All week long, Chiefs fans essentially shrugged at the injury report. The collective response to the news that rookie left guard Parker Ehinger would sit due to a concussion? "Meh." The reaction was largely the same when it was said that Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the starting right guard, would also miss time due to an ankle injury.
The feeling was that substitute guards Zach Fulton and Jah Reid were both up to the job of replacing the starting options. In Ehinger's case it was even assumed that the line might even take a step forwards with the rookie sitting down. All of that fell apart early in the first quarter against the Texans.
The Chiefs offensive line allowed J.J. Watt and company to have a field day. Four sacks. Nine quarterback hits. Two Alex Smith fumbles and a very, very pedestrian final stat line of 20 for 37 for 186 yards and a 68.1 passer rating on the day. Jadeveon Clowney had two hits. Watt had another two. A fellow named John Simon had three, including 1.5 sacks on the day. Second-year linebacker Bernardrick McKinney and Whitney Mercilus enjoyed one apiece.
Of course, it wasn't the guards' fault when imported right tackle Mitchell Schwartz allowed Watt to do his thing this afternoon. The line as a whole needs to watch some serious film this week to figure out what went wrong. In the meantime, we can only hope that both Ehinger and LDT heal up. They apparently meant much more than anyone realized.
Paging the pass rush
Through two games, the Chiefs have three sacks. Three. We knew this would be an issue the moment Justin Houston went down, but we'd also seen Bob Sutton's defense adjust through a previous injury with Houston. The Chiefs sack total the last three years under Bob Sutton is a very steady 47, 46 and 47 total for 2013-15. This year, the Chiefs are on pace for 24, approximately half their usual total.
Tamba Hali needs to find the fountain of youth. Dee Ford needs to develop as fast as a Polaroid. Bob Sutton needs to attend a creativity conference. Outside of Dontari Poe, who played a helluva game against the Texans, the front line needs to exhibit the athletic ability that made them such a perceived asset for the team in the first place — from young guys learning to make an impact like Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard to a newcomer like Chris Jones. The talent is here to collapse the pocket consistently, but something isn't clicking up front.
First quarter woes
Two games into the season and the Chiefs have looked rancid early in both games. Where's the offensive planning and preparation coming into a contest? These sorts of performances would be understandable on a short week but not for the first two games of the regular season. Consider the following:
*The Chiefs have yet to convert a single third down in the first quarter this season (0 for 6).
*Total net offensive yards: 96. (For reference, opponents have put up 248 yards against the Chiefs defense in the first quarter total.)
*Total rushing yards: 24. Clearly establishing the ground game is not any concern for the Chiefs thus far.
Thank you, special teams
I need a break of positivity, just for my own sanity here. So let me give a strong shoutout to Dave Toub's unit for doing what Dave Toub's unit always does. Tyreek Hill had a very nice afternoon returning punts. Cairo Santos was a perfect four of four, including a 53-foot kick. Dustin Colquitt pinned three inside the 20.
Special teams aren't usually so special, but Chiefs fans have enjoyed one of the league's best overall units for a few years now. It's a beautiful thing to watch and it's not something we should take for granted.
Focus on Marcus
Forget the crazy taunting call. Forget getting burned. For a minute, let's just talk about something else positive: Peters' two interceptions on the day. Not only does Peters now have 10 since he came into the NFL, which is the most in the league in that time period, but it also puts him on a career trajectory that bests most of the players you'd recognize on the career interceptions leaderboard.
The NFL's all time leader for interceptions is Paul Krause with 81 overall, and Peters is still very much behind a guy who started with 12 in his rookie season. But let's look at some others. Rod Woodson is third all time with 71 and it took him 38 games to reach 10 career interceptions. Charles Woodson, ranked fifth all time, needed 47 games to reach the same. Ed Reed, ranked seventh all time, needed 25 games, while Ronnie Lott, tied for eighth all time, needed 26 games.
Peters just wrapped the 18th regular season game of his career and he's already at 10. That's well ahead of the best defensive backs of the last generation. Does he need to learn to control his emotions? Yep. Is there a solid learning curve ahead of him? Yep. But he's also generating turnovers on a historic level — a rate that, if it continues, will have you bragging to your kids about the days you saw Marcus Peters play in person.