The Kansas City Chiefs are facing the Detroit Lions tomorrow on the road. Overall, the Chiefs are 7-4 against the Lions. Normally this game would seem like an easy victory for the Chiefs. The Lions have been one of the worst teams in football for a long time. Since they became the Detroit Lions in 1934 after spending a few seasons as the Portsmouth Spartans, the team has only won 10 or more games 7 times. The Lions haven't had a team produce over a .500 record since 2000 when they went 9-7 with Charlie Batch hurling the pig skin.
Just a few weeks ago, Chiefs fans were marking this one down in the win column for Kansas City. Though now some things have changed. With the preseason, the Chiefs have went 0-7 going back to week 17 last year, including the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens. More disturbing is the fact that 5 of those games have been at Arrowhead Stadium.
In last weeks embarrassing performance against the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs showed the same heart and desire to win that they showed in the preseason. It was a total disaster, Eric Berry was lost for the season, Matt Cassel was lost in the backfield, and the Chiefs looked brutally unprepared. They couldn't run, catch, tackle or hold onto the football, it was a Chiefs naysayers dream come true.
It was easy for me to look at their AFC West divisional crown, 10-6 record and believe that the Chiefs were going to find success again this season. I listened to Todd Haley when he said that this team would be ready to compete on September 11th against the Buffalo Bills.
The Kansas City Chiefs were simply not ready to compete against anyone.
Will this week be any different?
After last weeks game, it is easy to say that the Chiefs will get annihilated by the Detroit Lions. Eric Berry is gone, and the Lions beat a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that blanked the Chiefs in the preseason 25-0. Ndamukong Suh is a force and while he only had one tackle in the game, his presence is felt on nearly every snap.
Tampa Bay only ran for 56 yards as a team against the Lions improving defense. They only scored one offensive touchdown and gave up two sacks. Even though the Lions are coming off a 6-10 season, they can't be underestimated. As long as Matt Stafford is healthy, the team will be hard to beat.
This game can be different from last week, but it is going to take some marked improvement from the Chiefs in several areas. Let's look at a few of those to see if the Chiefs can go to 1-1 on the season.
Jamaal Charles -
He has to get the ball more. Sure the defense gave up 20 points in the first half, and Dexter McCluster's fumble ruined the start of the game. However, the Chiefs can't allow that to dictate how they use their offense. The minute they get away from giving Jamaal Charles the ball, is the minute they turn into offensive nobodies. They simply can't panic in those situations and get away from what they do best, which is running the football.
If Charles can't run the ball, line him up in the slot and throw it to him off the play action to McCluster. Charles is too skilled to only have 15 total touches in a game. The Chiefs need to come out the gate swinging Charles around more creatively if they want to have any shot of beating the Lions in their den.
Matt Cassel -
When you complete 22 passes for only 119 yards, there is something wrong with the play calling. The Chiefs have got to do a better job calling plays that fit the scenarios that they are in on the field. Where is the creativity?
It is not all the play calling. Matt Cassel needs to show more aggression in his passes, better footwork against the blitz and more cunning when picking his targets. If he always chooses his check down guy, then the Chiefs will lose often. Matt needs to stand firm in the pocket, deliver the ball with better accuracy and not stare down his receivers. If you wonder why the Chiefs receivers are blasted as soon as they get the ball, look no further than Matt Cassel.
The Chiefs are better than 41-7 losses at home to the Buffalo Bills, and it begins and ends with Matt Cassel.
Tamba Hali -
"The Master Chief" got paid, now let us see it on the field. I realize that it was game one, but I expected more out of the Chiefs defensive enforcer. Sure Hali got one sack, but early on in the game he was a non factor, and with Eric Berry out for the season, that just will not do.
Against the Lions, he needs to be getting after Matt Stafford on every single passing play. If there is no pressure, then Stafford will pick apart the middle of the field. Matt Stafford threw for 305 yards and 3 TD's against the Bucs and he will torch the Chiefs unless Tamba Hali is in his grill and gets him down on the ground early and often.
Brandon Flowers -
Some of the better news this week is that Brandon Flowers signed a long term contract. While this is amazing news, Flowers and the Chiefs still need to go out there and contain the Lions passing attack.
"Megatron" Calvin Johnson is a monster, but the Chiefs have two good young corners that should be able to hold their own as long as Stafford doesn't have all day to throw the ball. It is time for Flowers to prove why we think he is one of the better players in the NFL.
I liked the big interception that Flowers had against the Bills, the problem was that it was too little too late in the game. Brandon Flowers is going to have to pick up the slack with Eric Berry missing. If he can raise his game play, then the Chiefs just may have a shot.
The Defense - 41 points.
As a whole I expected this unit to be better. Their performance was cringe worthy, and they made the Bills look better than they really are. No coverage skills, no tackling skills and no skills creating turnovers, it was pathetic.
It was also not the Chiefs. Something went wrong, whether it was Todd Haley's approach to the preseason, the players approach to their time spent during the lockout, or the defensive coaches approach to everything Chiefs football in 2011. This is not the same team we watched last season.
They were sloppy, slow and unmotivated. I expected to see some fire in the second half of the Bills game, but there was none to be found. This can't continue, the Chiefs have to play better defense. They need to dig down deep and pull out some want to, because last Sunday they had none.
Bottom Line -
The Kansas City Chiefs can still be a great football team. We have broke down this team in every possible way and the talent is there. I still believe in this football team, but the Chiefs are making that very hard to do.
As fans we shouldn't want this team to win more than the actual team does on Sunday's. Tomorrow the Chiefs are going to Detroit and I expect to see a much better product out on the field. How about you?