Starting Fast & Right … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

The goal of every football team is to start fast.

Some teams are better at making it happen than others, but the goal for all teams is the same – come out strong, put points on the board early and try to control the momentum of the game.

That’s what the Chiefs did on Sunday in beating Tennessee by 20 points. They came out fast and quick and strong and they scored points on their first four possessions. That’s something they had not done during the 2010 season.

The key was their first chance with the football, when they opened the game with one of the best drives of the season. There have been other possessions that produced touchdowns on long yardage drives with many plays. But few were planned and as well executed as the opening drive against the Titans.

From head coach Todd Haley, through offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to quarterback Matt Cassel – these guys were on the mark and they got a lot of help from an offense that at times can be downright explosive. Led by Cassel, they methodically ripped apart the Titans defense before the visitors knew what happened to them.

“The coaches did a great job putting together a plan to start the game,” said Cassel. “Everybody executed well, we were very efficient, it was run and pass and we gave them different looks. We just stepped up and it was a great start for us.”

It started a trend that the Titans could not stop until late in the second quarter, when the Chiefs were already up by 24 points. Here is how he went down on the drive:

1st & 10 @ KC-31, Cassel to WR Dwayne Bowe for 21 yards and a first down.

The Chiefs came out with two backs, a single tight end and two receivers (2-1-2). Cassel moved into the shotgun formation with WR Chris Chambers wide left, WR Dwayne Bowe wide right, TE Tony Moeaki in the slot and RB Jamaal Charles and WR Dexter McCluster flanking the quarterback in the backfield.

McCluster went in motion to the right, giving the Chiefs three receivers on that side of the field. On the snap, Cassel faked one of those wide, short screens to McCluster, who did a great job of acting, jumping in the air like he was catching the ball.

Instead, Cassel went to Bowe who was wide open streaking down the right side. In fact Moeaki was also open just a few yards away from Bowe. Cassel’s pass was right on the money and the game was for 21 yards.

1st & 10 @ TEN-48, Thomas Jones runs at left guard for 8 yards.

Still with 2-1-2 on the field, but into the huddle came Jones and FB Tim Castille, with McCluster replacing Chambers at wide receiver. Both Moeaki and Castille broke the huddle and went wide, but then motioned back to a tight left for Moeaki and a normal fullback spot for Castille.

Cassel handed off to Jones, who was almost stopped in the backfield by Tennessee DT Sen’Derrick Marks, who blew through LB Brian Waters. But Jones was able to pull off a quick move and Marks grabbed at air. The veteran running back almost ran Waters over as he hit the hole. On that side of the line, Moeaki took DE Jacob Ford out of the play, LT Brandon Albert went to the second level and walled off LB Will Witherspoon, C Casey Wiegmann and RG Ryan Lilja doubled DT Jason Jones and Castille went after DE Jason Babin, keeping him from coming in from the back side.

By the time Jones was dragged down he’s gained eight yards.

2nd & 2 @ TEN-40, Jamaal Charles runs for 8 yards and a first down.

The Chiefs went with a 1-2-2, as TE Jake O’Connell came on the field for the first time, replacing Castille and Charles came in for Jones. O’Connell split left, with Moeaki tight right and both Bowe and McCluster split out to the right side of the formation.

As Charles took the handoff, he headed for the gap between the center and right guard. Albert handled Ford on the edge, while Waters went to the second level and got a piece of MLB Stephen Tulloch. Wiegmann ran Marks out of the play while the big block came from Lilja, who got to the second level and walled off LB Gerald McRath. RT Barry Richardson went low and cut blocked Jones to keep him out of the play.

Nice run, great blocking, first down.

1st & 10 @ TEN-32, Cassel to FB Tim Castille for 6 yards.

Back to a 2-1-2 with Jones and Castille in, with Bowe and Chambers and Moeaki at tight end. The backs lined up in an offset I formation. Moeaki lined up right, but then came in motion to the left. Bowe was wide left and Chambers wide right.

Cassel’s play-action fake to Jones and the movement of the left side of the offensive line caused the Tennessee defense to hesitate. The guy that got caught was McRath. After Cassel faked the handoff, he rolled to his right and immediately threw to Castille who leaked out of the backfield. McRath had to chase him down, but not before the play gained six yards.

Excellent execution by Cassel, Jones and along the line, Waters, Wiegmann and Albert.

2nd & 4 @ TEN-26, Charles fumbles handoff, minus-2 yards.

The only blip in the drive came with the Chiefs in a 1-2-2 set up with Charles as the lone back, Moeaki and Leonard Pope at tight end and Bowe and McCluster as the wide receivers. Before the snap, both tight ends were lined up tight left and hiding behind them was McCluster, lined up in the backfield. Bowe was wide right.

