If there’s an idiom that fits the Kansas City Chiefs’ season-opening drubbing of the Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s “all’s well that ends well.” Just 2:28 minutes into the first quarter, the new-look Chiefs looked a lot like the 2-14 Chiefs from last season. On the first offensive play of the regular season, tight end Anthony Fasano dropped a perfectly thrown deep ball from Alex Smith. Two plays later, J.T. Thomas slipped through special teams protection and blocked a Dustin Colquitt punt. The ball bounded out of the back of the end zone and resulted in a safety that put the Jaguars up 2-0.
The old Kansas City Chiefs might’ve folded the tent after a pair of early mistakes. In the 2011 season opener, Dexter McCluster fumbled the opening kickoff to start the game with the Buffalo Bills. One special teams play and offensive series into that contest, the Chiefs were trailing by seven points and looked to be shaken by first quarter miscues. They never recovered and were routed by the Bills 41-7. On Sunday afternoon, Kansas City proved to be a much different football team.
Kansas City’s defense responded by forcing Jacksonville into their second straight three-and-out series of the game. Dexter McCluster would then return a Bryan Anger punt 36 yards to set up excellent field position on the Chiefs’ next drive (the Jacksonville 24-yard line). The offense took full advantage, scoring in just three plays to take their first lead of the season (the same feat took nine games in 2012). The Andy Reid coached Chiefs weren’t interested in shrinking back into their former selves. The team composed itself, eliminated mistakes, and put together the franchise’s largest margin of victory for a season opener in a half century.
It’s tough to know what you can truly take away from Sunday’s win over Jacksonville. The Jaguars still appear to be one of the league’s worst teams. It certainly didn’t help them to be without second-year wide receiver Justin Blackmon (serving a four-game suspension) and tight end Marcedes Lewis (out with a calf injury). Put simply, wins won’t always come so easily for the new regime. Resilience is something they’ll need to return to NFL respectability.
Kansas City’s home opener with the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday will be a great litmus test for where this team truly is. The Giants’ defense surrendered 331 total yards and 23 points to the ‘Boys in their “Sunday Night Football” matchup. The Chiefs’ defense can have success against the Cowboys, but they won’t be a pushover like their Week 1 opponent. Dallas is a much better football team and should provide a bigger challenge for Kansas City.
I’m curious to see how this team will respond to a real deficit. How will Kansas City answer the bell when they’re trailing by one or two possessions? That, I think, is a true measure of what we can expect from the Chiefs in 2013. Players needn’t press to retain a lead in the NFL. When you’re hanging on to a three possession lead, like the Chiefs were in the second half on Sunday, you can play conservatively and manage the clock. Playing from behind is the challenge. When the pressure’s on, teams start forcing plays and that usually sets the stage for errors in judgment and execution. We know they can put a lesser opponent away. Hopefully we’ll also find out if they can handle a respectable team like the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s good to see a Chiefs team move on from negative plays. The first sign of trouble in years past was the death knell for Kansas City. Poise will be monumental for this football team if the trend continues. The Chiefs could face some character-revealing adversity this coming Sunday. As confident as I am in Bob Sutton’s defensive unit, they won’t blank the ‘Boys like they did the Jags. We’ll soon find out if they can take a punch as well as they throw one.
Despite a very impressive win over the weekend, I think there are still more questions than answers. I expect we’ll learn more about this football team at One Arrowhead Drive this Sunday. Addicts, do you think the Chiefs can keep it together if they fall behind the Cowboys? Have we seen enough to know the true mental makeup of this football team? Speak your piece below in the comments section. As always, we appreciate your readership and support!
Until next time, Addicts!