Tag:Romeo Crennel
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:28 pm
 

For the gambler in you, week 15

Potential Miami coachs

By Josh Katzowitz

Each Saturday, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will the Miami Dolphins hire one of these high profile coaches (Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Jeff Fisher, Brian Billick, Tony Dungy)?       
  
Yes -200

No +150

No, they’re going to go with a “young Don Shula” and none of the aforementioned qualify. Billick might have some interest, but I think the Dolphins might go with a top-notch assistant.

Who will be the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?

Romeo Crennel 2/1       

Josh McDaniels 5/2       

Kirk Ferentz 3/1       

Jeff Fisher 7/2       

Bill Cowher 7/1      
 
My brain wants to say Josh McDaniels, but my heart says Crennel. Actually, I think McDaniels wouldn’t be a good choice, and I think Crennel could become of the league’s better coaches if he gets another opportunity. I’d go with Crennel, because Ferentz never goes anywhere and Fisher and Cowher won’t want a personality like general manager Scott Pioli hanging over them.

Who will have more turnovers in the game Week 15?

Tom Brady (NE) QB +145    

Tim Tebow (DEN) QB -175    

Unless you’re a pirouetting ballerina like Chicago’s Charles Tillman on his amazing interception of Tebow last week, Tebow rarely turns over the ball. Neither does Brady, but Denver’s defense is better than New England’s unit. I’ll go with Brady on this bet.

Tim Tebow -- completion percentage Week 15?          

Over/Under 49%     

On the season, Tebow is at 48.5 percent, but the Patriots defense is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 63.7 percent of their passes. I’d go with over, especially if the Broncos are close in the second half.

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 5:53 pm
 

Kyle Orton is Romeo Crennel's starting QB

Orton

By Josh Katzowitz

Chiefs interim coach Romeo Crennel made big-time news earlier this week when he announced Tyler Palko was Kansas City’s brand-new third-string quarterback and said that if Kyle Orton’s broken finger allowed him to play, he would start. Otherwise, rookie Ricky Stanzi, who has been panned almost universally for his practice performances this year, would get the go-ahead.

Luckily for the Chiefs, Crennel (via Rapid Reporter Bob Gretz) has seen enough progress from Orton this week to announce Friday that Orton indeed will be the No. 1 quarterback heading into Sunday’s Packers game.

From Denver to KC
“Kyle did a nice job and it looks like he’s throwing better and so we are going to start him in the game," Crennel said.

If the Chiefs want any kind of chance to beat the Packers at home, Orton and not Stanzi has to be the one to start. The biggest concern entering the week for the Chiefs was whether Orton continued to have problems gripping the ball with his injured finger. But on Friday, Orton practiced without wearing the glove he’d worn all week to protect his index finger.

Orton apparently has not had a problem taking the snap from the center either.

“The ball has not been on the ground at all this week, so that’s a good sign,” Crennel said.

After the Chiefs generated buzz by signing Orton when the Broncos waived him -- at that point, Kansas City wasn’t quite out of the race in the AFC West, and it seemed like a necessary move if the Chiefs were going to defend their division title -- Orton got hurt on the first play of his Chiefs career.

Palko, with a 1-3 record as a starter, clearly isn’t the answer at quarterback, and considering former coach Todd Haley isn’t around any longer to try to save his job, Crennel obviously would rather have an Orton that might not be 100 percent rather than a Palko who is.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 8:22 pm
 

Crennel: Orton or Stanzi will start vs. Packers

Depth-chart reshuffling: Crennel will start Orton if he's healthy; if not, Stanzi will play. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

On Monday, the Chiefs fired Todd Haley. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was named interim coach for the final three weeks of the season, and it didn't take him long to shake things up at quarterback.

Crennel announced during a press conference Wednesday that either Kyle Orton or Ricky Stanzi will start against the Packers Sunday, depending on Orton's health. Tyler Palko, who started the previous four games in place of injured Matt Cassel, has been demoted to third string. (Palko was 1-3 in said starts.)

"I told them we’re making a change at quarterback, that we’re changing the quarterback and that Tyler would not be the starter this week," Crennel said. "Orton or Stanzi will be the starter. Which one? I’m not exactly sure yet because Orton has a finger that he has got to work through, and we’ll have to see during the week how his finger is and how he comes along and if he can handle it with that finger.

