The Kansas City Chiefs return to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Oakland Raiders.
If the Chiefs are lucky, they’ll enter the day in last place in the AFC West and end the day TIED for last place in the AFC West.
“It’s a process.”
-Kansas City Chiefs GM, Scott Pioli
Anyway, things are going to be different at Arrowhead on Sunday. Matt Cassel will be on the bench and Brady Quinn will be in the game. Despite a poor performance against the Bucs*, Quinn should get a pretty warm reception from the Arrowhead faithful. He’ll also probably get a warm reception from the Raiders fans that are sure to be in attendance.
*There were actually some commenters the other day that tried to convince me that Quinn wasn’t “that bad” vs. the Bucs. Um…I love you guys and you’re right: 22 of 38 for 180 yards (4.74 yards per pass average), no TDs and two interceptions isn’t “that bad.” It’s horrendously bad. Quinn did not register a single pass over 19 yards. Quinn is surely rusty but even once the rust is removed, he still probably isn’t any good.
The fans will cheer, not because they expect brilliance from Quinn, but because he isn’t Matt Cassel.
I haven’t said much about the whole “Save Our Chiefs” movement. I’m pretty indifferent to the whole thing, to be honest with you. The fans are angry and they have a right to voice their anger any way they see fit, so long as the way they do so is legal. If Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli don’t want to see banners flying, “fire Pioli” signs or black instead of red in their stadium, they need only start winning games on a consistent basis.
But I do think the uprising is a clear sign that change is not only necessary for the Chiefs, it’s overdue. None of these fans protesting or shelling out dollars to fly a “fire Pioli” banner wanted the Chiefs GM to fail. They just want to root for a winner or at least not be embarrassed to be wearing a Chiefs jersey at their local sports bar.
In the end, it isn’t about Scott Pioli losing his job or Matt Cassel being benched. It is about fans wanting to root for a winner.
When Quinn trots onto the field Sunday, most KC fans will be hoping he does well. Even those of us in the camp that feels it would probably better for the Chiefs long-term to do more losing than winning down the stretch want Quinn to come out and shred the Raiders defense to, oh, I dunno, the tune of 500 yards and six TDs. It’s hard to think long-term when there is a maniac dressed up like an S&M dominatrix waltzing around your home team’s stadium wearing a Pin Head mask.
The benching of Cassel should, for now at least, satisfy Chiefs fans that the change they so desperately want, is coming. Even if it takes some time to find out exactly what those changes will be.
What will be will be. On Sunday, however, Quinn is our guy and we hope to hell he comes to play.
Here are my five keys to victory for the Chiefs vs. the Raiders.
1. Ball security is half the battle. Maybe 75 percent of the battle.
The Chiefs don’t just stink because Matt Cassel is a bad QB. They stink because the entire team is playing like crap. The crap play all starts with turnovers. The Chiefs are dropping the ball way too much. I don’t know why. Maybe it is just a run of terrible luck. The Chiefs are turning the ball over way more than average. That means, at some point, things should even out. We’ve had these players all play well enough to win in the NFL in the past (save perhaps Quinn) so they can do it again.
But only if they hold on to the football.
How does one Quinn with a QB that hasn’t done very much Quinning? Moreover, how does one Quinn with a QB who has hardly played any NFL football since 2009?
Keep it simple, stupid.
The Chiefs have a strength and that strength’s name is
running the football Jamaal Charles. KC has done a nice job of running all season. The offense needs to start there and keep Quinn’s job as easy as possible. The Chiefs and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll don’t need to out-think themselves. Keep the play calling to things Quinn is comfortable with. Stick with high percentage play like slants and screens. Hope the receivers catch them.
3. Wait for the Raiders to screw it up.
Marty Schottenheimer was fond of saying that the key to beating the Raiders was to keep the game close and wait for the silver and black to screw it up.
Since the KC offense is unlikely to run away with anything, the Chiefs should bring back this strategy back. Both of these teams are bad. That means the one that makes the fewest stupid mistakes is likely to win.
The Oakland Raiders receivers aren’t studs per-say, but they are fast and physical. If a CB or safety misses a tackle on one of these guys one on one, they’re gone. The Chiefs defenders need to wrap these guys up because they’re very dangerous with the ball in their hands.
5. Make em’ throw
Despite having versatile RB Darren McFadden, the Raiders are 31st in the NFL running the football. As a result of that futility, they are ninth in throwing. But their 2-4 record indicates that the one-dimensional offense isn’t working out for them. The Chiefs absolutely cannot let the Raiders balance their offense Sunday. If they let McFadden get going it is going to be a long, long day.
KC’s biggest strength on defense is their Houston/Hali combo. They need to force the Raiders into passing situations so these guys can do their thing.