Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens showcases a pair of plays that worked together to help Kansas City’s offense dismantle the eventual Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Andy Reid, Matt Nagy, and the Chiefs embraced the spread offense and option concepts of the college game with great success last year. This should continue in 2018 with Patrick Mahomes under center.
Although Alex Smith is a disciplined veteran, Mahomes offers a greater variety of skills as he refines his game. This includes more full-field reads, an aggressive mindset to target tight windows, and actually making use of Kansas City’s big, athletic rebounders with a variety of fade routes.
It’s logical to anticipate ups and downs from Mahomes. However, there are plays that the Chiefs will run that should be just as effective as last year — possibly more so due to Mahomes’ skills.
This Tandem of plays helped the Chiefs beat the Eagles in September. They begin the same way before the snap. One is a run designed for the motioning wide receiver.
The other is a shovel pass to the tight end that plays off the jet sweep, fakes the potential quarterback option, and finishes with the pitch to the tight end working across the formation and through a perfectly-formed rushing lane.
The first play baits Brandon Graham to the inside and Tyreek Hill works around him to an open edge. The second play baits Graham to the edge and sets up the shovel pass in the opposite direction.
Good play calling sets an expectation and then toys with it. This is misdirection and mind games with two incredibly different plays based on the same look. I love how the second play also hints at potentially a third type of play that the Chiefs could run as well. It’s what makes this a great play and an excellent choice of sequencing during the game.
How does this relate to evaluating college talent?
It reveals that if a team is open-minded enough, it can embrace college football’s playbooks and it means that it can do more to exploit the athletic ability of players who are still learning the advanced techniques of their position.
Systems like these can lead to a more effective use of players who otherwise could be limited to gadget duty that becomes predictable if the ideas aren’t fully integrated into the offense. Tyreek Hill is a good young receiver and Travis Kelce is a fine in-line tight end. However, both can earn full expression of their athletic talents in this offense, because the scheme transitions between traditional NFL looks and college looks so the plays aren’t predictable.
Scouting is the evaluation of player and scheme as a way of finding personnel but also understanding opponents and tendencies. The Chiefs offense is a fun and creative unit that gets a lot from its skill talent. Expect even more in 2018.
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