The Chiefs’ defense wasn’t supposed to be an intimidating force, but reality isn’t easy to digest. The team’s draft class was, again, made with an emphasis on defense; taking defenders with two of its top three picks. The Chiefs’ top two picks last year were ends Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee — neither of whom causes sleepless nights for opposing quarterbacks — and the year before that, lineman Glenn Dorsey was the team’s top selection.
Add that Haley hired defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, and really, the Chiefs should have a formidable unit that at least appears to be improving. But the inside linebackers are continually in flux, the line rarely overachieves, and that leaves a young and talented secondary that doesn’t have much support when it has a long night.
“I feel like this whole defense can make plays,” Flowers said. “They put it on (the secondary) to be the playmakers, the leaders of the defense. We’ll take that job with open arms. We’ve got nothing but playmakers back there in the secondary. I see why they put that title on us. “We’ll come back and play every week, I guarantee you. We’ll be right. The secondary will be right.”
“When he first came in, it was a shock to most of us,” Cassel said. “But at the same time, he wouldn’t be in there if he wasn’t ready to go and the coaches didn’t feel like he was ready to go. He went in there, he did a great job and he made a play when we needed it.”
Horne began to work his way out of the rookie free agent mold with some big catches at training camp. Then, in last week’s game in Atlanta, Horne twice ran past defenders to get open deep but the quarterback couldn’t get him the ball either time.
The Chiefs were intrigued enough with Horne and his speed to give him more plays against Tampa Bay. Taking snaps that otherwise would have gone to a veteran like Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers or Jerheme Urban, Horne entered the game with the Chiefs inside the Tampa Bay 25.
The touchdown came on third down. Horne didn’t play again until the second half, but the Chiefs are encouraged by the progress of Horne, who played in college at Massachusetts.
“They were just tremendous,” she said. “It was just a mind-shock to me the amount of support the Chiefs have. A lot of them were just huge supporters.”
At least some of the museum’s visitors had some sort of connection or affiliation with the Chiefs, Mrs. Daffron said, such as belonging to a coach’s family. A total of 250 people visited in just one day early on, she added. Visitors traveled from as far as California, New York and Colorado — including teachers and others simply intrigued by the Pony Express sesquicentennial.
Fans flocked to the museum during lulls in practices, but didn’t tour as much for specially extended evening hours. A tally of patron numbers will be available after August.
“They did ask, ‘Where else can we go?’” she said. “They were here to spend their money. They were a lot of good shirt-buyers. It seemed like they wanted to take something back from St. Joe.”
The Chiefs rushing defense was the team’s biggest weakness last season, and the starters were not exactly impressive last week against the Falcons, but they finally showed some promise tonight against the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay managed only 3.8 yards per carry on the Chiefs defense, rushing for only 43 yards in the first half against most of the Chiefs starting defenders. The Chiefs run defense still has a long ways to go, but they have to start somewhere, and tonight was a solid start.