Chiefs Shouldn’t Be Surprised By Recent Stuggles

We were all duped.

The coaching change. The fancy new free agent pickups. The positive reports from camp. The first preseason game.

They all conspired to to pull the wool over our eyes about the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs.

The expectations for this latest incarnation of Lamar Hunt’s ball club aren’t unfounded. The talent on this team can’t be denied and considering the lack of talent the Chiefs have had in recent years, it is natural that fans and media alike were getting excited about the possibilities.

But talent along doesn’t get a team to the promised land in the NFL. It takes a combination of talent, coaching and luck for a team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

And time. Most importantly, time.

Despite the holdovers from the Todd Haley era, the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs are but a mere shadow of their 2011 and 2010 selves. In fact, the group that has trotted out onto the field for the last two preseason games isn’t event the group most fans expected would be kicking butt in the AFC West this season.

Consider, for a moment, how different the Chiefs looked on defense last night.

They had:

2 new starting CBs.
1 new starting safety.
1 new starting NT (both Toribio and his replacements)

That is four players, more than a quarter of the entire unit.

Did we think that Stanford Routt was just going to step in and replace Brandon Carr immediately? Routt is a talented player and I’ve no doubt that he can be successful in Romeo Crennel’s defense but let’s be realistic here: there is a learning curve.

Practice is one thing. It lays the ground work for regular season success but Routt has a grand total of three starts under his belt in Romeo Crennel’s defense and the first two starts combined did not even equal four quarters of play. Routt is going to get better.

Jalil Brown (who I accidentally refereed to as Colin on Twitter last night) is starting in place of Brandon Flowers. Talk about a drop off in talent. But what should we really expect from Brown?

Do you know how many snaps Jalil Brown played as a rookie?


Now he’s thrown out there as a starter? This guy was a fourth-round draft pick, #118. He is seeing his first extended action in the NFL and considering likely 0 of his 31 snaps a season ago were on the outside, Brown is basically a rookie fourth-round pick starting at CB.

Naturally, teams are attacking him. It doesn’t mean Brown isn’t going to be any good. The fact that the Chiefs are starting him likely means Romeo Crennel sees something in the young corner he really likes. But it is going to take some time.

There was excitement when the Chiefs finally drafted a NT in Dontari Poe. Clearly the Chiefs don’t think he is ready so they are trying to shove some guy named Anthony Toribio down our throats. Crennel has said Toribio is a technician but understanding of technique is one thing, starting experience at the most important and challenging spot in the 3-4 defense is another. This guy didn’t play at all last year. Last night he was hurt, taken out and replaced by a combination of Dontari Poe and Jerrell Powe. The latter Powe actually made some plays but regardless of which of these guys ends up being the full time NT, they won’t have between them, the amount of experience last year’s starter Kelly Gregg acquired in one season of play.

Abram Elam is a veteran who, like Routt, has plenty of NFL experience but is new to Romeo Crennel’s defense. Last night Elam was thrust into a starting role in relief of the injured Kendrick Lewis. Elam is still getting his feet under him and is likely not quite as quick to react as he will be later this season. He’s getting his reps and that is what the preseason is for.

Lastly, let’s not mention Eric Berry who is most certainly shaking off the rust from missing an entire season. If Berry had five years of NFL experience when he went down to an ACL injury he would likely have come back to the Chiefs this year playing at the same level he was before the injury. But this guy had only one season in the NFL and then missed an entire year. He doesn’t have a ton of experience to draw on and he is still re-adjusting to the NFL game. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a second rookie season for Berry but the kid is certainly going to need some time to adjust.

One or two of these things happening on the KC defense might not be that noticeable. Unfortunately, that isn’t how things are going. There is going to be a learning curve for this defense and we are witnessing it right now.

The same goes for the offense. Dexter McCluster is back at WR. Jon Baldwin has been thrown into the deep end of the pool as a starting WR. Peyton Hillis, who wasn’t even on the team last year, probably knows more about the offense than any other Chiefs player because he has played for new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll before.

KC also added back in Dwayne Bowe last night. When they did run the ball, which was rare, they were rotating in running backs. Jamaal Charles got a handful of carries and was effective. Hillis got only two.

No, the Chiefs came out throwing. The offense looked a lot different than it did in the first two preseason games. Cassel and Daboll seemed to be testing their deep passing game a little bit. The results were poor, to be sure, but did you really see a balanced offense out there?

You can point to the lopsided score as the reason why the Chiefs threw so much but I don’t buy it. KC came out throwing on their first four drives and throwing deep. Before last night, Jon Baldwin had one catch, Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe had zero.

The Chiefs ran the ball only 11 times in the first half. Two of those carries were Cassel scrambles. Brian Daboll called only nine runs in the first half. This team is built to run and pass off of the run. KC was trying something funky here and it didn’t work but I wouldn’t panic about that just yet. What we saw from the offense last night isn’t how this team is going to play offense.

