I've been sitting here for the last hour or so wondering what the theme of this recap and the Chiefs season as a whole should be. And honestly, I can't quite grasp anything that I feel does the Chiefs justice. We lack any real identity. We're not very good on offense. Our defense isn't dominant. Yet. We're a team in transition. Thats about the best I can come up with on this dreary Sunday. Our identity is still being formed from week to week and it will more than likely be a long time before we're able to pin down the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs.
When Herm Edwards said this past week that Larry Johnson wouldn't get his usual workload of carries against the Texans, I took it with a grain of salt. I knew LJ wouldn't carry the ball 30 times but I also did not expect offensive coordinator Mike Solari to only rush Larry Johnson 10 times today. The Chiefs only had 17 carries total. That is a dramatic, albeit temporary, shift from a team that last year had a running back that averaged 26 carries a game.
In those 10 carries, Larry Johnson had a few runs here and there that reminded you why he's only one of three backs in history to rush for 1700 yards in back to back seasons. He has a great burst, is tough to tackle and had a hell of an attitude against the Texans. Twice I saw him jawing with the Texans defense after going down only after three of them were on top of him. I think Larry Johnson is still on par for another fantastic, stat filled season with the Chiefs. When he's ready, all Herm Edwards has to do is let LJ run.
To tie this into the offense as a whole, we still haven't seen a Kansas City Chiefs offense at full strength. I have my share of questions about the offense. In fact, I don't think the Chiefs offense is a threat to score really at all at the moment. But I don't believe you can underestimate the effect that a Larry Johnson has on all facets of the game. When he's a at full strength, defenses will have to bite on fakes to him. They will have to account for him on every single offensive play. To put it simply, he will open up our passing game.
About the passing game. Out of nowhere, Samie Parker catches 4 passes for 48 yards and looked damn good doing it. The Chiefs fans whipping boy was far and away our best receiver. Dwaye Bowe looked good but also looked like a rookie. He had at least one drop that I remember that nearly resulted in an interception. Regardless, I'm really high on Dwayne Bowe. He showed great toughness today and had a few athletic near misses that nobody else on our team could have even come close to making. With Eddie Kennison going down on the first offensive play of the game with a hamstring problem, Bowe is getting an early chance to shine and I think he will. The loss of Kennison is unfortunate but I think we can fill in just fine. Unfortunately, I just heard on the TV that Kennison has already been ruled out for next week.
Damon Huard commanded one of the most boring passing game schemes I've seen in a long time out of the Chiefs. Swing passes, dump offs and 8 yard passes across the middle filled the playbook. I'm reluctant to place a lot of blame on Huard right now because he wasn't helped by the number of drops by our receivers and the scaled back play calling.
It seems that offensive coordinator Mike Solari doesn't have a lot of faith in Huard's arm. Forget about passing down the field. We didn't do it. And I don't think we can do it effectively even if we wanted to. Damon Huard just isn't that type of QB and doesn't have that type of arm. He had two interceptions, one of which was not his fault and the other a defensive lineman made a hell of a catch. Does having Damon Huard at QB scare me? Not really. Does it excite me? Absolutely not. I'm not saying its a certainty but I think you will hear cries for Brodie Croyle by the home opener.
The offensive line played above my expectations. Granted, they weren't great. They gave up two sacks. But from what we had to go on from training camp and the preseason, I'll take what we got on Sunday almost every week. Larry Johnson and co. average 4.2 yards a rush. A great number indeed. Now, if we can only pump up those rushes to around 30 and keep that average, LJ will be looking at a 1500 yard season.
This offense was not a threat to score a TD at any point. Despite going 9 for 14 on 3rd downs (64%) and outdoing the Texans on first downs by one, we never seemed poised to score. Even on that great first drive, when I had all of the hope in the world for our offense, we sputtered within the 20 yard line and let a rookie kicker miss a must-make kick wide left. Justin Medlock, this city has an angry and potentially violent history with its NFL kickers. Don't be the next Chiefs kicker to have his name cursed for eternity.
I think if you keep in mind that Jared Allen is returning for the home opener in week 3, you have to be feeling pretty good about this defense. They gave up one offensive TD and two field goals. The Chiefs D also clamped down on the Texans on 3rd downs, only allowing them to convert on 3 of 11. The Texans went over 100 yard rushing but just barely. Their 109 yards on 31 attempts comes out to 3.5 yards an attempt, an average I would like to see lower. Especially because I don't think Ahman Green has much gas left in him and Ron Dayne has always been overrated.
As I suspected in the preseason along with many others, our pass defense is our biggest weakness. I know Andre Johnson is fast as hell but a defense should never, ever give up a 77 yard TD. The Chiefs pass defense solidified Matt Schaub's foray into starting at quarterback in the NFL. Texans fans are ecstatic over their new QB. Granted, they're Texans fans and have been experiencing the pain that we are currently experiencing since their franchise began. So they're going to be a little giddy but they're excited in a "This is the beginning of a new era in Houston football" kind of way. Imagine what its like to have to go through that.
Jarrad Page had a shaky camp and preseason but yet again he intercepted a pass in the end zone. We are seeing LB Derrick Johnson mature before our eyes. Leading the team with 7 tackles, he made a number of athletic plays and looked extremely confident on the field. I think Donnie Edwards and Nap Harris are rubbing off on the 3rd year guy.
The 15 play drive for the Texans that began as the 4th quarter did and ran until there was 5:05 left in the game must have been emotionally and physically draining for the Chiefs defense. The Texans were able to slowly but surely march down the field. Out of the 15 plays on that final drive, 10 were rushes and 5 were passes. The Texans ran the ball 7 times in a row before kicker Kris Brown made a 28 yard field goal. You could tell the Chiefs were tired. Being down 17 probably didn't help either.
Patrick Surtain left the game with a shoulder injury. No word yet on his condition.
Fans of other teams won't believe it but this defense is going to be quite good.
Eddie Drummond isn't anything special. His fumble in the second quarter marred what would have been an acceptable day from him. His job is secure for now. Justin Medlock's job, however, is not. If he misses a must-make kick next week, he'll be off the team by Monday. This isn't the preseason anymore. We can't chalk up Medlock's mistakes to inexperience when he is missing 30 yard field goals. He is on a short leash with the coaching staff, who brought in 6 kickers last week for tryouts.
Why the Chiefs Lost
The Chiefs offense and defense each had a critical mistake that resulted in a Texan touchdown. Texans WR Andre Johnson got behind the defense for a 77 yard TD catch. Kris Wilson of the Chiefs had a questionable fumble that Mario "See, I'm not a Bust" Williams ran back for another TD. Despite those two mistakes, its unlikely the Chiefs offense could get enough going to even put up 10 points, let alone 20. When you combine an impotent offense with a few critical errors, you can get behind an average team like the Texans. Our offense had no hope of staging a comeback in the second half. I was hoping for a TD to at least save face.
I've noticed a lot of negativity this season among Chiefs fans and its reached a pinnacle after today's game. I think the negativity is a manifestation of the fear that many of us have- The fear that the problems that currently afflict the Kansas City Chiefs cannot be fixed this season. Or even next season. It frustrates the hell out of me. For the first time in a long time, the Chiefs could be staring at a couple of seasons in the AFC west basement. And that scares the fans of a team that has perennially contended for at least a wild card playoff spot for most of the last decade. If Herm Edwards is worth his salt and I suspect he his, we'll turn these mistakes into a learning process. I think this offense has a long way to go before we can even think about competing with elite teams in the league. Our defense will be what this team is built upon in the next 5 years. We are starting to build a foundation for this team. We are just a few seasons away.