The opening kickoff fumble from Dexter McCluster gave the Bills the ball at the Chiefs' 26 yard line, instantly putting KC's defense on its heels, resulting in a touchdown. It wasn't until the end of the first quarter (and the first drive after safety Eric Berry played his last of the season) when the Bills scored again. The bulk of that scoring drive came on two plays (totaling 62 yards); the first of which came on third and six. Two plays later the Chiefs were down by 14.
At the half the Chiefs were down by only two possessions (20-7) and if it had not been for the opening kickoff fumble and the missed 49-yard field goal by Ryan Succop, the Chiefs are still in the game. But down by 13 points to start the third quarter, the Chiefs abandoned their running game and never even attempted another run until the fourth quarter.
The cold hard facts are this team is not winning any games in which they get down early. The Bills loss was a glaring example of just how woefully awful the Chiefs' passing attack is and how inept they are at scoring quickly. But how could anyone expect them to?
The Chiefs targeted 10 different receivers Sunday and eight passes were thrown to Dwayne Bowe, who caught only two. Bowe is the only legitimate receiving threat on KC's offense and can easily be taken out of games as we saw towards the end of the 2010 season and on Sunday.
Even though the Chiefs made adding wide receiver Steve Breaston one of their top priorities this past offseason, the coaching staff left the former Cardinal off their game plan. Breaston was targeted just twice against the Bills, three times less than tight end Leonard Pope, who has never been known for his receiving skills.
We saw some flashes of the 2010 version of Jamaal Charles on Sunday but as we have already discovered, being a dominant running team has its drawbacks. This leaves a spotlight on the Chiefs' signal caller, Matt Cassel.
Although it would be easy to throw Cassel under the bus here, I won't do that just yet.
The Chiefs may be able to build on the play of their linebackers.
What head coach Todd Haley wants out of Cassel is for him to be a game manager, not turn the ball over, and be elusive in the pocket. That's what Cassel did Sunday. Until the expectations for the quarterback spot change, neither will the starting quarterback.
But as much as I believe the Chiefs' offense led to the Armageddon at Arrowhead, we have to put a share of the blame on the defensive side of the ball.
The Chiefs were awful against the run, something they struggled with in 2010, but also regressed in their pass rush.
The defensive line is not going to get better until Tyson Jackson's eventual replacement, rookie Allen Bailey, grasps the concept of being a 3-4 defensive end. History is not on his side, however, and I don't see that happening in his first year.
The injury to safety Eric Berry (and the struggles of Kendrick Lewis) has left what was supposed to be a defensive strength, the secondary, without a prayer. Sabby Piscitelli and John McGraw looked helpless governing the middle of the field, throwing corners Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers to the wolves.
So the Chiefs couldn't possibly finish better than 0-16, with reflections of Andrew Luck in Chiefs fan's eyes…right?
I like the Chiefs linebackers a lot now that third-round selection Justin Houston has taken over Andy Studebaker's starting job. When paired with returning AFC sack leader Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, Kansas City's linebackers could alleviate a lot of the defensive struggles.
The wild card that could swing the scales will be the man who is responsible for putting his team in this precarious position in the first place: head coach Todd Haley.
You can't deny that Haley has earned an F for the offseason. He took a chance and went against the grain in preparing his team during the lockout-shortened offseason and was smart to point the finger at himself in his post game press conference.
But Haley is also the same coach who turned underachieving players like Dwayne Bowe, Glenn Dorsey, Johnson and Cassel into Pro Bowl caliber talents. Haley ate some highway-baked crow Sunday but let's not write the conclusion of his story in Kansas City yet.
This Chiefs team surprised everyone last season. Let's wait to see if they can do it again.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
So can this football team turn it around?
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