I’m not trying to make excuses for the Chiefs’ lack of execution. There are real games around the corner and new players and starters on every team in the NFL. The Chiefs have to be ready to win with whoever is out there.

Still, we have to put the situation in perspective. There is a lot of new on the this Chiefs team. New starters, coaches, new offense, new special teams and three important players returning from significant injuries.

The Philadelphia Eagles showed last season that despite loads of talent, it takes a team time to gel. Unlike the 2011 Eagles, the 2012 Chiefs had the benefit of an entire offseason but that still doesn’t mean they’re sure to be ready by the third preseason game.

Before we sound the alarm, before we suggest, as Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star did this morning, that Romeo Crennel drop his defensive coordinator duties and give them to Gary Gibbs, let’s step back and look at this Chiefs team for what they are: an extremely talented group of players and coaches trying to figure out how they can best work together and win.

I still think this team is going to be good. It just may take them until October before they hit their stride. If they can keep things respectable early, a favorable late-season schedule could mean a playoff run come November and December.

But right now, the Chiefs are still learning.

And that’s what the preseason is for.

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • tm1946

    Great write up and accurate.
    Only question is do you think the NFL can delay the season while Crennel, staff, and players get up to speed? I did notice that the seachicks threw a rookie QB in his first game, he seemed up to speed about what to do in the NFL, I KNOW NT in the NFL is so much harder to learn than being just a starting QB, at least in KC.
    So many bought into Cassel at 2010 levels, walking wounded returning, a great draft fix RT and we could play with the big boys. Well based strictly on preseason preformances, the big boys will depants this bunch in from of their mamas.

    • gjrchief

      Im sensing sarcasm… im assuming your reaction is dontari poe not being as up to speed as wilson. I know being negative despite logic is your thing but… wilson played QB in college, poe did not play 3-4 NT in college, hence a steep learning curve. I recall being subjected to a million comments of yours on what a worthless pick mccluster was… suddenly you stopped making those comments… hmm… I have a feeling in a couple years you will shut your mouth about Poe as well.

      • tm1946

        You are absolutely correct. Based on this preseason, McCluster has made huge advances, although he still goes down with one hit LOL. As for Poe, I agree he was not NFL ready, I might add then he should not have been the first round pick. The Chiefs are not so good, record wise, to conduct drafts for 3-4 years down the road.
        Do you not wonder if the Chiefs had drafted a “Wilson” type player? I do.
        Unless Crennel has invented a new way of doing things in the NFL, we fans will have an issue with the product on the field when the regular season starts. Unless some solutions show up against ATL, the playoffs are not even a dream. Seems logical to me, while it is a negative as I thought we were ready to show the NFL what we could be.

        • kp

          what is LOL about that? mccluster’s strength is in evading hits and coverage, not running through them.

          • KCMikeG

            To get his approval the speedsters have to be able to run over LB’s and the line men have to run 4 sec 40′s.

        • Norman Gunn

          After the way Lilja played last night I would have loved the DeCastro pick. The line, which is way we sucked last year, still worries me…

          • KCMikeG

            DeCastro was my pick too but he just went out on a cart as the walls keep tumbling down on Haley. Wallace, Adams, DeCastro and the fuse is burning for the sideline show down with Big Ben.

      • TOPerspective

        In a couple of years we’ll all be lamenting the Poe pick. The chiefs could have moved down 10 spots and still have gotten him. When a draftee has work ethic and effort questions, I say pass.

        • sidibeke

          I don’t know that he did have a work ethic/effort issue and he doesn’t seem to have one with KC.

      • KCMikeG

        Thanks for saving me the keystrokes! He will be shut up about Poe before this year is over. Some guys just have to have something to bitch about. It must really suck to be so down on your team all the time. If you really felt that way why would you want to keep putting it out there? Why keep forecasting the failure of the team you say you love?

    • Danny W

      I’m so glad your back man. The homers have come in and taken over this place brother. Your about safer over at pride. Not by much but there are more of us then them.

      • KCMikeG

        That’s right because the real fans get off on bitching and complaining about any real or imagined possible challenges the Chiefs may face. AP has lots of fact based posts even video supported breakdowns of our team’s improvements and challenges without all the unsubstantiated hate. I’m sure you could both find more of what you are looking for in donkey land or faiderville or dolt city .com

  • nick lein

    I just wish that the corners would at least be tought to turn around when the ball is inthe air our secondary looks like they are lost out there. they cover the WR but never turn around and find the ball

    • KCMikeG

      Thank you for pointing that out Nick. This happened at least 7-8 times. I kept yelling “turn around” and “look for the ball” why can’t they read a receiver to see the ball is coming at them? We could have had picks instead of giving up big plays.