"Stanzi is a rookie and if Orton is able to go and can do it, then Orton is going to be the quarterback. If Orton cannot do it, then Stanzi will be the quarterback, and I told the team that today."

Crennel said the decision was his alone; he informed Palko then spoke with general manager Scott Pioli about the move. "It was my decision, I made it," he said.

Orton, who arrived in Kansas City on November 23 after the Broncos released him, played just one snap against the Bears in Week 13 before a dislocated finger landed him back on the sidelines. And that's where he's been since.

Orton practiced Wednesday on a limited basis and said the injury no longer affects his throws. "I won’t put myself out there unless I can (make all the necessary throws)," he said, according to the Kansas City Star's Adam Teicher.

Whoever plays, Crennel is certain that the Packers are losing sleep preparing for the Chiefs' quarterback. “We have Tyler and they’ve seen what he’s done,” he said. “They look at Kyle Orton and know he has a finger (injury), and they look at a rookie (Stanzi). I don’t think they are shaking in their boots about those choices."

When asked if he saw any similarities between Stanzi and T.J. Yates, the Texans rookie quarterback forced into action after injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart, Crennel offered this: “Only that they were both fifth round picks."

He added: "You never know, Tom Brady was a sixth-round pick and Tom Brady might never have gotten on the field if [Drew] Bledsoe hadn’t gotten hurt. So Bledsoe gets hurt so Brady gets on the field and then you can’t get him off otherwise he would have been on the sideline so you just never know. So you put him out there and you see what happens.”

Is Crennel just shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic? Yeah, probably. But what's he got to lose? The iceberg ain't moving and the Chiefs have three games left. Might was well see what Orton and/or Stanzi can do. What's the worst that can happen, Kansas City finishes 5-11?

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:16 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Agent: Jeff Fisher 'will listen to anyone'

By Will Brinson

One of the biggest names in coaching searches -- three, at least, by my count -- this offseason will be former Titans coach Jeff Fisher, who's been connected with just about every possible opening and/or potential opening thus far.

Here's some good news for those would-be suitors: Fisher's agent Marvin Demoff says the coach is interested.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald asked Demoff about the opening with the Dolphins (Tony Sparano was canned on Monday) and Demoff said he hadn't spoken to Fisher about the Miami job specifically but said Fisher "will listen to anyone."

Thus far, Fisher's been connected to the Dolphins and Chiefs jobs, and it's entirely possible that Stephen Ross sped up the timeline for dumping Sparano in order to stay abreast of the Chiefs, who fired Todd Haley earlier Monday.

Not that it matters -- teams that appoint an interim coach aren't allowed to hire their full-time coach until the season ends and only after complying with the necessary interviewing guidelines.

Coaching Carousel

"Once the season is concluded, the head coaching position must be considered open and the club must fill the position in accordance with the interviewing guidelines,” NFL VP of Communications Greg Aiello told Jackson.

There was some rumbling on Tuesday that hiring minority interim coaches (Romeo Crennel, Todd Bowles and Mel Tucker are all African-American) would allow the teams in question to circumvent the Rooney Rule. It does not.

But the Jaguars, Chiefs and Dolphins can all talk to potential head-coaching candidates before the end of the season, which means that Fisher will absolutely get a chance to listen over the next couple of weeks.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:44 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Who will replace Todd Haley in Kansas City?

By Will Brinson

As is tradition, when an NFL coach is "relieved of his duties," like Todd Haley was on Monday, we'll plow through a list of potential candidates to replace said coach.

The Chiefs search is a little different though, because it's widely assumed that Scott Pioli will chase a "Patriots Guy," which is someone with, duh, connections to the Bill Belichick coaching tree. The success of the next Chiefs coach will likely determine whether or not Pioli continues at the helm of the Chiefs, and thus it would be surprising to see him go in a different direction and hire someone he wasn't truly confident could succeed.

Leave your suggestions in the comments.

Romeo Crennel

Crennel's going to be running the team for the final three games of the 2011 season, and it's possible that Scott Pioli would be comfortable with Crennel as the full-time coach going forward. After all, Romeo was the defensive coordinator for championship-caliber teams in New England when Pioli was working for the Patriots, and Crennel's got head-coaching experience with the Browns. That wasn't the most successful tenure, but, hey, neither was Bill Belichick's first gig in Cleveland either.

