A funny thing happened on the way to the San Diego Chargers throttling of our hometown team yesterday - the Kansas City Chiefs decided to officially begin their 2011 regular season! Todd Haley and the gang dusted off the old playbook, took the training wheels off of Matt Cassel, and for the first time in nine months resembled an NFL offense. Sure, it was
10 11 quarters too late, but hey they're at the party, and that's all that matters right? (On second thought, don't answer that.)
Best feeling of the day - An actual sense of pride in my team. Or perhaps, just not an overwhelming sense of embarrassment. This team played with a lot of fight. They wanted to win, and you could tell they wanted to win. It's kinda funny how easy it's become to satisfy this fan, given how low the expectations have truly become. Or maybe, that isn't funny at all? (Definitely don't answer that one…)
Feels like for the first time in a while, we might have some actual "Bests" to add to what has become the "Worst" post on Arrowhead Pride. Lets boogie...
The Best and Worst w/ His Dirkness:
Best reminder - Watching Kansas City Chiefs games CAN be fun again. My favorite three hours of the week reared their beautiful head around my ACL for the first time all season, and it was everything I'd hoped it would be.
Worst ultimate reality - Matt Cassel isn't the answer at quarterback. That offensive gameplan was designed for a high school team. You really couldn't convince me that Rick Stanzi (really want him to go by Rick - or maybe even Ric - WOOOO!) would've done any worse, except that he may have thrown his backbreaking interception earlier in the game. Cassel has zero confidence in his own ability. I have zero confidence that the Chiefs could win a Super Bowl with him under center, even with a dynamite defense. He can't go through his progressions, has subpar arm strength, and is terrified to throw anything downfield (unless it's the end of the game apparently). He has regressed back to his 2009 form, laughable yards per attempt numbers and all. Worse yet, I think he may be losing the team. They all saw how much the coaching staff protected him throughout the game, and yet he still crushes them with a game ending interception.
Worst time for a good block - Ryan Lilja pancaking Chargers safety Eric Weddle, helping him secure the game ending interception.
Worst part about realizing that Matt Cassel stinks - I like the guy. He gives it his all. He's committed to the team. He wants to win. He's tough (I'll never forget his performance against the Rams following his appendectomy last year). The problem? He's just not good. He is the least talented starting QB in the NFL. He actually attempted a jump shot pass for Andrew Luck's sake!
Worst sign for Cassel - Trailing 17-7 in the second half, the Chiefs called running plays on both a 3rd and 10 and a 3rd and 11 (they actually picked up a first down on one of them). That shows a complete lack of faith in the quarterback to not even give him a chance with the game on the teetering point of getting out of hand.
Best way to sum up Cassel's day - This.
Worst thing a team can do with a bad offense - Miss field goals. The team isn't going anywhere this year, so you can give him the remainder of the season to de-funkify, but Ryan Succop has regressed each of his three seasons, and he's beginning to annoy us all.
Best way to win a game as an inferior team - 18 play drives that take up 9:35 on the clock. This third quarter drive was the reason the Chiefs were in the game. Capping it with a field goal, instead of a touchdown, is the reason they didn't win the game.
Best indictment of Todd Haley - The players didn't quit on him. I speculated last week that Haley may have lost this team, but I may have spoke too soon (we'll call that 89-10itis). However, doing so for one game proves little. It must continue to mean anything, but it's a start. Babysteps. (That's what Dr. Leo Marvin tells me anyways.)
Worst gaffe - The timeout following the deep pass to Steve Breaston down to the one yard line. Even though Cassel seemingly has the offense in full on hurry up mode, the team gets the wrong personnel into the game, and has to waste an extremely valuable timeout, their last of the game. Completely inexcusable. Just line up and sneak it if you have to. Or Haley could've challenged the call (unlikely to win, Breaston's knee appeared to be down before hitting the pylon), however you're losing nothing at that point if you're already wasting that timeout.
Best choice for game ball - The defensive front seven. Philip Rivers was unable to get into much of a rhythm in the game because he spent much of the day on his backside. They collapsed the pocket both inside and out, sacking Whine in a Box twice, but most importantly, never letting the game get out of hand. They also did a good job against the run, not allowing the Chargers to run the ball when they needed to. Not to mention…
Best play - Stuffing the QB sneak on 4th and inches. It was the first time all game that I felt the Chiefs had a legitimate chance to win the game. Credit goes to Tyson Jackson, Kelly Gregg, and Jovan Belcher (more on him in a bit) on the play.
Best Norv Turner moment - Snapping the ball on that 4th and inches with 22 seconds left on the play clock. Oh, Norvin…
Best sense of a defensive leader - Jovan Belcher. I'm not sure if I just never noticed, but Belch was very vocal on the field yesterday. He was enraged over a third and one encroachment, made sure DJ got lined up correctly all game long, and rallied his troops on the big defensive stand in the fourth quarter. I wanted to see a defensive leader step up on this team, Belcher just wouldn't have been my first guess (not second, not third, not fourth, not fifth, not sixth, not seventh).
Best place to throw on a crucial third down - At Sabby Piscitelli. Not only is Sabby always trailing his receiver, but he always seems to take the wrong angle on making the tackle. Please don't make me watch him anymore. Please. Can we start a relief fund?
Best defensive play of Sabby's career with the Chiefs - Running two yards behind Randy McMichael as he drops a third down pass. He surpasses McGraw as the worst player on the team because of McG's decent showing on the bench.
Best toe tap artist in the NFL - Dwayne Bowe. My goodness that touchdown snatch was pretty (had a similar snag in the preseason). Bowe is the best I've seen at this art form since Marvin Harrison perfected it.
Worst weekly occurrence - Bowe lining up wrong forcing the Chiefs to burn a timeout. Take the good with the bad, I guess. He's a hoot.
Best bet for team MVP - Dexter McCluster. The Chiefs offense doesn't have a whole lot else going on right now. Run DMc was the spark yesterday. He shares a lot of the same attributes as Jamaal Charles, excelling on draws and delays, anything to get him into open space. If he shores up his fumblitis, his role will continue to expand in what appears to be the Chiefs newly formed high school offense.
Worst time to pose - After taking your helmet off in the end zone. I understand your helmet was knocked all up into your grill Lenny Pope, but if you don't hold it high in the air as you celebrate, you don't get flagged.
Worst Madden attribute that was accurately depicted - Travis Daniels' 84 speed rating. Eric Berry on crutches wouldn't have given up that corner to Ryan Matthews.
Best sign of respect - Vincent Jackson sprinting up to Brandon Carr to shake his hand after the final kneel down. I'm guessing Carr spent most of the game on VJ following the (inevitable) Brandon Flowers injury, and held him to 63 yards after he put up 172 against the Patriots the week before. Maybe Carr will be the next young Chiefs player to cash in
and subsequently tear his ACL.