I can't explain it, but this team looks familiar. Maybe it has to do with quite a few familiar faces coming into town, which is how we start off this week's scouting report of the Kansas City Chiefs.
#1 - Plenty of Affiliations: When it was announced that Brady Quinn signed with the Kansas City Chiefs this season and that the Cleveland Browns would be facing them in Week 14, didn't you just have a gut feeling that he would end up being their new starting quarterback? Quinn isn't the only former member of the Browns coming to town. Everyone knows about running back Peyton Hillis.
On defense, the Chiefs also have S Abram Elam, DT Shaun Smith, LB Leon Williams, and CB Travis Daniels. Those four guys might not contribute a whole lot on gameday. Elam is listed as doubtful with a quadriceps injury, otherwise he'd be one of their starters. Smith was signed a couple of weeks ago as a reserve lineman. Williams just signed with the Chiefs this week after being out of football for over a year. Daniels has been low on the depth chart at cornerback all year.
When it comes down to it, the important guys of note are Quinn and Hillis, and then head coach Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. I'm sure each of those four guys will be fired up to beat the Browns more than they would be other opponents. With that said, more times than not, those guys at their best aren't going to set the world on fire.
#2 - Picking Out the Receiving Options: With the Browns' secondary set to be at full strength this Sunday, let's take a look at the group of receivers they'll be going up against. Their top receiver is obviously former first-round pick Dwayne Bowe, but he's not having an electrifying season. Over the past eight games, he is averaging just 48 yards receiving per game and doesn't have a single touchdown during that span. Tight end Tony Moeaki has been pretty productive with Brady Quinn over the past two weeks, a span in which he's caught the ball all six times he's been targeted for 94 yards.
After that, the Chiefs really can't rely on anyone. Dexter McCluster is the team's next leading receiver, but he hasn't had a significant impact on a game and I've seen mistakes by him lead to turnovers for the quarterback. While Daboll has used him in a couple of roles, I don't think he's found a way to make him flow with the game appropriately. Last year's first-round pick, Jon Baldwin, has done less in two seasons than Josh Gordon has done in one supplemental draft season. Steve Breaston, the guy who has shown the most upside other than Bowe, isn't even getting reps.
In their win over the Panthers last week, the Chiefs went with a lot of heavy packages to support the run game. Bowe only saw 77% of the snaps. The next receiver saw just 36% of the snaps. The week before that, Bowe saw 98% of the snaps, but the second receiver saw just 43% of the snaps. With those type of reps, as much as we'd like to welcome Dimitri Patterson back this week, Cleveland might not need him to often.
#3 - Tighter on Defense, But Still Vulnerable: Whereas the Raiders were statistically downright awful defensively, the Chiefs aren't so bad. They've really come on strong in games against Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Denver this season. The sad thing is that the Chiefs weren't able to pull off a victory in any of those contests, although they did take Pittsburgh to overtime.
The Chiefs are 16th in the league in total yards allowed, but they are 26th against the run, yielding 4.66 yards per carry. They are better at defending the pass, where they rank 9th in the league. One of the statistics to consider is that teams have a very high yards per pass figure against the Chiefs. Other than that, the Chiefs are reasonable, but not great, at generating sacks and turnovers, and at stopping teams on third down or in the red zone.
When asked about their defense, our Chiefs affiliate said that the ridiculous number of turnovers by their offense early in the season screwed over the defense. While I'm sure that is true to an extent, the Browns have faced much more stout units during the 2012 campaign.
#4 - Determining Peyton Hillis' Role: While there was some conflict earlier this season regarding the utilization of running back Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs seem to be figuring things out a bit better with him. How, then, have the Chiefs been using former Browns running back Peyton Hillis?
Last week, Hillis had 12 carries for 19 yards and 1 touchdown against the Panthers. That doesn't sound very good on the surface, right? Looking at the specific plays he was in for, though, he did what was asked of him.
-2 yard TD run on 1st-and-goal from the 2
-3 yard run on 3rd-and-1 for a first down
-5 yard run on 2nd-and-goal from the 6
-No gain on 3rd-and-goal from the 1 (but followed by a passing touchdown)
-5 yard run on 4th-and-1 for a first down
-1 yard run on 4th-and-1 for a first down
There was one series in which Hillis had two carries for a loss of -7 yards, which made his yards per carry average low. The Chiefs don't care about that average, though -- they will utilize him in short yardage situations, and he's been coming through. Can the Browns' get a good push up front to prevent the big man from executing?
#5 - Special Teams Overview: Lost amidst the Chiefs' dismal season is the fact that their kicker, Ryan Succop, like many other kickers around the league, is having a career year. Succop has connected on 26-of-29 attempts, including 10-of-11 kicks from beyond 40 yards. Their punter, Dustin Colquitt, is right around the middle of the league in terms of performance.
The coverage units for the Chiefs have been adequate, but not great, as they rank 19th in the league against punts and 23rd in the league against kickoffs. Likewise, the Chiefs have been mediocre in the return game, where they rank 14th in punt returns and 22nd in kickoff returns. Running back Shaun Draughn has handled most of the kick return duties as of late, while CB Javier Arenas has handled the punt returns. I'm not too sure why McCluster hasn't been utilized a little more in the return game.