. Reid definitely had a nice debut season in Kansas City, though it will be interesting to see how his team fares next season against a much tougher schedule.

ChiefsOColts2

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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