Skins DEFENSE vs Kansas City


They spread out our 3-4 defense a few times to where our OLB would line up over a slot WR with a safety behind him.  This left 3 big guys to rush the quarterback, affording Alex Smith plenty of time.  The only reason I can think of for this is we were trying to avoid crack blocks and also jam guys at the line so they couldn’t run their staple of “mesh” routes. Otherwise it was our regular 3-4 and Nickel the whole way except for one 3-3-5 we broke out on a 3rd down.

The Story:  The first 3 drives ended in punts before the mismatches came into play.  Fuller got stuck defending the run against tight ends and our 3-4 got spread out, shown above, which negated the pass rush.

Inside backer play was up and down.  Brown and Spaight played like Pro Bowlers in the box, but they struggled in space with Brown having two left feet in coverage and Spaight missing open field tackles.

With a bye week approaching guys were hitting hard and selling out their bodies; big hits were followed by injuries to the back seven.  Then the penalties came which cost us 7 points to open the second half.  The snap count hit 76 (20 snaps more than previous weeks) and mental errors crept in as fatigue set over the last two drives.  Uncharacteristic gaffes like Brown’s over-pursuit on outside zone and McClain tipping a stunt cost us two field goals.

Finally on the last drive Kerrigan blew contain which lead to a 37 yard play and Spaight voided underneath coverage for another 10 yard gimmie and that was enough to set up the field goal that put KC ahead 23-20.


The Show

Defensive Line
Player + Total
Kerrigan 3 6.5 -3.5
Smith 8 7.5 0.5
Allen 5.5 2 3.5
Hood 5 7.5 -2.5
McClain 2.5 7 -4.5
Ioannidis 6 1.5 4.5
McGee 7.5 5.5 2
Total     0

Kerrigan’s first negative finish is due in large part to a failed pass rush that did not keep contain.  He chose the right rush: Bull rush, but couldn’t disengage the RT before Alex Smith broke the pocket.  That’s giving valuable extra time with a back seven reeling from injuries and fatigue.

Preston Smith would have graded out in the positive if not for penalties.  The one at the goal line turned 3 points into 7 and earned him a -4.  So both star ends would have had decent to good days if not for the bonehead plays.

Ziggy Hood’s negative total was a product of him get worked by their center.  It’s one thing for a double team to get you, but when your nose can’t handle the center one on one that’s trouble since doubles can be doled out to guys on either side of him.

Matt Ioannidis diagnosed plays early and often.  Against Philly he was the lone lineman to diagnose the trap blocking and last week he was the quickest to read the Shovel pass option play that KC loves to run:

Watch the WR who gets the shovel pass.  That role is going to be played by Kelce in the following clips, look what Ioannidis does to blow his path up:

(video issues in the last few seconds)

The first play he shot his gap based on a pre snap read, the second play shows him reading a pass set by the LT and motion from Kelce and the WR.

Both times he single handedly took the shovel man out the play and erased this staple from their call sheet.  He’s not the fastest or most athletic but he can diagnose a play quicker than any one else on our line.

McClain played an even game until the 8th drive when fatigue set in.  He got knocked off the line on a 17 yard run and then tipped off our stunt with his alignment:

He’s way off the line and giving away his twist/stunt with Ioannidis.  The left Tackle and Guard work the combo right to him and up to Spaight and a couple of seals later you have a 16 yard run to keep the drive alive on what should’ve been the second to last play:

so yeah man, Ioannidis and Allen aside, dumb mental errors really hurt the front: penalties, failure to keep contain on the pass rush and tipping stunts.  Fatigue played a big role as the defense played their largest snap count of the season.

Player + Total
Foster 6.5 1 5.5
Spaight 10.5 12.5 -2
Anderson 1 2 -1
Brown 6 11.5 -5.5
Galette 1 1 0
Compton 2 0 2
Total     -1

Spaight and Brown are Pro Bowlers inside the box.  Outside the box is where the negatives came in waves.  With Foster in the game Brown is usually kept in check but without him, he is apt to blow coverages.

Spaight’s main issue outside the box was missed open-field tackles.  Inside the box:  Here Spaight okie-dokes left tackle Eric Fisher:

He baited and dodged lineman three times versus the run; in the box he’s tough to get a hat on.

