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The 5 O’Clock Club: Game Day - KC Chiefs edition

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

What does ‘Vegas’ think?

The line has already seen plenty of movement. It opened at Chiefs -8, but has since dropped to -7. That means Vegas thinks the Chiefs win by a touchdown.

The over-under stands at 49.5. It's unchanged from where it opened.

What do the Power Rankings say?

ESPN ranks KC #2:

Alex Smith: 51.7 Total QBR. Smith is completing a league-best 77 percent of his passes and leads the NFL with three touchdowns on passes thrown 30 or more yards downfield. The Chiefs will need that efficiency and deep passing to continue, as their next seven games are against teams that finished last season above .500.

NFL.com ranks KC #1

The Chiefs hold the top spot in the rankings by holding serve in the first half on the road, then taking care of business in the second against the Chargers. While Justin Houston is my too-early Defensive Player of the Year (four sacks, 16 tackles and three batted balls already on the season), there was the unheralded Terrance Mitchell again Sunday. Everybody picking on him, like the frumpy kid picked last at kickball. Except said frumpy kid picked off your stud quarterback twice, notching two of the three key takeaways that pushed the Chiefs to 3-0 and the top of the AFC West. Another reason for Kansas City's reign?? Kareem Hunt.

Arrowhead Stadium

In 2014, Chiefs fans set the Guinness record with a roar of 142.2 decibels, which broke the previous mark of 137.6 decibels that had been set by Seattle fans at CenturyLink Field.

Jay Gruden:

"We will have our ways of communication. We have a lot of non-verbal communication and ways we can handle things with the snap count and hand signals and all that stuff.

We try to use some crowd noise out here with the music and all that stuff. Tomorrow we might go inside to even make it louder so we can really try to simulate it. Like I said, there is no substitution for actually being there.

It’s going to be extra electric because it is Monday Night Football. We have to just prepare ourselves, you won’t be able to hear anything and that’s what we are kind of preparing for – we won’t be able to hear anything. So silent counts, all that stuff. The quarterback has got to really verbalize in the huddle and then at the line of scrimmage, if we do use a snap count, he has to use his voice deep and loud.”

The newest Chief

Newest addition to Chiefs is a real Butt Kicker ... but can he split the uprights?

From toiling on the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad to preparing to make his NFL debut as the Chiefs’ starting placekicker on Monday night, it’s been a whirlwind few days for Harrison Butker.

A groin injury to Cairo Santos on Sunday began the Chiefs’ search for a replacement, and they dialed up Butker, who spent the previous four years kicking for Georgia Tech.

“It will be a big stage,” Butker said. “But you have to treat it like any other game … what a way to start my career.”

Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Butker had been on the team’s radar. The Panthers selected him in the seventh round in April, making Butker the first drafted kicker in team history.

According to trainer Rick Burkholder, Santos pulled his right groin on his first boot during warm ups and aggravated it during the game. A roughing the kicker penalty didn’t have anything to do with the injury, nor was it related to a groin injury Santos suffered in the preseason, Burkholder said.

“Cairo’s been there, done that,” Reid said. “But we have trust in Harrison, too, or we wouldn’t have brought him in here.”

Apparently, Andy Reid really likes ButtKicker; the Chiefs waived Cairo Santos, meaning that when he’s healthy, he’ll be free to sign with any team.

Arrowhead Pride writer breaks down Alex Smith against the Chargers

First, Alex had way fewer multiple-read plays than he did against the Pats, and fewer than he did against the Eagles as well. There were a lot of clearly defined throws/reads against the Chargers, and a lot of 3-step drops.

The gameplan seemed to be very cognizant of how good the Chargers’ edge rushers are, and in some ways resembled the previous week’s gameplan against a good Eagles defense, the vast majority of the targets being within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Another thing that changed is Alex had a bit higher percentage of his throws go inaccurate on him, a couple that were pretty important too (like leading Tyreek Hill out of bounds on one of the few deep shots taken. It’ll happen, but it hurt).

On a final note, against the Patriots Alex had seven combined plays made/franchise QB throws. Against the Eagles Alex had five. Against the Chargers? Two. And that sums up Alex’s day against the Chargers pretty well. He just didn’t do a whole lot out there after the first couple of drives.

