Initially, I went back to watch the game again and again to rebutt the theory that Matt Cassel can't throw the ball downfield. I took some notes, I paused, re-wound, watched again, and it started to dawn on me --- this game against the Falcons looked a lot like the Vermeil teams. High-powered offense moving the ball, and absolutely no defense when it mattered.
I won't bother you with all the details, and I will note several throws Matty Nice made of note, but the glaring weakness in this game was the soft zone and lack of press coverage on the line of scrimmage, no matter who the intended target of Matty Ice may have been. More after the jump.
In the very first ATL offensive series, Travis Daniels blankets Tony G. and Tony G. catches it anyway for a first down. Then #34 (Daniels) attempts to hand-check Jones at the LoS and lets him go into a soft zone and catch an easy 1st down. EB then defends a pass to Tony G. Turner for 2, tackle by TJax. Then Julio Jones gets to run free off the line and slants for eleven tackled by Reeves. Matty Ice throws down the sideline to Jones, good coverage by Routt, incomplete. 2nd and 10. Bullet to Roddy White. Coverage? STUDIE!?!?!?! Jones then burns Reeves for a TD.
Hey, no biggie, right? Atlanta is very good on scripted first drives.
Here comes the
Vermeil Daboll offense! Hillis for two, Breaston for seven, Charles for two. Matty Nice drops back and throws a nice pass to Tony Mo for a gain of 18 with 5 YAC. Bowes drops a pass (what's new he was second in the league in drops last year) and then on 3rd and ten he redeems himself by hauling in a laser from Cassel for a gain of 23 with 6 YAC. This drive ends in a FG.
ATL has their big return, and Arenas saves the TD... Turner gets four, then two, and then a false start on Ryan. Pass to Douglas ends with a great open field tackle by Routt. FG.
KC goes run, run, pass to Tony Mo for a 1st down. Charles runs for eleven, and then we see the ill-fated flea flicker. The DB was run-blitzing and ended up with a sack. Some would say this was a bad play call, others might say the Falcons had the right defensive play called.
2nd and 18. Nine yards to Dex, then Cassel steps up and delivers a twenty-one yard strike to Bowe for a first down! Bowe points to his name on his jersey with his thumb --- wonder who he's playing for this year?
Draughn (!) for four, and then a BEAUTIFUL pass to Boss for a twenty-two yard TD on second and six. Absolute strike, Grimes had no chance. Great hands by Boss, as well.
ATL returns, runs for three, and then a rub route to White. 1st down. White on sideline with Reeves five yards behind him. Run for six, pass to Rogers (Routt coverage) for a first... Screen to Gonzo, sideline to White, first. Then the questionable illegal block on the WR screen to Jones (shades of Stevie Johnson) for a TD.
This is when it dawned on me that this defense looks like the empty shell that was a Vermeil defense.
KC gets the ball and Charles immediately runs for 46, and had he not stumbled after a missed dive/tackle, he woulda gone to the house. Sideline pass to Dex for nine, and YES he broke a tackle to get 4 YAC. Playmaker! Charles for nine, then for two, Hillis for 3, and Cassel goes in on a keeper. This is too much fun compared to the pathetic offensive effort of the last few years.
But Atlanta gets the ball back. Ugh. Incompletion, then Douglas abuses Arenas for nineteen. INC to Jones, then they go to Tony G. for a 1st down on DJ. Ryan scrambles, 1st down, and again for nine more. Then play action to Tony G. as Berry blitzed and Elam misses a tackle... gain of 25. 1st and goal. Then, lo and behold, a SACK by Houston followed by the Tamba-hawk! Pass to White at four, Ryan throws it out of end zone a split second before a blitzing DJ would have ended his career, FG.
Halftime. Atlanta 20, KC 17
At this point even the most pessimistic Chiefs fan would think this is still a ballgame. They would be right. For about one more drive.
Charles takes the first hand-off of the second half for four yards, and the Chiefs now have about 100 yards on the ground, Atlanta has pretty much a third of that. A few plays later, Cassel steps up and hits DEX for a gain of twenty-two, and DEX breaks ANOTHER tackle for eight YAC. For a guy that shouldn't have made the active roster, he is a playmaker. (where is that sarcasm font?)
Then, on a second and 7, Cassel takes a five step drop and rifles a bullet to DEX for a gain of 15, with 5 YAC. Just to note, after the dropback, the ball traveled 21 yards in the air on a rope.
Four plays later, the FG is no good after Spoon knocked down an ill-advised pass to a double-covered DEX, and the air was let out of Arrowhead. Now, for more defense from the Vermeil era.
ATL throws an INC thanks to a tip by Houston. Poe tackles Turner for a 1 yard loss. This is where the defense has to have a stop. 3rd and eleven. What does KC do? Three man rush, Ryan has FOREVER, and Jones beats Routt for a first down. Routt tries to be physical with Julio Jones at the LOS, but gets out-physicalled and gets beat by two steps. Jones now has six catches for 109 yards, and the day is done. KC is only down ten points, but...
when they get the ball back, Charles loses five on a bounce-back at the LoS as Abraham catches him bouncing outside. #95 knocks down a pass, and then Albert completely whiffs on Abraham. Sack/fumble, and one play later, Tony G. is dunking it over the goal post.
I look forward to this offense in the weeks ahead. I am interested to see what kind of succes they might have on the road in hostile environments, but this defense, a potential TOP TEN OR TOP FIVE defense according to some here, needs to step up. We have the horses on offense. Now we need to stop somebody.
I can't figure out how to put a poll on here, but what will it take to help this Chief's team get over the hump and not be one-dimensional? Hali and Flowers will help, for sure, but can we force a dang punt? What do you think?