Turner | Bills vs. Chiefs Notes


Here are some of my notes on the Chiefs’ defense from their matchup against the Browns’ offense. I included common coverages, personnel usage, tendencies, and keys to winning on certain plays. If you’re interested in the keys to the Bills slowing down the Chiefs’ offense, join us in The Film Room Sunday morning at 11 A.M. Eastern.


Passing Game

  • They don’t execute Spot or Landmark drops in Zone Coverage. Rather than dropping to a certain area and depth on the field, they squeeze/match the routes and overlap zones well.
    • Improvisation of routes – WRs finding voids outside of designated route stem will be important to getting open. 
      • Allen has to see and feel it, as well.

      • Chiefs’ defensive backs squeeze routes very well well; it can look like Man Coverage but it’s Zone Coverage.
        • Breeland excels at this.


  • ALERT: 2nd and 3rd and long – Dime vs. 3×1 – 2 Robber/Tampa 2 look

    • Sorensen near the line of scrimmage. Love to run a 2 Robber look with Mathieu dropping into hole.
      • Mathieu is ACTIVE – not spot dropping – can be moved

    • Where’s Mathieu? Usually weak side vs. 3×1. Usually opens to the trips side



    • Rotation by Sorensen into deep 1/2 is an area to attack. Browns got him with QB eye manipulation, but he knocked ball out at goal line.

  • Mathieu’s interception was in this coverage. 
    • Passed vertical to safety, read in-breaking route and eyes of QB.
    • Do not throw the ball back over the middle in this game!!
  • This coverage is good vs. crossers – must have an answer.

  • Same 2 Robber look on 3rd-and-11 late in the game.
    • Sorensen low, Mathieu aligned to the weak side of the 3×1 formation.
    • Routes are squeezed.
    • Mayfield forced to check it down with pressure in his face.

  • Mathieu capping Nickel CB pre-snap with no safety deep doesn’t mean that Nickel CB isn’t coming.
    • If it looks and smells fishy, it probably is a trap/bait. Take what they give you, especially if blitz comes off of the slot.

  • Mathieu will bump into the slot. Here Mayfield senses the blitz coming off the edge so he audibles to a screen behind it. But DE Frank Clark shows like he is going to rush but then pops out and blows it up.

  • Mathieu is asked to do a lot in coverage, so you do have to challenge him.


  • CB Ward physical in Press-Man coverage but can surrender clean breaks from Off-Man coverage.
    • Peeks at QB at the top of the route after hard jab inside by Landry – TD.
    • Ward has very good recovery speed, especially on shallow crossers. Closing speed and tackling are a strength.

  • 3RD-AND-3 – Bunch set – Man Coverage with Mathieu shallow to overtake #1 on shallow drag.
    • Be aware of the single-high safety’s depth on 3rd downs.
    • When they are shallow, they are likely Robbing the middle of the field and playing the sticks.




    • I’d throw beyond the sticks on 3rd/4th and short to medium. Chiefs defensive backs have good recovery, closing speed, and make good tackles on short horizontal routes when in Man Coverage.
  • Safety Thornhill – Athletic (44-inch Vertical), Fast (4.42 Forty-Yard dash), rangy defender. 
    • Will be the safety that spins from one side of the field to the other in Tampa 2/2 Robber calls
    • They trust him in Man Coverage.
    • Can fill the alley from Two-High alignments.



  • Chiefs do a good job of funneling the ball where they want it to go, challenge you to take it, take it quickly, then rely on their athleticism to overcome the apparent advantage.
    • They know where the immediate options are. Browns in Empty (below) and show six possible rushers vs. five blockers. Baker Mayfield is ready for the Hot Route or Sight Adjustment route to Njoku if blitz comes.
    • Only send five, but the fifth player was the rusher off the edge.
    • Chiefs bracket one inside receiver (RB Kareem Hunt). Mayfield doesn’t have to throw Hot, so the curl route by Njoku develops, but the throw is a tad late and high.
    • Thornhill has very good closing speed.

    • Another example
      • Nickel cornerback shaded inside, Mathieu shallow
      • Slot corner blitzes, route took a little too long, Landry is open but drops it and it’s nearly intercepted.
      • Slot options need to understand who they are up against and give Allen time to get it there to give the receiver a shot vs. athletic defenders of the Chiefs. They will have to make contested catches with defenders coming downhill full speed at them.

  • Look at the Chiefs regular season blitz tendencies by down. You can tell they like to be aggressive on 1st and 3rd down. So a lot of their 3rd down soft Zone Coverage calls against the Browns went against their tendencies and DC Steve Spagnolo called them as to not get beat deep and keep the ball in front of them. Wouldn’t be surprised if that carries over against the Bills.

      Courtesy of Sports Info Solutions

Here is how often the Chiefs blitzed the Bills in week 6

  • 1st- and 2nd-and-long – Given some of the soft Zone coverage calls, it’s a down and distance where the Bills should be able to find some voids in the coverage.

Courtesy of Football Outsiders

Run Game

  • Running is going to be an uphill battle, but in the end, its EFFECTIVENESS will hinge on the blocking between the tackles.

Courtesy of Sharp Football Stats (RBs only)

  • Early down rushes are an area to pay attention to.

Courtesy of Football Outsiders

  • KEY – Backside cut-off blocks
  • Pin and Pull Run – Bills had success with this in their first matchup. Used it out of Pistol and incorporated Jet-action
    • The backside cut-off block by the guard on Chris Jones. He will blow the play up if not covered up. Do whatever it takes to cut him off or cut his legs out from under him.

  • Pin and Pull from Week 6
    • Down blocks from Kroft and Williams with Morse and Winters leading out wide.

  • Cut-off blocks on the backside of Zone runs need to be effective, as well. If executed, cutback lanes will be there.

    • Another backside cut off that leads to a good gain

  • Same drive – Another good job on the backside of this Zone Run. Nnadi (#91) leverages backside, frontside combination, gets movement on Jones, and Hunt has a lane for the touchdown.

  • Here’s an awesome Zone Run variation with TE Tyler Kroft cutting the unsuspecting backside tackle. Morse executed a fold block with Ford down blocking on the nose tackle.

  • Browns had running success on early downs with 3×1 formation Pin and Pull runs
    • I repeat – the key is the back-side DT
    • Here Derek Nnadi chases gap, so a big cutback lane opened up
    • Patience by the RB