The passing game just didn’t flow like it did against the Patriots and the Eagles. Instead, it felt like every single yard was tough to come by. A lot of that had to do with the fact that Alex took five sacks on the day. The pressure seemed to take a toll on Alex, because while some of the sacks were absolutely on the offensive line (hence the three flushes), some of them were not.

Alex was a bit more gunshy against the Chargers than he was against the Eagles’ ferocious rush.

This game looked a lot more like some of Alex’s games in 2016 by my eye. Not one of his bad games mind you, just a little more meh. A little worse in the pocket, hesitating a bit more on throws, not making as many read the field plays. I’d blame it all on the pass rush, but Alex played significantly better against a very good pass rush the week prior, so I’m not sure that’s it

We heard from Pete Sweeney in this week’s “5 questions” article that the Redskins should probably look at the Chargers game tape to see what to do defensively. Reading this breakdown of how the Chargers affected Alex Smith, that sounds like good advice.

The Chiefs & Redskins are 2nd & 3rd in YAC so far this season, and just 1-yard apart. (You too can learn this kind of interesting information by reading Skins Stats Slop by James Dorsett each week.)

If you’re interested in film breakdowns of opposing teams, Arrowhead Pride offers a really good series by Kent Swanson.

Defensively, don’t expect a lot of blitzing from the Chiefs, who have the lowest blitz rate in the NFL. In fact, they frequently rush just 3, and flood the defensive backfield, which could mean a lot of checkdown & runs to Redskins running backs. Another big day for Chris Thompson?

Bleacher report published a long and very detailed article on how the Redskins can attack Kansas City (abridged version here):

1. Isolate Linebackers in Coverage

The Chiefs love to play off-man coverage on the outside and use pattern reading underneath. Shallow crossing routes can help the Redskins wreck this scheme by isolating linebackers in coverage.

Simply put, pattern reading is a form of zone coverage with a man-coverage principle mixed in. It involves defenders dropping to a spot to patrol a zone, but trailing any receiver who enters their zone in man coverage.

It's how the Chiefs most often have their linebackers cover over the middle and underneath, while cornerbacks plays off on the outside.

New England also routinely came out in empty formations with running backs split out to force the Chiefs into using linebackers in man coverage.

The Redskins have the players to repeat the same formula. Lining up in 3x1 formations with Chris Thompson at running back and Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson on the outside will isolate the Chiefs linebackers.

Pryor and Doctson's potential to get vertical will keep Mitchell and fellow cornerback Marcus Peters in off coverage. It means there'll be room to run slot receivers Jamison Crowder or Ryan Grant underneath and in front of the linebacker level.

Meanwhile, splitting Thompson and his considerable receiving threat out will pull linebackers such as Ford and Johnson into man coverage, an obvious matchup advantage for the Redskins.

2. Go After Terrance Mitchell

He may have snatched a pair of interceptions in Week 3, but Terrance Mitchell is still the cornerback Kirk Cousins should go after. Washington's quarterback doesn't want to test the opportunistic streak of Peters too often.

Mitchell is also something of a ball hawk, as he proved in L.A., but he doesn't have as keen instincts, nor the athletic gifts Peters possesses. It means Mitchell can be beaten deep, something the Chargers exploited last week and a weakness the Redskins have the weapons to take advantage of.

3. Use Double Moves and Comeback Routes Against Off Coverage

It's common for Mitchell, Peters and third corner Phillip Gaines to give receivers a healthy cushion. Their penchant for playing way off can be punished by double moves and comeback routes.

The Redskins' receivers must sell vertical routes out of their breaks to run KC's corners even further off, before coming back to the ball for solid gains underneath.

4. Use Stunts to Collapse the Interior of the Pocket and Swarm on Alex Smith

Smith is expertly leading one of the most imaginative offenses in football. He's also taking his share of hits.

Through three weeks, Smith has been hit the seventh-most times of any quarterback, per NFL Matchup on ESPN. The Redskins can take encouragement from this number since they boast an array of talented pass-rushers, particularly on the edges.

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky can unleash Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette and Ryan Anderson on the outside. The quartet has combined for six sacks already this season.

