Editor’s note: This article was written and scheduled prior to the announcement of Cam Newton’s positive COVID-19 test and the game postponement.
The Chiefs defense faced a tough test last week and came away victorious in Baltimore on Monday. They face a different test this week but there will be similarities in stopping the New England Patriots.
One of the things that make the NFL special is just how much diversity teams will see week to week, especially when preparing and making a game plan. Headed into week four the Chiefs will have a tall task of stopping the Patriots at home.
While playing a Bill Belichick coached defense will be nothing new for Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, Steve Spagnuolo, and the defense will for the first time see Cam Newton behind center for the Patriots. So far this year Newton has added new dynamics to the Patriots offense we have never seen with his ability to run out of the pocket, as well run RPO, and zone-read looks.
This is, however, similar to what the Chiefs saw this past week against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
Jackson and Newton are two completely different players but they do run systems with very similar core concepts. Both are predicated on a strong run game and being able to complete short quick passes to backs and tight ends, as well as have their wideouts run medium routes, such as slants, outs, and posts.
The difference lies in that where Jackson is all about speed and finding a quick way to the sideline to get to more space, Newton is of a slug-it-out power runner. He wants to stay in between the tackles and follow blockers to pick up extra yards in space.
That being said, Newton still does have the pocket awareness and eye for space to know when to tuck and run the ball. Lamar Jackson tried to scramble a few times in the second half against the Chiefs but Spags answer to that kept giving different looks, keep pressuring from different spots, and even at times drop back contain players to make sure he didn’t hit the edge.
This week they will need to have a similar game plan ready and in place to prevent easy runs for Newton.
As far as passing goes in the Patriots offense, not much has changed from the Brady days, they will take a quick completion, they will take the check down, throw screens, and they will take what you give them. With the addition of a few more RPO’s to defend the passing game should be the same. The Chiefs will likely come out and play a heavy dose of man defense, but once again the LB’s will have to be ready for the short passes. They did a good job last week of breaking up passes and getting to the ball.
As things change things will stay the same. The Patriots will still try to find ways to get Julian Edelman open down the field, and with L’Jarius Sneed out with a broken collar bone it will add extra pressure to the Chiefs secondary. The Chiefs will still have to play tight man to stop them but with Safety help from Tyrann Mathieu, and Juan Thornhill it shouldn’t be a problem.
New England is still going to try to come out and burn clock, run the ball out of different formations and try not to turn it over. A way for the Chiefs to stop the traditional runs, as well as passes, is for the Chiefs defensive line to continue a dominant start to the 2020 season.
Chris Jones and the entire defensive line have looked like the top unit in the league over the course of the last few weeks. If you recall back to last season the Chiefs defense sacked Tom Brady three times, in a great showing.
It will be more difficult this year with the legs of Newton but if the Chiefs can successfully keep stuffing the run and throwing different looks and pressures at Newton it will erase his mobility. The Patriots want it to be a smash-mouth in the trenches kind of game. Something tells me the Chiefs will once again be ready to go blow for blow with them up front.