  • sidibeke

    I agree with you on the offensive side of the ball. The play calling was to test a component of the offensive unit, and we were found to be lacking. But I believe we know that about our deep passing game and that it won’t ever really change until there is someone else under center.

    What concerns me is the D. Without Lewis and Flowers, our secondary is vulnerable and we’re not getting a pass rush to help them out. It’s nice to think that if we get those guys back, we’ll be good, but what happens in the meantime. Baldwin had a “thumb injury” last season and he was out almost half the season. How long will Flowers’ “heel injury” last (to my knowledge, one doesn’t wear a boot for a bruised heel).

  • bransonchief

    I mostly agree. It seems to take Chiefs teams a while to gel. I should know as I’ve been a fan since their first day as a team. I think this year will be no different. I will say that we always need to keep things in perspective. the Giants Patriots, Green Bay, Atlanta, New Orleans are all 1-2 also. I doubt there is much panic in those locker rooms. I also think this is totally the “Patriot way” to use these games to see just what works and what doesn’t in as many situations as possible. The lack of runs should tell everyone, that running the ball isnt being considered as much of a problem. I’d much rather take whoopins like last night in preseason, than to expose those same kind of big holes in our team, when the games really matter.

  • DKKC12

    This may sound like a reach but I really wish we could bring Herm back to coach up our young Dbacks and show Pioli how to draft talent

    • tm1946

      Please sit back, take a deep breath. Herm, a favorite player in his day, is a snake oil salesman, all talk and no substance. He is good on tv, should have a long career and STAY THERE.

      • Danny W

        Herm did draft some good db’s in Carr and Flowers. Aside from that he didn’t do much but lose.

        • dongtogolo

          Herm didn’t draft anybody. King Carl did the drafting the whole time he was King. He allegedly drafted Carr, at Herms request, as a birthday present.

    • KCMikeG

      I’ll take Emmitt Thomas over Herm every day. And you are a fool to not be able to see how much Pioli has helped this team.

  • gjrchief

    34 pass attempts in a partial game… how many full games since being in KC has cassel thrown that mnay passes in?? I would not at all be surprised if crenel told pete carol that we wont to work on our passing game in obvious passing situations. Therefore, he told carrol that we would pass every play. Carrol then asked to sneak in a few runs to help his defense play run when out of position. I never saw a play whne seattle stacked the box. despite our running threat we posses, they geared for the pass. 19 out of 34 if the defense KNOWS you are passing is pretty good in my oppinion. If this is indeed what crenel and team did, BRAVO. Winning looks good in the papers, but experience gained for practicing how to complete a pass when you need it, and the defense knows it… PRICELESS!

    • BoB

      Bahahahaa You keep backing up that horrible performance by the cheifs! Wilson looked like the veteran QB while matt cassell looked like the rookie…..and there is no denying that! Your team sucks even more if you knew the seahawks were gonna pass!

      • kp

        maybe try reading that again – he said the seahawks knew kc was going to pass, not the other way around. even if they didn’t, it’s obvious they were experimenting with a pass-heavy offense. in the regular season we will rely much more on the run game.

        • KCMikeG

          Dumb ass can’t even get his smack straight!

      • steve james

        You know I always wonder what type of guy would go and troll on others teams fan sites. A very lonely and sad man needing attention with nothing to contribute to his own teams fan community I would say.

      • Tribal Rage

        Troll alert! That’s ok! You gave us a clue to your identity…BoB is really Battery Operated Boyfriend…nice post dildo…your so insightful with your pro rhetoric…

    • KCMikeG

      Add in the drops and Cassel would have been 75-80% completion range when we totally ignored the run game. RAC/Daboll wanted to see his pass offense with Bowe for the first time in as much live action as they could vs a 1st string defense. Now Daboll has film to make adjustments to routes and which players in which formations so he can fine tune

      • DoubleD

        Mike, I went to the game but haven’t watched any game film so I’m just going off of personal observation here – saying Cassel would have had a 75%-80% sounds a bit generous. Seemed to me that most of those “dropped passes” were just plain bad passes. Cassel did not look comfortable to me, lacked pocket presence, and showed happy feet a lot. This was a game where he needed to show he could run an NFL style passing offense so I’d say he personally still has a bit of work to do on that front.

  • kp

    the pass-heavy offense had me confused, too. that was obviously a little ambitious – i’d rather see them get the fundamentals going first and experiment with stretching the field once they’re clicking. bowe learning and clicking in the new offense is definitely something to look forward to.

  • Norman Gunn

    And remember our defense played like this last season at this time. And even after yesterdays game our passing game is better

  • ca1983

    These are the same excuses we have been hearing for years about our D. I don’t care how much experience you have, Jalil Brown was horrendous. Cut him today!!! Secondary is thin and needs help asap!!!

