Frustrating, that’s the only word to describe the week 2 matchup between the Chiefs and the Texans. The Chiefs started in the same way as they did against the Chargers in week 1, they were very one dimensional with their unadventurous play calling and all but threw down the welcome mat for the Texans to take full advantage.
For the 2nd week in a row, the Chiefs were uninspiring in the 1st half of the game, but unlike week 1, they never really looked like mounting a miraculous comeback at the restart. The problem? … far too many penalties needlessly given away which subsequently led to a broken rhythm of plays by the Chiefs.
It wasn’t that the Chiefs played particularly bad, the defense for example, it managed to shut down the running game of Lamar Miller and the secondary managed to keep tabs on Hopkins and Fuller with some spirited coverage by Philip Gaines and Marcus Peters. Dontari Poe and Tamba Hali were on hand to sure up the defense to give the offense a chance to tear into the Texans with a very tasty attacking threat, but sadly the threat never materialised.
Alex Smith looked like he was rooted to the spot in the pocket for most of the game, with delayed passing, indecisive plays and zero running ability. When Smith did finally release the ball, Jeremy Maclin looked surprised that the ball was even coming to him! It was very uncharacteristic of the veteran receiver, but we all have our off days I suppose.
Chris Conley, who I have predicted to have a breakout season this year, went missing for the most part of the game as he was unable to shake off the Texan coverage, but when he did find space, Smith didn’t lead his pass into the path of Conley, this meant that the pass fell behind the receiver and subsequently led to another incompletion.
I never like to pin the blame on just one player as it is a team game after all, but when a fundamental part of an engine fails you have a series of problems that can cause a cataclysmic domino effect, the engine I’m referring to in this analogy is of course the Offense as a whole.
The problem this week was the broken rhythm of plays, just when the Chiefs looked to be making progress, a holding call or a false start penalty would put the Chiefs further back down the field. This led to a very poor 3rd down conversion rate (in fact it was non-existent) and Alex Smith had the unenviable task to make up the extra yardage after the penalties, thus resulting in mounting pressure to attempt to stretch the play. This reason alone means we cannot put the blame firmly on Alex Smith’s doorstep.
The Chiefs running game was not utilised effectively in my opinion, even though Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West were finding holes in the Texans defense. How this was missed by the offensive coordinators is beyond me, but my guess is that the coordinators had to find long yardage quickly to compensate for the penalty calls that the Chiefs were racking up.
To summarise, it was a very frustrating night for the Chiefs as they were always chasing the game, and never looked to be on the front foot at any point during the game. However, if they can remove the needless penalties from their game and find forward momentum from this point onwards, they will be a force to be reckoned with. We‘ve seen flashes of what the Chiefs are capable of, they just need to iron out the inconsistencies, starting with the New York Jets in week 3.