It’s halftime of the Chiefs’ Sunday afternoon showdown against Dallas, and they trail the Cowboys 14-10 at AT&T Stadium. Here is Chiefs beat writer Terez A. Paylor’s quick analysis.
1. Tamba has juice
Sunday’s contest marked Tamba Hali’s first appearance of 2017, and I must say, the 33-year-old pass rusher looked good. He looked quick and strong, and even drew a hold on stud left tackle Tyron Smith, who is playing through a bad back but is still a terrific player. If Tamba can keep this up through the end of the season, he could be the spark the pass rush has needed for the last month or so.
2. Tighten up the technique at corner
The Chiefs allowed the Cowboys’ average receiving corps to gain some confidence early, as Terrance Williams had a nice run-after-the-catch and Cole Beasley caught a touchdown in the first half. The Chiefs won’t be able to devote resources to stopping these guys, not with Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott on the field. That means the Chiefs have to stop these guys 1-on-1. If they don’t, they won’t stand a chance for a second-half comeback.
3. The offensive linemen to step it up
The Cowboys can be run on, yet the Chiefs have failed to do so effectively, only rushing for a measly 20 yards on 10 carries. The decline of the running game has absolutely played a large role in the Chiefs’ overall struggles the last month, and while it’s been easy to pin on the injuries, there’s no excuse now. Mitch Morse is back at center and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is back at guard. Dallas’ defensive front is okay but it’s not this good. The Chiefs need to line up and smack these guys in the mouth with some gap/power stuff.
4. The run defense has been okay, surprisingly
Based on the film, no one could have expected the Chiefs to hold Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott to 39 yards on 11 carries. That’s pretty good. To the naked eye, it appears the Chiefs have played more nickel with two inside linebackers on the field (instead of six defensive backs), and I think it’s been helpful. Keep it up.
5. Keep slinging it
The Cowboys’ defensive backs are only adequate. Alex Smith is 12 for 17 for 168 yards. They’ve done a nice job spreading it around, as six Chiefs have caught passes. The Chiefs just need to keep slinging it around. Smith missed on a deep ball to Ty Hill due to the pressure. They need to go back to that at some point in the second half because Anthony Brown is grabby, and he can’t run with Hill, who will either beat him or draw a penalty.
Hill, by the way, is insane. His touchdown before halftime –– when he ducked, dodged and darted for a score while the Cowboys were in prevent –– was one of the most ridiculous plays I’ve ever seen life. Period.