Josh McDaniels

McDaniels was canned in Denver and took over as Offensive Coordinator for the Rams this past season. His star has fallen mightily from the 6-0 start with the Broncos in 2009 to the 2-10 effort the Rams have put forth so far in 2011 and the regression St. Louis has shown on offense. McDaniels real downfall in Denver, though, was his personnel decisions (although you could argue he made some smart calls after all) and he wouldn't have to worry about that in KC. At the very least, he'll warrant strong consideration as offensive coordinator for his old boss Pioli. (Added bonus: Haley hates him!)

Kirk Ferentz

My buddy Nathan and I have a running joke about how Ferentz is the hottest coaching candidate on the planet every year (seriously: his name gets dropped into every single coaching search at every single level of football)  but never even considers leaving Iowa. This is actually one gig that could truly entice him to make the jump to the NFL, though, as he and Pioli go way back to the early 90's when they worked together in Cleveland and Baltimore. Plus, you never know -- he could be the AFC's version of Jim Harbaugh!

Jeff Fisher

Fisher's going to be one of the hotter names in most coaching searches this offseason, because of all the success he had in Tennessee, and the fact that he ultimately just left because he and Bud Adams couldn't really agree on Vince Young. Or something. The Chiefs have a lot of cap room and their roster actually resembles the construction of his Titans teams the last few years he was there.

Bill Cowher

Little-known fact about all NFL coaching searches: you must include Cowher's name or else it's not complete. Also, Cowher coached in Kansas City for two years and apparently loves it there. So I'm changing my tune from earlier when I didn't include Cowher. I still don't think he's the answer here, though, because Pioli isn't going to just hand over a pile of player-personnel power to Cowher and it's widely believed that's something he'll require.

Rob Ryan

Ryan's refusal to cut his hair and stop running his mouth prior to games has hurt his reputation as a strong candidate to succeed at the head-coaching level, but he's done good work with the Cowboys defense this season and his track record as a defensive coach is pretty damn impressive. He also worked for the Patriots (linebackers coach for three years) and given how much Rex Ryan's succeeded in New York, it's hard to ignore the possibility of success by the other sibling. On the other hand, given the tenuous nature of Pioli's relationship with the fiery Todd Haley, he may want to avoid a big personality with this hire.

Brian Daboll

Daboll was brought to the Dolphins in 2011 to revamp the Fins offense, and while Miami isn't the most high-powered offense in the NFL, the rejuvenation of Reggie Bush and the late-season success of Matt Moore is impressive. Daboll's offenses haven't ever finished in the top half of the NFL -- he was quarterbacks coach of the Jets in 2007 and 2008 and offensive coordinator of the Browns in 2009 and 2010 -- but he hasn't exactly been working with the same personnel you might find on the 1999 Rams or anything. No head coaching experience probably makes this a dealbreaker, but he could warrant consideration as an assistant.

Eric Mangini

But, no, seriously. Mangini's been known to have interest in returning to the NFL and as recently the past month he's been rumored as someone who might come in as a consultant for various teams. He's currently working for ESPN (and is actually doing a fantastic job, in my humble opinion), and may have burned bridges with comments he made about the Patriots while working as the Jets head coach. But people forget he did a pretty good job there of rebuilding the Gang Green before struggling in a rebuild job in Cleveland.

Pat Hill

Hill, the recently-fired Fresno State coach, is a bit of a darkhorse, especially since "getting fired by a non-BCS school where you've been since 1997" isn't usually the career step taken before "getting hired to take over an NFL team." But again, he's part of the Belichick tree, so it's impossible to count him out completely.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:25 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Chiefs: Todd Haley 'relieved of his duties'

By Will Brinson



Todd Haley was one of the coaches we listed under our "Hot Seat Tracker" in Monday's "Sorting the Sunday Pile." He won't be on the list next week. As of Monday morning Haley was "relieved of his duties" as head coach by the Chiefs.

Week 14 Recap

That's according to the Chiefs on the team's official website.

"This was a difficult decision but one that we feel is best for the future of the Chiefs," Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. "Although there have been bright spots at different points this season, we have not made meaningful progress and we felt that it was necessary to make a change. We appreciate Todd’s contributions during his time with the club, and we wish him well in the future."

Haley won the AFC West in 2010, but only posted a 19-27 record in his three years in KC. And the Chiefs struggled mightily in 2011, at times looking like one of the worst teams in the NFL.

