After the way the 2011 season has begun for the Kansas City Chiefs, it is hard to imagine they can defeat anyone, let along the San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs have been dominated by the Chargers under Todd Haley. With the exception of last year’s narrow win at Arrowhead, the Chargers have trounced the Chiefs in each of their meetings since 2009.
Still, this is the NFL and things can change quite quickly. The Chiefs have been bad but the Chargers have been known to be susceptible to laying eggs. If they overlook the Chiefs, they might just help the boys in red get their first win of the 2011 season.
Here are five things I think the Chiefs can do that could help them steal a win out West.
Back to fundamentals
Part of the reason the Chiefs have been so inept this season is because they’ve been doing a poor job of executing fundamentals. The team has had eight turnovers and 19 missed tackles in two games. That is enough to make the best of teams look terrible.
The Chiefs have got to play good fundamental football if they want to have any chance of beating the Chargers. If they continue to miss tackles and turn the ball over they will make things way too easy on Philip Rivers. It all starts with fundamentals. Without them, all of the other suggestions on this list will be worthless.
Play it safe in the secondary
The Chiefs are quickly learning just how valuable Eric Berry was to their defense. If the Chiefs have any hope of playing solid defense this season they have to adjust their game plan to the personnel they now have at strong safety.
The Chargers are going to be able to pass the ball. If the Chiefs get too aggressive, Rivers will burn them. I think KC needs to play a very cautions, bend-but-don’t-break style of pass defense. They need to keep their safeties back to protect against the big play. They may give up a lot of yards but with playmakers like Derrick Johnson and Brandon Flowers still roaming the field, there is a chance mistakes will be made and the Chiefs will take advantage.
The Chiefs will be better off if they can extend drives. If the Chargers are able to score quickly, the Chiefs are doomed.
Generate pressure with the front seven
If the Chiefs are going to play it safe in the secondary then they absolutely have to generate pressure up front. That means less Tyson Jackson and more Wallace Gilberry. They also need to cut Justin Houston loose and let him cut his teeth. He demonstrated a decent pass rush in the preseason but up till now the Chiefs have been using him mostly on running downs. They seem to prefer using Cameron Sheffield as a pass rusher instead. Sheffield may eventually develop and he did have a couple of pressures last week but to this point, he hasn’t gotten to the QB. The Chiefs need to let Houston have a go.
When the Chiefs played the San Francisco 49ers last year, they busted out a few trick plays that helped them break the game open. I expected the Chiefs to have a tough time with the 49ers last year. It was early in the season and San Francisco was supposed to be a lot better than they ended up being.
I think Todd Haley and Charlie Weis expected the Chiefs to struggle as well and so they got creative in order to produce some offense. I think the Chiefs need to go back to that strategy this week. The offense has been stagnant and figures to be even more so without Jamaal Charles.
The Chiefs are outmatched. A few well practiced deceptions could very well give them the spark they need to even the playing field.
Paging Steve Breaston
I don’t know why Steve Breaston isn’t making an impact on the offense. I don’t know if he isn’t getting open or if Matt Cassel just refuses to throw the ball to anyone but Dwayne Bowe but it has to stop. Breaston has been in the offense long enough. He has to start producing, even if that means getting in Cassel’s ear a little bit.
Other than Bowe, Breaston is really the only other playmaker left on the offense…so he’d better start making some plays.
The Chiefs have a really, really tall task in front of them. Even if they do all of these things the Chargers may still be too much for them. Still, a good start to the game could go a long way toward restoring the team’s confidence.
And a confident team is a dangerous team in the NFL.