Well, well. Another week. Another loss. I began this recap with the intention of brushing a broader stroke but I didn't have the heart for it. Here's a few things I took away from yesterday's game.
Turnovers will always kill you
Whenever a team loses a game and I take a look at the box score, my eyes almost always go to the turnover line. Sure enough, the Chiefs were -2 yesterday in the turnover category and lost by 24 points despite similar offensive stats to the Falcons. Tyler Thigpen's two interceptions within three minutes of each other in the second quarter, in hindsight, was the devastating blow dealt to the Chiefs. Those two picks gave Atlanta excellent field position (KC 18 and the KC 40) for what ultimately led to ten more points and a 24 to 0 lead a few minutes before half.
No reason to mention Thigpen's third and final pick which resulted in a touchdown by the Falcons' Chris Houston. Dwayne Bowe slipped and Thigpen had already released the ball.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a -1 turnover ratio on the season but the wrinkle in that is the Chiefs' opponents take advantage of those turnovers and score, literally after every turnover mind you, and the Chiefs do not. That's a basic football stat that you have to shake your head at if you're a Chiefs fan. That's a lot of power to have conceded to your opponent each game.
Hey, was that Larry Johnson on the field?
Lost amidst yesterday's destruction was that Larry Johnson had the best rushing performance by the Chiefs since Kolby Smith pounded the rock 31 times for 150 yards against Oakland last year (Side note: I completely forgot that Kolby Smith carried the ball that many times). LJ ran the ball 24 times for 121 yards and a touchdown.
One thing I've found myself doing when looking at Larry Johnson's stats over the last year is take away his longest carry and see what the YPC average is. With his long run of 48 yards included, LJ had a 5 yard per carry average. Take out that run and he averaged about 3.2 yards per carry. I like to use that second number as a more accurate judge of a runner's effectiveness over the period of an entire game.
Even with that second number right around 3 yards, the Chiefs were able to effectively run the ball for the first time in a long, long time. I actually saw a few holes opened up by the offensive line yesterday and that is said with no sarcasm whatsoever. They have been the first running lanes Larry Johnson has seen all season.
Remember, Tyler Thigpen is only temporary
The Tyler Thigpen led Chiefs' offense put together, for about 28 minutes to start the game, one of the worst strings of drives I've seen in a long time. And I watched all of last season!
The debate between starting Tyler Thigpen over Damon Huard is really only a relevant one if Brodie Croyle is out for a long period of time. Thigpen is not a future starter for the Chiefs and we need to treat him like that. Right now, the Chiefs starting quarterback is hurt and the team is in triage mode, trying to get as many pieces to work together as possible to maximize survival. The situation is obviously not ideal but I think that the Chiefs keeping Thigpen in is a good move, if only because wins aren't the ultimate goal this season. It doesn't matter if Huard or Thigpen is in there if neither one is going to be the full-time starting quarterback. It's a band-aid, barely covering the wound and we have to grit through the pain.
With those criticisms aside, Tyler Thigpen did lead touchdown scoring drives of 74 and 82 yards and that's no joke for this current Chiefs team. The best three drives of the season have been with Thigpen at the helm. Even going back further than this year, those two drives yesterday and his 9 play, 80-yard drive last week were some of the best drives the Chiefs have had since 2006.
For that, I will politely tip my hat to Tyler Thigpen and anxiously await the return of Brodie Croyle, or whoever our next quarterback is.
Defensive problems loom large
The Chiefs defense started the game off well, forcing three straight three and outs on the Falcons. But then the floodgates opened. Two quick touchdowns by the Falcons towards the end of first quarter shook the Chiefs defense and they never recovered.
A tough Matt Ryan and another week of ineffective pass rushing resulted in no sacks for the Chiefs. The run defense let the team down again, giving up 186 yards on the ground. This weekly recap is getting quite repetitious by the way. We are getting torn up on the ground.
I don't buy the argument that the defense is tired because they're on the field so much. First, the time of possession for all three games this season has not been out of whack for the Chiefs or their opponents. Plus, the Chiefs scattered in enough three, four and five minutes drives between their three and outs to give the defense time to rest. The defense did get a lot of time on the field during the first quarter yesterday but if your team can't make it through the first quarter endurance wise, geez I don't know what to tell you.
The Falcons aren't that bad
"We lost to the Falcons!"
I heard that quite a bit yesterday and even said it myself a few times. But after sleeping on it, the Falcons are actually a pretty solid team. They have what appears to be a good quarterback in Matt Ryan and their running game is a complete 180-degree turn around from last year. Their pass rush is pretty solid and their offensive line is leaps and bounds ahead of ours. Let's give the Falcons some credit for yesterday's win.