But in the open field:

he missed tackles and ceded first downs.  I had him charted with four(!) missed tackles.  It’s a lingering issue that’s hamstrung this defense all season.  In both clips you can see why he made the roster, and you can see why he might be cut before next season.

Zach Brown, his heroics have been detailed each week, as has his coverage issues.  They continued on Monday.  With Foster out, Brown was asked to play more field backer meaning he had to cover a lot more space than usual and against the run he had less blockers in front (boundary backer–his normal position–usually has 3 guys in front covering the tackle, guard and center.)

Defensive Backs
Player + Total
Breeland 3 4.5 -1.5
Norman 2.5 1.5 1
Dunbar 4.5 2 2.5
DJ 2.5 5.5 -3
Fuller 0 2 -2
Everett 0 2 -2
Nicholson 0 1 -1
Moreau 0 1 -1
Total     -6


Coverage 23 25 -2
Pressure 11 9 2


The "coverage" metric is the best snapshot of secondary play.  It's hard to plus and minus every single DB on every play, I only assign those when things stick out and need to be charted in order to explain the play.  Basically, "coverage" positives mean the routes were covered long enough.  "Coverage" minuses are blown assignments, some of which lead to big plays.

"Pressure" is more objective: 3 seconds or less to throw garners a positive.  Longer than 3 seconds, usually a negative.

After Norman went out Breeland split time on both sides of the field.  There was one play where his cushion got him yanked and replaced by Dunbar who was more comfortable pressing.  Obviously nobody replaces Norman, but CB issues were not glaring with him out the line up.  The only guy who looked overwhelmed was the rookie Fabian Moreau.  The Chiefs have smurfy WRs with speed but nobody that will Jerry Rice you on a route.

On the 17 yard touchdown, you can see Brown’s coverage issues I mentioned earlier.  Once the crossing route (red) leaves his zone he needs to pass it off to Kerrigan and get depth because if their is a crosser in front of you, then their is almost always someone coming in behind you.

DJ, who is playing “robber” coverage, is being allowed to roam underneath to make a play, and the play he makes is to cover dirt.  It would’ve helped out the deep safety if either DJ or Brown got underneath the inside post route.  Then the safety could’ve undercut the top post route sooner forcing the QB to throw into a tight window or into a throw away.

Last Week’s Predictions

  • KC will try a couple of WR screens and accumulate 0 yards.
    • They tried it once with Fuller on the field, it was covered: 0 yards.  They tried to twice with Fuller off the field (3-4 defense) and got 12 yards and an Incomplete.
  • We break out the Dime
    • Nope
  • Ioannidis and Allen get 40 snaps minimum.
    • Ioannidis yes, Allen hit 37.  Ziggy Hood led all big men with 44.
  • Crap, we have to play Kansas City
    • Yep
  • McGee is the odd man out in the interior DLine rotation.  Allen and McClain should start biting into his share of snaps.
    • No, McGee got 32 snaps, about the same as McClain
  • It looks like the zone coverage gaffes are taken care of.
    • ha ha, no.
  • Between Breeland, Fuller and Norman teams are going to have to start attacking our Safties and Backers if they want any success.  Look for KC to try and get us with the wheel route and delayed halfback releases into the flat.
    • You can add “double post routes” to that.
  • Our 3-4 gets 40 snaps next week, it’ll be a slobberknocker.
    • I charted 29 snaps.  Second part was correct though.

For Next Week and Beyond:

  • Don’t play 76 snaps, please.
  • Brown’s coverage issues are what they are.  It’s something we can mitigate with the right personnel on the field.  His speed and run defense are too valuable to leave on the sidelines.
  • Spaight’s missed tackles are a thing.  Either they find a way to correct it or we are in the market for a backup ILB–no Compton is not the answer.
  • Compton is fine for 5 snaps or less because he’s able to kamikaze into gaps.  Otherwise he’s a guy that’s good to have around for “leadership,” I guess.
  • McGee is a work in progress, he showed flashes of why we gave him 25 mil.  Hood got worked by their center: anomaly or ominous sign?

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