Falcons vs. Chiefs: When the Scoreboard Deceives

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 9: Safety William Moore #25 of the Atlanta Falcons pressures quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter season opener on September 9, 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Atlanta defeated Kansas City 40-24. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

Generally, I'm guy who qualifies as a Kool-Aid drinker (at least that's what I hear). I like to try and look at the positive side of things when it comes to the Chiefs. After all, following them is my hobby, and I've got enough crap in my life to stress about without focusing on all the things that could aggravate me when watching this team.

That said... Sunday was rough for me. Not only did NFL Rewind not get the game up for my viewing last night at 11 p.m. (like they PROMISED, those dirty liars!!!!), but because of an accidental click, I saw the score of the game right before I went to bed.

ATL 40, KC 24. Crap.

Visions of last year instantly started dancing in my brain like the Lord of The Dance guy, only more evil (if that's possible. To quote Chandler Bing, "his legs flail about as if independent of his body!" That dude's scary). I groaned and complained to my very-patient better half that I wasn't sure I could handle watching another game like the one's we saw last year to open the season. I've got three kids. Haven't I suffered enough?

But, being the positive fella I am, and seeing VASTLY different stories of the game being told on AP (I know. Shocker), I figured I might as well give it a whirl. And it was a... weird game, to say the least.

So do I focus on the positives and get called out as a Kool-Aid drinker, or do I focus on the negatives and get told it's too soon to panic? Why not both? After all, why get attacked by one group when I can do everything I can to anger BOTH? So we're going to play a little game called, "How Close to the Ledge is MNchiefsfan?" Should be fun!

Beginning Distance From Ledge- 10 Feet

To start off, I'm going to talk about the most obvious problem in that game... the absence of Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers. Crap, that was bad. I mean, I'm sure their replacements (no, I'm not going to bother to mention their names. Name mentions are EARNED here!!! Well, not really, but I'm too lazy to look up spelling for Reeves's first name and I can't say off the top of my head whether Stude or Sheff played more. Anyways...) are very nice people and all... but seriously. Crap.

TRS and Tarkus phrased it best when they talked about a "perfect storm" that occurred in this game. You lose a great pass rusher, and it puts more pressure on your CBs. You lose a great CB, and it puts more pressure on your pass rushers. You lose both, and you're basically screwed if the other team is a good passing team. So... yeah. That helps lead to Matty Ice completing 3 of 4 passes and dealing a hand of solitaire in the pocket while deciding which open receiver to throw to. Yikes.

Tamba will be back next week, but Flowers is an unknown. And we need him back. Like now. Add in the fact that Kendrick Lewis is gone until who-knows-when, and I'm moving a couple feet closer to the ledge.

Current Distance from Ledge- 8 Feet

Next, let's think about that defensive performance as a whole. You know what, I'm not going to bother. Another 4 feet towards the ledge for me. I'm beginning to get nervous here.

Current distance from Ledge- 4 Feet

OK, OK, I WILL think about our defensive performance. I gotta get some distance from this ledge. What possible thing could I say to feel better about a day where we forced 1 punt and didn't cause any turnovers? Well, the D was placed in some TERRIBLE situations. The kick return, the sack/strip, both picks, all led to points by ATL. The fact that they managed to hold for a FG in a few of those situations is at least a little encouraging... right?

Combine that with the absence of 4 starters (only 36% of our defense) and the Falcon's clear offensive talent, I'm breathing a tad easier and moving a foot back from the ledge.

Current Distance from Ledge- 5 Feet

Speaking of turnovers... you CANNOT win games in which you turn the ball over 3 times in your own territory (while forcing none of your own), unless you're playing a crap team OR you're an awesome team at full strength. It's just not going to happen.

Matt Cassel was clearly pressing in the 2nd half. Now to be fair, the sack/strip and tipped pick weren't his fault. But that 2nd interception was terrible. He also started to look a lot more panicky as the game progressed. The familiarity of it all is pushing me towards that dropoff.

Current Distance from Ledge- 3 Feet

Speaking of things that sucked, how about or offensive line in the second half? What the crap was that? They went from doing a pretty serviceable job to cardboard cutouts. Now, one can say that Atlanta did a better job adjusting at the half (or adjusting at all, for that matter), but that still doesn't account for OL losing way, way more individual matchups in the 2nd half than they did in the first. This is supposed to be a strength of this team.

