It was shock and awful. Shockingly good and shockingly awful. The Kansas City Chiefs special teams exemplified that more than anything and it didn’t take long. It usually doesn’t. Less than 10 seconds in many cases. But, in those ten seconds a whole stadium was transformed from a morg’s doom to a sonic boom. It’s hard to imagine the Kansas City Chiefs special team being any more special than they were in 2013. The 2014 version will surely be… special-er.
However, it didn’t start out that way when Albert Wilson returned the first kickoff to the Chiefs own seven yard line.
That’s what I’m saying: shockingly good… shockingly bad.
That’s not the only part of the new edition of the Chiefs line-up this year that can be described by “shock and awful.” The Chiefs defensive secondary was equally shocking, but mostly in an awful way. And the same goes for the offensive line. And it’s not that the secondary was awful for the entire contest. While playing rather consistently bad for the whole game they also had moments of brightness with two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. If not for those returns, the Chiefs would have lost this game.
To the naked eye, most people would say the Chiefs QBs stunk up the place but it was the O-line that allowed their quarterbacks to be pressured and sacked and give away those fumbles.
A silver lining? Their overall performance was to a large extent a Jeckyll and Hyde stage reenactment but, the good outshined the bad and the Chiefs came away victorious. While the Chiefs looked a lot like the Chiefs team we last saw in January, the primary difference is, the 2014 team was good enough to beat a Bengals team that is strong from top to bottom. A team which I expect to win an excellent AFC North division once again (including the Ravens, Steelers & Browns). A Bengals team that went 11-5 last year.
So, lets bounce back and forth from some of the shockingly good to the awfully bad, just like during the game itself.
De’Anthony Thomas appears to be everything promised. His TD punt return was an extension of so many of the returns he had in college. He showed he’s sturdy enough to take a little punishment and bounce it to the open spaces. He makes exceptional reads, brutal cuts and when you add that to his JC-class speed, he’s going to be a star for the Chiefs for quite some time.
The challenge I noticed when DAT came in for JC and at running back is, how often can he actually be counted on to run the ball? On a sweep play to the left, DAT was thrown down like a rag doll after a couple of yards, by our old friend Wallace Gilberry who is now a DE for the Bengals. Gilberry is only 6-2 and 275, which is smallish for a DE. The very next play was a pass play and Thomas was sent into the right flat on a release pattern because there’s no possibility he could stay in and block for the QB. He’s simply not big enough to take on even the smallest LB in the league. So, when the Chiefs line DAT up in the backfield it seems fairly predictable that they’ll be running a passing play and he’ll run a pattern. However, being predictable is the last thing a Reid offense is designed to be.
One player on the Chiefs, for whom there is no Mr. Hyde side, is punter Dustin Colquitt. Early in the game he lined up deep in the Chiefs own territory and boomed a kick so far down the field it made the Bengals punt returner stumble backwards and the ball bounced over his head then angled out of bounds to the 7 yards line. Good thing Colquitt will now be a Chief for life.
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