After a promising defensive performance on the road in San Diego, the Kansas City Chiefs may have a chance to climb back into the AFC West race if they can take advantage of games against 0-3 Minnesota and 0-3 Indianapolis over the next two weeks.
The only problem is that the Chiefs are 0-3 as well.
Still, Kansas City showed they have some fight left in them last week. Normally a third straight would only deflate a struggling team further but the Chiefs had been so unbelievably bad in the first two weeks of the season that their 20-17 loss to the Chargers was almost like a win.
The extra confidence should help Todd Haley convince his team they aren’t as bad as they played in weeks one and two but confidence will only take the Chiefs so far. If they aren’t able to produce some offense quickly, the team is likely to continue to flounder.
Enter Jon Baldwin.
The Chiefs’ first round draft pick has been sidelined since the preseason after getting into a fight with RB Thomas Jones. After losing RB Jamaal Charles for the season with a torn ACL, the Chiefs are desperate for play-makers of any kind on offense.
QB Matt Cassel has not been playing well but there were some positive signs at the end of the San Diego game. The Chiefs’ QB finally seemed to be developing some chemistry with WR Steve Breaston, whom the team signed in free agency. Cassel hit Breaston on a streak route in what was maybe his best pass as a Chief. The play set the Chiefs up for a TD shortly thereafter.
Getting Baldwin in the lineup could provide the spark the KC offense needs to get out of it’s funk. Baldwin is a big target with soft hands who should cause match-up problems for KC opponents.
There is no telling how long it will take Cassel and Baldwin to get on the same page or even how fast Baldwin will be able to make an impact but his sheer presence on the field should help take some heat off of KC’s other receivers.
Cassel also seems to prefer throwing to big targets. He loves tossing the ball up high to guys like Dwayne Bowe and Leonard Pope. Baldwin is nearly 6-5 and should enable the inaccurate Cassel to loft the ball above defenders. If Baldwin can come down with some of those balls, the Chiefs may just start moving the football.
For Todd Haley, it is critical that the Chiefs get Baldwin back on the field soon. He likely knows his job could be on the line should the team continue to lose. That means he can’t waste any more time messing around with the likes of Jerheme Urban. Even as an inexperienced rookie, Baldwin is more talented and dangerous than Urban will ever be. When the rookie is ready to go, he absolutely must start.
Baldwin practiced in a limited capacity last week and was on the field Sunday catching balls in warmups, despite being inactive. That could mean he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
And it might be just in time to save the Chiefs’ season.