Breathe...breathe...things aren't as bad as everyone wants to make them out to be. We were beaten by a superior team yesterday.
Damon Huard - 19/30, 196 yards, 1 INT
Brodie Croyle - 6/13, 83 yards, 1 TD
Larry Johnson - 9 rushes, 12 yards, long of 7 yards
Michael Bennett - 1 rush, -2 yards
T. Gonzalez - 8 catches, 100 yards
D. Bowe - 4 catches, 70 yards
K. Wilson - 2 catches, 31 yards
S. Parker - 2 catches, 28 yards
J. Webb - 2 catches, 26 yards
K. Smith - 2 catches, 21 yards
L. Johnson - 5 catches, 3 yards
It starts and stops with the basics. The Kansas City Chiefs offensive line was unable to support any type of running game and subsequently the passing game suffered immensely. I've repeatedly written here that the offensive line will be the albatross around the team's neck all year. The Jacksonville game did little to dissuade me from that line of reasoning. Granted, Jacksonville is a great defensive team so keep what follows within that context.
One important stat to look at when dissecting our offense is starting field position. The Chiefs had ten drives and six of them started on the twenty yard line or worse. Three of those ten drives started within the ten yard line. Impotent offense or not, 95+ yards is a long way to go. Keep this in mind as you read...
Ten yards rushing. You will not win the game with only ten yards rushing.
Larry Johnson was fuming inside each time he was dropped for little to no gain. He was rarely, if ever given a hole to run through. Give credit to the Jacksonville defense in that regard though. Their defensive line played great. Sometimes the opposing team's players are just better than your players. Today that was the case.
Unconfirmed reports on various Chiefs' message boards say that 810 radio reported that Larry slammed a door and threw his helmet on the ground, all the while refusing to talk to reporters. He should be frustrated. I'm glad he's frustrated. Others will use this as more fodder for their attacks that Larry Johnson is far from a team player. Somebody needs to be pissed off after a rushing performance that only netted ten yards.
Larry had seven first half carries. Three of them were for no gain or negative yards. The other four? They went for an earth shattering thirteen total yards. In the second half, LJ ran the ball for three yards with 10:46 left in the third quarter. He ran it once more with 5:36 left in the third quarter for no gain and did not rush the ball for the rest of the game.
No matter how good our passing game is, if Larry Johnson does not begin to effectively run the ball, the Chiefs will not be able to sustain any type of winning over the rest of the season. We'll pull lucky wins out here and there but we won't have an ounce of consistency. This offensive line is drowning. Alarms should be going off right now at One Arrowhead Drive. The running game is completely broken. Fix it!
On Damon Huard's 30th attempt of the game, he was knocked out of the game and gave rookie first round pick S Reggie Nelson the first interception of his career. That was the first turnover of the game and provided Chiefs fans with mixed feelings as a sore Damon Huard walked off of the field. Our QB had gone down, but another was waiting anxiously in the wings. Brodie Croyle came in and ran the Chiefs offense for two drives. The first was a three and out that saw Dustin Colquitt kick his seventh punt of the game.
The second drive was an eleven play, 1:54 frantic scramble for yards. After one 4th down conversion on the drive, Croyle hit Bowe for a 35 yard pass on the deep right side of the field. Three plays before that though, Croyle was hit and fumbled for a five yard loss. He showed good instinct in the pocket with the exception of that play.
Adam Teicher reported late last night that Brodie Croyle is indeed the starter next week against the Bengals. Huard's right shoulder injury is keeping him out. Very quietly, the Brodie Croyle era begins in Kansas City. I, for one, am excited. I don't like the circumstances surrounding his entrance into the NFL but whats done is done. We have a new quarterback in Kansas City
After the big D. Bowe catch, the Chiefs called three straight passes which all resulted in incompletes. Croyle threw a couple that sailed out of the end zone but stirred the QB controversy pot when he hit Samie Parker for a thirteen yard touchdown with no time left. The pass was a wobbler that was nearly batted down by a Jaguars cornerback. It was nice to salvage something out of this game, even if it was only a garbage time TD for our backup QB.