Yet rather than attack the edges in Kansas City, Manusky must use Kerrigan and Co. to target the soft interior of the Chiefs' offensive line. Stunts, games and twists inside will quickly collapse the pocket and subject Smith to more punishment.

Manusky can create problems for the Chiefs' blocking schemes simply by pairing Kerrigan and Smith or Galette and Anderson on the same side and running games between the two.

5. Beware of Variations on a Theme and Trick Plays

Jet sweeps, screens, shovel passes and wildcat formations. No team employs trickery as often and effectively as the Chiefs.

The secret behind KC's ability to fool defenses is variations on a theme. Trick plays are packaged in different ways but share similarities. Or else the same packaging disguises the same play freeing a different playmaker.

Combatting those things doesn't require being psychic. Instead, it demands good recognition skills pre-snap and defenders knowing their keys to gadget plays, read-option and wildcat designs.

Fortunately, the Redskins displayed all of those things against the Raiders in Week 3. The Silver and Black love to involve explosive return man Cordarrelle Patterson on trick plays but found no joy at FedExField.

6. Gang Tackle Kareem Hunt

The numbers posted by Chiefs' rookie running back Hunt make for scary reading. There's the 500-plus scrimmage yards the fourth-round find has produced through three weeks, per NFL Research.

Then there's the fact no back in the NFL has proved more elusive than the former Toledo workhorse so far this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Yet it's not all doom and gloom for the Redskins as they prepare to face the league's most dominant back.

Take a look at the tweet from PFF again. Notice who is third in the elusive rating, one Marshawn Lynch of the Raiders, the same Lynch who was held to 18 yards on six carries by the Redskins in Week 3.

Washington's success shutting down "Beast Mode" came from a commitment to gang tackling. The same approach will be critical to keeping Hunt in check.

Swarming on Hunt in numbers can hold the rookie up while those late to the party work to strip the ball.

Hunt will get his big plays in Week 4, he's too good not to. However, the Redskins can do their bit to force some negative plays from the rookie and knock his confidence.

7. Spy Travis Kelce

The strength of the KC offense is still the connection between Smith and Kelce. The Chiefs' tight end is a true game-breaker who combines flexible move skills with deceptive vertical speed, excellent hands and formidable power after the catch.

Knowing where Kelce is at all times will be vital for the Redskins this week. Better yet, Manusky should have the tight end spied wherever he goes. D.J. Swearinger has the size, physicality and quickness to shadow Kelce.

Keeping Kelce quiet, swarming on Smith and Hunt and attacking man coverage can inspire the Redskins to a second huge upset in a row against a much-fancied AFC West opponent.

Flag Fest

The Chiefs are the most penalized team in the league right now and the Raiders are 24th. It’s bizarro world.

The Chiefs have 33 penalties this season, which is good for an average of 11 per game. That’s four more than the next closest team.

Here are some players that Chiefs fans are noticing

CB Terrance Mitchell: Mitchell had two INTs and nine tackles against the Chargers. He gave up a few yards and another penalty but Mitchell battled all day, and was a real difference maker for the Chiefs defense. Playing against Mitchell is miserable for receivers, and he’s displaying instincts and ball skills that can make offenses pay for sending all the targets his way.

S Eric Murray: Murray plays with some confidence and aggressiveness, and it looks like he can cover some ground back there. He’s still a special teams contributor, even with his expanded role trying to fill in for Eric Berry. Agains the Chargers, his tackle on second and long helped shut down a 14 play Chargers drive at the end of the first half. Murray should continue to improve as the season goes on.

NT Bennie Logan: Logan’s Chiefs career is off to a great start. He may not show up in the box score every week (nine tackles, one sack, one batted pass so far this season), but just watch the Chiefs defense and you’ll see his impact. He’s consistently pushing the pocket and making plays in the run game.

Reading about the Chiefs, I keep seeing Terrance Mitchell’s name come up. I thought I’d try to find out what all the fuss is about.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton does not blink when asked what he most appreciates about Chiefs cornerback Terrance Mitchell.

“Competitiveness,” Sutton said Thursday. “He’s a highly competitive guy. He doesn’t blink, doesn’t back down. He had a couple flags there in New England, but it didn’t change how he played from an aggressiveness standpoint, and you have to appreciate that as a coach.”

