The red-zone tactic that won the Chiefs the Super Bowl

The red-zone tactic that won the Chiefs the Super Bowl

Kadarius Toney shined in Kansas City’s offensive scheme Sunday.
Photo: AP

Down 10 at halftime, the Kansas City Chiefs did what they do best, mount a comeback to earn their second Super Bowl title in four years. It was a masterful second-half performance from Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who outmaneuvered Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon at every turn. However, the two plays I want to bring attention to are the touchdowns to Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore.

These are two very similar plays. They’re practically identical, just flipped based on which hash mark the Chiefs’ offense was closer to. Essentially, what happened on each of these plays is that Mahomes realized that the Eagles were in man coverage. In man coverage, the Eagles love to swap responsibilities if a wide receiver goes in motion. As the corner covering the wide receiver moves to the center of the formation, he passes responsibility to a safety on the other side of the formation who follows the receiver in case of a jet sweep. It works great when the receiver goes all the way through the formation because that safety will often have a step or two on the receiver and can keep up with them as they accelerate. However, when that receiver doesn’t go through the formation entirely and instead reverses course, the Eagles’ defense has trouble communicating responsibility and it leads to wide-open touchdowns like the two in the tweet above.

How did the Chiefs figure out this exploit though? Well, the Chiefs weren’t the first team to run such a play against Philadelphia.

On October 2, 2022, during Week 4 of the NFL season, the Eagles squared off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and despite the Eagles being the objectively better team, the Jaguars got out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Their second touchdown came on a five-yard pass to Jamal Agnew. Notice anything familiar about this play?

The Jaguars motioned Agnew from the wide side of the field and had him reverse course just as the snap was coming. It worked wonders, and it’s exactly what Bieniemy drew up for their touchdowns to Moore and Toney. Don’t just take my word for it, take Chiefs backup quarterback Chad Henne’s. In an interview with The Athletic, he stated “On Saturday night, Bieniemy had put a play up on the screen for everyone on the Chiefs’ offense to see. It came from the Eagles’ game against the Jaguars earlier this season, and it featured Jacksonville receiver Jamal Agnew faking as if he were going in motion before stopping, reversing course and getting open for a touchdown.” Henne continued, “[The Eagles] are just trying to protect themselves from the jet sweep and trying to bubble over the top and get an extra player [on the other side of the field]. But we faked the jet twice, and they didn’t figure it out.”

This play, which Andy Reid aptly nicknamed “Corn Dog,” was undoubtedly the most effective in the Chiefs’ playbook. Much like Reid loves corn dogs, I’m sure he loved this play after it helped his team mount their ten-point comeback. On a different note though, this attention to detail and fervent research, is just another reason why Eric Bieniemy’s inability to land a head coaching gig is atrocious. He’s obviously done more than enough to warrant consideration for the best coordinator in the NFL. When everybody thought the Chiefs would regress without Tyreek Hill, Bieniemy helped Patrick Mahomes earn his second MVP award. Sure, having Mahomes at quarterback has definitely made Bieniemy’s job easier, but it wouldn’t have mattered who the Chiefs had at quarterback for those touchdowns to Moore and Toney. They were wide open, uncovered in the flats. Any quarterback can make those throws, and that’s evidence of high-end play-calling.

While Bieniemy has been linked to a few open offensive coordinator positions — particularly with the Washington Commanders and Baltimore Ravens — the fact that he didn’t earn a head coaching gig is a slap in the face to NFL fans everywhere. Bieniemy is one of the best football minds in the league and despite years and years of success, he still hasn’t earned a head coaching gig? That’s absurd!

Bieniemy said he was ready for a head coaching gig back in 2020. He’s only gotten better as a play-caller since. Give the man his due!

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.