Don’t look now, but I think the Chiefs are about to turn the corner.
[pause for throwing of things, pulling of hair and muttering of profanities]
Yes, that’s right. Progress. Ok, I admit, from the angst that Chiefs Nation is going through this week, it might be hard to fathom that we are actually headed in the right direction. But I do have evidence!
First and foremost: our defense is clearly finding their groove. Check out this table of total yards given up by the defense thus far:
Check out those last three games – that is some serious progress, especially because New Orleans is ranked 4th in the league in total yards, Baltimore is 7th and San Diego is 18th. Anyone watching knows that our playmakers – and in particular, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers and Justin Houston – are starting to make plays and our secondary is finally showing some semblance of cohesion.
Did I mention that we are now second in the entire NFL in rushing, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 180 yards per game? That means that Jamaal Charles is back and the offensive line has a newly found pride and are taking it out on our opponents. Even on special teams, I have to give a shout out to Terrance Copper, picking up where Jalil Brown left off last week. Copper had the heads up return after the Ravens tried to knock a punt back into the field of play, and he had a timely and smart strip for a fumble, with my season-long special teams hero, Edgar Jones, recovering.
I know, I know, the Ravens game also showed us where we are most assuredly not making progress. These areas of disaster are well documented – Cassel’s inaccuracy and decision-making; the truly incredulous number of turnovers we’ve had; horrendous, untimely and undisciplined penalties; and uh, interesting play calling choices. But think about it – with a predictable and one-dimensional offense, playing our third string defensive end (way to go, Allen Bailey!) and still without Kendrick Lewis and Peyton Hillis, we lost to the Ravens by just three points.
This week was dramatic. The days leading up to the game were full of quarterback controversy and upper management talk, and literally seconds after the game, the airwaves were filled with now national headlines on how we Chiefs fans are a crazy, bloodthirsty and vile crowd. With the air already full of anti-Cassel rhetoric, the game itself turned into a series of mini-justifications for why Cassel should go, such that every play was viewed through that lens. Now don’t get me wrong – I agree that it’s Quinn time. But the anti-Cassel fervor may have masked what otherwise would have been viewed as a success, relative to this dismal season – staying within three points of a very, very good Ravens team. And, importantly, playing with heart. This team did not give up, even after momentum and spirit-crushing penalties and turnovers. That’s hopefully a sign of things to come.
Now before any of you go crazy on me, let me say for the record: this year has sucked. If we don’t win in Tampa Bay, then nevermind – the data points I’m picking out are random and not a trend indicating progress. Only time will tell, but at the end of the day, I still believe defenses can carry you to victory, if paired with a moderately functioning offense and a kick-ass special teams.
But as tough as this Ravens game was, I was heartened, and I was heartened because I think we just may have a very special defense this year. What do you think, Addicts? Do we have something to build on? Can our defense rise to the occasion, become gamechangers and lead us to an AFC West title (or at least a damn wild card?!)?!!