Last week, the Colts defense became the first to hold the Chiefs offense under 26 points since Patrick Mahomes has been the starter. Did the Colts produce a blueprint for Patrick Mahomes? That’s debatable, but let’s look at that blueprint that worked so well.
1. Closing Space & Open Field Tackling
On this play, the Chiefs call a draw on 1st and 10. The offensive line does a great job at opening up a hole for the back to run through. He has room to turn this run into a nice gain, but has to make the safety miss.
If you look at the all-22 of the play, you’ll have an easier time seeing the running lane open up.
You’ll also see the defense is in a 2 high safety shell, meaning when the safeties have to fill the running lane they will have to travel a good distance and tackle a ball carrier in the open field. By all means this should be a big gain if Williams can make the safety miss.
The safety (Odum) has other plans and plays this run perfectly. He closes the space quickly, and since there are defenders to his outside shoulder, he attacks the runningbacks inside hip. By attacking the inside hip, he ensures that if he misses the tackle, he spills the ball carrier to the outside defenders.
2. Quarterback Pressure
The Colts had 4 sacks and 8 quarterback hits in this game. Against an all time quarterback talent, you have to make them uncomfortable to have any chance.
On 2nd and 10 in Colts territory here, the Colts defense knows it’s a passing down for the Chiefs offense.
The Colts defensive line is lined up in a bit of a ‘wide 9’ front here, with the defensive ends playing 9-technique (9T).
Justin Houston uses a ‘jab & go’ move, where he uses a combination of speed and great hand placement, especially with his outside arm, to easily get around the tackle.
3. Limiting Big Plays
It’s no secret Mahomes loves the home run ball, and the Chiefs are very successful at it.
On 3rd and 10, the Chiefs come out in a deuce wing tight set, and the Colts are showing cover 1 man with a free defender to play a middle zone.
The Chiefs route concept on this play has two deep options and three underneath. The first deep option is a crossing route that gets taken away by a corner and the free middle defender, and a deep corner route that’s taken away underneath by the corner and over top by the safety.
Everyone else on this play is locked in one on one coverage with a receiver underneath, but this play was never designed to go underneath on 3rd and 10. They took away the big play that the Chiefs wanted and needed to make in this situation.
4. Making Big Plays
On the flip side of ‘limiting big plays’ is ‘making big plays’. Defenses don’t get as many opportunities to make big plays as an offense does, so when the opportunity presents itself, the play needs to be made.
On 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter, the Chiefs elect to go for it in their own territory. They elect power to the field and once again, Justin Houston makes a play.
5. Keep The Ball Away
This isn’t exactly a defensive stat, but the Colts held the ball for 37:15 compared to 22:45 by the Chiefs. While time of possession isn’t as important as it once was to winning, it can certainly help if your defense is keeping the opponents offense off rhythm and you’re making them sit on the sideline.