That was me watching last weeks game. I started out like this, removed my hands by halftime and then put them back where they were once the second half got going in earnest. It's probably how I'll start watching this Sunday. Why waste perfectly good stress?
The difference from last week? This is a game that by all accounts, the Chiefs should win. I know, I know, you didn't expect to hear me say that. I do however believe it. The question that remains though, is, do the Chiefs believe it? If they don't, we are well on our way to an 0-5 start to this season. That ain't good enough Chiefs fans. Frankly, I think it's unacceptable.
Romeo Crennel has never won a season opener as HC. In five tries. That's not very encouraging, but in deference to the 15 remaining games this season (and the flippin injuries that will inevitably be brought up), I'll leave it alone--for now. It kinda makes you wonder about all those 'meaningless' preseason games though, doesn't it? Why do some teams (Seattle would be a good example from this last preseason, although they did lose their opener in a close game) actually use the preseason as a proving ground to try and put a team together that will be ready to win on opening day, and others supposedly use it to just 'try different things out'?
If you ask me (I know you didn't but I had to write something here :), it's all about the philosophy of winning. If you are serious about playing the game to win, preseason games are opportunities to try and get some cheap W's. If you are more arrogant (particularly about your chances of winning during the REAL games), or worse you don't see any value whatever in getting your mojo together as a team before the season starts, you look at preseason as nothing more than a few extra 'practices' against other teams that really don't mean squat. I think the players can tell just how serious the coaches are about preseason games and I also believe that attitude is contagious and spills over into the games that count.
In reality, if you look at it in the latter view, you could be wasting opportunities to get your football team on the same page to be ready to win once the season starts. What good does it do a team to 'just try different things out' that the HC really doesn't plan to do in the first place? Are you really going to 'discover' something that you didn't know about your team after all the OTA's and mini camps by running offensive/defenseive sets that you don't intend to use in the regular season?
Why is it so important to 'hide' your true intentions about how your offense will play the game during preseason? Could there be a benefit to playing your game and garnering a few wins when it doesn't count, in order to send a message to the rest of the league that you will be tough to beat? How about sending a message to the players that you expect them to win--every time they take the field? I don't know the answers to all these questions, but they are certainly interesting and worthy of consideration.
It would appear that this coaching staff leans toward the 'just try stuff out' idiom. Given Romeo's (lack of) success as HC, I don't know why. Romeo's record as HC in five preseasons is a whopping 9-11. He followed this up of course, with ZERO opening day wins. I don't know about you, but at some point in evaluating your success, wouldn't you at least consider how your preseason plan affected your regular season prowess? Isn't starting fast considered a very important trait for teams in this league (except of course for Norv Turner and the Chargers)? Wouldn't you at least consider that taking the preseason a bit more seriously could maybe, possibly make a difference to your team's success in the approaching regular season?
Be that as it may, Romeo finds himself once again going into his second game of the season at 0-1. I was hoping to find something encouraging in Romeo's second game record, but ironically, in those four games he's a perfect .500. He has a win and a loss at at home and a win and a loss on the road. That really cleared things up.
Tomorrow's game should be a win. The wind this week seems to be blowing in our back instead of our face. The Bills have been bitten by the injury bug. Most substantially, they lost WR David Nelson to a knee injury and RB Fred Jackson to similar. DT Marcel Dareus lost a sibling to violence and that will make it hard for him to be 100%. DE Mario Williams who was just signed as FA during the off season to a 100 million dollar contract, laid an egg in last weeks game and had a measly single tackle. Given all of this, I think it's fair to say that Chan Gailey and the Bills have not started their season on fire either.
Conversely, the Chiefs sideline is looking up. Tamba Hali comes back from his suspension (for a banned substance, I still don't get this--he gets a one game suspension and fined two game checks when others in violation of this rule like Bowe get four game suspensions. It sure would be interesting to know the details), Flowers will play for the first time in over six weeks, and we only leave one starter on IR in Toribio. Hallelujah! This just has to put us on a winning track, right?