On the snap, Cassel wheeled and pitched to his left where the ball bounced off Charles hands. Luckily for him it bounced forward and he ran into it and regained possession as he was snowed under by several Titans defensive linemen. It was the only negative play of the drive.

3rd & 6 @ TEN-28, Cassel to WR Dexter McCluster for 14 yards and a first down.

In a passing situation, the Chiefs go 1-1-3 with Jones in the backfield, Moeaki at tight end and Bowe, Chambers and McCluster on the field. Cassel set up in the shot gun. Bowe, McCluster and Moeaki were all in a cluster tight left. Jones was lined up to the right of the quarterback.

On the snap, Cassel immediately moved his body as if he was going to throw to his right. That’s also where the pressure was coming from, as the Titans went with a zone blitz scheme and dropped Marks into coverage, while sending Witherspoon and CB Alterraun Verner on the pass rush. Jones did a great job of helping pick up the pressure on that right side.

After Cassel gave a pump fake to the right, he wheeled back to his left where he had a wide open throwing lane to McCluster, who caught the ball at the 20-yard line and then picked up six more yards before he was tackled. That lane was opened because Albert and Moeaki double-teamed Babin and kept him away from Cassel.

1st & 10 @ TEN-14, Cassel to Charles for 14 yards, a first down and a touchdown.

The offense stayed in the 1-1-3, as Cassel lined up in the shotgun, flanked by Charles and McCluster. Moeaki was in the slot right, with Bowe wide right and Chambers wide left. McCluster went in motion to the right out of the backfield.

On the snap, the offensive line quickly engaged their men, and Charles even got a chip block on Ford on the left side. The call was a delayed screen and Charles stopped at the 16-yard line, where Cassel threw him the ball. Charles turned and within less than a second he had Lilja in front of him, plus Wiegmann was running to the right. Albert went down field and got in the way of Witherspoon, taking him out of the play. Lilja blocked FS Michael Griffin into the end zone as Charles scored.

Great call, taking advantage of the Titans aggressiveness in hopes of stopping the run combined with great execution. The Chiefs were on the scoreboard, and after the PAT, they were up 7-0 and would not trail at any point on the afternoon.

Let’s total things up in those seven plays. There were four passes and three runs. Only one of the plays did not gain yardage and the other six averaged 11.8 yards per play. Six different members of the offense touched the ball, including four different receivers. Cassel wasn’t touched on the four pass plays.

It’s hard to get much better than that.


  • BRONCOS – Tim Tebow will start the season finale against the Chargers.
  • BUCCANEERS – placed WR Arrelious Benn on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season.
  • CHARGERS – team president Dean Spanos said Monday that the team will keep GM A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner.
  • 49ERS – fired head coach Mike Singletary; named defensive line coach Jim Tomsula interim head coach for the final game of the season; released RB DeShawn Wynn.
  • RAVENS – placed LS Morgan Cox on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season.

3 Responses to “Starting Fast & Right … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 28, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    Fantastic idea to break down the first series. This series had the feel of many Haley put together for Arizona during their playoff run. That isn’t meant as a slight to Weis, who may have designed each and every play, but it had a Haley feel about it. If the Chiefs are becoming comfortable with Cassel as a QB who can execute the offense as imagined by Haley/Weis, then the Chiefs are really going to be a handful. We saw a little of this in the Denver game at the end of last season and those who watched Arizona’s march to the Super Bowl with Haley as the O coordinator know just how brilliant the play-calling can be.

    This series was great to watch and a pleasure to read.

  • December 28, 2010  - Rick says:

    There’s no doubt that the first 4 possessions Sunday by the Chiefs offense were very, very impressive. That’s the most potent I’ve seen a Chiefs O look since Trent Green & Priest Holmes were tearing up opponents. I can only hope that that type of offensive firepower continues as we head into the playoffs.

    Oh, and I also hope, strongly, that we play our best vs the Raiders and completely eviscerate them.

    Go Chiefs! 2010, AFCW Champs!

  • December 31, 2010  - RickyP says:

    Bob Gretz says: Charles turned and within less than a second he had Lilja in front of him, plus Wiegmann was running to the right. Albert went down field and got in the way of Witherspoon, taking him out of the play. Lilja blocked FS Michael Griffin into the end zone as Charles scored.

    I don’t mean to nitpick, but I like to see credit given where it is due…
    On the play it is, actually, Wiegmann that leads the play and blocks FS Griffin into the endzone.
    Richardson, Waters and Lilja stay at the line to block.

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