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The Return of the 4-3 Defense, Series by Series: First-Half

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Rather than just give my overall observations of the defense's play, I figured I would try something new, and go series by series on defense and give my evaluations in real-time (or real Tivo-time). This requires me watching each play numerous times, and as a result is very time-consuming, so unless the response is overwhelmingly positive, this may be the last time I do it in this style. Let me know what you think of the format in the comments, and recommend it if you like it.... Here we go...

KC first possession - Bad Podlesh punt, Chiefs take over on own 43 yard line.

Lots of movement defensively before the snap. Harvey and Groves are our every down DE's.

Cox is a tackling machine, and rarely seems to miss anything he gets his hands on.

KC is clearly targeting Groves side. Groves should've been in position to stop the short flare pass to the RB, but was out of position.

Derrick Harvey is blowing the RT off the line and is a force in the run game.

KC runs toward Groves, and he was easily pushed aside. He's not an every down DE.

KC runs a toss to Groves side, and he whiffed on the tackle in the backfield.

KC gets a field goal

Second KC possession

Incomplete pass on first down thanks to pressure by Groves. He's clearly a DPR trying to play every down.

Short slant pass, incomplete again. Harvey almost got to the QB despite the quick pass.

Henderson and Knighton are the reason KC has yet to even attempt to run up the middle. They are absolutely mauling KC's guards and Center, it's not even fair. Keep in mind, KC led the league up to this point in runs up the gut, so the fact they're shying away from it is very telling.

3rd and 10, the Jaguars return to the 3-4 defense with Groves roaming and blitzing from the LDE with his hand off the ground. Knighton drops into zone coverage, Daryl Smith blitzes and almost get to Cassel who rushes the pass, but completes it. It's clear they want to feature Daryl Smith in a pass rushing role, but I don't like switching back and forth. 5 yard gain, Reggie Nelson makes what appears to be a tackle, and by himself no less!

Jaguars did well to hold to three-and-out. Our defensive line is dominating at this point up the middle, and Harvey is owning his man, he really is playing very well, and when Del Rio said he's a force in the run, he wasn't kidding. Since blowing up the RT early on when they ran to his side, they have run exclusively to the left. Still no runs up the middle either.

KC third possession

1st down, lined up in the 4-3, very little movement before the snap. Offensive man in motion, but the defense makes no adjustment, the Jags are apparently in zone coverage. Right at the snap, Daryl and Gerald both release and hit the line's right side. KC had called a run left, to Harvey's side. Nothing doing, as Harvey easily stood his man up and assisted on the tackle . Bryan Smith (#53) was in for Groves, and boy is he fast. He was unblocked due to the overload blitz with Daryl and Gerald, and actually caught the back from behind when he hit the Jags' stout line. Our run defense is substantially better in the 4-3, and Harvey, Knighton, and Henderson are going to prove tough for any team to run against.

2nd and 8 KC is in the shotgun. KC runs a WR bubble screen. Knighton recognizes the linemen's attempt to disguise the screen immediately, and even though the play didn't go towards him, the fact he recognized it so quickly is encouraging. Bryan Smith is still in for Groves, and could have made a play had he been in better position. Clint Ingram easily shed the block of the other WR and made the tackle. 

3rd and three, KC in the Shotgun. Ellison, Knighton, Harvey, and B.Smith are on the line. Run to the HB from the shotgun up the middle. barely two yards gained, and the Jaguars were clearly playing pass. Our run defense looks stout. 

Three-and-out again. Nice work Team

KC's fourth possession ball on their 30 yard line. Single back set. Groves back in for B. Smith, they appear to be rotating them each series, we'll see who wins what is evidently a position battle. Ingram and Smith blitzed on that play, it was well picked up by KC, but the wide open TE dropped the pass on the drag pattern. Cox would've blown him up had he caught it though. 

2nd and 10. Julius Williams is in for Harvey. KC runs at Williams side, he is blown back in a one-on-one battle. Daryl Smith was on that side as well, and was easily blocked.

3rd and 6, KC in the shotgun. John Henderson and Montavius Stanley run a stunt and Henderson should've had a sack. It was vintage Hen, as he totally tossed the offensive lineman aside and dove at Cassel's feet. Julius Williams stayed in for Harvey on that play, and brought some pressure. He is possibly our fastest DE, at least from watching today's film.

Three-and-out again. Nice work Team

Torry Holt fumbles. 

Fifth KC possession at Jaguars 20. Groves is in again, and Harvey has returned. Knighton and Henderson are the DTs. KC is in the offset I-formation. KC runs towards Quentin's side, and he is easily pushed aside. KC is exposing a weakness here that is concerning... Only one DE capable of stopping the run. Gerald Alexander can hit, and made the tackle, while ringing his own bell.

1st and goal from the nine. KC runs a screen pass that fools everyone but Knighton and Durant, who both combine to make the stop. I am very impressed with Knighton and his grasp of the mental aspects of the game. That's a Temple education for you, though. 

2nd and goal from the five. Single-back set. Cassel throws a rope which Reggie Nelson promptly rips out. Is this the same player we saw a week ago?!?

3rd and goal, KC in the shotgun from our 4. That should tell you how badly our line is owning theirs. KC runs out of the shotgun formation, and let me tell you, Terrence Knighton just absolutely wrecked KC's center and made the tackle. Groves was easily pushed aside. Although the ball wasn't run his way, I saw Gerald Alexander blitz to Groves side. It is so very clear that the Jaguars are having to compensate for Groves inability to hold up in the run game. A better team will exploit us, and every blitz can't come from Groves' side, it just won't work. That being said, the Jaguars held again and stopped KC from finding the endzone. 

KC's sixth possession 

Quick sideline pattern, but Mathis makes the tackle in bounds. 

2nd and 3 - Harvey drops into Zone coverage, and sniffs out the screen, he's held by the offensive lineman, but no flag, and Harvey still makes it to the tackle after a gain of 6. 

1st down and 10. KC in shotgun. B. Smith is easily blocked to the inside, Harvey is ridden down outside in what could be considered a hold, although it wasn't blatent. Cassel had a man, but overthrew him.

2nd and 10. KC in the shotgun. Harvey drives his man into Cassel, forcing him to roll-out. Cassel finds a man on the sideline who scampers up to the Jaguars 38 yard-line. It was encouraging to see Harvey overpower his man so forcefully. A solid bull-rush is a necessary component to any successful DE's repertoire. 

1st and 10. KC in the shotgun. Jacksonville in the 3-4 defense. Harvey just pancaked the RT and cut inside the RB to force the early and errent throw. Derrick Harvey is looking like Reggie Hayward. He's absolutely owning on almost every play, bring pressure against the pass, and blowing up run plays. Using both speed and power, he's been stellar, and the eyes don't lie. Iwuh was in as the fourth LB in the 3-4 front. 

2nd and 10. KC in the shotgun. Jaguars in the 3-4 with Groves and Harvey as the DE's. Harvey is double-teamed and Cassel rolls out and throws incomplete. Not much beef on the line of scrimmage there. 

KC misses the FG, end of the half.

Notes: Where is Derek Landri?!? I haven't seen him in for one play this entire half. Derrick Harvey is clearly better with his hand on the ground in both the run and the pass. Terrence Knighton looks like a younger John Henderson, and plays with exceptional balence and intensity. Gerald Alexander is playing the SS position well, and Reggie Nelson looks like a different player. Can he continue to play this well each week? 

If you like this format, please let me know and comment, because this is substantially more time consuming, and unless there is an extremely positive response, I doubt I'll do this again. Let me know your thoughts.

-Collin Streetman