Well, that was a strange game, wasn’t it? To use a proper footballing cliche, it was a game of two halves. I could write about the Chiefs offence. Is it broken? Having Mahomes throw 68 times a game just isn’t sustainable. Having Mahomes as your leading rusher isn’t sustainable. That’s a whole article in itself. But today, we’re going to look at the defence who most certainly had a game of two halves.
First half drives for the Titans. 48 yards and punt. 70 yards Touchdown. 79 yards Touchdown. 11 yards Punt. Take a knee to end the half.
But the story of the first half for the defence was broken tackles. RYOE stands for Rush Yards Over Expected. On any given carry Next Gen Stats look at play call and where the player went, where the defenders went and calculate how many yards you would expect the rusher to get. If you look for the green lines on the chart below and ignore the two that are touchdowns, Henry had 3 rushes over 5 yards all night. The reason he had 92 yards on 9 carries in the first half? Missed tackles. The reason he had 23 yards on 8 carries in the second half? Chiefs didn’t miss tackles. The fact he only had 8 carries in the second half when the Titans had the lead for almost all of it is criminal mismanagement, but that’s their problem, not ours.
The same applied to pass defence in the first half. Missed tackles accounted for over half of Malik Willis passing yards for the whole night on just this one play. Okonkwo had no business getting 8 yards from this play, never mind 48, but missed tackles created big plays in the first half
The second half of the game, ah, well that was a different story.
The Titans managed 22 yards of total offence in the second half and overtime. Their longest drive lasted 5 plays and that only gained them 8 yards. This was a total beatdown from all facets of the D. Plays like this from Nick Bolton. Diagnosing the screen play and making a crucial stop on 3rd down. Forced the Titans to punt and then it was the Patrick Mahomes show from there on in.
Why was he so bad? Well, it wasn’t that he was particularly under pressure. His average time to throw of 3.17 seconds is a lifetime in NFL QB terms. The fastest sack the Chiefs managed was by Carlos Dunlap in 3.6 seconds. It’s not like the D were particularly in his face as soon as the ball was snapped. Want to know why he was so bad? Nobody, and I mean nobody, was open. At all. All night.
You can see why the Chiefs let Fenton go. Credit to the Chiefs rookie DBs, they had absolute blanket coverage on every receiver the Titans had. There was nobody for Willis to throw to. You would have needed a Patrick Mahomes level of performance to pass the ball on this Chiefs D, and Malik Willis is closer in NFL QB level to me than he is to Patrick Mahomes.
More dominant performances like this from the D against real NFL QBs and the Chiefs will be very hard to beat this year.