It is an enigma of sorts that a team that has had as much change as the Kansas City Chiefs have over the last offseason - A new General Manager, new Head Coach, new offensive and defensive schemes, a huge overhaul of the roster - and come out with nearly identical results that we so often saw last season.
The new Chiefs are still beating themselves with penalties, questionable judgment by the QB and 4th quarter defensive collapses.
Unlike last weeks game versus the playoff contending Ravens, there were some bright spots in this game. At least, we think they're bright. After all we WERE playing one of the worst teams over the last six years...
Just as last week, let's look at how the Chiefs improved (or didn't) in comparison to our problems at the end of the season last year.
PROBLEM AREAS FROM 2008
- League worst NFL Pass Rush
- 30th ranked defense against the run
- 28th ranked defense against the pass
- Poor offensive line play, especially up the middle and on the right side
- Unsettled QB situation
- Inability to run the ball effectively
- Unsettled Kicker situation
- Lack of competent kickoff or punt returner
2009 performance (Week 2 vs. Raiders)
Pass Rush - The pass rush looked good at times, Derrick Johnson and Wallace Gilberry both registered sacks as well as both registering Quarterback Hurries. I think the Chiefs got screwed on the late hit penalty on Russell on the final drive. According to my eyes, he had fallen down of his own without a Chief forcing him down. When he was covered up, the Ref called it a late hit that move the Raiders down the field and gave them a chance to win.
Run Defense - I'm going to give the gold star of the day to the Chiefs Defensive Line. They played very well overall against a Raiders team with some outstanding running backs. Bush and McFadden were held to a combined 70 yards rushing and a 3.3 average yds per game. Tank Tyler continues to play well at NT with 7 tackles today. Dorsey had 4 tackles and a batted down pass and got some nice push on his side. Hopefully these guys continue to improve.
Pass Defense - This one is extremely difficult to judge because JaMarcus Russell is such a HORRIBLE QB. 40% completion last week, 29% this week. I was a little disturbed that several of Russell's errant passes over the middle appeared to be targeting wide open receivers. Would a better QB have had as much success this week as Flacco did last? Impossible to tell.
Offensive Line - Last week the Chiefs offensive line had very few penalties called against it but overall played poorly. This week they were gashing open running lanes and, overall at least, held a decent pocket together. But they stifled the Chiefs drives on several occasions with holding calls and false starts. Every lineman but Waters had a penalty called against them:
Albert - 1 Holding, 2 False Starts
Niwswanger - 1 Holding
Goff - 1 False Start
Ndukwe - 1 Ineligible Down Field
These penalties had alot to do with the offense stalling out of drives.
Quarterback Situation - Let me say it right now, I like Matt Cassel. I didn't sit and watch him for an entire game when he was with the Patriots last year except for his first game against the Chiefs when Brady was injured. I like Cassel's fire and charisma and I saw him make some good decisions. I do worry that he's going to get hurt scrambling sometime, especially while he still has that bum knee (that looked like it was bothering him occasionally to me.
He did make some big mistakes though. The two interceptions were very costly. The last play before half time, I don't know if he was told to throw it to a guy 5 yards away from the end zone or what, but that was a very poor decision. The pass should have either gone into the end zone for a TD or thrown out the back of it and take the Field Goal. You can't blame the receiver for not getting out of bounds when he was well covered. If Cassel made that pass on his own, shame on him. If it was an option in the play Haley called, then shame on Haley.
Rushing - Larry Johnson had some really nice runs today. His stats don't look real impressive at the end of the day, only 3.3 yds per carry, but he came up with the nice runs when we needed them. He and Savage also made some nice receptions. I do wonder if sometimes Haley simply forgot about running the ball. We were having success overall running, but it seemed that sometimes Haley would get into calling passing plays and all the sudden remember "Oh crap, I should be running the ball". I think if they had emphasized the run a little more than they did, some of these drives could have been extended.
Kicker - Didn't see much of Succop today.
Kick Returner - This is a tough one with the ridiculous punter and kicker the Raiders have. Savage never had an opportunity to take a kick out of the end zone. I did like Bobby Wade back there returning punts. He did have the one muff on a bad bounce, but I didn't find myself holding my breath every time he was back there to receive the punt. He had a respectable 9.5 yd return average. Not fancy, but better than what we've been getting. We'll keep an eye on Wade the rest of the season. I think Wade is a definite keeper as a WR as well.