August 24, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders stand on the goal line before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium. Seattle won the game 44-14. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Chiefs Week 1: Overcoming Adversity

The regular season is here and the Chiefs’ biggest fears have been realized. Early injuries devastated this football team just one year ago when the ACL3 were all on the wrong side of the injured reserve list by the third week of September. The team’s top priority, coming into their 2012 campaign, was to arrive at the season opener with a clean bill of health. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Kansas City now has four injured starters (Johnson, Flowers, Toribio, and Lewis). Romeo Crennel believes his starting ILB and CB will play on Sunday. Anthony Toribio is listed as day-to-day. Safety Kendrick Lewis is likely to miss the opener. The league office added insult to injury when they levied a one-game suspension on Tamba Hali for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. This team could be missing three starters when the Atlanta Falcons come to town this weekend.

Game 1 was probably a “pick’em” two weeks ago. That was before the news broke about their top pass-rusher. On paper, the Falcons now look to have a decided aerial advantage. Without Hali to protect him, Justin Houston will get special attention from Atlanta’s OC Dirk Koetter. Derrick Johnson is the only other linebacker on the roster with a pass-rushing skillset. He’s nursing an ankle injury though that could affect his closing speed. Hopefully he’ll be ready to go by Sunday, but he did not practice with the team today (neither did Allen Bailey). That leaves the job to Andy Studebaker, Cameron Sheffield, and a rotation of defensive linemen who are similarly underwhelming at pressuring the QB. If Matt Ryan consistently has six seconds to throw, this team will be in for a very long day.

Brian Daboll and company will have to effectively control the clock and keep the Atlanta offense off the field. This Chiefs’ offense has struggled to sustain a drive over the last two weeks. If those struggles continue, we could very well see a repeat of the 2011 season opener. I’ve done my best to block out the memory of the Buffalo blowout at Arrowhead Stadium last year. That game is a perfect example of how offensive ineptitude can hang this defense out to dry. The Chiefs had just 12 offensive plays in the first quarter of that game. Those four drives netted Kansas City zero points. By then they were already down two possessions. A repeat of that offensive effort will be disastrous, especially against a team that boasts an offense with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner.

The team could also use a lift from Tom McMahon and the Special Teams. The aforementioned 2011 opener began with several Special Teams missteps. Dexter McCluster fumbled the opening kickoff and turned the ball over deep in Chiefs’ territory. Dustin Colquitt was responsible for a short 27-yard punt that swung the field position battle in favor of the Bills. Ryan Succop missed a 49-yard field goal early in the second quarter. Compare that against the 2010 season opener with the Chargers where McCluster returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown. That helped to secure the game for the Chiefs and set the tone for a successful AFC West-winning season. Kansas City could use a few positive plays from the Special Teams on Sunday.

Here’s where Romeo Crennel will earn his paycheck. He needs to keep his football team calm and poised in the face of adversity. Crennel will have to balance that with instilling a sense of urgency in them to play passionately from the opening kick. It’s important that the Chiefs win this game before departing the cozy confines of Arrowhead for two tough road games. This game will be won with mental toughness and a great overall team effort. We’ve seen Crennel do this before. He beat the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead last year to start a three-game stretch as interim head coach of this team. Crennel needed to make a statement then, and he needs to make a statement now.

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Tags: Chiefs

  • chiefridgy

    GO CHIEFS!!!!

    • Patrick Allen


  • dongtogolo

    We have to pressure the hell out of Matt Ryan, while smacking R White and J Jones at the line of scrimmage, have a + turnover ratio and run the ball for 175 yards. That should be enough to keep Ryan on ice(the bench). There they are… the keys to victory.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      175′s a pretty tall order. The Falcons had a Top 10 Run defense last year.

  • ArrowFan

    I know Tamba being out hurts but Romeo will produce pressure, look to see Berry and or Arenas in the back field allot.

    • tm1946

      Pressure and Arenas in same sentence? That is a fan.
      If Arenas plays a lot the defense is in trouble. A play here or there is fine. He has the heart of a 6’2′ player but he is still to small for every down duty. Send LBs on blitzes and make DB play man to man…..Arenas would be a weak link.

      • ArrowFan

        He will be corner blitzing out of the Nickle

        • tm1946

          Alt is 6-4 and 217. Arenas is tough but is is a wasted effort. Also blitz a CB and Ryan will probably pick apart the defense.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        Arenas is one of the team’s best blitzing DB’s. He’s pretty good in that role.

  • KCMikeG

    Wrong – our biggest fear would have been ACL3 not coming back. Not the temporary challenges we face now. Flowers is looking like he will play and there is still potential for DJ too. Poe & Powe will fill in just fine for Toribio. Elam is more than capable for Lewis especially with Berry back 100%. Nobody can replace Hali but you are underselling Sheffield and completely ignoring Edgar Jones when it comes to pass rushing skills. Repeat of the opener Wow! We haven’t even begun to see how powerful our offense will be with so many more weapons than last year being lead by Daboll vs Haley’s clusterfuck express. Easy on the doom and gloom – maybe we should let them take the field before we start writing off the game.

    • Stacy D. Smith

      Berry, Moeaki, and Flowers were never in any danger of missing a second season. We knew they’d all be back.

      I’m not sure how you’re so certain about players who are entirely unproven. Poe, Powe, and Sheffield have proven exactly nothing about what they can be in the NFL. There is only potential to gauge. Dontari Poe has quite a way to go. Powe looks to be turning the corner, but we need to see that when the real bullets start flying, two days from now. Sheffield hasn’t even proven he can stay healthy.

      I think Elam will be an effective stop-gap for Lewis, but Edgar Jones barely made this team. He’s played just 22 games in 5 years. He has 1.5 CAREER sacks. To depend on him to help you mount a pass-rush is to do your team a disservice.

      No doom-and-gloom here, but I do have a healthy dose of reality for you. IF this team struggles (offensively) like it did in last year’s opener, you’ll wind up throwing your flat-screen out of a window. The Atlanta offense is a lot better than the one the Bills brought in last September.