Special teams coach Steve Hoffman deserves plenty of credit, too. Not only was the Javier Arenas/Dexter McCluster duo a major part of the game, the Chiefs' coverage team did a great job containing the explosive Darren Sproles.
Then there's the head coach. Going back to the great attendance during offseason workouts, observers have been noting that the players seem to be buying into what Todd Haley wants from them. The heart and effort they played with Monday night only supports that notion further.
We first saw during the preseason that the Chiefs seem to have an unfortunate knack for starting off slow. On the positive side, though, they've also shown an impressive ability to overcome the bad starts. Against Philadelphia, they climbed out of a 10-0 hole to end up taking the lead. Against the Chargers, they withstood some early setbacks and scored 21 unanswered points.
Charlie Weis needs to find more plays for Wide Reciver Dwayne Bowe.
That reflects good coaching on Haley's part. He's keeping his guys focused and not letting the bad starts get them frustrated. If he can just find a way to eliminate the bad starts, the team should be onto something.
But the notion of bad starts brings us back to the offense. There seem to be an endless amount of questions that could be posed to the Chiefs' new playcaller today.
For starters, it took three series – three – before Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs' best offensive player, actually touched the ball. Late in the first quarter, he got two consecutive carries, and on the second one he broke a 56-yard touchdown run.
OK, so Weis was a little slow getting Charles the ball. He surely realized his mistake after that big run. Right?
Not quite. The Chiefs came out for their next series and immediately gave Thomas Jones back to back carries. Charles got the carry on third down, then got another solitary carry on the Chiefs' next series, and didn't touch the ball again until the very end of the quarter.
All told, the Chiefs had eight offensive series in the first half, ran 28 plays, and only managed to give the ball to Charles seven times. And three of those touches came during the final minute of the second quarter as the Chiefs were trying to get into field goal range.
What possible excuse is there for ignoring Charles for much of the first half? Especially considering the fact that, when he was finally given the ball, he immediately broke a huge run to get the Chiefs back into the game?
As mind-boggling as that decision was, the playcalling for much of the game could have had Herm Edwards, Dick Curl, and Mike Solari covering their eyes in embarrassment. The intense rain storm obviously had an effect on what the Chiefs wanted to do offensively, but did it mean the team had to lay down and go into a shell?
If they didn't want to throw downfield with the driving rain, fine. But where were the short passes to Charles or McCluster, to get them into open space? We'd already seen both players use their speed and elusiveness to produce big plays. If given the chance, maybe, just maybe, they'd be able to do it again. Does Weis have such little confidence in Cassel that he didn't even want him throwing dump off passes or screens?
With little to no creativity on display, the Chiefs sat on their lead and ran the ball time after time, well after the Chargers had figured out their game plan. Even after the Chargers scored to pull within a touchdown, Weis had the offense come out and run on two straight plays.
Romeo Crennel's defensive unit had no choice but to bail out the Chiefs lackluster offense time and time again in the teams 21-14 victory over their bitter divsion rival the San Diego Chargers.
It was like they were daring the Chargers to get back in the game, which isn't exactly the most prudent strategy, as history has shown. Back in 2006, the Chargers overcame a 17-point deficit at Arrowhead to tie the game in the final moments. Miraculously, the Chiefs quickly moved down the field and kicked a game-winning field goal to preserve their win.
In 2008, the Chargers came to Kansas City and overcame an 18-point deficit, aided by Dwayne Bowe losing the ball as he attempted to recover an onsides kick. That time, the Chargers pulled ahead and won the game by a single point.
The Chiefs getting out to an early lead, only for San Diego to charge right back, is something we've all seen happen before. All of us except Weis, apparently, who called the game as if he was perfectly happy to let the same scenario unfold all over again.
Monday night's victory was a triumph for most of the Chiefs' coaching staff. But if not for a goal line stand by the defense, we'd be talking about a game the Chiefs gave away with their offensive decision-making. Hopefully Weis shows a little more creativity against Cleveland on Sunday.