"Todd helped this team in many valuable ways over the past three seasons, and I am thankful for his contributions," Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli said. "Unfortunately, we have not been able to establish the kind of consistency we need to continue to build a strong foundation for the future and we believe a change is important at this time."

The Chiefs didn't name an interim coach in their announcement, but two guys on the coaching staff -- Jim Zorn and Romeo Crennel -- have held head-coaching positions in the past few years. (Crennel ran the Browns; Zorn the Redskins. Neither was particularly successful.) Multiple reports indicate that Crennel was tagged with the interim label by the front office.

[Related: Who Will Replace Todd Haley in Kansas City?]

Haley's firing comes after the Chiefs traveled to New York and got throttled 37-10 by the Jets; the lowlight of this beatdown was Ryan Succop's three-yard onsides kick fail. But even with their struggles, the Chiefs showed signs of life at various times during the 2011 season.

Additionally, the number of injuries to key players -- Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry are all on IR -- is an example of what a difficult task Haley had in replicating his success this season.

But perhaps all that simply underscores the fact that Haley and Pioli didn't get along; Pioli hired Haley three years ago, but with the availability of potential Patriot-style head coaches (Josh McDaniels anyone?), Pioli probably felt more comfortable hitting the reset button.


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Posted on: December 7, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 14's finer points

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Broncos vs. Bears
Perhaps after this Sunday’s game, Tim Tebow can help Bears right tackle Lance Louis pray for quicker feet. After seemingly stabilizing Chicago’s nightmarish right tackle situation over the past month, Louis, a converted guard, completely fell apart in the loss to Kansas City. He was culpable for most of Kansas City’s seven sacks and also had a holding penalty just outside his own goal-line. It was a performance that would have made even Winston Justice circa 2007 cringe.


It’s not like the Chiefs did anything complex against Louis, either. They didn’t stunt defenders near him or feign blitzes in his gaps. They simply lined players up mano-a-mano and won (Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and even lowly Tyson Jackson all got through; by the fourth quarter, Romeo Crennel was putting players on waiting list for reps at left defensive end/outside linebacker).

Things won’t get much easier for Louis this week. His Bears travel to Mile High, where they’ll meet rookie Von Miller, the AFC’s answer to Clay Matthews (assuming Miller returns from the thumb injury that sidelined him against Minnesota). Miller, in fact, has an even better burst than Matthews.

If Miller is unavailable, the matchup in the trenches will be more even but still tilted in Denver’s favor. The Broncos have gotten great play out of their defensive line in recent weeks, particularly inside with active tackles Broderick Bunkley, Marcus Thomas and, on passing downs, Ryan McBean. These three cause congestion that allows the speed of Miller, D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil and Robert Ayers to flourish.

Even with adequate pass-rushing resources, the Broncos are willing to manufacture pressure through design. They blitz Brian Dawkins a few times each game and, on some occasions, have surprised offenses by bringing Miller from the inside. At times, execution and assignment identification have been problematic for the Bears O-line. The Broncos will be eager to exploit that.

Packers vs. Raiders
The Raiders traded a bounty for Carson Palmer so that they could get away from the elementary, run-only offensive gameplans they used early in the year with Jason Campbell. Aside from a putrid outing at Miami last week, where Palmer played jittery in the pocket because of a justified lack of trust in his protection, the ex-Bengal has been much better than his numbers suggest.

That said, the Raiders need to return to a ground-only approach when they travel to Green Bay this Sunday. Their only chance to win the game is to shorten it. For the last two weeks, we’ve focused on how a quality four-man pass-rush in front of good, aggressive coverage could give a defense a chance to stop Aaron Rodgers.

Well, the last two weeks, Rodgers & Co. have had no trouble against the Lions and Giants, owners of arguably the two best four-man pass-rushes in football. It’s wishful to think that the Raiders’ front line, which is remarkably powerful but deprived of genuine edge speed, can dictate the action this Sunday.

It might be wishful to think the same thing about Oakland’s offensive line. That unit, even with frequently used sixth blocker Stephon Heyer, was unable to move Miami’s three-man front last Sunday. But ground-in-pound is Oakland’s best bet against the Pack. And last week was likely an aberration. The Raiders are athletic on the left side up front with tackle Jared Veldheer capable of exploding at the second level and guard Stefan Wisniewski possessing intriguing short-area mobility.

And they have a workhorse in Michael Bush. He was methodical and effective three weeks ago against the stingy Vikings, rushing for 109 yards on 30 carries. The week before, he toted the rock 30 times for 157 yards at San Diego.

