In a game that the Chiefs did not necessarily need to win, but one they badly did want to win, it wasn’t the usual suspects on offense that powered them to a Week 17 victory and the two seed in the AFC. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill made their fair share of big plays but this game belonged to the battered running back unit and an offensive line who might be finding their spark just in time. The Chiefs pounded on the Chargers in the ground game rushing for 162 yards. Damien Williams led the way with 124 yards on 12 carries for two touchdowns, 84 of those yards coming on one play.
Williams gets good initial edge blocking on a well drawn up play. Balance, Determination, and speed take this from a four yard gain into a RIP! pic.twitter.com/Xxn7WKCply— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 1, 2020
Several times in the contest the Chiefs took advantage of motioning Kelce over to get numbers on the edge for their zone run game. Give credit to Eric Fisher and Kelce for good lead blocks, stretching their men out of the play and giving Williams a good lane for a cutback. He DELIVERS the contact, stays upright and shows that high-level acceleration as the Chargers were waiting on a whistle. This level of effort is what will be needed in the coming games.
This is another great example of Andy Reid using the motion to make the defense hesitate to give the double team time to seal the edge and give Williams time to get the first down. This time Mitchell Schwartz and Kelce get a great double team block on a good edge player in Melvin Ingram, while Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s man tries to back door it, but with that much space, Williams has an easy first. Schwartz gets a knockdown as well. Funny enough, the first time I watched this I didn’t notice but this is actually an RPO (run, pass option) based on the way the backside blocked it, and Hill’s acceleration out of his stance. It will be interesting to see how many different wrinkles if any the Chiefs will throw into this little mid-zone scheme they have been working on in the last few weeks.
The Chiefs were thriving in short yardage situations Sunday. They had struggled to run the ball early in the year but the Front 5 did a good job of covering up defenders and giving the Backs room to work. Here is Thompson's first carry of the game, which results in a first down pic.twitter.com/Tnd56HZG1Y— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 1, 2020
The Chiefs looked noticeably better running the ball in short-yardage situations and a certain rookie of note had a few nice under the radar runs. Nothing pretty at all about this run that resulted in a first down but again the Chiefs’ offensive line was physical at the point of attack in their zone blocking. The strong side linebacker runs through the B gap but is picked up by LDT who gives Darwin Thompson a nice little seam for a first down. It has drawn the ire of many Chiefs fans that Anthony Sherman hasn’t gotten the offensive playing time he has in the past but he makes the most of his opportunity with a nice seal block on the backside. Check the LG and LT as well! Old man Wiz knocks the DT over to Austin Reiter, and gets up to another backer, and Fisher drives through the double team to find more work. If Bell can hold his block a little longer this might have gone for more yards. All in all a solid job to get the first down and take some pressure off the throw game.
Not everything was pretty but when the Chiefs needed a tough two Thompson did a good job of putting his cleats in the ground for a few tough yards. Have the Chiefs found their new short yardage back? pic.twitter.com/XSaUQ97tvR— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 1, 2020
Here is another good example of the Chiefs succeeding on third down and short, and another big carry by Thompson to keep the drive going. First off great formation to call this run in. The 10 personnel and passing game keep the defense honest here on third and short. Notice pre-snap the LB’s are still nearly 5 yards off the LOS even with the short down. They bring the free runner off the edge making it a 3 man sort play side. Wiz gets pushed back a little but Fisher and Reiter do a good job of making good contact and running their feet to keep their men out of the play. The LB’s react quickly once they read run but check out Big Mitch get just enough of the Will backer to go get Thompson the forward progress he needs for the first. When Thompson was in he ran hard and with a purpose. After struggling with some vision issues early in the year it is refreshing to see his improvement running between the tackles, and staying on his feet for tough yards in the process.
Once the Chiefs started to get going in the run game the chargers started to pursue hard leaving the backside open for Mahomes on the read. Bosa chases Thompson while the backer goes after Kelce. Allowing Mahomes to slide for about 5 yards. pic.twitter.com/fOU5tXY6Yr— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 1, 2020
This play is a near-perfect example of how a solid run game with elite passing can mess with the minds of a defense and lead to some easy yards. This play was in the 4th quarter and it may not seem like much but the Chiefs lineup with Kelce flexed just behind Fisher, the formation they have done so much damage running the ball and getting the edge on so far this game. Except for on the snap Kelce comes across the formation avoiding Joey Bosa, who is on a dead sprint to get to Thompson, which ends up leaving Mahomes clear to take the read. The Chargers defender recognizes Kelce, and with a slight ball fake, Mahomes gets him to vacate the area, leaving him a free five and a slide. I know there is a large number of Chiefs fans who don’t like the idea of Mahomes running the ball at all, but looking at the bigger picture there are so many options the Chiefs have out of this. The better the Chiefs get at running the ball the more RPO action will open up and it will add another dimension to the offense. It will be interesting to see if the Chiefs run any variation of this play as we get into the postseason.
Kelce motions over pre snap which cuases all LB's to hesitate and gives Reiter and Fish a few extra seconds to work up to the backers. Good initial blocking by Schwatz, Wiz, and LDT gives Damien a nice run up the middle. pic.twitter.com/Z3m30uS6Ux— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 1, 2020
This play from the drive that would lead to the game-sealing touchdown is just another good example of the Chiefs being able to run the ball out of different formations with different personnel on the field. This time a hybrid 13 personnel with two flex ends once again leads to the Chiefs having favorable numbers play side. Sherman and Bell get the party started with a double team moving the defender 5 yards back, while Schwartz and LDT get their guys moved opening up the middle lane. Wiz seals the backside DT and Reiter makes a nice block to keep the defender off of Williams. If Fisher and Kelce were able to hold the backside a little longer it could have gone for more. All in all nice play to set up third and short, as well as keep grinding the Chargers D.
The Run that sealed the game. Big boy football down in on the Goaline. GREAT double team by Schwartz and LTD. Sherman delivers a blow on his lead block, and Mr.Williams just wanted it more than the Chargers as was seen all day. pic.twitter.com/S6luRDbwBX— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) January 1, 2020
What a fitting way for this game to end. Great lead block by Sherman who has shot out of a cannon in his traditional full-back I formation, Schwartz and LDT maul their double team man off the line, and Williams showed shades of last January by once again breaking a tackle, staying on his feet, and playing harder than anyone else on the field. This is the kind of effort that can lead to wins late in January.
To win games at this point in the season the ability to run the ball must be available, and being able to convert on short runs could be the factor between a heartbreaking defeat and living to see another game. The Chiefs might have found something with this little motion lead mid-zone they ran against a Chargers D who ranked 6th in total D this season. If the Chiefs do happen to run into a game where the O struggles to pass, such as in the first half vs New England in the AFCCG, and in the second half in Foxborough this season it would be nice to loosen the D up a little by getting some big rips on the ground. If this game was a precursor to the kind of run game we will see in the playoffs, watch out because with the Chiefs Defense playing their best since the ’90s, Mahomes finding his stride, and being able to gash teams for 6 or 7 a run there is no reason the Chiefs shouldn’t win the Super Bowl.