First off... the defense. Can you say "WOW!!!"? I mean seriously... has it sunk into everyone with what the Chiefs just accomplished defensively yesterday? We held Peyton Manning to 0... ZERO... passing touch downs. And only 244 passing yards. At Lucas Oil Stadium. That is incredible. Do you know the last time that an opponent held Manning to 0 TDs and under 250 yards? This shouldn't surprise you: 11/30/2008. Against the Browns. When Romeo Crennel was head coach. Props to Romeo for being Peyton Manning's bane. But he didn't do it alone.
Well that didn't go as planned. I was really hoping to see more of the same from week 3. In which I mean a well balanced offensive attack that kept the opponent's defense reeling. Still... this loss to the Colt's isn't a bad thing. We've learned some interesting things about our team, and I don't see any reason why this loss should temper any of the optimism that has been overflowing from Kansas City and it's fans.
Defense: This Chiefs defense is for real guys. Take a moment to drink that kool aid in. They've allowed an average of 14.2 points per game. As of now, that's good for 4th place in the NFL. And it includes playing 2 of the top 3 offenses in the league. While Romeo does and should get a lot of credit for this defensive turn around, the saying "coaches coach and players play" rings true. These defensive players played yesterday, and they really, truly stepped up to the plate. The Chiefs are once again fielding a top defensive unit, and I think that most of KC is with me in saying "It's about time". So many of us younger fans became Chiefs fans because of the Chiefs D of the 90s. Let's look at what we have.
The Brandons: Flowers and Carr, of course. These two have me pumped about this team. They are two of our most valuable players. Has anyone stopped to realize that two of Peyton's 3rd and goal stops came from Carr and Flowers? Flowers may very well be the best player on our defense. I have to admit I was a little concerned with Peyton giving him a tough game... but I'm happy to realize that Flowers instead gave Peyton a tough game. His play really sticks out. I think we can officially call him an elite, shut down corner now. He's teaching QBs the hard way that you just can't throw towards him. He removes about a half of the field. Carr is also getting some attention. He may have allowed a couple of passes yesterday, but as the announcers said, he was contesting each one. The Chiefs secondary is a solid, young unit. We can go places with them.
Tamba Hali: The working man. This guy brings his lunch pail with him on the field. He has a non-stop motor, and a great attitude. He's getting held and tackled on what seems like every play he doesn't get to the QB, but you never see him throw fits, unlike the QBs that he harasses. He just get's back to the line every time, and brings 110% on the next snap. He's commited, and nothing pointed that out yesterday more than that one moment... you know what I'm talking about. No, not the hit where he about folded Manning in half... backwards. That's not it. I'm talking about the shot of him bleeding all over his chin strap and jersey. Straight up beast mode right there. This guy is giving his blood and sweat to the team, and it shows. Tamba Hali, you are the man. Thank you.
The defense as a whole is contributing to the progression of the Chiefs, and I'm not getting into any other names right now. We know the rest. Johnson, Dorsey, Edwards, Smith, Vrabel, Belcher. That front seven is balls out on every play, and they're playing at a high level. This unit has reached cohesion, and there is still a lot of room for them to excel as a team. Sick 'em boys. Don't let the Texans punk you in 6 days.
The offense: The biggest problem area, right? Yes, it is. I know. It's depressing. We were expecting a much improved offense coming into the 2010 season, and 5 weeks in, it feels like we opened a Christmas present just to reveal a dead hamster. It sucks. I know. But... I don't think this offense is incapable of repair. All the ingredients are there. We saw them all mixed together just right against the Niners. So... what do we have to do to get it back on track?
The running game. The bread and butter of our offense. When it was working correctly it got the offense firing on all cylinders. So what happened against the Colts? The same thing that happened against the Browns. That's what. I know this will make people laugh, especially considering the Jones vs. Charles debate that ran amuck here... but hear me out. Jones needs the ball more. Not necessarily more even... just differently. Look. We saw what happened when Jones got the bulk of the carries against the Browns. The offense had a hard time gaining good ground, and it sputtered out too often. Well... the same thing happened with the Colts. Jamaal got the bulk of the carries, and the offense fell apart too often.
I'm not even necessarily arguing that the Chiefs need to give one or the other the ball more. But we do need to balance the attack better. The Browns game featured too much of one exclusive back getting the carries on any given series. The Colts game did the same thing, for the most part. The Niners game was a thing of beauty. Charles, then Jones, on the same drive, or vice versa. And then Charles AND Jones in the back field. And then Charles, Jones and McCluster all on the field at once. The Niners defense didn't know what was going on. They were constasntly getting hit by jabs from Jones and uppercuts from Charles. It resulted in an offense that built the pass from the run, and ended in a 21 point rampage by the Chiefs offense in the second half.
We didn't see enough of a RB tandem yesterday. Too often it was exclusively Charles getting the main carries in a series. There was one drive where we balanced our rushing attack with our two headed monster. Any guess as to when that was? Ding ding ding ding... we have a winner. The Chiefs first drive. You know, the one that resulted in a 16 play drive that accounted for 69 yards and put the Chiefs in the red zone. Jamaal touched the ball 5 times and jones carried it 3 times. They were alternating touches, and the Colts defense got pushed back big time. And then the running back tandem just went away.
Following that drive, the Chiefs got 2 touches to Jamaal, zero to Jones and we punt in 5 plays. Then on the next drive again, Charles gets 4 carries and fumbled. There were 7 total carries that drive. Jones didn't touch the ball on that drive either. On the 4th drive, Cassel threw twice and got us in field goal range to end he half. So in a full half, and in 3 possessions where we ran the ball, Jones was only involed in one drive, and it was the best one we had the entire game.
Following halftime, Jones carried the ball 3 straight times which resulted in a 3-and-out. No tandem there, and the offense sputtered. On the next drive, each back got a carry, and it resulted in a field goal. The next possession was Bowe's dropped TD pass. No runs there. The next possession, Charles got a carry, Jones got none, another 3-and-out. Next possession, Charles got 2 passes, one was dropped, and Jones got a carry. Charles' drop resulted in a 3-and-out. Final possession: Charles got 2 carries, one for -3 yards, and 2 passes, one was incomplete. Jones never got a touch.
So, let's sum this up. In 10 total possessions, the Chiefs only used Chalres and Jones in tandem three times. The first resulted in a goal line drive. The second resulted in a FG. The 3rd got shut down. I think it's safe to assume that Charles and Jones TOGETHER result in a better offense. This is after all, a two-headed rushing attack. We need to get both of these backs clicking at the same time to get this offense going. The Chiefs need Jones to take jabs at opposing defenses, and Charles needs to hit them with uppercuts. It's the only way the offense gets moving consistently. It opens up the play action and screens for Cassel that we saw against San Fran.
So... that's my take on where the Chiefs are 5 weeks into the 2010 season. The defense is stout, aggressive, and generally awesome. The offense is broken, but it can be repaired easier than it might seem. The strength of the Kansas City Chiefs is the rushing attack. And more specifically, it's a two-headed rushing attack tandem that we saw two weeks ago. We have to get back to that to be successful offensively. This isn't a Charles vs. Jones argument. It's a realization that when they're divided, the Chiefs are only at half strength. When they're combined it results in a ferocious running game that batters and confuses opposing defenses.