Searching for the Real Chiefs

I've had four days to dissect last weekends embarrassing loss at Denver. I've gone through a range of emotions including wanting to throw Matt Cassel, the defense, and the entire coaching staff under the bus. And although this may have been the most demoralizing defeat of the season, we may have learned a lot about the Chiefs.

As the game unfolded in the first half and the offense continued to struggle, I begged to see back-up Quarterback Brodie Croyle. The defense wasn't any different; it hadn't actually improved from the one we've seen in Kansas City for more than a decade. Thus the apparent renovation project that Romeo Crennel implemented in the offseason has magically turned this group of underachievers into playmakers. And thus my only conclusion at the moment about the early success of this unit, may have had been a mirage.

On Sunday, the Chiefs were completely dominated in all phases of the game. The running game, which had been their anchor throughout the season, quickly turned into their Achilles heel, forcing the Chiefs' passing game into a corner. It appears that they responded.

Asking Matt Cassel to pass 53 times was never going to be a part of any of Charlie Weis' game plans. Weis has shown no faith in his QB at any point in this season. But on Sunday, he had no choice. The beauty in this, however, is Cassel shined and had a career day.

It would be easy to dismiss Cassel's 469 yard, four touchdown day, but its not as if the Broncos were consistently playing prevent defense. The Donkey's were blitzing well into the 4th quarter, beating up on an already gimpy Cassel, which may have been one of the contributing factors to the scolding that Haley gave Broncos Head Coach Josh McDaniels during their post game handshake.

Regardless of how any of us feel about this loss, you have to be impressed with the starting quarterback. With his back against the wall, Cassel not only moved the chains but also avoided costly interceptions. And to his credit, he was took a beating. Up to this point we have not seen this kind of toughness, grit, and leadership that his $63 million contract demands.

This is what Scott Pioli had in mind when he gave him that big contract. Now the rest of the organization has to fall in line. Weis, not Haley, has been unwilling to let Cassel throw the ball. And based on rumblings that the head coach and offensive coordinator aren't exactly seeing eye to eye, something has to give.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the defense isn't making the same leap as Cassel.

Cornerback Brandon Flowers had been playing like a Pro Bowler, but his game has fallen off sharply since the Texans game. Safety Eric Berry is starting to become the playmaker the Chiefs thought he would be when they drafted him back in April, but his lack of top end speed is always going to be a lingering issue.

With the back end of the defense slow to react to the ball, the only way this defense can improve is if the linebackers start attacking the line of scrimmage. The problem with that theory though is they're painfully slow.

So what's the solution?

This defense has to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The defensive line just isn't built to do that. That's why Jacoby Ford and Brandon Lloyd had so much success catching the ball in recent weeks. And going forward teams are likely to have similar success in the passing game if the Chiefs don't put on a better pass rush.

As we look at the upcoming game against the Arizona Cardinals, this team has to get back to what they were doing at the beginning of the year when they stood 3-0. To do that, everyone needs to be on the same page.

If this coaching staff is as good as they appear to be, they will make the adjustments and check their egos at the door.

If not, the offseason might get here before the regular season ends. Top Stories