Mitchell was indeed thrown at a ton in the Chiefs’ 42-27 win over New England in Week 1. The Patriots decided to stay away from star corner Marcus Peters, instead opting to attack the 25-year-old Mitchell, a nickel corner a year ago who has been bumped up to the No. 2 spot because of Steven Nelson’s core muscle injury. The Patriots had some success too, throwing at him nine times, drawing four penalties and completing two passes for a total of 76 yards.

At the end of the game, with the desperate Pats in an eight-point hole and trying to fight back into it, Tom Brady heaved a deep ball toward speedster Brandon Cooks, who used his 4.3 speed to blaze past Mitchell — a 4.6 guy — and track the ball.

Based on the way the game had gone for Mitchell, it seemed to be a solid choice. But the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Mitchell responded with one of the best plays of the night. He swung at the ball with his right hand and whiffed, but ended up deflecting it away with his left hand for a soul-sucking deflection that helped put away the defending champs.

“Mental toughness is damn near my driving force,” Mitchell said. “The game is 80 percent mental. If you’ve got it up top, everything else will follow.”

Mitchell considers his unwavering confidence his greatest strength, one that has helped him weather the storm of passes that have come his way against the Pats and Philadelphia Eagles, the Chiefs’ first two opponents in 2017. According to Pro Football Focus, Mitchell has been targeted a team-high 19 times this season and yielded just nine completions.

And though his 166 yards allowed is the third-most among all NFL corners, quarterbacks have a rating of 78.0 when throwing at him, compared to 101.6 for Peters (6 for 8 for 71 yards) and 117.6 for Gaines (6 for 11 for 105 yards and a touchdown).

Through it all, Mitchell — who has not allowed a touchdown this season — has remained undaunted. Watch the tape, and you can see him cajoling and tugging and yapping and celebrating with receivers. Catch a pass on him, he forgets it quickly.

“I used to get scored on all the time — (I was) a little kid crying, everybody laughing,” Mitchell said. “(They were) pretty much picking on me. But that, right there, made me competitive.

“You were either going to be in there ’til you quit, or you get yourself out. And you can’t quit.”

Tired of bigger kids backing him down, Mitchell learned to use his quickness to his advantage and go for the steal. When he started having success doing that, Mitchell learned a lot about himself.

“After so many losses, you just get mad,” Mitchell said. “That’s either in you, or it’s not.”

Mitchell credits basketball experiences that like one for helping him play cornerback. He found the movements similar, and all the man-to-man press defense he played in basketball translated to football.

“I’m a point guard out there playing defense against receivers,” Mitchell said.

That scrappiness has served Mitchell well with the Chiefs, who play lots of man coverage on the outside and rely on their corners to make plays on the ball. It’s a trait Sutton first noticed in Mitchell last year, when Mitchell — who had been released six times in his four-year NFL career — was toiling away on the practice squad. It’s how he earned a promotion to regular action in December, and became a revelation of sorts as a nickel corner during the Chiefs’ stretch run.

Receivers also note that Mitchell has very strong hands, which he uses to knock them off their routes.

“He’s one of the stronger DBs that we have,” said Chiefs receiver Gehrig Dieter, who faced Mitchell regularly on the practice squad. “If he gets his hands on you, it’s basically over.”

Help will likely come in Week 9, when Nelson — a starter a year ago — is eligible to return from injured reserve. But in the meantime, if teams want to continue to attack him, trust and believe that Mitchell is just fine with that.

“They’re going to help me show the world who I am,” Mitchell said.

What are Redskin coaches saying about this game?

Kareem Hunt

An immovable object will meet an unstoppable force this Monday night, or something close to that. The Redskins defense is allowing just 62.3 rushing yards per game, good for second best in the league, while the Chiefs boast rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who leads the league in rushing yards with 401, and scrimmage yards with 538.

“I think [he’s a] great back, he’s been doing a great job this year,” Manusky said. “We’ve got to get a lot of hats around him, make sure that we tackle him. He can break tackles, seen him do that many a times. You know, No. 10 [Tyreek Hill] in the backfield and No. 13 [De’Anthony Thomas] in the backfield – two fast guys that can really split you down the middle and also running the ball. [They are] two effective guys that can run to the edge.”

