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Published on 11/11/2010 at Thu Nov 11 11:08.
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Taking advantage of his versatility, the Chiefs have found a wide variety of ways to get McCluster the ball. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Each week, coaches in the NFL watch film on their upcoming opponent.  They then come up with a game plan based off what they saw on the film.  Similarly, in BT’s Film Room, I’ll watch film on the Broncos upcoming foe week-to-week and give you my thoughts on what to watch for on Sunday. This week: Kansas City Chiefs Edition.

The Chiefs enter week nine with the best rushing attack, and one of the most talented offenses in the NFL.  To prepare for that, the Broncos will have to key several players on Sunday.  Among those players are:

WR/RB Dexter McCluster. A 22-year old rookie out of Mississippi, McCluster has contributed just about everywhere for the Chiefs this season.  Taking full use of his talent, the Chiefs have used McCluster in a variety of ways.  This season, Dexter has caught 15 passes for 147 yards and a score, rushed 11 times for 60 yards and returned 17 kicks for 361 yards, including a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown.

The Broncos can limit his productivity by not letting the Chiefs get him the ball in space.  For example, kicking away from him, containing the outside (where he’ll receive sweeps and reverses), and by not giving him as much of a cushion as Travis LaBoy did on the play seen below:

On the play seen in the video above, the Chiefs did a basic play-action pass play and McCluster snuck out into the flats – LaBoy’s zone.  The Broncos’ Jason Hunter, Mario Haggan and other linebackers could all find themselves in a similar situation this week, covering McCluster in the flats.  The Broncos will have to play tighter on McCluster when he goes out for a pass, and break down and wrap up when he has the ball in space, two things the 49ers’ Laboy failed to do – and he paid for it.

Faster than a linebacker and too shifty for a defensive back to bring him down, McCluster is an explosive offensive weapon. Speaking of explosive, that brings us to the next player Denver will need to key on:

RB Jamaal Charles — a name Bronco fans know all too well. Last season Charles rushed for 315 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Broncos in just two games.  Much to the Broncos chagrin, Charles is just as agile and powerful as he was last season, maybe even more so.

Jamaal does have his weaknesses, he’s fumbled 7 times over the past three years (370 carries), and prefers to not run between the tackles.  He tends to bounce his runs outside, and the Chiefs give most of the inside carries to Thomas Jones.  That said, he’s still often effective running inside plays.

The above play was executed to perfection by the Chiefs, everyone got to their blocks, opening a hole for Charles, who made the safety miss, and the result was a touchdown.

The Broncos will have to contain the outside when Charles is in the game, much like they did against the Titans’ Chris Johnson a few weeks ago.  Charles breaking big runs up the gut seems to happen only on rare occasions, so creating a defensive scheme that would prevent him from getting to the edge should effectively eliminate his productivity.

Joining Charles in the backfield is Thomas Jones, who, even at 32, is having a stellar year.  Having started six games this season, Kansas City’s Jones has rushed 137 times for 570 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Though he is more of a power back than Charles, Jones is also capable of breaking of big runs.

The Chiefs one-two punch of Jones and Charles is one to be feared, yet can be contained – to some extent.  The Broncos can slow down the League’s best rushing attack by stacking the line of scrimmage, bringing up Brian Dawkins to help in run support, and having the outside linebackers play their outside of the tackles responsibilities.  Doing that however, could open things up for the Chiefs passing game. Which brings us to another player the Broncos should key on Sunday.

WR Dawyn Bowe. Standing 6-2, and weighing in at 221 pounds, Bowe is a physical wide receiver that the Chiefs use as a deep threat and run blocking asset.  One of the Chiefs favorite passing plays is in trips WR sets with Bowe in the slot.  The inside receiver runs a out pattern and Bowe slips right underneath that route and continues across the field right under the linebackers’ zones.  The play has worked to perfection in previous games, and opened up other plays as well.  About two minutes into the video seen below,  you can see a few similar plays where Bowe crosses midfield, sliding right under the linebackers.

This season, Bowe has caught 26 Matt Cassel passes for 420 yards and 7 touchdowns.  A proven vertical and intermediate route threat, the Broncos would be wise to have cornerback Champ Bailey shadow Bowe.  That probably won’t happen however, as Bailey usually lines up solely on the left side of the field (the offense’s right). The Broncos may get burned by Bowe if they aren’t prepared.

The NFL Network crew does a great job of breaking it all down, dissecting the Chiefs offense and defense, as seen below:

This week will be a really hard game for the Broncos. If they don’t find a way to slow down the Chiefs offense, it could be a long game as well.

  • Bennettj

    You forgot to mention Tony Moeaki (rookie TE)

    When the safety or safeties come into the box to help in run support, Moeaki often sees man coverage from a LB and has been deadly in those situations (he's the Chiefs' leading receiver).

  • Fidelis86

    Damn, you make us sound better than I was aware. Luckily for you there's a good chance McCluster won't play on Sunday because of a high ankle sprain.

  • Joshua Manning

    So after reading this post, it made me think that we are gonna lose against the Chiefs. In fact, the Chiefs got too many young playmakers (i.e. Dexter McCluster, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry). Who do the Broncos have? Only Brandon Lloyd. The Broncos have NO young playmakers because all of them is sitting on the bench, hurt, not playing good or getting old. You ever wonder why the Broncos is losing a lot of games? Because they have no PLAYMAKERS!!!!!

  • Crispysbc

    Nice post .. as a Chief's fan I still think this is going to be a good game. As much as I dislike McD, with 2 weeks to prepare Denver will be ready for the Chief's. Our running game will work but so will your passing game. I think our Special Team's play will be the difference.

  • Jon

    I agree it should be a close game

  • Daniel R Bogart

    Play makers include Orton, Thomas, Moreno, Lloyd, Champ, Dawkins, Cox, Tebow,and DJ Williams. I loved the Chiefs draft this year, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves here. Broncos are losing games because they made 23 personnel moves last year, key injuries, and questionable coaching. Denver will be fine.