Cowboys' Next Foe: Grading Chiefs Vs. Jaguars

Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys will be seeing a familiar face in new colors when they go to Kansas City to play the Chiefs and their new head coach Andy Reid. Here is a look at how his new team graded out in their season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

OCC did a post taking a look at the grades Pro Football Focus gave 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.

Offensive Line

First off, a quick observation about the way KC has gone about building this unit.

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.


Albert Allen Hudson Schwartz Fisher

LT LG C RG RT
Total
+3.6 +1.4 +2.6 +2.9 -1.5
Run Blocking
+2.1 +0.6 +1.9 +1.6 -1.9
Pass Protect
+1.1 +0.5 1.0 +1.5 0.0

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 2013 Draft Class

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.

  • RT Eric Fisher (64/65 snaps, -1.5 grade): The first pick of the NFL draft was put at RT rather than LT because the Chiefs have the luxury of having Branden Albert around for one more season. Fisher, unlike Dallas' Travis Frederick, is clearly the weak link on the line, although that is hardly a condemnation of his play. He is just not quite ready for the NFL game and still has to learn. Look to see what Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli come up with to try and exploit him.
  • TE Travis Kelce (No snaps or stats recorded): He was listed as active, but did not play a single snap on offense or special teams. Anthony Fasano is the KC starting TE.
  • RB Knile Davis (16/65 snaps, -0.7 grade): 12 yards on 4 attempts in relief of Jamaal Charles.
  • ILB Nico Johnson (Inactive for game)
  • CB Sanders Commings (On IR/Designated to return)
  • C Eric Kush (2/65 snaps, no score) In backup role
  • FB Braden Wilson (Did not make final roster)
  • DE Mike Catapano (33/74 snaps, +1.6 grade) The seventh-round pick had the most significant role outside of Fisher and looks to be a valuable addition to the Chiefs. A counterpart to Dallas' last pick of the draft, football magnet DeVonte Holloman.
The Secondary

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.

Player POS Snaps Targets Receptions Yards Grade
Smith LCB 64
4 0 0 +1.6
Flowers RCB 64 11 5 49 +1.9
Lewis FS 74 5 5 31
+0.3
Berry SS 64 4 3 9 +1.5
Demps FS 44 3 2 21
+2.0

They look like a pretty capable bunch here, but again, they were not up against a quarterback like Tony Romo, or receivers like Bryant, Jason Witten, or Miles Austin.

Skill Position Players

  • QB Alex Smith (63/65 snaps, +1.1 grade) He was 21/34 for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Obviously, he is not Eli Manning, and it is highly improbable that he might put up the kind of numbers Manning did. But he had very little in the way of effective pass rush in his face, and it will be interesting to see what happens when the rushmen face his line.
  • RB Jamaal Charles (36/65 snaps, +0.4 grade) He got 77 yards on the ground, but he was not very effective on passing downs. Targeted six times, he only caught three balls for 23 yards.
  • FB Anthony Sherman (27/65 snaps, +2.1 grade) The highest rated offensive skills player for the team, and he's the fullback. Most of his damage came as a pass catcher, and he wound up as the leading receiver with four catches for 44 yards. Look for Sean Lee or Bruce Carter to be targeting him coming out of the backfield.
  • WR Dwayne Bowe (55/65 snaps, -0.2 grade) The main threat, he was not effective.
  • WR Dexter McCluster (35/65 snaps, -0.2 grade) He was more effective than Bowe. This may be because the Jags chose to pay more attention to Bowe, or just had better personnel to cover him.

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.

Defensive Line/Linebackers

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.

  • LE Mike Devito (34/74 snaps, +2.1 grade)
  • NT Dontari Poe (64/74 snaps, +2.7 grade)
  • RE Mike Catapano (33/74 snaps, +1.6 grade)
  • LOLB Justin Houston (67/74 snaps, +3.1 grade)
  • LILB Akeem Jordan (35/74 snaps, +1.3 grade)
  • RILB Derrick Johnson (64/74 snaps, +5.0 grade)
  • ROLB Tamba Hali (64/74 snaps, +3.1 grade)

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 defensive front seven may be the factor that determines this game.

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