I had a girlfriend cheat on me once (well, I'm sure it happened to me more than once, but only one time that I ever found out about). It was actually a gal I cared about a little, and she hooked up with a buddy of mine (nice fella, amirite?) when I was out of town.
I remember that feeling. Suckerpunched. Dazed. A little sick to my stomach. Taken completely by surprise. And most of all, I felt helpless. Sure I could go turn my "friend" inside-out, but what was that going to get me (as it turned out, it gave me intense personal satisfaction, but I didn't realize that at the time I first found out. That was a nice surprise. but I digress...)? I'd been completely blindsided and there was nothing I could do about it.
Fast forward last night. Same feeling. Does that mean I take the Chiefs way too seriously? Probably, but I'd rather not think about my deep personal issues AND the Chiefs sucking at the same time, ok? A guy can only handle so much at once.
Anyways, about the Chiefs... I got nothing. Well, that's not totally true. I've got a few thoughts on our team in general (some good, some bad), and one very valuable piece of advice: nights like last night are the kind of nights you're (even more so than normal) grateful to have an awesome wife. Midway through the third quarter she made me a cake (yellow with chocolate frosting, like God intended) and got the kids to bed so she and I could spend some quality time. It's a lot easier to stomach a game like that when the rest of the night is just... gravy. But again, I digress.
On to the Chiefs, some concerns I have, some questions I have, and some attempt at hope... in no particular order.The Defense (or lack thereof): Secondary
Yuck. Two straight weeks of getting SHREDDED by quarterbacks that aren't supposed to be great. To be fair, Wilson looks like a legit QB (too bad we didn't have a shot at him... wait, what about Donald Stephenson?), but come on!
Now, just to get it out of the way, I view one of Seattle's drives as highway robbery. Tamba Hali got completely screwed over with that second "roughing the passer" call, and it was a TWENTY-FIVE YARD MISTAKE! Additionally, as much as I'm used to watching Hali get choked out, last night was particularly infuriating. Justin Houston was getting the same treatment. I was waiting for Big John McCarthy to come out and see if our guys were submitting. Just ridiculous. HOWEVER, even if you take that drive away... our D still sucked.
The interesting thing for me is that it looked like we were getting some pressure. I'm not too worried about that. What I AM worried about is that every time a starting QB has had longer than 3 seconds to throw the last two games, it's been a completed pass 90% of the time. That crap is unacceptable. Jalil Brown got Lacey'd out there (last year's IND game reference). Eric Berry got mixed up in coverage. Javier Arenas missed a tackle that could've prevented a first down. It. Was. Bad.
Color me concerned when it comes to the secondary. Again, that's TWO straight games we had the ball passed all over us. In today's NFL (I hate that phrase) you can't be allowing QB's to pass at will. RAC needs to figure this out. Now. Or we absolutely will lose to the Falcons by more than two scores.
Now, there IS some decent news here (it's not GOOD news. There is no good news in this area). As Tarkus said, we were out there without 1/2 of our secondary. Of the remaining two starters, one was playing his 3rd game with the team and the other was playing his 3rd game after a long absence. Additionally, RAC played Brown of Travis Daniels, who has been at least respectable filling in for nicked-up CB's in the past. I have no idea what the reason was for that decision, but I'm hoping it's not a permanent decision.
So we've got a situation where half our varsity squad isn't out there. Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, Flowers and Lewis are back there soon (and if not, Daniels is in there rather than Brown, who just isn't ready).
The Defense (or lack thereof): the line
I don't have much to say about this group. All I know is that they looked decent against the run early, only to fade later. They DID look to be helping provide some pressure on the QB on more downs than I'm used to, only to have Wilson either make a quick (and accurate) throw, or run free for 30 yards (seriously, I hate that we didn't draft that guy).
The pass rush looked better to me than the run defense (which is ironic, considering we got thrown on constantly), but I don't recall any one player looking particularly impressive. Jerrell Powe looked decent (and maybe better than that) filling in for Toribio, but some enterprising soul will have to break down those snaps for me. I'm not watching that crap again.
I'm less worried here than I am about our secondary, but some of our big guys need to show up better. I have no silver lining for that. They need to be better than they were, or we're going to struggle to win games.
