Until further review, it's the play of the year. You know the play. Jeremy White's All-22 Review takes a look at Sean Smith's 100 yard interception return for a TD, the play of newcomer Stefan Charles, and debuts KIKO-CAM.
Sometimes it's just not fair.
The Bills loss to Kansas City was an especially excruciating one for coaches, players and fans alike. Part of the pain comes in that it's really tough to figure out how the Bills could dominate a team from start to finish and still find a way to lose. It all comes down to one word from the previous sentence.
The Bills haven't been able to finish off drives this year. They've struggled to finish off opponents when given the chance (NE, CIN, CLE). Sunday with the Chiefs on the ropes, throughout the game, the Bills lacked that little bit of finish.
We'll start with...the play.
The Bills line up 3rd and goal with a three receiver set. It's trips right, with TJ Graham cutting underneath Robert Woods. Woods hopes to clear out the underneath route for Graham, and it works wonderfully.
As Tuel loads to throw you see that Graham (lower white circle) is cutting underneath Woods. The RED X is the defender who is attempting to stay with TJ Graham in man coverage. He's caught up trying to get through Robert Woods, and is thereby unable to cover Graham. Meanwhile, Stevie Johnson (upper white circle) has shaken Sean Smith so absurdly that the Chiefs DB is left stumbling to keep his balance.
By the time he regains, he's standing in front of TJ Graham for the interception. It's an easy pick.
I suppose that it's possible the DB that ends up leaping over the head of Graham gets back into the play. He'd have to make a great play to break up the ball, never mind take it back for a TD. Sean Smith of the Chiefs claims that he did exactly what he was supposed to do on this play. Maybe he's right. Maybe the Cover Zero that the Chiefs are in featured a "Don't cover Stevie Johnson".
The saying goes that it's better to be lucky than good, right?
There's a lot to this play that goes beyond just what happened during the run of play. You may have hated the call at the time. You may also be upset with Stevie Johnson who gives up after the pick. Johnson saunters out of the back of the endzone as Smith takes it the distance.
I don't care about Stevie not chasing this play. If you do, here's your picture of the day.
The debate on whether or not Johnson should have turned and chased the play can play out on our phone lines, or in the comment thread below.
You can tell me all the reasons why I should care that he gave up...I just don't care. He's pissed. I would be too. He couldn't catch Smith (fairly safe bet because TJ Graham couldn't catch him). I don't need Stevie Johnson to chase a play half-heartedly or even whole-heartedly just to make it look good. Isn't anyone asking for this asking for a dreaded....gulp...moral victory?
Jeff Tuel's best throw of the day came on the Bills second drive of the day. His first drive running the offense had moved the ball effectively until a Scott Chandler drop on 3rd down brought out the punting unit.
Series #2 featured a pair of long balls. After missing on a shot deep to TJ Graham (where yes Graham may want to make the catch, but Tuel should get a better throw out there), the Bills dial one up for Marquise Goodwin.
To me the most impressive thing about this touchdown pass is the timing of the throw.
Once Goodwin gets his release from the line, he's in a track meet (Sorry Marquise....I know you like to be thought of as a football player first). The Chiefs have a 2 deep look but only one safety is back. On the far side of the field the deep man is in man coverage leaving the high safety in a bit of a Cover 1.
When Tuel releases the ball Goodwin is at about the 50 yard line. When he hauls it in, he's inside the 25. If you want an idea of how good the throw is...take a look at the separation that Goodwin gets from the DB. Look every 5 yards. He doesn't have to slow at all to catch the pass. The final 10 yards? Psshh...it's like watching Usain Bolt cruise to the line. It's truly a thing of beauty.
I'll admit that while watching the All-22 I tend to look at the offense a bit more than the defense. Last year I spent a lot of time studying Chan Gailey's tendencies, the Bills' use of Spiller, and Ryan Fitzpatrick's inability to connect on deep balls. This year we're looking at a new offense and a new defense. Sorry, I'll get to the point: Watching Kiko Alonso on All-22 is about as much fun as you can have with it.
I have three plays for you, and they aren't anything all that special.
Alonso's job for the day was to stop Jamaal Charles. The Bills did a good job of bottling him up in the run game, but it was Alonso's work in covering the pass that helped shut down the KC offense.
Charles entered the game with 41 catches, for 383 yards, which works out to an average yards per catch of 9.3.
I'll put it another way. Jamaal Charles hadn't averaged less than 6.0 yards per catch in any one game this season. In the win over the Bills, Charles had 6 yards receiving on 6 catches combined. One yard per catch. Here's why....
This stop from Alonso comes late in the 2nd quarter. Remember when the Chiefs were driving for a score right before the half but came up short? This is the 3rd down screen they call for Charles that ends that drive.
How about in the run game?
One first half run from Charles could have been a big gainer if not for Alonso. What you see here is a LB that finds a way into the holes. Each and every week I see these plays. Kiko Alonso can fly to the football, but more importantly he plays LB like a RB would. Watch the hole develop for Charles, and then see Alonso jump into it and stop the play dead. This is a four yard gain, where your rookie LB saved your bacon.
Alonso isn't often dealing with offensive lineman that make it to the second level for two primary reasons: 1. He sheds them when they get there, and 2. the defensive line has played pretty well in tying up bodies to allow Alonso to fill gaps.
Play #3 for KIKO-CAM is also a look at new lineman Stefan Charles, who flashed on film a bit.
Charles is the man that ultimately gets credit for the tackle, but you see Alonso in hot pursuit. Jamaal Charles is cut down by Stefan Charles who holds up the right tackle, stays with the play, sheds his man, and brings down the ball carrier. It's a nice play. Keep an eye on this guy...and check out Joe B's grades because I know he's got plenty to say about him as well.
Might update later with some more KIKO-CAM if there is time.