By HCR Staff | September 11, 2020
The NFL returned last night, and we are grateful to have football. Before going further, big thanks to all the staffers who worked on the event for making it possible. To the game of football, those behind-the-scenes staffers are essential workers, and games don’t happen without them.
The Chiefs and Andy Reid dispatched the Texans, 34-20, and for a few moments, the Texans threatened to take the game into the 4th quarter. Here’s what we gleaned from the inaugural game in the 2020 NFL season.
The Texans’ coordinators, DC Anthony Weaver and OC Tim Kelly, provided some head scratching moments. Our grades still are being compiled, but overall, it was a middling effort at best for the Texans’ coordinators. For Weaver, it was readily apparent the initial strategy was to force the Chiefs to march the field; Weaver was content having his defense give Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes the underneath plays and forcing Mahomes to be patient with long drives. We didn’t mind this strategy; after all, it’s tough for most offenses to properly execute 10, 11, 12 plays without a mistake. But this isn’t any offense; it’s the best in the league, and once Mahomes showed he could be patient, Weaver never adjusted. In our view, he stayed vanilla a bit too long. Mahomes is smart and good, so we feel you’ve got to challenge his brain – constantly. Once he knows what you’re doing, it’s over. As for Kelly, all one has to do is watch 2 things: a) his play choice once the Texans trailed by 17 points in the 2nd half – it appeared as if Kelly thought the deficit was 3 points; and b) his lack of adjustment in trying to help RT Tytus Howard, who was struggling with Chiefs DE Frank Clark. We felt he left Howard out there solo a bit too much, and it showed up as Clark had his way with Howard on critical downs.
We Really Liked What We Saw From Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy . Bieniemy will be a head coach very soon, and we enjoyed his play calling last night. He displayed a lot of imagination and thought in keeping the Texans off-balance. We loved how he was very patient with the Chiefs run game – Bieniemy is a former running back, and it was really nice to see how versatile the Chiefs running game can be inside and outside. We also liked how Bieniemy began the second half. Staked to a 10 point lead and possession to open the second half, Bieniemy came out in I-formation. It worked, provided a wrinkle, and served to grind the Texans further. Best of all, Bieniemy didn’t take the bait the Texans’ defense offered in the first half when the Texans wanted to test the Chiefs’ patience. Bieniemy didn’t try any deep shots that would have been contested; instead, he trusted his offense’s ability to execute the small chunk plays.
As We Expected, The Officials Were A Bit Off Their Game. The officiating wasn’t very good, but we can’t be too critical of them this early in the season. Similar to players, they didn’t have their typical preparation this offseason. Last night, we felt at least 3 procedure penalties were missed – one that was glaringly obvious on an important play – and we also felt the crew decided to let the players play; there wasn’t a single offensive holding call, in a game with 64 pass attempts.
Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire Is Going To Be A Star, But Does He Need This Many Reps This Early? “CEH” is a fun talent to watch, but did he really need some of those late game carries last night with the game out of hand? The Chiefs still were feeding him the ball late in a decided contest (25 overall carries), and he took a hellacious goal line shot, along with a couple of others as well. How about using little-used FB Anthony Sherman in those obvious run spots when the game is just winding down?
It’s A Bit Nit-Picky, But Winning NFL Games Is Hard, So Every Play Really Does Matter. Andy Reid has been criticized throughout his career for poor clock management, and there is merit to that claim (but he’s not alone at all amongst his peers). Last night, while well ahead and just trying burn clock in the second half, the Chiefs took a timeout…which wasn’t the poor choice at all at the time, but they took the timeout with about 13 seconds left on the play clock. With a comfortable lead and just burning clock, if you’re going to take the timeout, why not first let the play clock wind all the way down? Yes, a small point, but it’s these small details that head coaches get on players about as well.
The Texans Lack Explosive Playmakers On Offense. Finally, while RB David Johnson had a nice game, it’s pretty apparent the Texans don’t have a lot of explosion on offense. They have nice players, but nothing resembling what defensive players might describe as ‘scary.’ WR Will Fuller can run, but his hands are questionable, while WR Brandin Cooks and WR Randall Cobb, at this point in their careers, are simply above average, from an explosion standpoint. The Texans are going to have to scheme people this year, but is OC Tim Kelly up for the challenge? He’s a former defensive lineman serving as an OC, which is rare. We’ll see.