The Packers front line is hard to move; B.J. Raji is a beast, and Ryan Pickett and backup Howard Green have nose tackle size at the end positions. But if you CAN move them, you’ll also move the clock. That, along with great special teams (which the Raiders have) might – MIGHT – be enough to sorta maybe kinda have some form of an outside shot at possibly coming close to beating the seemingly unbeatable Packers offense.

Ravens vs. Colts
For many fans, filling out the offensive line section of the Pro Bowl ballot can be challenging. Often it involves just clicking on whatever linemen hail from the best teams. If the running back is good, his offensive linemen must be good as well (so the thinking goes).

This is the kind of misguided logic that sends underachievers like Bryant McKinnie to Hawaii. (McKinnie made the Pro Bowl in 2009, even though he was benched at times down the stretch.)

McKinnie’s first season as a Raven has actually been much better than his last several seasons as a Viking. At 6’7”, 350-something pounds (give or take), the 10th-year veteran would not seem to be a great fit for Baltimore’s movement-oriented zone-blocking scheme. However, as it turns out, the zone-blocking scheme capitalizes on McKinnie’s natural size and also masks his timidity.

McKinnie’s built like a monster but plays like a milquetoast. He’s never exerted the explosive power or vicious hand-punch of an elite lineman. That’s been detrimental to his run-blocking. But in a system that has him move before making contact in the run game, McKinnie can get away with playing soft because his momentum, working with his sheer size, generates natural power. It’s physics.

Don’t vote McKinnie to this season’s Pro Bowl, though. DO, however, vote his teammate, Marshal Yanda. The 27-year-old right guard has drastically elevated his already-impressive game since signing a five-year, $32 million contract in July. In fact, lately, Yanda has been the best guard in all of football. He has great footwork and the rare ability to land multiple well-angled blocks on a single play.

As this week goes, he’s perfectly suited to dominate against a fast but undersized defense like Indy’s.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 14 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:07 pm
 

Film Room: Steelers vs. Chiefs preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Let’s be honest: Chiefs-Steelers is not a great matchup. It’s the Sunday night game because this week’s great matchups all fall on Turkey Day. A straight-up breakdown of this game would yield predictable analysis, with a “take your pick” list of reasons why the Steelers can be expected to cruise to victory (the most obvious being, Tyler Palko’s tendency to pat the ball and re-hitch in the pocket; if the Patriots D generated sacks and interceptions off that weakness, what will the Steelers D do?).

But this matchup is certainly not worthless. Analyzing its contrasts and comparisons gives us a chance to examine some of the broader pictures of today’s NFL. Here are five of them.


1. Valuing an offensive line
As passing games have evolved rapidly in recent years, we’ve started to change our outlook on offensive lines. These days every lineman weighs north of 300, and a lot of them move pretty well. What separates good and bad lines is the mental approach. The aggressiveness and versatility of blitzing defenses has put a premium on blockers’ intelligence.

It doesn’t matter how well a lineman moves his feet if those feet are taking him to the wrong assignment. With the league-wide increase in Byzantine defenses and quick, timing-based passes, for an offensive lineman, recognizing an assignment is often more challenging and important than executing an assignment.

The Steelers offensive line, battling countless injuries and personnel changeability the past few seasons, has struggled mightily at times in recognizing pass-blocking assignments. This is a window into another revelation. The idea that you need a great offensive line to protect your quarterback is becoming less and less valid. The reality is you need a great quarterback to protect your offensive line.

Now, don’t take this too far. Of course you need to protect your quarterback. But in today’s pass-oriented league, one superstar quarterback can compensate for five “not-so-superstar” offensive linemen. Most superstar quarterbacks do it through presnap reads (see Brees, Drew or Manning, Peyton -- two guys who have played behind arguably the worst offensive tackle combinations of their respective conferences the past few years). Ben Roethlisberger does it through incredible postsnap improvisational abilities.

No one can argue that the Steelers have had anything more than an average offensive line the past five seasons. But no one can argue that the Steelers offense has not been still been successful. It’s when your quarterback is, say a 28-year-old left-handed fringe backup, that your offensive line woes become problematic.

2. 3-4 defensive ends
A leading ingredient to the Steelers’ defensive success has been the outstanding play of their ends. This ingredient was secret until just recently, when Brett Keisel finally went to the Pro Bowl and casual observers finally appreciated Aaron Smith after injuries took him out of the lineup. The value of great 3-4 ends is that they can attract forms of double teams.