The challenge for the Redskins will also be staying on their keys and not getting duped on misdirection and deceptive formations the Chiefs like to show.

“I think he has great vision, number one,” Gruden said of Hunt. “I mentioned the contact balance that he has and obviously he has got the speed to run through holes. He has done very good. They have a great scheme over there. They keep you off-balance. They have got the zone reads going. They have got the jet sweeps. They have a lot of things that you don’t see every day in pro football.”

The Redskin defense

With so many new parts needing to sync together, it’s been an impressive beginning to the season for the Redskins defense, which has, in consecutive weeks, limited opponents’ run games and played the brand of aggressive football fans have waited to see for some time.

Gruden noted that aiding this transition of new parts – including Swearinger, linebacker Zach Brown and defensive linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain – is the experience they all brought with them.

“These guys have played a lot of football,” Gruden said. “It is just a matter of getting together with the terminology and playing well with your teammates. What drew us to those guys – Jonathan Allen, obviously – was their work ethic, how hard they played. They all seemed like smart guys and they fit in well.”

Manusky has seen steady improvement the more they have played in games together, expecting their unity to grow over the coming weeks.

“It’s great to get a lot of reps of seeing these guys playing together,” Manusky said. “Sometimes when you’re coming out of the preseason and stuff, some guys get 10 reps, 15 reps or 20 reps – it’s hard to get a good judge on what they can do and what they can’t do. Overall, we’ve been pretty successful in the last couple of weeks. From the players’ perspective, they’re doing a good job. I think they’re building camaraderie amongst themselves and we’re playing together and good things happen.”

Injured Redskins

Thursday:

Washington received a handful of injuries following the Rams game that prevented a few starters from playing against Oakland. After an extra day of rest this week, everyone was back at practice but for tackle Ty Nsekhe, who underwent core muscle surgery on Tuesday, and there is more optimism surrounding many of their returns.

While limited in practice Thursday, running back Rob Kelly, tight end Jordan Reed and linebacker Mason Foster all participated in individual drills. Gruden isn’t exactly sure the prognosis for them yet but their practicing is a positive sign.

“We will see,” Gruden said when it came to Reed. “He felt better today, did more team stuff today. But we will have to wait and see. So I don’t know.”

Gruden did also mention that defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis sustained a rotator cuff injury during the Raiders game. Gruden is confident he should be able to play on Monday, but Anthony Lanier will be ready if needed.

Friday:

injury updates included a few new players. D.J. Swearinger and Jamison Crowder were limited today after tweaking their hamstrings. Jonathan Allen was also limited after tweaking his shoulder.

Chiefs:

The big deal on the Chiefs injury report is Eric Fisher, the left tackle. The team’s starting center, Mitch Morse is already out; if the Chiefs have to replace Fisher en they would be fielding a somewhat patchwork line to go against the Redskins #2 ranked run defense and the strong pass rush that the ‘Skins have put on display all season long.

Chiefs fans are not taking this lightly:

Friday

Saturday

The final word belongs to Cadillactica

Credit is due to the Chiefs defense and secondary and I hope the Redskins study every second of film. Look off your receiver, Kirk! Because the Cheif secondary is that good at jumping routes. Whats there to say about Kareem Hunt? He is an absolute stud. The Skins will have their hands full trying to stop Kelce, Hunt, and Hill.

Poll

Question 1: Which quarterback will throw for the most yards in this game?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Kirk Cousins
    (192 votes)
  • 27%
    Alex Smith
    (77 votes)
  • 0%
    Colt McCoy
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    Patrick Mahomes
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Tyler Bray
    (4 votes)
278 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Question 2: Which defense gets the most sacks + turnovers (combined)?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    The Redskins
    (162 votes)
  • 41%
    The Chiefs
    (114 votes)
276 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Place your bets: The official 5 o’clock club over/under on penalties against Kansas City is 8.5

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    I’ll take the over
    (116 votes)
  • 51%
    under
    (121 votes)
237 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Place your bets: The official 5 o’clock club over/under on points is 48.5

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    I’ll take the over
    (79 votes)
  • 67%
    under
    (164 votes)
243 votes total Vote Now