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Sunday, January 1st
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Random Thoughts and Observations on the Chiefs-Falcons Game

More by William Cloake
Other writers' articles
Their only opinions, but at least they are mine...

· After watching last weeks terrible outing against the Raiders, one would have hoped that the Chiefs would have "showed up" and had a better showing against the Falcons, but I guess not.
· Actually, one thing that was apparent throughout the game was the Chiefs effort, which seemed to be constant all day. In spite of being down (dare I say hopelessly?) 24-0 late in the 1st half, the Chiefs clawed back to make the game quasi-respectable, until the Falcons ran away with it, again.
· What was most frustrating about this day was, obviously, the play of Tyler Thigpen. In many respects I say, shame on Herm Edwards for putting the kid out there. Playing a young quarterback when he is so obviously not ready could have repercussions that can destroy any potential career this kid might have to play in the NFL. Also, shame on Edwards for wasting the effort of the other 52 guys on the roster by not putting out Damon Huard, who gives the Chiefs the best chance to win at this point. At some level, you know these guys want to win and here the Chiefs are trying to figure out if Thigpen could "play" or not.
· More on Edwards decision, it isn't that I am against evaluating young talent and finding out if guys can play. Obviously you have to do that. However, Thigpen struggled in the preseason versus 2nd and 3rd team defenses. Struggled last week against a Raider team that had been torched the week before. What else do you need to see to realize that – at the very least – he isn't ready, yet?
· Predictably, Thigpen's numbers were very similar to those of a week ago. Through two games, Thigpen's quarterback rating stands at 38.3, with a completion percentage of only 40.6 percent and twice as many interceptions as touchdowns.
· Again, I am not intent on burying Thigpen. He certainly has good feet, size and a strong arm. However, he just isn't anywhere near ready right now and I don't see what putting in such an under-ready quarterback accomplishes. It certainly doesn't help develop the other young talent around him.
· On the upside, one thing I would like to point to is the class of the Chiefs players and the way that they hung together as a team. You do have to give Edwards some credit for building that much. In spite of one bad read or errant throw after another, the Chiefs receivers didn't melt down and seemed to be encouraging Thigpen.
· More on Thigpen, the national feeds commentators were pretty spot on with their criticisms of Thigpen. Most of the game he was not relaxing, making reads and throws, he was simply trying to get the ball out of there. The sign of a quarterback clearly not ready to play at this level. Although he wound up with three INT's he certainly could have had six. Further, he seems to just make some throws that defy common sense, such as the nearly intercepted screen last week and his last interception to Bowe this week.
· At one point during the game it occurred to me that if the character known as "Comic Book Guy", from the TV show the Simpsons, had been sitting next to me he probably would have muttered something along the lines of "Worst Chiefs quarterbacking performance ever!"
· There were a couple of bright spots for the Chiefs this week, however. First was the play of the offensive line, which actually gave Thigpen pretty decent protection. The weak link still appears to be McIntosh, who did settle down some after getting taken apart by Abraham for a sack on the Chiefs first offensive play.
· Another was the fact that Larry Johnson, must have met with the Wizard of Oz at halftime because he suddenly realized he had a heart and came out and ran like the big back the for which the Chiefs paid all that money. If the Chiefs can keep that going then they might actually end their losing streak when Brodie Croyle returns, or if Edwards decides to start Huard.
· Speaking of quarterbacks, watching Matt Ryan play sure must make the Chiefs wish they had found a way to trade up a few spots in the draft to nab him. For a young QB he seems to make good decisions and has a very special arm. Although truth be told, it is easier to do such things when your team is piling up 186 yards on the ground and forcing three turnovers. On the other hand, had the Chiefs and Falcons switched quarterbacks, I think there is a chance they might have switched outcomes.
· At this point in the season, there are some pretty telling statistics one can look at. One of the most telling for the Chiefs has to do with sacks. Through three games the Chiefs have managed a grand total of 2 sacks. At this rate they will wind up the season with a total of about 10. Only one of the two is by a lineman (Alphonso Boone). Granted everyone knew the Chiefs would miss Jared Allen, but this is getting a little ridiculous. Through three games, 17 NFL players have any many sacks as the Chiefs team – this includes Allen who already has two.
· I swear, if I was an offensive coordinator playing against the Chiefs I would tell my punt returner to take ever punt and run backwards to down it within the 5 yard-line. I don't know the number but it seems like the Chiefs have had their opponents down inside the five at least four or five times this season and every time the opposition has either had a very long scoring drive or at least broken off a big play. It appears Gunther Cunningham is being too aggressive in these situations. Everyone seems to know he is going to call for all out blitzes and as a result, the Chiefs continually get burned.
· The more I watch of this Chiefs defense, the more I wonder how much of Gunther's previous success was the result of having Bill Cowher build a great defense, with a great scheme that he then merely shepherded.
· More on the defense, how many times do the Chiefs safeties have to suck up on a crossing route before they learn that their responsibility is (generally) to not let anything get by them deep? I do believe it was Pollard again who got sucked up on a crossing route, which led to White's 70-yard touchdown grab.
· However, another bright spot for the Chiefs defense is the play of corners Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers. Both had pretty good days again and appear to be getting better with every week. Although they have missed on some plays, they are usually right there and are not giving opposing quarterbacks tons of room.
· Another bright spot is the play of defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. He made five tackles and helped to disrupt at least a couple of other plays. What is more – although it may be my imagination – it seems that teams are starting to run away from the middle a little more – particularly the left side. The bad news is that they are now gashing edges, where the Chiefs defensive ends are getting pushed around some.
· How many tackles does Pat Thomas have to miss for the Chiefs to realize he is not a starting caliber middle linebacker? I could understand if the Chiefs didn't have other options, but they do. I find it hard to believe the Chiefs paid all that free agent money to DeMorrio Williams to see him be a special teams demon.
· On the other hand, it isn't like Thomas is alone. I love and respect Donnie Edwards, but he has really lost a step and Derrick Johnson seems to have taken a step backwards this season. Collectively, they combined for two tackles (one a piece) against the Falcons.
· Finally, I know it must be hard...but how come the Chiefs can't seem to find a place kicker who can regularly make a field goal under 35-yards?

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