Random Thoughts and Observations on the Chiefs-Raiders Game
They are only opinions, but at least they are mine...
· I have been following the Chiefs for nearly 15 years now. In all of that time, this may have been the most excruciatingly painful game I have ever seen. The Chiefs were woeful on both sides of the ball against a bad football team. Mind you, this game was not a statement about how far the Raiders have come, but instead; how far the Chiefs have to go.
· Rebuilding project or not, it is unbelievable to me that the Chiefs continue to have the same problems with stopping the run that existed in the Vermeil era. Frankly, the failure is happening at ever level of the defense. The defensive line is getting moved around like a bunch of female dance partners and linebackers seen unable to come off blocks. At some point, this has got to stop if the Chiefs are going to improve. What concerns me most is that – on the defensive line – the problem does not seem to be "rookie" mistakes, such as blown assignments or mistakes, but an inability to consistently not get manhandled by the competition.
· Granted it is only week two – and a little early to sound the alarm or hit the panic button – but you would still like to think that this team could come up with a better performance against a its biggest rival, at home, when that team is playing poorly.
· During the week, I was talking to some Chiefs fans, who were in favor of giving Tyler Thigpen the start. The comment I heard regularly was: "I say put him in there, he certainly can't do any worse than ‘Horrid'!" Well, I hope they now stand corrected. I don't know if Tyler Thigpen will be a good NFL quarterback or not, but one thing is sure, he isn't ready to be one now. I have watched every Chiefs game in which Damon Huard has played and I can say – without any doubt – I never saw him look as incompetent as Thigpen did on Sunday.
· I would really be interested to see the Chiefs give some more carries to Kolby Smith and Jamal Charles on 1st & 10 type situations. It is hard to judge, but it sure appears that Larry Johnson is missing the opportunity to cut back at times. Also, he seems to be running very timidly and going down too easily. Granted there are not great holes there, but LJ – once know for running "angry" hardly even seems to be running "annoyed" these days.
· Having said this, the Chiefs offensive line is so far proving itself to be not much of an improvement over last years group. Brandon Albert has been one of the few bright spots as he has done pretty well in pass protection. Otherwise, Brian Waters has done alright, but Niswanger, Jones & particularly McIntosh has been really disappointing. McIntosh seems to get beaten to the point of attack almost ever time the Chiefs drop back to pass. At some point, I hope the Chiefs are looking at bringing Herb Taylor in and giving him a shot at right tackle. Additionally, I think the Chiefs should give Wade Smith some snaps at guard. My hope would be that he has quicker feet and is more agile than Adrian Jones and maybe could help give the running game a lift.
· So much for my theory that the Chiefs in part struggled because of going against a 30 defense. Apparently they can't do anything against a 4-3 defense either.
· More on LJ, his inability to block continues to be a problem. His "lookout" block on Burgess' blitz in the 1st quarter I believe is what led to Huard's injury. Frankly, LJ seems to be playing like a beaten man these days. I fail to see the "fire" that he demonstrated earlier in his career.
· Interestingly, I have a gut feeling that – although the official word was that Huard was hurt –Huard could have played if the Chiefs coaching staff had wanted him, too. However, the commitment to playing Thigpen was probably more of a statement on Chiefs' concerns about the long-term health of Brodie Croyle than it was anything about Huard. What I am concerned about is how having an incompetent quarterback at the helm hurts the ability of other players around him to develop. It is one thing to do that if you think he is your quarterback of the future...quite another if he is someone you are looking at as your backup of the future.
· One thing is for sure, watching this game suddenly made me far more curious about who Ingle Martin is and of what he might be capable.
· I hear the Bucs are shopping Jeff Garcia. I wonder how cheap he is going for...? Granted it would go against the Chiefs youth movement, but one has to wonder if management really wants to put Chiefs fans through the type of season this is becoming. Really, if the Chiefs go 1-15 or 2-14 and appear to backslide I think it will suddenly be very easy to get tickets at Arrowhead.
· Usually, I try to be pretty positive, but I am having a very hard time finding anything good to say about this game from the Chiefs' perspective. Granted Thigpen did come to life for one series, as the Chiefs switched to their two-minute offense, but you see that happen all the time. Once the Raiders made the adjustment, the shut down the Chiefs on the next series sacking Thigpen and the picking him off.
· As far as the defense goes, in addition to making every running in white and silver look like the 2nd coming of Eric Dickerson, the Chiefs got very lucky the Raiders had JaMarcus Russell at quarterback. Although Carr and Flowers did serviceable jobs, the Chiefs success against the pass was more the result of some incredibly bad timing and a lack of accuracy on the part of Russell. Regularly it seemed that you saw open Raider receivers scurrying after terribly throw passes.
· Really, if there was one positive for the Chiefs it had to be the play of Russell. He certainly looked no better than Thigpen and actually looked worse. The good news for the Chiefs is that only one of the two teams on the field actually spent a first round draft pick on their miserable quarterback.
· More on the Chiefs defense, the Chiefs front four failed to garner any consistent pressure. Tamba Hali proceeded to be handled all day long by a rookie left tackle, playing in his first game, pressed into service only due to injury. Wow!
· The Chiefs coaching staff also gets an "F" for today as well. Gunther Cunningham was regularly out-schemed as the Raiders continued to run successfully on 3rd & long vs. the Chiefs defense. On offense, the Marques Hagans experiment is not a bad idea, but the timing was terrible. Bringing in a "slash" type player is something a team with an established, effective offense can do. It is a bad idea for a team with an offense that is playing with a backup quarterback, learning a new system and has had no success. A team like the Chiefs needs to develop some rhythm and execute some bread and butter plays rather than attempt to use trickery to make something happen.
· Final thought, the last thing I thought about – as I watched Thigpen launch yet another ill-advised poorly thrown wobblier in the vicinity of Tony Gonzales – was how do you tell the difference between a team that is bad because they are young and rebuilding vs. one that is just plain bad...going no where?