Some people almost seem to take delight in misery.The welcome it like an old friend, put it up in their guest bedroom and make it an omelet for breakfast. Such is the plight of the Kansas City Chiefs fan.
Before last night’s game against the Falcons was even over, I witnessed a number of people already stepping up to the ledge. Step back. It wasn’t as bad as they are telling you.
Some of the local media, as well as many fans, are claiming last night was more of the same from the Chiefs. While we did see some of the same mistakes we often saw last season, I think to compare this version of the Chiefs to the 2009 version is folly.
Most of the early reviews can be boiled down to; Charles and McCluster are good and everyone else is bad. Upon first viewing, I can see where someone might think that. I, however, have done my due diligence. I watched the first half again last night and again this morning. Having slept on it and taken in another viewing this morning, I am going to go a little deeper and tell you what I saw that you might not have caught in a single viewing.
If I were giving Cassel a grade for last night’s performance it would have to be an incomplete. He completed 6 of 8 passes but for only 25 yards. While Cassel wasn’t dazzling, he didn’t really have an opportunity to dazzle. After watching his drives a few more times I noticed that the receivers, all of them, were running short routes when Cassel dropped back to pass.
The First 2 Offensive Drives:
The first 3 and out was about as basic as you can get. Hand off to Jones up the gut for 1 yard. Hand off up the gut again to Jones for 1 yard. On 3rd and 8, there was a penalty on Brandon Albert for lining up incorrectly and Cassel’s pass to Chambers was off the mark.
The second procession started with a dump pass to Pope for 3 yards. Then Charles got a run that should have been a 3 yard loss that he turned in to a 1yard gain. On 3rd and six, Cassel dropped back and was about to hit an open Charles when he was stripped of the ball.
In the AA chat, folks immediately started lamenting, “Cassel holds on to the ball too long!” This time he didn’t. Ryan O’Callaghn got beat like he stole something on the play. The Falcons rushed 4 and everyone did their job save Ryan O. Cassel stepped up in the pocket, was about to deliver the ball when he was stripped. Blame O’Callaghn, credit the defensive player and move on. The receivers hadn’t made their breaks yet when Cassel had a chance to get rid of the ball. This one wasn’t on him. The sack he took later, when the Chiefs were in scoring range, was his fault. RB Moore missed his block but Cassel needed to get rid of the ball because his sack made a makeable FG into a much lower percentage play.
Cassel didn’t look great but he simply didn’t throw enough passes to look bad. The jury will remain out.
The Offensive Line:
*The weak spot seems to be RT right now. I saw Ryan O’Callaghn get beat on a number of occasions.
*Warers, Niswanger, Albert, Weigmann and Lilja all did a pretty good job in pass protection. The team still needs work on their blitz pickups. Especially the running backs.
*The Chiefs are going to have a hard time running up the middle. There just wasn’t any push when they tried to do so. This could make things rough on Thomas Jones.
*What wide receivers? The Chiefs hardly threw to their WR’s at all. Chris Chambers only had 1 catch. Bowe had none. Most of the receiving yards came from tight ends, running backs, full backs and the slot receivers.
Offensive Wrap Up:
The Chiefs will run the ball this year more than they throw it. They see to be setting themselves up for an offense totally based around their ability to run the ball. The will pound the football with Charles, Jones and McCluster until the defense starts playing up close to the line. Then they will roll out the play action passes, swing passes, slants and the occasional deep ball. They will try to control the ball and the clock, thus keeping their less talented defense off the field as much as possible. If that is their goal, I think they have a pretty good chance of succeeding offensively. They are playing to their strengths and right now their strengths are Charles, Jones and McCluster and Cassel’s short range accuracy.
The panic about the D is setting in. While they looked soft up the middle during the first drive, they only gave up 3 points in the first half. They did have a hard time with Michael Turner but everyone has a hard time with Michael Turner. Once Turner came out the Falcons were much less successful.
* The Chiefs have to get Corey Mays out on passing downs. Tony Gonzalez burned him twice and while it isn’t fair to ask Corey Mays to try to cover Tony G, Corey Mays can’t cover any tight end. We saw that last year. The Chiefs need to find a solution to this problem.
* The nickel looks to be our best package. When the Chiefs ran the nickel, Vrabel moved to ILB and Studebaker came in at OLB. Gilberry also came in. On one play, Studebaker made a nice move to get in to the backfield and he arrived at the QB at the same time as Tamba Hali. Ryan was flushed from the pocket while being pursued by Gilberry and a late charging Vrabel. This lead to an incomplete pass. On another play, Kendrick Lewis came up and did a good job of covering Tony Gonzalez to force another incomplete pass.
The Pass Rush:
*Studebaker can rush the passer. The idea of moving Vrabel to ILB in passing situations is a good move by the Chiefs.
* Tamba Hali looked fantastic. He was in the backfield all night.
*Kendrick Lewis nearly had a sack on a safety blitz. The speed and athleticism added to the safety position this offseason is going to pay dividends. It allows the Chiefs to do things they simply could not do with McGraw and Brown.
* Belcher and Studebaker both appeared to play well. The Chiefs need to find a way to progress these guys and get them involved. Belcher had 6 tackles,5 of which were solo. The same goes for Gilberry.
* Derrick Johnson did not have a god game. The Chiefs didn’t start him and they had him play well in to the 4th quarter. All he had to show for all his playing time was 1 tackle. Now, part of the reason Johnson struggled may have been because he was surrounded by scrubs. If the guys in front of him aren’t blocking anyone it is going to be hard for him to get to the ball carrier. That being said, Johnson still should have been making some plays because Atlanta had their scrubs on the field too. He didn’t. He vanished for nearly an entire game and this has been his problem. Corey Mays, as much as I worry about his play, recorded 4 tackles in way less time than Johnson. In fact, Mays, Belcher, Williams, Vrabel, Sheffield, Hali, Greenwod and Studebaker all had more tackles than Johnson. For the most athletic guy on the field to play as long as he did, against backups, and only have 1 tackle is very disappointing.
Succup disappointed. He missed 2 of 3 FG tries and while both of his misses were from beyond 50 yards, the Chiefs need him to make those kicks. He has plenty of leg and regularly makes these kinds of kicks in practice in the wind. He shouldn’t be missing them when the count, in a dome.
Javier Arenas is going to be a force. He nearly scored on every return he was able to bring out. He had one return go for 99 yards only to be negated by a penalty.
I hope this report gave you a glimpse in to some things you might of missed. Remember that this Chiefs team is still coming together. They should look more polished next week. There are very real concerns here but there are still mostly just questions.
A lot more good happened than most are giving the Chiefs credit for and in my opinion, the do look as though they will be a better team than they were last year. How much better will depend on how quickly they can come together and get in to a rhythm. Last year’s team had very little upside. After watching this game, I can honestly say this team has plenty to build on moving forward and that means they are going in the right direction.
I will lave you with some stats nobody is talking about:
The Chiefs had 19 first downs to Atlanta’s 16.
The Chiefs our rushed Atlanta 130 yards to 100 yards.
The Chiefs were 8 of 16 on 3rd down conversions…which was a huge problem area in 2009.
The Chiefs had less penalties (6) than the Falcons (8).
Ok Addicts. What did you see that the early reviews are missing?