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Jacobs: Cleveland coaching change brings unknown to Chiefs game

Jacobs: Cleveland coaching change brings unknown to Chiefs game
Posted at 9:19 AM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 10:19:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs find themselves in a unique situation on Sunday.

It is a rare occurrence when a head coach and offensive coordinator are fired in the middle of a season. The Browns made that a reality on Monday when they fired Hue Jackson and former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley.  Cleveland promoted defensive coordinator and Excelsior Springs native Gregg Williams to the title of interim head coach.

The emphasis Williams will put on altering the tendencies of the team is an unknown but here are the constants that remain based on film study. 
1. Collapse to drop his eyes 
First overall pick Baker Mayfield is not comfortable in the pocket and still has trouble deciphering defensive coverage and pressure. He has yet to effectively develop the timer in his head of when to get rid of the football or take off. Mayfield will stare down reads until he feels the receiver has inside leverage or multiple steps on a defender before releasing the ball. Teams have been able to collapse the pocket in on him and drop his eyes. Mayfield forgets all about the routes and begins looking for an escape plan. The Chiefs can disrupt his rhythm by pressing receivers early and mixing in zone coverage on long down and distance. The rookie quarterback will throw it up for grabs if pressure is in his face but he feels the receiver has a couple steps. 

LISTEN: 4th and 1 Podcast breaks down Chiefs win over Denver
2. Take away David Njoku 
The second-year tight end is one of Mayfield's favorite targets. When the rookie quarterback wants to make a play and move the chains he is looking for Njoku. The former Miami Hurricane has seen 38 of his 51 targets since Mayfield took over the offense in week three. It is the second most on the team behind Jarvis Landry at 66 targets when Mayfield is at the helm. Njoku is a difficult matchup that is similar to Travis Kelce in his athletic ability. He will be a matchup problem if the Chiefs don't recognize his ability early and utilize chips to disrupt his timing. 

3. Expect a heavy dose of the run 
Williams will likely want to keep his defense fresh, slow down the Chiefs offense by playing keep away and keep the game out of his rookie quarterback's hands. The Browns averaged 27.8 rushing attempts per game under Haley, which was eighth most in the NFL. The Chiefs are 27th against the run and will likely have a tough time containing the speed of Duke Johnson along the edges. 
4. Take the edge, pull and misdirection 
The Browns have a tough time keeping the edges contained against rushing attacks. Teams can effectively seal them off with bunch formations, pulls and misdirection. Cleveland is not the most disciplined football team and will get itself out of position by being overly aggressive on misdirection plays. They struggle on reverses and gave up 246 rushing yards to the Chargers on 36 touches which equates to a 6.8 yards per touch. 
5.  Hit them with the deep post 
In their matchup with the Chargers, the Browns secondary gave up 118 yards on three catches with two touchdowns on play-action passes with a deep post route. The Browns safeties can be easily manipulated with route combinations and not remain true to their zone coverage responsibilities. They also have not seen a combination of the speed that Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce possess. 
6. Keep Mahomes clean
This game carries an extra concerned risk to keep Patrick Mahomes from taking any late or unnecessary shots.  The Chiefs offensive line has done a better job in quarterback hits with 49 at the midway through the season and has only allowed ten sacks which is fourth best in the NFL. The offensive line must protect their quarterback this Sunday, even if it means a penalty. 

The Chiefs have an opportunity to put this game out of reach by halftime but they will need to rattle Mayfield early and establish their run game to make that a reality rather than a possibility. 

Nick Jacobs can be found on Twitter: @Jacobs71 and can also be heard on the 4th and 1 podcast brought to you by 41 Action News. 4th and 1 is available on iTunesGoogle Play  and TuneIn. You can check out all the 41 Action News podcast here .



The 4th and 1 Chiefs podcast is published once a week during the off-season.