And the bottom of the AFC, and possibly even the bottom of the NFL.
I compare this loss to last year's second loss to Denver on December 9th. We were dealt a demoralizing blow by a division rival who isn't even good. No use suffering too much over this loss so let's jump right in. DJ has his take on the game coming up in just a bit so make sure you check back.
Lack of a Strategy
There was little to no organized plan by the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff going into this game. The schizophrenic offensive attack of recent practice squad member Marques Hagans, Damon Huard, a completely unprepared Tyler Thigpen and an uninspired Larry Johnson was a complete dud for the Chiefs on Sunday.
The need to get Jamaal Charles the ball more, which Herm Edwards mentioned earlier this week, was completely ignored. Charles was handed the ball three times and caught only one pass. I'm still at a loss for an explanation for this.
Along with getting Jamaal Charles the ball more, how about getting it to Larry Johnson a few more times than twelve for the entire game? I'm puzzled by this one.
Dwayne Bowe, who caught six passes for 90 yards, was far and away the most productive player on the field. Tony Gonzalez caught a touchdown and five passes but never really factored into the "rhythm" of the offense. There was no varied attack employed really at any point during the game. Again, poor planning in my opinion.
Finally, Marques Hagans' entrance and play during the game felt weird. Is this a Herm Edwards offense? It felt like Herm was trying to show how off how experimental he can be but he never pulled it off.
Too invested in the youth movement
I have repeatedly mentioned in the previous weeks my extreme skepticism of Tyler Thigpen's ability to play quarterback in the NFL. That skepticism was confirmed yesterday as a confused Thigpen passed for 151 yards (14/33) and one interception. The major issue I had with that move was that Thigpen was completely unprepared for yesterday's game, much like the Chiefs' offensive strategy. I know he's the third string quarterback but at the very least you need that player to know the nuances of the position and read defenses. Thigpen did none of that yesterday and should have, really should have had at least two interceptions, if not more.
The problem with experimenting so heavily with the quarterback is that position is one of the few if not the only positions that can negatively affect the rest of the entire team. Again, I know that the Chiefs' hand was forced into playing Thigpen but I am making the argument that his roster spot alone is a serious personnel mistake. He shouldn't have been in there in the first place.
So, how do you like B.J. Sams? Dantrell Savage was inactive and since I haven't heard any other reason to suggest why he was, it seems like the Chiefs are starting to prefer B.J. Sams in the kick return game. Who knows, Savage could be active next week and Sams could sit. Whoever plays, the Chiefs special teams attack is boring. We will fight bad field position all year long and it will hurt us every game.
Rush defense has become a major problem
See, the Oakland Raiders actually watched the last few Chiefs games it appears and found out that if you want to, your team can run all over this defense.
The Raiders dominated, completely dominated the line of scrimmage. Oakland topped 300 yards rushing on 47 attempts. Check out the balance of this attack, which likely would have been worse if Justin Fargas had not left the game with an injury early in the first half.
The final numbers for Oakland were Darren McFadden (164 yards); Michael Bush (90 yards); and Justin Fargas (43 yards). Talk about letting anyone and everyone run over your defense.
Let's take a quick look back at how teams have fared on the ground against our defense, starting with Week 1 of the 2007 season.
Turk McBride was injured yesterday and walked off the field under his own power. I haven't heard anything on him but I do know that the backups at defensive end are weak. Alfonso Boone is an alright replacement but I had a hint of a feeling that McBride was on the path to exciting things this season. I hope he's back soon.
You can't say much more than it was a total failure by all parties when a team gives up 300 yards rushing.
Special teams led by Pollard
Two fumble recoveries and a knack for almost blocking many a punt has made Bernard Pollard the player on special teams. Pollard also chased down a speeding Darren McFadden to make a last ditch tackle and forced a fumble out of bounds. Unfortunately, the Chiefs' offense went three and out after the first recovery and then Thigpen threw an INT on the second possession after the fumble recovery.
Dwayne Bowe made those of you who bad mouthed his talent last week look bad this week. 45 of Bowe's 90 yards receiving came on the team's only scoring drive. His 30-yard catch down the sideline in the 4th quarter was the catch of the NFL season, without question.
If I'm going to rag on the rush defense I might as well point out that the Chiefs defense held the Raiders passing attack to 55 yards. Although I suspect this was about 25% effort by our guys and 75% because the Raiders' passing offense is worse than ours.
Should rebuilding be this painful?
No, it should not be. To a certain degree you can blame this loss on the inexperience at many key positions but I believe that most of the blame for this loss is on the coaching staff. As I've mentioned before, what was the plan of attack on offense? Why weren't there adjustments made to stop the Raiders' rushing attack? 233 of their rushing yards came in the second half.
Last week, when Brodie Croyle was injured, I finally found myself admitting that he likely wasn't the quarterback of the future in Kansas City. It had taken a long time for me to do that in face of a lot of evidence to the contrary and I'm nearing that point with Herm Edwards. I need to see some improvement and not total breakdowns. Herm needs to stop repeating the same mistakes everyone always says he makes.
The Raiders suck and we suck even more. NFL teams have shown in the past how quickly they can turn things around but I'm skeptical with this group.
More so than any other feeling, I'm confused by yesterday's loss. What were the objectives on offense and defense to stop the Raiders? What were the conversations happening between the coaching staff? Why are there seemingly no logical explanations for a lot of what happened yesterday?