It’s Thursday, which means this is a great opportunity for me to both reflect and project.
The Minnesota Vikings Game:
It would be downright criminal for me not to start this out without the following statement: The Chiefs lose that game without Jared Allen.
Allen was an absolute demon out there last Sunday. In fact, given both his layoff and the talent he was facing, I’d have to say that was arguably his finest performance ever. He absolutely dominated left tackle Bryant McKinnie all day long, and the Vikes thought enough of McKinnie to give him a seven-year contract extension worth $48 million this past summer. Actually, he didn’t just dominate McKinnie, he flat out humiliated him. Check out this passage from The Viking Age:
"Brad Childress on Bryant McKinnie aka Jared Allen’s bitch:"
"“He’s playing decent at left tackle … When you get in a seven-step-drop game, the quarterback has to step up. He has to slide up in the pocket a little bit. The back might be able to do a better job of chipping a wide-rush defensive end. By and large, Bryant’s doing a decent job.”"
"Um, Childress – what game-tape have you been reviewing? Cause if it was the Chiefs game, you’re an idiot. Jared Allen basically set up camp in the Vikings‘ backfield for a lot of that game. He was back there roasting marshmallows waiting for Holcomb and AD to run into him. Bryant McKinnie is an over-paid statue – even Venus says so."
Ouch. But he’s right on — Allen was just that good last Sunday.
In fact, I’m starting to think we have the best pair of young defensive ends in football. Tamba Hali is that talented. Really, I’m not even sure who has the better motor. Neither player ever takes a play off, and both routinely make plays when most players would have already given up. That’s why they’ve combined for 18 forced fumbles early on in their playing careers. That’s a ridiculous freaking stat right there.
There are a few other players who I want to single out for their tremendous play last Sunday:
Dwayne Bowe – It’s starting to look like The D-Bo Show will air each and every Sunday.
Derrick Johnson – I can’t remember hearing a Chiefs defender’s name called as often as D.J.’s was against the Vikes. His injury must have really slowed him down last year, because right now he looks like our best linebacker, which is saying something. Actually, he looks like one of the better outside backers in football. He has the kind of speed coaches dream about, which allows him to run sideline to sideline like few players can.
Dmitri Patterson – Dustin Colquitt aside, this is our special teams performer of the year thus far. His reckless play has been an utter joy to watch. Start looking for No. 22 on special teams plays if you haven’t already.
Tony Gonzalez – He and Bowe willed this offense down the field and into the endzone during the second half. If only we could get him the ball more consistently. He hasn’t lost a thing, folks.
Dave Rayner – His clutch kicking was huge. We may have found our next kicker.
Overall, it was a great defensive effort, and I’ll talk more about the defense as I look ahead to the Chargers game.
Offensively, we were pretty putrid. Bowe and Gonzalez were the lone bright spots. That being said, those two stars couldn’t have shined much brighter. Again, they willed us to victory. Herm Edwards, Joe Posnanski and everybody else can blame the players all they want, but when Mike Solari finally went to the air our two receiving playmakers made plays (hell, even Samie Parker made a huge play). Pop Warner coaches don’t run on 11 first down plays in a row, yet that’s exactly what Solari did last week. Hell, Seinfeld re-runs aren’t that predictable.
Solari will have to make some major changes heading into the Chargers game for us to have a fighter’s chance. Which brings me to…
The San Diego Chargers Game:
Call me crazy, but I’d come out throwing against the Chargers. In fact, I’d come out in a singleback spread formation with Bowe, Gonzalez, Jeff Webb and Parker split out. The Bolts simply do not have the personnel to man up with that formation, and we’ve learned that their secondary is already weak. Granted, we don’t have Brett Favre, Donald Driver, Randy Moss or Tom Brady. But Bowe and Gonzalez are no slouches, and Parker and Webb do have plenty of speed, something that secondary lacks.
The heat would be on Damon Huard, given the Chargers front seven and our line, and that is why I’d call quick-hitting plays. Bowe and Gonzalez are simply too big for that secondary, and Parker and Webb have the speed to get open. If Huard can find the courage to sit in the pocket against Shawne Merriman and Co., then he can move the ball through the air. With Larry Johnson back there they will still have to respect him regardless of his ’07 stats, and that will also help buy time. Additionally, I think wider O-line splits would help L.J. find more room.
What I’m saying here is that we’ve tried running to set up the pass. Actually, I’m not even sure if we were trying to set up the pass. What I honestly think will work is using a heavy dosage of passing out of passing formations to set up the run. I think this is the only way to catch the Chargers off guard and get L.J. rolling.
Defensively, I love how we match up with the Bolts. Bernard Pollard, D.J., Donnie Edwards and Jarrad Page can all run with Antonio Gates. Our linebackers also have the speed to help corral LaDainian Tomlinson, a task easier said than done. The thing is that the Bolts offense is struggling. If we come out eary and jump on them they might get frustrated once again, and Norv Turner might struggle calling plays (that’s an understatement, really).
Our defense is currently fourth in the entire league, and the unit is only going to continue to improve. Why?
Tank Tyler and Turk McBride are rookies, and so is Pollard safety wise, for all intents and purposes. Hali and Page haven’t really even started one full season yet. Allen just played his first game with this defense. D.J. is in his third year, often the season where good young players become stars. Donnie and Napoleon Harris have played three games with this unit, same with our best defensive tackle so far, Alfonso Boone. If Pat Surtain and Ty Law can stay healthy, and maybe a young corner like Ty Brackenridge can step up, this will be a great defense. Not just good — great.
We definitely have a chance this Sunday. Peter King doesn’t think so, but he’s fat and stupid. The Chargers are vastly overrated, and have the worst coach in football. Jamal Williams, the heart of that defense, is banged up and they miss Donnie badly. Trsut me — the Bolts are far from invincible. Especially at Qualcomm, which is really no homefield advantage whatsoever. I guess we’ll see on Sunday, though.