|Kansas City Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop (6) misses a field goal during the first half of their preseason NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Aug. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)|
Preseason games are mostly meaningless.... Except when your team has won 6 games in the previous two years.
You knew tonight was going to suck when you saw Matt Cassel running for his life in a collapsing pocket and being twisted down to the ground and immediately clutch his knee. I got the exact same sick feeling in my stomach that I got last year in the Patriots game when Adalius Thomas slammed Brodie Croyle into the turf separating his shoulder. The feeling that yet another season will be wasted because the offensive line couldn't protect the guy it was all riding on.
They say Cassel's injury is a sprain. At one point during the game the announcers said he'd be back next week, though a few minutes before they said Cassel couldn't even get down the few stairs to the trainers room without assistance. By the end of the telecast, they were saying it was highly unlikely Cassel would play next week because of the short week. To me it sounds like nobody has the slightest clue how long he will be out.
But does it matter? Give it a few weeks and Cassel could end up getting the "injury prone" label just like Croyle playing behind this offensive line. Injuries to Chiefs QBs didn't start with Croyle. We sometimes forget Trent Green's career as an effective NFL QB being ended the first game after Willie Roaf's retirement as he was scrambling away from a collapsing pocket. Damon Huard was frequently beat around to the point he was being held out of weeks worth of practices at a time so he could physically recover. Even young, stocky Thigpen has had plenty of nagging injuries from taking hits he should never have had to take.
So obviously the offensive line is a problem. But why the hell didn't Master of the Universe Pioli, in a draft class that included two Centers taken in the 1st round and four in the first three, as well as a plethora of excellent Right Tackle prospects, see fit to bring in some of that young talent to protect his hand picked franchise quarterback?
Instead, we are seeing musical chairs on the offensive line... AGAIN. Damion McIntosh was moved over to RT, but practiced most of the week with the 2nd team at LEFT tackle. However when tonight's game started, he was back at RT again. They thought enough of Barry Richardson, who has been working at RT the last couple years, to give him the opportunity to start. His performance wasn't great by any means, but how about giving the guy more than one chance? Maybe he was nervous? Instead, he doesn't come in until the mop up action at the end of the game against a bunch of future Canadian Football League players at LEFT tackle.
He goes from potentially being the starting RT one week to being kicked completely out of his position the next? Really, how does that happen? Offensive line flip-flopping. Didn't we learn a couple years ago that that was a bad idea? It almost seems like they are hinging their bets on these couple of Miami Dolphins scrubs we recently got developing into the starting right side of the line. Though we haven't seen anything of them that looked all that impressive.
Anyways, here are my notes on tonight's farce:
The game wasn't half as close as the score indicated. The Seahawks treated the Chiefs like the submissive in one of Sex Assassins home movies.
Brandon Flowers - I was thinking the reason we didn't see him the rest of the night was because Haley told him he earned his Arrowhead with the pick 6. Hell no. He injured his shoulder. One of the very few guys who has played consistently well the entire preseason and he gets hurt. Nobody has any idea how serious it was. Personally I have no clue how or when it happened.
Tyler Thigpen - Is anyone REALLY going to give us a 5th round pick for this guy? Honestly, I will be surprised if he doesn't get cut outright. 8/15 passing for 56 yards (a whopping 7 yards per completion) and was 0/7 on third downs while Thigpen was in the game. There were a handful of good throws, but mostly he just throws the ball up for grabs. Sometimes the Chiefs receivers bring it down. The guy never sets his feet to pass which usually means the passes sail high.
Pass Rush (or lack there of) - For the majority of the night there was very little pressure on the QB. They could sit back in the pocket for four or five seconds without a Chiefs pass rusher near them and wait for a receiver to find the hole in the zone. There were a few exceptions, but for the most part there wasn't any consistent pressure on the Seattle QBs until the 4th quarter offensive line scrubs came in.
Ryan Succop - Succop has kicked VERY well this preseason. But tonight the thing that was held against him in college came up again. Missing a 28 yard kick is ridiculous. I don't hold the other miss against him. That was a very long kick and it was straight enough, just came up a half foot too short. It doesn't matter how many you make in practice. Its the ones in the game that count. By my count, Succop is a 66% kicker in games so far.
Linebackers - They stink in pass coverage. Period. Everyone likes Mayes, and for good reason, he has made some really nice plays. But he is bad in pass coverage, as is the rest of the group. In a 3-4 defense, thats not good at all. Tonight Seattle receivers were wide open all night long while the Chiefs were playing zone (and 3-4 defenses tend to play a lot of zone because they blitz so often). The linebackers simply were not covering their pass coverage responsibilities and Seattle ran all over us.
Offensive Line - Aside from the pass protection gripe that I started this post with, the middle to Right side of the line is just horrible in run blocking. Watch when they run the ball and pay attention to where the RB gets hit in relation to the blue line the TV broadcasters put up to indicate the line of scrimmage. The Chiefs middle of the line get their asses handed to them on every running play getting pushed into the backfield. The RBs are getting hit behind the line of scrimmage on practically every play. Watch a team with a decent to good offensive line and even on a play where you THINK the RB was pretty much stopped as soon as he hit the hole, they are gaining 4 or 5 yards. That's because their offensive line is pushing our guys out 3 or 4 yards. The RB is making 3 yards before he even hits the hole!
The middle of the line is getting beat so bad that when Waters pulls, he is almost always late getting to the other side because he either has to circle around Rudy Niswanger getting pushed into the backfield or runs into him.
Jamaal Charles - Charles has the ability to still play well even with a shitty offensive line because he has cutback ability. That's why Charles still had a pretty damn good game while LJ is still stuck getting three yards at a time. That's not an indictment of LJ. He is the type of RB that needs a hole to run through. He's not the kind that can run into the back of his offensive line and then just cut it back the other way and turn it into a big gain. Luckily Charles is. If they can just get him to hang on to the damn ball.
Quinten Lawrence- I've been on this guys case for the last several weeks about his drops from being afraid to be hit over the middle, so I need to give him his due when he does good. Lawrence had a pretty decent game, though I did notice they didn't try to throw to him over the middle at all.
Plays that pissed me off - Tyson Jackson got his first sack and I thought "Awesome! This guys a beast!". Then a couple plays later he's down in his stance and looks behind him for some reason and the offense snaps the ball. The dude was still in his stance for probably 2 or 3 whole seconds while the play was in progress. Pat attention man!
Amani Toomer. God. Towards the end of the game the Chiefs are in their hurry up offense trying to preserve time and everyone on the offense is lined up ready to go, but the snap was held up as Amani Toomer jogs down the field, has to go up to the QB and ask what the play is. If Toomers in that bad of shape, they need to cut his ass. If he's so old he can't get back in time to run a snap, we don't need him on the team.
Overall there was very little good that I saw in this game. The final score was 14-10, but it might as well have been the 45-7 spanking New Orleans gave the Raiders. If not for Flowers pick six, the Chiefs would have never sniffed the end zone. Seattle walked all over us on offense both in the passing and running games and our offense was completely inept.
It's not necessarily the coaching folks. There is a serious dearth of talent on this team in key positions and both the previous and current regimes seem incapable of filling them. right tackle, right guard, apex pass rusher, linebacker. These have been holes for a couple years now and they continue to be.