Thank Me Later….Chiefs/49er Recap

Posted: September 29, 2010 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
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Part 3 in guest columnist Matt Oates breakdown on the week in Kansas City Chief football….albeit much to the chagrin of one part-time editor who is a full-time 49er fan, but I digress (while shaking my fist to the sky and scoreboard still.)

Through the first 2 games of the 2010 season, the Chiefs were undefeated. Despite this simple fact, there have been disgruntled voices by the Arrowhead Faithful (including from yours truly) about how the Chiefs have won ugly.

A fan base that has only tasted victory 10 times in the last 3 years & had matched their previous year’s win total in as many weeks this season was complaining about “winning ugly.” Seems kinda ridiculous right?

Head Coach Todd Haley spoke to the media & the fans and told them “Hey, this is how the 2010 Chiefs are going to have to win games.” He offered his confidence in the struggling QB Matt Cassel and promised there’d be better times ahead. This young team was only beginning to find their potential.

Fast forward a week later, under a beautiful Missouri autumn day at Arrowhead and the league got a sneak peek into that future.

It was a wonderful day at Arrowhead. Although there seemed to be about 10,000 empty seats in the Upper level & Club level, the crowd was pumped and ready to cheer on the boys. During the week leading up to the game, 49er TE Vernon Davis identified this as not only a must-win game for the 49ers but also a guaranteed win for the 49ers. Todd Haley & the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t quite agree.

On the verge of creating a controversy at running back, Jones had his breakout game as a Chief.

In what would be the finest and most complete game for the Chiefs under Haley, the Chiefs dominated the 49ers in every facet of the football game. Coach Haley, to steal a line from Jason Whitlock, stitched a clown suit on Mike Singletary & offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. Raye’s absolute refusal to call a play that would matchup All-Pro TE Davis vs. rookie S Eric Berry reminded Chiefs fans about why we got rid of him almost 10 years ago. Berry had shown some vulnerability in the first couple of games but the 49ers never went downfield, allowing Berry to do what he does best: stop the run.

And boy did he and the Chiefs defense do that.

They held Pro Bowl RB Frank Gore to a measly 43 yards on 15 carries. The defense was absolutely vicious out there. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has taken this unit that was at the bottom of every statistical category last year and turned them loose. This is the same squad minus the 2 starting safeties!!! Rising star CB Brandon Flowers had an amazing interception along with many passes defended. He is proving to become that lockdown corner the Chiefs have been seeking since Dale Carter & James Hasty. LB Tamba Hali absolutely harassed QB Alex Smith all game racking up 3 sacks, multiple QB pressures & a forced fumble. The Chiefs defense was able to get off the field on 3rd downs, holding the 49ers to 4 of 17 on 3rd Down conversions, and kept them out of the endzone, save a last possession garbage-time TD. This unit is becoming really special and we’ll get to see how good they really are after the bye when they play Indy and Houston in back-to-back weeks.

An all out failure to contain the Chief attack left Singletary with a winless club...and minus a coordinator.

The special teams unit was solid once again. This unit will be crucial to the success of the team this year as field position will play a big role. Chiefs’ punter Dustin Colquitt once again had a solid performance, pinning the 49ers inside their own 20 on 3 out of 4 punts. The dynamic duo of Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster both had electric punt returns that set the offense up with good field position. The only sour note was K Ryan Succop, who pushed a 38 yard FG attempt wide of the goal posts, but would regain his composure and knock down a 32 yarder to end the 1st half.

The offense started out pretty shaky. A couple of good runs by Jamaal Charles, a gutsy 4th down conversion and an excellent catch & run TD by McCluster would be the Chiefs only bright spots heading into the half. There were a couple of boo birds that came out as Matt Cassel continued to struggle in the passing game. Coming out of the 2nd Half, the fans resigned themselves to having yet another ugly game on their hands.

Haley, Weis and the Chiefs offense had a different game plan. The Chiefs’ offense turned into straight schoolyard football.  A wildcat formation, hand-off, flea flicker to Cassel resulted in a 45 yard bomb to WR Dwayne Bowe for the TD. That play woke up the Chiefs offense. From there it was screen plays to Charles, McCluster or Thomas Jones or an absolutely amazing 18 yard acrobatic TD catch by Rookie Tony Moeaki (Tony Gonza-who?), the Chiefs Offense was a well-oiled machine. The Chiefs ran their offense through their strengths of running the football & screen plays. Charles ended the day with 12 carries for 97 yards & 3 receptions for 57 yards, while Jones had 19 carries for 95 yards (Writer’s note: Normally, I would rant about Charles’ lack of touches here but eh, we won masterfully). After a disappointing 1st half, Cassel would rally to end the day 16 of 27 for 250 yards, 3 touchdowns, an interception off a poorly thrown pass in the 1st half and a 111.7 QB Rating (which is almost as much as his previous 2 QB Ratings combined).

Two important things to come out of this game:

1) The Chiefs offense found something that works and it’s quite simple: Put the ball in the hands of your talented players, in a position they can exploit & watch them do work. At this point, we’ve all realized that Cassel is not a deep ball threat but whether it was McCluster, Charles, Moeaki, Bowe or Jones; Cassel delivered the ball to them in places where their playmaking skills could be showcased.

2) Go back over this article and notice the names of the Chiefs players I highlighted. A vast majority of them come out of Herm Edwards’ last draft as Head Coach & the draft from this spring. This team is young and they are buying into this system. They have playmakers on both side of the ball. Haley has been second guessed, methods questioned but through it all he has been selling his vision to his players. With the Chiefs sitting at 3-0 and up 2 games on every team in the AFC West at the bye week, we have Haley to thank…later, of course.

-Matt Oates


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