I spent about twelve hours at the Truman Sports Complex on Monday. When its all said and done and I’m cashing in my chips, I gotta think those 12 hours will be among the best I’ve ever spent. Even watching the Royals lose was fun*. And the tailgate between games could’ve gone on for another three days as far as I was concerned. Good people, good food, good beer, good laughs, good everything. When I put on my headdress and trekked across the parking lot to meet up with Paddy, I was stopped at least a dozen times for pictures. Exchanged well over a hundred high-fives. Our city was in high spirits. It was a beautiful thing.
*Of course the Royals lost 3-1. Of course they did.
I don’t need to describe what happened later, because you all know. It was wonderful, it was magical, and I’ll remember it forever. The Chiefs really started this season off on the right foot. Seeing that dunce Rivers throwing temper tantrums was the icing on the cake.
But now that a few days have passed, I have to admit I’m back to wringing my hands and worrying about some of the things I saw. Cassel was downright bad. I’m not a subscriber to the “he played well enough to win” theory, particularly when the guy didn’t even sniff 100 yards. I mean, 68 yards? Rain or no rain, that is terrible. Rivers threw for almost 300 in the same conditions. And I know nobody wants to think about this, but Cassel was awful before the rain even started. Those first two three-and-outs made me think Weis had ceded control of the offense to Mike Solari.
I’m not calling for Cassel’s job. In fact, I can’t imagine doing that at any point this season no matter how bad he is. But I’m definitely not seeing a future pro bowler here. What I’m seeing is a backup-caliber quarterback getting paid like one of the best in the NFL. What I’m seeing is further evidence that the Chiefs believe in intangibles over tangibles, and that its counterproductive.
Nowhere is this mindset more evident than in Todd Haley’s bizarre, inexplicable handling of our running backs. I’ve been saying for the past month this was a problem, and everyone wanted to explain it away. If you’re still trying to do that, its time to wake up. Unbelievably, it seems Haley still doesn’t realize what he has in Charles. Thomas Jones started, got half the carries, and rewarded Haley’s confidence in him to the tune of 3.5 yards per carry. Charles, given the same number of carries, delivered 92 yards and a score. This isn’t a “thunder-and-lightning” situation. Charles is a young star on the rise. Jones is a 32-year-old back who, even at his best, never had a good YPC average. He certainly won’t have one this year. He should be the backup, plain and simple.
Look, I’m not hating on Jones. He isn’t LJ. I like having him around for a number of reasons. But this 50/50 split is exactly what I feared (and predicted). Haley needs to cut the crap and get Charles the damn ball. The only way our offense will put points on the board is with Charles getting 20-plus touches per game. There is no acceptable explanation for any other arrangement.
On the plus side, Glenngarry Glenn Dorsey finally had a good game. His first real one as a Chief! I watched him as much as I could while soaking wet in the top row, and he made some legitimate plays. Consistency is definitely an issue, but if he can deliver a few good plays per game from that position he’ll be a valuable player. What I liked most about his performance was the swagger. That’s a quality I really want our defense to regain.
Tin Man also looked better, although there is no way he had six tackles. It was disappointing to see the Chiefs assign him that many. In one half, no less. The stage has now been set for the “he started off great and an injury derailed it” storyline. Seriously, get ready for that, because its right around the corner.
Ultimately, I’d say this game alleviated some concerns while highlighting others. McCluster proved at least some of the hype has been justified, Dorsey had his best game as a Chief, Charles picked up where he left off, and Flowers and DJ were all over the field. On the other hand, our pass rush was frighteningly ineffective, our non-Charles offense was horrendous, and Todd Haley appears to be repeating his worst mistake. So much to think about. This season is going to be awesome.
One last thing: how inspiring was that final goal line stand? The secondary really came through in the clutch. Is it possible the Chiefs are actually ahead of the curve in their focus on that unit? Time will tell, but the week one results were pretty damn good.