Andy Reid is a composed, calculated, formulaic coach. For as much as his west coast, bland style has fallen to criticism, he is incredibly efficient at slowly understanding teams and implementing a precise plan. Watching Reid is exactly like listening to an Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto; the meta plan of what Reid is doing does not make sense until about three quarters through the game. He will frustrate and confuse those outside of the organization, but when his plan is executed it turns into a beautifully composed 42-27 Kansas City Chiefs victory over the New England Patriots. Inside of that plan, were three Chiefs takeaways that paved the way for a composed and shocking opening night victory.
Week One Kansas City Chiefs Takeaways
1) Kareem Hunt is a Spring of Fresh Water
Kareem Hunt fumbled on his first NFL carry, not only disappointing fans and coaches, but himself. Yet, over on the side line careful observation could find him not getting upset, but talking with teammates and working to put everything behind him.
Hunt did more than put the fumble behind him, he stiff-armed the fumble as well as the rest of Patriots defense on the way to 148 yards rushing on 17 carries, combined with five receptions for 98 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Hunt looked electric and powerful, but most importantly, Hunt looked like a veteran.
Hunt’s overt and confident demeanor was not on the sideline, but in every single run. He displayed excellent vision and understanding of where to go. He ran behind his offensive line, lowered his pad level, and showed no fear. Seeing this kind of fearless running was nothing short of special. Hunt was a spring of fresh water for the Chiefs offense.
2) Eric Berry
Safety Eric Berry is not only a tremendous football player, but a powerful presence on the field. Berry’s inherent play style lifts everyone around him. Schematically, he covered for the mistakes of others. Leadership wise, he helped young cornerback Terrance Mitchell overcome early mistakes.
In the first quarter, Berry was the player who kept the Chiefs in the game. The first quarter fourth down stop was Berry confronting Mike Gillislee’s running lane so Allen Bailey and Bennie Logan could get the stop. That momentum shift paved the way for the 90 yard drive that let the Chiefs tie the game up at seven.
Next, there was the Robert Gronkowski coverage factor. Berry stands at an average 6’0”; Gronkowski stands at a massive 6’6” and 265 pounds. Yet, twice Berry played as if he were seven feet tall and posted up and over Gronkowski’s body. The Patriots eventually gave up on targeting Gronkowski as Berry blanketed him.
Berry is a special leader and player, but this victory had a pyrrhic victory feel as Berry may have been lost for the season. With five minutes left in the game, Berry was carted off the field with what may have been a torn Achilles tendon, an injury the Chiefs are all too familiar with in their linebacker corps.
An MRI later today will reveal the trajectory of Berry’s injury. No matter, Berry kept the Chiefs in the game and paved the way to instill confidence in a defense that could have given up early.
3) Crossing Routes and Reid’s Creative offense
At the very first training camp press conference, coach Reid spoke of making his offense more creative. The talent on the roster was clear; between Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, De’Anthony Thomas, and Albert Wilson, the Chiefs had a slew of small and fast players with excellent tight ends. Yet, throughout the pre-season, besides confirming Hill was Madden football fast, the creative offense was never clear.
Last night pulled back the curtain and showed exactly what Reid was hoping to do. Quarterback Alex Smith broke out from the standard west coast offense to a myriad of backfield options that opened up crossing routes and speed over the middle. By utilizing the speed of Hill and Thomas with the power of Kelce and Demetrius Harris, the Chiefs were effectively wild.
The backfield showed triple sets, power formations, and deception. Using the outside receivers to go vertical downfield, and heavy backfields, linebackers and safeties for the Patriots were drawn away from the middle of the field. Subsequently, when the field was longer, Hill or Hunt would leak out and catch a five-yard pass over the middle, but then use their agility to turn that five-yard reception into a ten plus yard reception. When the field shortened, Smith would check to a quick curl route to one of his big tight ends, best observed when Harris caught his touchdown pass.
Creativity in Reid’s offense was stunning and refreshing to watch. The full slew of talent has come together to revision the west coast offense slightly, but still adheres to responsible and high percentage passes. What makes the Chiefs offense creative and explosive is defenses have too many targets to cover efficiently. If this is the way the Chiefs will operate in 2017, Hill et al could transition from a bland offense, to a fun and explosive offense.
Good luck stopping Hill.