As new diarist landenphoenix asked, where was Eddie Kennison? We were led to believe he would be included this week but he was nowhere to be found. Samie Parker, Kris Wilson and Jeff Webb each had two catches for a total of eighty five yards. Unlike last week where Dwayne Bowe was the only Chief WR to catch a ball, Huard was able to spread the ball around but ultimately it was ineffective.
Chiefs fans, Dwayne Bowe is still the man in KC, as he demonstrated with a couple of fantastic catches. Credit Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis with playing Bowe tight all game long. Bowe's four catch, seventy yard performance is still quite respectable even if thirty five of those yards came on one play with less than a minute left in the game. Its that goose egg in the TD column that hurts. But when your running game is no threat whatsoever, it tends to get tougher for the passing game to be effective.
Amid the disaster on offense against the Jags was Tony Gonzalez's brilliant eight catch, 100 yard performance. Even after eleven years in the league, Gonzalez still runs the routes perfectly, still brings down balls other tight ends can only dream of and still represents what is right with the KC offense. Get the ball to our playmakers and they'll make plays. Five of Tony's catches were for first downs.
So, yes. The Chiefs offense did play a horrible game. But we need to keep in mind that the Jaguars defense is basically an elite defense in the NFL right now. They were only allowing 11.3 points a game and the realist in me before the game said the Chiefs probably weren't going to score any more than that. I understand we have problems. But those problems looked especially bad matched up against that Jacksonville defensive line and secondary.
The Soundbite: The Chiefs were unable to create any sort of running game and the Jaguars stout defense held the rest of the offense in check.
For the last two weeks in this spot of my weekly recap, I've ended this section with something like "And the defense bailed out the offense." Not so this week.
Offensive Player of the Week: TE Tony Gonzalez
In the Chiefs previous two wins, they forced a total of five turnovers while giving up two themselves. Plus three is a great turnover differential. Minus one is not. Damon Huard's frustrated interception with 8:21 left in the game gave the Jaguars their only turnover. And it gave them the game. The Chiefs defense was unable to find that big play, that adrenaline rush their suffering offense absolutely needed. The offense's success this year almost always followed a big play on defense. A fumble recovery, an INT or a stiff stop on third down makes the entire team play better. The Chiefs defense was unable to create any of those yesterday.
David Garrard played a brilliant game. He went 20/27 for 218 yards and one touchdown. He also led one eighteen play drive and two nine play drives. The Jaguars as a team held the ball for nearly thirty seven minutes. Herm Edwards has said that he thinks that time of possession is an overrated stat. But with no turnovers being created and an offense that needs a lot of luck to score, you need all the chances you can get.
Jacksonville was 5/7 on third downs in the first half. The Chiefs defense played pretty well, except when they needed a stop on most those third downs. Jared Allen had 1.5 sacks, Bernard Pollard had one sack and Ron Edwards quietly had one as well. Ty Law also quietly had eight tackles. But I think a lot of those tackles were because he allowed so many passes to be caught near him. He looked slow and inconsistent.
Jarrad Page gave every Chiefs fan a scare when he let Dennis Northcutt loose for a forty yard pass in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Garrard ran out of the pocket to avoid the KC rush and threw a strike to Northcutt, who was wide open until Jarrad Page hit him a fraction of a second before the catch was made. Page nearly made up for his mistake by almost knocking the ball loose but that didn't cover up the fact that it was a blown play. Page is inconsistent from week to week. Some weeks he's great and other weeks he plays like the 7th rounder he is.