(We say forms of double-teams because there’s a misguided belief that a double-team is one player needing to be blocked by two blockers for an entire play; in reality, for an end, attracting a double-team simply means forcing a guard or tight end to make some sort of contact with you in a manner that prevents them from being able to get out in front and block an inside linebacker. Making that contact last the first 1.5 to 2 seconds of a play is all it takes. For many intents and purposes, a 3-4 end is actually more of a blocker than a pulling guard.)

The Steelers scheme calls for the ends to disrupt through motion more than power. Lateral mobility is a key trait. If both ends are destructive along the line of scrimmage, Pittsburgh’s three defensive linemen will stalemate the opposing team’s five offensive linemen, leaving room for the four linebackers to make plays. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recognizes the value of this; he invested his ‘09 first-round pick on Ziggy Hood and his ’11 first-rounder on Cameron Heyward.

Scott Pioli also recognized this value when he became the Chiefs general manager in 2009. He converted defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the No. 5 overall pick in ’08, to end and spent his No. 3 overall pick in ’09 on LSU’s Tyson Jackson. The results, however, have been disappointing. Dorsey and Jackson are both movement-oriented players. Problem is, Kansas City’s scheme is more like New England’s old 3-4, where the ends cause disruption not through motion but through sheer power.

Consequently, neither Dorsey nor Jackson have been worthy of consistent double teams. That was painfully apparent watching the Broncos-Chiefs film from Week 10. The Broncos didn’t win that game because Tim Tebow mastered the read option -- they won because their tackles manhandled the Chiefs ends one-on-one, allowing the guards to easily get a body on inside linebackers Derrick Johnson and Javon Belcher.

3. Chiefs Injuries impact -- tight end versatility
You could argue that Kansas City’s season ended when tight end Tony Moeaki tore his ACL in August. Moeaki was not just a flexible receiver who could work off the line of scrimmage or out of the slot -- he was also a versatile run-blocker. His ability to operate out of shifts and motions brought potency to the play-action game and allowed the Chiefs to disguise a lot of their run concepts.

In this sense, Moeaki was very similar to Heath Miller, Pittsburgh’s steady, soft-handed, fundamentally fine-tuned X-factor. In today’s NFL, where every play is preceded by a chess match at the line of scrimmage, a tight end who is versatile in the run AND pass game is invaluable.

4. Chiefs injury impact -- safety versatility
Same concept as tight end, just different side of the ball. The loss of Eric Berry (ACL Week 1) not only took away Kansas City’s rangiest pass defender, it also took away Romeo Crennel’s third-level blitzes, which previously had given opponents fits. Berry’s speed and open-field hitting made him an easily disguisable weapon. With him out, the Chiefs don’t just lose his big plays, they also lose the indecisiveness that his presence naturally instills in opponents.

As far as a parallel to this in the Steelers defense ... you can probably figure it out on your own

5. Understanding the value of a playmaker
On a similar note, let’s take this opportunity to grasp the full value of a playmaker like Jamaal Charles (lost for the season with an ACL in Week 2). As with Berry, when a weapon like Charles goes out, you don’t just lose explosive plays, you lose the threat of explosive plays. Charles was Kansas City’s only true playmaker (that is, a guy who can regularly create his own opportunities with the ball in his hands; the Steelers have two players like this: Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace).

It would take 10,000 words to explain, but in short, in watching film, it’s apparent that the difference between the way defenses attack an offense that has a truly explosive weapon versus the way a defense attacks an offense that don’t have one is staggering.

That likely stems from the difference in preparation during the week. Think about it. How much practice time does a defense devote specifically to “not getting killed” by Charles? With him gone, that’s how much practice time the defense now has to devote towards creating unique ways to attack.

A business analogy: as a defense, prepping for Charles is like sitting around the boardroom talking about covering your bases so you don’t get sued; prepping for “no Charles” is like sitting around the boardroom brainstorming the next big idea. Which meeting will ultimately lead to more sales?

What’s more, for an offense, when it becomes apparent that your gameplan is not working, a true playmaker still offers the hope and possibility of success. (And all the players know this.) Without a true playmaker, a staggering offense often hopes to simply control the damage by waiting for a lucky break. When that’s reflected in the play-calling, the entire team becomes reactionary.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
 
 
 
 
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