  • ArrowFan

    They where throwing because that is what the Chickens D was giving them, it’s all about the match ups. Our guys dropped allot of early passes, and then our D got tiered and sloppy. You are right they will get better. Thank God that Berry isn’t having surgery again and pray the refs get better before they count.That was the worst oficiated game I have seen yet.

    • sidibeke

      Oh, that’s silly. Pre-season play calling is not dictated by what the defense is giving you. It’s about what you want to practice and test.

      • Tribal Rage

        agreed…they went out there with a plan…saw some things that worked…saw a lot that didnt. That wasn’t Chiefs football. It was nice to see us against the Preseason Super Bowl Champs *sarcasm. Carroll wanted to win…that win and 3 others with a coupon gets him a free coffee at Starbucks.

        • dongtogolo

          It does not!

        • KCMikeG

          Agreed. Charles had over 5 YPC so if we were playing for the win certainly he would have had more than 6 carries. If our receivers hadn’t dropped 8 balls things would have looked much better too. Totally agree with ArrowFan on the refs though. NFL needs to get a contract done now.

  • TOPerspective

    You guys still going to give Pioli those high ratings? Wilson sure looked good but hey the Chiefs have Poe. How’d he do?

    • tm1946

      Several teams missed on Wilson, maybe he is the right guy with the right coach in the right system. As for Poe, I never “loved” the concept behind the pick, a first who has no chance to take sole possession place on the field for possible years.

      • Guest

        Carroll is notorious for wanting to win preseason games…Wilson looked just fine considering Houston and Hali were in choke-holds most of the game and tossing it up against Brown followed by Yellow flags can really help a young QB to think he can do no wrong. Bottom line, unfortunately, the Chiefs were not thereto win, therefore they didnt game plan against the Hawks, they wanted to try some things. The Hawks game planned against the Chiefs and with a little help from the officials, went right for the throat. Its preseason…The Hawks can go 0-4 and it doesnt matter…the Chiefs can go 1-3 and it means just as much.

    • KCMikeG

      Last time I checked this is still preseason. It is a little early to be celebrating on Wilson.

  • NicholasAlanClayton

    I agree with most of your points. I actually think Berry looked fresh and there was a lot of positive to take from this game. Overall, though it was a perfect storm that no team could have overcome — 4-5 dropped passes at key moments, special teams breakdowns, and some of the worst officiating I think I’ve ever seen. Hali was being held on every play and was occasionally tackled by their LT. In a move that I think was designed to personally infuriate me further they slapped him with a totally bogus roughing penalty on a 3rd down stop in the red zone. I think it’s time the fans start a “Pay the Refs” fund because if this sloopy officiating continues into the regular season I’m going to have an aneurysm or seriously harm someone in my immediate vicinity.

    There’s a lot of luck involved in football, and although most of the time when you throw 20 quarters in the air, you get some heads some tails, this time everything turned against KC.

  • Dfrey87

    This is what i took from last nights game, the O can move the ball and if we play to our strengths like the first two games we will be very productive. The D looked bad for the second straight game Brown has been really bad but it looked as if they were only targeting him in the first half they only thre two passes not to his guy and they were incomplete. He gave up alot of yards and then got called for PI like what three times? If it wasn’t for for his bad play they probably would have only scored once or twice in the first half. Other than the qb getting lose from contain they only had 50 yards rushing in the first half. We can only hope flowers is ready for the season opener if not its going to be a long day. We can inly hipe we can correct or mistakes in the next two weeks.

  • Patriot42

    I think the Chiefs will be a .500 team this season and that will be an improvement. Some might think I am a hater but the fact is they are very young and the competition in the AFC west will get tougher this year. They should be better on offense but as most believe the defense will be better I don’t really see any real improvement and think they will continue to be able to be ran against.

  • Michael Shaw

    Cassel is back to the real Cassel we all love to discuss. Where is Micah now that the all mighty Cassel is not looking good, overthrowing wide open recievers? Trent green can call that one pass over the middle to Moeaki as a catchable ball, but a QB cannot simply count on his guys to ALWAYS make the spectacular catch. If the QB was any good at throwing deep balls, then Moeaki could have caught that in stride for a big gain or maybe even a TD. That wasn’t the only pass I saw that TG said should have been caught, but it was the most glaring. And was it just me or did the two rookie offensive linemen from this years draft put on a freaking blocking clinic for Eachus?!!! I know that was Seattles b or c or d team, but holy hell they were blocking like crazy. Maybe lilja should watch them and not the other way around. BOTTOM LINE: Matt Cassel, a word of advice, keep handing the ball off to JC or PH or Gray or Eachus or (Crap forgot his name!!) #32, dunk the ball off on the shorter routes and let Brady Quinn come in to hit the long ball as he seems more comfortable and accurate then you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Camarohead

    Maybe they shouldn’t be surprised, but they should be embarrassed.