Originally published on Silver & Black Report on Dec. 15, 2013
The Kansas City Chiefs continued to utilize the screen pass to the speedy Jamaal Charles and executed it flawlessly over and over en route to their 56-31 victory over the Raiders on Sunday.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen says the Chiefs didn’t surprise them with the screen pass, rather his defense was just out-executed.
“Yeah, it was something that… it wasn’t anything where we didn’t think they were going to run any screens. We were anticipating screens, we just didn’t play them as well as we needed to play them.”
The Chiefs opened up the game with a 49-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to Charles on the first play from the line of scrimmage, resulting in Charles’ first of four touchdown receptions for the game.
Three of Charles’ four touchdown receptions came on screen calls by Andy Reid and his coaching staff, with Charles scoring from 49, 39, and 16 yards out. The 49-yard touchdown screen on the first play was the best defended, yet the Raiders were still unable to get to Charles and bring him down. Raiders defenders struggled to even get close to Charles on the other two.
Charles’ second screen play came on a 3rd and 19 when defensive coordinator Jason Tarver dialed up a blitz. Reid’s screen to Charles was the perfect play call as the remaining defenders were out in coverage and Charles had blockers ahead of him to lead him perfectly to his 39-yard touchdown scamper.
Middle linebacker Nick Roach acknowledges that they knew screens were going to be part of Chiefs game plan, they were just unable to defend it.
“Even if you know it’s coming, you still have to stop it,” Roach said. "You have to give credit to them for making the plays, but if we have some missed tackles on big plays like that then it’s kind of our fault too for not trying to get things right it can be a number of different factors and a good team will take advantage of it.”
Veteran safety Charles Woodson didn’t have an answer as to why they were unable to stop the Chiefs screen plays, but does know that it shouldn’t be something a team can do so consistently in the NFL.
“I have no clue. You’ve seen screens get out of the gates before, but to have a team go back to it and beat you almost every time, there’s no explanation for it. It shouldn’t happen. It did happen, but it shouldn’t. I don’t know man, that’s hard.”
Woodson attributes much of the Raiders defensive struggles with big plays to their lack of fundamentals.
This is a game that’s all about fundamentals and when you don’t carry out the fundamentals, things like what happened today happen: big plays happen, long runs happen. If you don’t play good, sound football and take care of your responsibility, you can’t get away from it.”
Though there’s just two games remaining, there’s no doubt that the Raiders’ final two opponents are taking note of the Raiders’ inability to guard the screen on Sunday. The Chargers and Broncos certainly have running backs more than capable of executing the screen play.