Posted: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013
By Tom Ryle
OCC did a post taking a look at the grades Pro Football Focusgave the Dallas Cowboys in their win over the New York Giants. While there are differing opinions about PFF's grades and how they come up with them, they do allow us to do a little apples to apples talk, since they are trying to apply the same criteria to all teams.
Here is my look at the same grades for the same units and players of the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cowboys' opponent this Sunday. While the Chiefs were 2-14 last year, they really have better talent than that, and the 28-2 victory they had over the Jacksonville Jaguars may be the first sign that Andy Reid is going to be able to get more out of his new team after he was dismissed by the Philadelphia Eagles. But there is still a need for caution in just how much you read into these numbers, since the Giants are probably a significantly better team than the Jags. In this case, the PFF game summary may be an even more valuable read than it was for the Giants-Cowboys.
First off, a quick observation about the way KC has gone about building this unit.
Kansas City OL: 1st Round LT, 2nd R LG, 2nd R C, 3rd R RG, 1st R RT. Invest in the line of scrimmage. 300 lb>200 lb— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) September 11, 2013
And the results pretty much bear this out. Except for rookie Eric Fisher, all got positive grades. This is going to be a stouter test for the Cowboys' defensive line, which was pretty outstanding against the New York Giants' patchwork arrangement. As Bryan Broaddus speculated in his own film review of the Chiefs, you can probably look for Kiffin to try and get DeMarcus Ware on Fisher for at least some snaps, and he may also see Anthony Spencer in his first action of the season.
One thing that should be kept in mind is that the Chiefs were up against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who look to be one of the poorer teams in the NFL. Against this line, every member of the starting front seven on defense for the Jaguars had negative scores. As a matter of fact, only two players on the Jaguars D got positive scores. CB Mike Harris got a +1.2, and PFF handed out a +1.1 to CB Alan Ball. Yes. That Alan Ball.
The Chiefs did not have all their draft picks on the roster and available for the game, the way Dallas did, but they only had one pick not make the team.
Again, the Chiefs were playing against Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne, not an overpowering pair of quarterbacks. It is interesting that the Jaguars went after Brandon Flowers, the best defensive back on the team, more than any two other DBs. The main question for the Cowboys, of course, is whether they can get Dez Bryant untracked, or who will take up the slack if KC takes a page from the Giant's playbook and try to shut him down.
No one else had much of an impact. The tight ends were not major factors in the game. Of course, the Chiefs only had 292 yards offensively, and surrendered a safety, so they did not exactly overwhelm Jacksonville. The matchups here should be much more favorable than they were against the Giants, at least as far as receivers are concerned.
One thing to watch is whether there are any fumbles by the running backs. KC did not cough up any balls in the first game. This will be an interesting test of whether the turnover-fest Dallas had against the Giants was luck or something else.
If there is one place where Dallas and Kansas City mirror each other, it is the defensive front seven. Both teams saw their best PFF scores clustered in this area. The Chiefs run a 3-4 and looked very good up front. Here are the scores. Based just on snap counts, it looks like KC used several different alignments, since I can't get the DE numbers to add up to enough snaps to cover the offensive plays by the Jags. Here are the basic numbers.
It is fairly clear that the front seven, particularly the linebackers, are the strength of this defense. Poe, KC's first-round pick in 2012, will be going head to head with Dallas' 2013 first rounder Travis Frederick. Houston and Hali are both good edge rushers and will challenge Tyron Smith and Doug Free. Right now, the question everyone is wondering about is whether Brian Waters is going to see action this week. Dallas' offensive line versus the Chiefs offensive front seven may be the factor that determines this game.