Once again, guest columnist Matthew Oates breaks down the good, bad and confusing of the Kansas City Chiefs in week 2 of his insight in to Arrowhead.
“Must win” games don’t always happen at the end of the road. Yesterday the Chiefs took to the field in their first “must win” of the year.
I know you’re probably thinking to yourself “But Matt, they only beat the Browns by 2 points! Its week 2, this is premature. 2 POINTS MATT!!!” You would be correct to feel that way. But I have a list for you; see if you notice a pattern:
2009: Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1)
2008: Miami Dolphins (1-15)
2006: New York Jets (4-12)
2004: San Diego Chargers (4-12)
2003: Baltimore Ravens (7-9)
2002: Indianapolis Colts (6-10)
Figured it out yet?
Those are all teams that made the playoffs, only one year removed from being in the bottom four teams in the AFC the year before (previous season record in parentheses). The NFL strives to achieve parity, and they’ve created a scheduling system that requires every team to play 6 games against their division, 4 games against a division from the other conference, 3 games vs. a division in their conference, and 3 games vs. the equally placed team in each division in their conference. That last stipulation explains why almost every year, one team makes the jump from basement to the penthouse.
(Full disclosure: I don’t expect the Chiefs to make the playoffs. I expect around 7 wins, give or take a win)
By taking care of business versus the Cleveland Browns, the same team that beat KC 41-34 last season, the Chiefs are satisfying the requirements for a decent season.
Speaking of satisfying, Jamaal Charles has apparently satisfied Head Coach Todd Haley’s wife. It’s the only legitimate explanation for why last year’s team Offensive MVP is playing backup to Thomas Jones. Charles only got 11 carries for 49 yards and 1 catch for 27 yards (Matt Cassel’s longest completion of the day), while Thomas Jones got 22 carries for 83 yards. Now, don’t get me wrong. Jones is a more than capable back, he should be getting snaps on 3rd/4th and short & goal line situations, but Jamaal Charles averaged 5.9yds/carry last season & had 92 yards on 11 carries last week! It got to the point that “Free Jamaal Charles” became a rally cry amongst local sports personalities and a trending topic on Twitter. In the post game interview, a sullen Jamaal Charles seemed resigned to his fate of backup RB.
It has been rumored before that GM Scott Pioli & Haley have been reluctant to play former GM Carl Peterson’s draft picks, only wanting “their” guys to play instead. This conspiracy theory has been supported by the release of Bernard Pollard, the aversion to all things Brodie Croyle and the struggle the Chiefs’ most talented players on either side of the ball, Charles and LB Derrick Johnson, have to even get playing time! If this is the case, then it’s beyond pettiness by Pioli/Haley.
The offense struggled again this game, failing to put a TD on the board. Even when given great field position, the Chiefs failed to string together plays for a TD, settling for field goals instead. Cassel played a very lackluster 1st half, throwing 2 INTs and appeared to have some trouble getting the play calls from the sideline. He had a much better 2nd half, finishing the game 16 of 28 for 176 yards, but there is still great concern about his abilities, especially to go downfield with the football. He ended the game with a 46.1 QB rating. Rookie TE Tony Moeaki had another good performance grabbing 5 catches for 58 yards including a couple of tough catches to extend drives.
The defense played solid. New defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel definitely has this unit playing good football. This is the same squad that gave up 286 yards rushing to CLE RB Jerome Harrison last year, a note I’m sure they were reminded of in practice this week. This time, Harrison only got 33 yards on 16 carries. The front seven, originally believed to be the weakness of this squad, has come through huge in the first 2 games. Constant pressure on the QB, with Johnson flying all over the field making plays. An interception for touchdown by CB Brandon Flowers was the team’s only venture into the end zone. Rookie S Eric Berry played well in run support (7 tackles) but continues to get sucked in on the play-action fake & blow a deep assignment. This time it led to a 65-yard TD catch by Joshua Cribbs. So far, we will chalk that up to rookie mistakes, but it is beginning to be a concern. The defense was aided by punter Dustin Colquitt pinning the Browns deep in their own territory all game. A great game for him after last week’s poor performance, more than likely due to the weather conditions.
The Chiefs have an excellent opportunity to go up 3-0 against next week’s opponent, San Francisco 49ers. The defense should have another good game but the Chiefs have got to stop depending on defense and special teams for TDs. Sooner or later, the offense will have to put together a long drive and score a TD or the Chiefs could be in big trouble. For now, the 2010 Chiefs can relish in the fact they are the first Chiefs squad to go 2-0 since 2005. I know I am.