I'll give it a big fat maybe. For those of you that haven't had a chance to check out Clay Wendler's gifs in GIFD UP: Chiefs Defense vs. Falcons in the recommended fan post section, you should check it out. Granted, it was a different defense on the field than we will see tomorrow, but some of swing and a miss issues you see there may not just go away with Flowers and Hali back in the game.
This team is definitely good enough to win in Buffalo. If you take all those minuses that you see above for the Bills and you then add all the pluses you see for the Chiefs (as is our wont to use football 'math' in an effort to help us invigorate our faith in a win each week) the Chiefs just 'have' to win this one, right? Right? Last week, I told MNChiefs fan that I had joined him on the fence. Nothing I saw last week has changed my position, and I gotta tell ya, my butt is startin' to hurt. Fence posts were not made with the derriere in mind.
I stated in a comment on another thread recently that Daboll did well against Buffalo last year in Miami. He won both contests as Miami's OC (hey, he had to beat somebody to get those six wins). Normally that would bode well for the Chiefs. That was before Dave Wannstedt became DC and they signed Mario Williams. I believe that Wannstedt will try to discombobulate our o-lines inexperienced interior. Asamoah and Hudson will be the primary targets, while Lilja (who many feel is slowing down) will also be in the mix. Wannstedt's defense is all about pressuring the passer and making plays at the LOS. Per Mr. Wannstedt on Buffalo Rumblings:
"The four down and three linebackers that can run, not the big 3-4 linebacker. We’re looking for guys that run and make plays," Wannstedt said. "When you reflect back on the defenses that I’ve been responsible for, for me the guys up front have been playmakers and we expect guys to make plays. We want it to be a defensive line friendly scheme. It’s really trying to put those guys in the best position where we can use their talent, where they can play fast and give them the opportunity to make plays."
If they find success early in getting to Cassel, well, you have all seen that game played before. The running game could be the difference maker here. The Bills gave up 94 yards to Shonn Greene last week on 27 carries. The Chiefs should be able to exploit that same game. This game may come down to taking long time consuming drives to keep the Bills offense of the field. I don't know about you, but I think we've been trying to do that for four years now and we still don't seem very good at it.
What about that offense? Don't forget who is running that machine. Chan is pretty good at consternating defenses himself. C.J. Spiller (who gets the nod at RB with Jackson out) isn't much of a step down. Spiller rushed for 169 yards of his own versus that Jets defense last week. That sort of evens up the rushing department, don't you think? Chan also has some pretty athletic guys on offense to throw in there and mix it up. Brad Smith is still there and is the primary signal caller for the wildcat set. Brad is one of those guys like Tebow that can beat you with his legs or his arm. It's just one more thing to have to watch out for. Especially if this game is close.
I think this game also has the potential to be a trap game. The Chiefs get all their stars back and go in there thinking they are unbeatable and guess what? They get behind quickly and we saw what happened last week when Succop missed a FG.
This game is going to be a street fight. I have to believe Hali will be unstoppable. For him, the embarrassment of being suspended is most likely the only motivation he'll need. It is a game that the Chiefs can and should win. In fact, it is one that they almost have to win.
Given the upcoming schedule difficulty, they need this win for morale. If they don't win it, they stand a very good chance of going into the bye week without a win. A team with a confidence so fragile as to disappear completely because of a missed FG, doesn't do well at all when the losses start piling up. Especially when those losses pile up with their perceived best players on the field. That is a condition that this team not only doesn't need, but apparently can't deal with.
Last week I wrote about redemption. This week the need is still there, just as big as ever. The circumstances of last weeks game have given the Chiefs a pass in many fan's minds. I don't want to give them a pass. I want to be part of the group from which redemption is gained. I want to watch a game without peeking through my hands in case the worst happens. I want this team to give me some confidence. Just a little. Until then, I'm stuck on the fence. With MN.
Go Chiefs! PLEASE Go Chiefs!