On a related note, poor Peyton Hillis. When I saw his stat line I thought, "wow, he must have SUCKED out there." Then I watched the game and saw a guy that broke multiple tackles and ran really, really hard. There was just nothing out there for him to take. Throw in the fact that he didn't have many opportunities and I went from "F" for him to "Incomplete." Of course, that's much less than I was hoping for out of Hillis in his first game for us, so I can't really count this as anything other than "news that keeps me from actually jumping" at this point.

The OL's performance in the 2nd half leaves me no choice but to step another couple feet forward. Jerks. Don't they know I've got kids?

Current Distance from Ledge- 1 Foot

I'm about to take the plunge here, and I need someone to save me. Help me Jamaal Charles!

Oh, thank God, a positive note. Jamaal Charles still has an "S" on his chest. That man is not one step slower and looks stronger. He ran quite well against a tough run D, and showed that we can all breathe easy and not worry about him having devolved into a mere mortal over the course of the offseason.

(moves a foot back)

Current Distance from Ledge- 2 Feet

I'm still in danger here, so I'll talk about Dontari Poe and Dexter McCluster. The former was a pleasant surprise for me. I'll let you in on a secret... despite my staunch defense of Mr. Poe, I was VERY worried about him starting for us at NT against Atlanta. I was picturing a decrepit Michael Turner gashing us up the middle for 5 yards every time, and Rodgers doing annoying things like being really fast and good.

At the end of the day, though, Atlanta wasn't successful running the ball at us. Of course, they didn't really need to, given the way our pass defense was playing, but it's not like they didn't try to establish the run early. Their first two drives featured 6 running plays to 8 passing plays. The problem for ATL was those 6 runs netted them 18 yards. They ran a few more times in the 2nd with middling success, then for all practical purposes abandoned the run (wouldn't you?).

Hey, you take victories where you can, and Atlanta's RB's ran 20 times for 59 yards. That's good stuff.

Since it's completely unrelated to run defense, I'll talk about Dex here as well. Rumor had it he was going to vanish once the regular season began. Apparently those who were saying so were just misspelling Jonathan Baldwin. Dex was solid out there. I'm happy to see the little guy used in a role that's working for him. I mean, he's on pace for 96 catches and over 1300 yards. It's science.

thanks Poe/Dex! I may live to write another day...

Current Distance from Ledge- 4 Feet

Hey, since we're not talking about tight ends... Kevin Boss came to play, as did Tony Moeaki. I look forward to having them all season (knocking on wood and performing pagan ritual for Moeaki's health). I'm pretty comfortable with those guys operating the seam this year.

Current Distance from Ledge- 5 Feet

And hey, can't talk Chiefs without talking Matt Cassel, amirite? Well... (shrugs)

Again, the box score deceived me last night. When I saw two picks and a fumble, I was ready to jump all over the "Matt Cassel was who we thought he was/ we're doomed" bandwagon. Then I watched the game.

Honestly... That was one of the better games I've seen Cassel play. He caught some bad breaks (the sack/strip, the tipped pick), avoided one (a dropped pick later on), and made at least one TERRIBLE decision late in the game (his second pick). But all things considered... We were about to tie up the game relying in large part on Matt's arm.

Then Ryan Succop missed a relatively easy FG, the defense doesn't hold, Cassel gets violated by John Abraham. TG dunks it, and the game is over. This happened in roughly a 5 minute span.

We can score with this offense. And Cassel can help. As much as it's going to get me murdered by some here, I'm letting Cassel coax me another foot away from the ledge.

(for those who are about to call me mean names for saying Cassel didn't suck yesterday, take a look at ESPN's Total Quarterback Rating for last week. This stat (while by no means perfect) attempts to take all factors into account when looking at a QB's performance. This explains a little more. Hey, whatever man, it's my ledge)

Current Distance from Ledge- 6 Feet

Can I talk myself any farther from the ledge? Probably not. I mean, there was a LOT else that went on Sunday, but I've looked at the things that mattered most to me. At the end of the day, all I can say is the game I watched was NOT what I expected when I glanced at the box score. I was expecting a blowout of Bills/Lions levels, and that's just not what happened.

So for now, I'm (kind of) a safe distance from the ledge. I'll tell you one thing though... it's going to take a miracle to save me if our defense gets carved up again next week, despite Hali's return and the inferiority of Buffalo's offense. So stay tuned, I might be jumping sooner rather than later.

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