Sunday’s beat down at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons was bad, but just like every fan, I must keep my composure until at least Week 6. But even without such a requirement, there were bright spots. Or, at least, a bright spot (singular).
That bright spot was the offense. With a defense that didn’t force a punt until the fourth quarter and a special teams unit that gave up a long kickoff return and missed a field goal, the offense was the only element from the Falcons game that gave me confidence moving forward.
I know there was a part of Kansas City media that put an unfair responsibility for the loss on the shoulders of Matt Cassel. Well, if you were watching the game like I was, I don’t know how Matt Cassel is the first person you want to throw under the bus. Yes, he was responsible for three turnovers, all in the second half, but the defense, like I mentioned earlier, didn’t stop the Falcons offense until the FOURTH QUARTER. And by that time, the game was already out of hand and the Falcons were already taking their foot off the pedal.
While I put the brunt of the responsibility on the defense, there is still room for hope. The defense was missing four starters, including stars Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali, as well as very good safety Kendrick Lewis and the team’s best nose tackle Anthony Toribio. And maybe just as important as those players missing was the players that had to take their place: Jacques Reeves, Abram Elam, Andy Studebaker. Going against a team with a good quarterback and good receivers, missing two of your starting defensive backs is a recipe for disaster.
What gives me hope for the defense, however, is how they responded in 2011. After giving up 89 points in their first two games last season, the Chiefs defense then went on to finish with the 11th best total defense. Obviously, the return of missing starters will help, and the impact of Romeo Crennel won’t allow this kind of performance too often. If they could rally last year, then they can do it this year. It’s also because of last year’s performance that I felt positive about the offense.
The Chiefs offense scored 24 points against the Falcons. Sure, that last second TD run from Shaun Draughn was definitely in garbage time, but in comparison, it took until 4:58 left in the fourth quarter of GAME THREE of the 2011 season for the Chiefs offense to score 24 points COMBINED.
The Chiefs offense looks so much better now than it did then, and whether it’s because of having a full offseason of practice or Brian Daboll replacing Bill Muir, I like the direction the offense is heading. Dexter McCluster looks to have finally found his role, Jamaal Charles looks like he’s fully back and just as deadly as he was, Peyton Hillis pounds the ball, Dwayne Bowe looked like he barely missed a beat from skipping training camp, and Eric Winston looks like the second coming of Willie Roaf compared to the player he replaced this offseason (hint: Barry Richardson).
Even Cassel made some good plays. He seemed in control of the offense, was making audibles at the line of scrimmage to best take advantage of the defense, and made some good throws. Will Cassel be the best QB on the field during many of matchups? No. But is he good enough to get the job done more times than not? I think so, for this year at least (is it too early to get the #Bark4Barkley campaign started?).
But again, it’s only one game. You’re never as bad or as good as you think you are, and there’s a lot of football left to play. The Chiefs are in no way, nor should be, in panic mode. With 15 games left, anything can happen. So here’s to the Chiefs picking up the pieces of their loss and taking it to the Bills on Sunday.