The Offens(ively bad)e: Matt Cassel
Matt did not look good for much of the night. Of course, he didn't look as God-awful as I've seen, but that doesn't really instill much confidence in me. He made some nice throws, but some TERRIBLE decisions/throws as well. I can't say I'm stunned. Cassel's been playing well this preseason, but last night looked a little too familiar.
As I said to someone earlier... we've seen our passing game look remarkably similar every year since 2009. This is despite changes in WR, OL, and offensive coordinator. The only constant has been Cassel. It's getting more and more difficult to blame the rest of the team. At a certain point, when do we say, "look, we know we've got legit weapons, yet they never look open and drop more passes than they should. And we know we've got good linemen, yet Cassel seems more panicked than most QB's" There are several possibilities here.
1. Our weapons aren't as good as we thought
2. Our OL isn't as good as we thought
3. Cassel creates pressure with poor pocket presence, fails to find the open men, and doesn't make very catchable throws.
4. Some combination of 1, 2, and 3.
For a long time I've been an advocate of Option 4. Yet as our line and weapons continue to improve, I'm starting to shift more and more towards Option 3 holding most of the blame. To be continued when the games actually matter. But speaking of our other offensive players...
The Offens(ively bad)e: WR and OL
Just wanted to reminisce for a moment... (sigh)
Yeah, it might be Cassel. But there were more than a few miscues by our offense in the first half that set us back. For the record, Bowe's first "drop" was not a drop, but a great defensive play (as Joel showed earlier). However, his second "drop" was indeed a drop. Tony Moeaki should had that pass across the middle, and he without a DOUBT should've had the over-the-shoulder pass. There were a couple of other "bleh" plays by our various playmakers. Again, this COULD all be traced back to Cassel. But crap, some of them looked ugly.
Our offensive line didn't do anything to write home about either. Jon Asamoah, who up until last night looked great this preseason, was beaten badly on one sack where Cassel had no chance. The rest of our line didn't fair a whole lot better, whether blocking for Cassel or our RB's.
(except, apparently, our 2nd string OL and Eachus. Long sidebar here, so I'll separate it... is anyone else wondering what Jeff Allen would look like on first string? I haven't gone out of my way to re-watch his snaps, but everything I've seen has been excellent. Meanwhile, Lilja looks like... well... a 290-pound guy trying to block bigger, stronger, and more athletic defensive linemen. I get we've got the whole, "let guys wait a year" thing going, but it's hard not to want to scream when I see Lilja getting no push in the running game and Allen knocking fools over)
When your offense looks as bad as it did last night, it's a team effort. And as a team, we stunk on offense. I do believe our line has much, much better play than that in them, as do our playmakers. But last night, neither impressed.
The Offens(ively bad)e: Playcalling
Here's my one glimmer of hope. As several here have pointed out, we barely tried to run the ball last night. And before you say it was due to the score, allow me to point out the fact that we were slinging it around long before we were down big. Clearly, the gameplan was to try and get Cassel and the receivers in a groove. It didn't quite work out that way.
One thing I know is that this offense is not going to be a "sling it around" offense. Peyton Hillis is not going to get 2 carries and zero targets a game. Jamaal Charles is not going to get 6 carries and 2 targets a game (and for what it's worth, he's back and just as good as ever). We're built to run to set up the pass, and we didn't really even try to do so last night. I saw only a few play-action looks (one of which led to the Moeaki drop down the seam). That is NOT what our offense should look like come opening day.
So I'll use that to cling onto my sinking ship of hope. Because unless Daboll's an idiot (insert Buck or Aiken comment here), that's not what our offense will look like.
While we're on glimmers of hope, I have to give props to my boy Dex. When he was switched to slot WR I was worried. I'm not anymore. The guy's a matchup nightmare and could legitimately lead our team in receptions this year. Jon Baldwin should get some props as well. 6 catches (albeit on dinks and dunks) and a VERY nice toe-dragging sideline grab on our loan impressive drive of the night.
Where we stand
I have absolutely no idea. Ask me again after the Falcons game. Until then I'm going to do my best to fight off the growing doubt in my mind (which feels all too much like what I was feeling this time last year) and try to hold out hope. I'm helped with that hope by my wife's words of wisdom last night:
"You know, if I were a coach I'd do everything in preseason that we were bad at. That way, we'd get practice at our weaknesses and we don't let other teams know what's coming. I bet that's what they're doing. Now come here..."
And if that hope proves futile, well, I married a good woman. So I've got that going for me.