The defensive line surrendered 156 total rushing yards, with fifty two of those yards coming on one run up the middle by Maurice Jones-Drew in the middle of the second quarter. MJD's touchdown there gave the Jaguars a ten point lead. The game was never really close from there in retrospect. Allen and Hali were getting some good pressure early on but like I mentioned before, the Chiefs were unable to stop the Jags on third down in the first half. It seemed like no matter how many times we stopped David Garrard, he managed a twelve yard pass when his offense needed ten yards. Besides his forty yard strike to Northcutt in the fourth quarter, Garrard's longest pass was only sixteen yards. A quick scan of the play-by-play shows a lot of 8-12 yard passes by the Jags.
As usual, Donnie Edwards consistently found the ball on defense. He had six tackles, two of which were for no gain. His colleague Derrick Johnson had a sub par game relative to his fantastic season so far. His most notable play was a fifteen yard penalty for spearing the quarterback.
The mantra continues. The Chiefs defense will keep the game winnable. Points wise, this game was never really out of hand. The defense just doesn't have any help on the offensive side of the ball.
It's clear to me that this defense thrives, absolutely thrives, on turnovers. Those extra one or two possessions that the Chiefs defense has been giving the offense recently weren't there today when we needed them most. We need all the positive field position we can get. Herm isn't too far off when he talks about where our drives begin as an important factor in our offensive frustrations. A team that plays relatively mistake free on offense, even one without a lot of firepower like the Jaguars, has a great shot at beating out team.
The Soundbite: The Chiefs defense played well yet again but were unable to create any turnovers to give the offense more chances to score.
Defensive Player of the Week: MLB Donnie Edwards
Have you ever seen a kick returner with fewer moves than Eddie Drummond? The guy runs straight up the field, makes a fake to his left, makes a fake to the right then dives forward. Pathetic. Eddie Drummond is part of our field position problem. Rarely this season has the Chiefs offense had a short field to work with. Drummond is here to stay I suppose. I don't know who else the Chiefs would get to return kicks and I don't get the impression that Herm Edwards is particularly concerned with the special teams play now anyway. Is Eddie Kennison too old to return kicks?
Not to place all of the blame on Drummond, the special teams blocking is like the offensive line's run blocking- non-existent.
Dave Rayner gets a free pass on that 31 yard field goal miss. He's been great up until that point. Sometimes kickers will miss those kicks. Lets hope he doesn't make a habit of it.
I haven't mentioned the punting all season. I will now. Dustin Colquitt is a great punter. That is all.
Special Teams Player of the Week: Are you kidding? This will almost always be Colquitt.
Why the Chiefs Lost
To sum it up, a lack of turnovers and a lack of a running game. The Jaguars defense is too good. They made the Chiefs one dimensional and the Chiefs offense is only mildly good even when they have the running and passing game executing well. Superior personnel dominated the Chiefs at every level of the game.
Because the Jaguars pitched a shutout for 99% of the game and had a long, long drive at the beginning of the game, the crowd at Arrowhead was never a factor. And when you can nullify the Arrowhead advantage, you've made a great stride toward winning the game.
After the Chargers game last week, I was cautiously optimistic about the Chiefs sudden turn around on offense. I should have been more cautious. We still have the same problems we did before the win in San Diego. We cannot overlook that. The Jaguars exposed the Chiefs offense for what it really is. An offense unable to run the ball and and offense that can only pass the ball in spurts. If the Chiefs are unable to run the ball, they will be unable to survive the gauntlet that is the rest of the NFL regular season.
To paraphrase the famous Denny Green speech, Damon Huard was who we thought he was. Good for around twenty completions, a TD and especially this year an INT, Huard wasn't going to win us any games single handedly. But he also played a big part in getting the Chiefs their two wins this year. In those two wins, the passing game took us over the proverbial hump and I won't forget Damon Huard for that. Huard's final chance to start in the NFL was short lived and he fulfilled his destiny as a career backup quarterback in the NFL. Damon Huard as a starter in this league was never meant to be.
The Chiefs need to learn what they can from this game and start looking forward to next week against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chiefs' offense will find its rhythm. Its taking longer than I expected though. One game at a time, Chiefs fans.