Although he's been with the Chiefs for five seasons as a special teams contributor, Jackie Battle isn't well known. Sunday, he made his presence felt as he rattled off 119 yards on 19 carries against a Colts' defense that has struggled against the run.
Not a lot has been expected out of Battle during his time in Kansas City but in talking to the veteran running back the last couple weeks, he seemed to have a fire in his eyes. Battle is big, strong, and brings a style of running no other Chiefs back possesses. What the Chiefs have lacked this season is a short-yardage, third-down rusher who can consistently move the chains. Battle did that and more Sunday.
Left Outside Linebacker Wanted
The Chiefs are happy with the play Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali and Jovan Belcher is beginning to show signs of being a dominant run stuffer. They're still looking for someone to step up on the left side. Both rookie Justin Houston and veteran Andy Studebaker have had opportunities but neither has done anything to seize the job.
After his benching over the past three weeks, Studebaker was back in the starting lineup against the Colts. Compared to Houston, Studebaker is far and away the smarter football player but lacks the speed to compete on a down by down basis. Houston has first-round physical skills but a first-grade understanding of football schemes. Until Houston can avoid being a liability on defense, Studebaker should remain the starter.
What's Up with Flowers?
Despite having the world's biggest shoes to fill, Curtis Painter torched the Chiefs' secondary for 277 yards, two touchdowns, and a quarterback rating of 115.8. He picked apart KC's secondary in the first half Sunday and in particular Brandon Flowers.
Flowers may have played his single worst game as a Chief Sunday. Painter attacked Flowers early and often. Flowers has however been fighting an ankle injury for two weeks and could still be feeling the effects. If the Oakland Raiders again target Flowers after the bye week, the Chiefs may have a $50 million problem.
Matt Cassel has had one of the biggest turnarounds over the past two weeks but just slightly behind that has been the play of the Chiefs' defensive line. Although the stats will never tell the whole story on a defensive line, they have been impressive in short-yardage situations and on third downs, specifically. In the past two weeks, the Chiefs have allowed opponents to convert only 11 of 27 third downs, and many have been crucial short-yardage stops.
The reason why is the emergence of players like Tyson Jackson and Amon Gordon. The story on Jackson is well known but the past two games have easily been his best as a Chief. Gordon, although used sparingly, has had an increased role over the past several weeks and will continue to do so as long as he continues to progress. With Kelly Gregg likely retiring after this season, finding a diamond in the rough like Gordon could be huge for this defense in the future.
Baldwin doesn't make the list this week for what he did on the field but for why he wasn't on the field. He had been a healthy participant in practice for nearly two weeks and even Todd Haley hinted this week that he believed the Chiefs' first-round draft selection would get his first regular season action. Fortunately for the Chiefs, both Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe had all-pro days.
With the Chiefs establishing a rushing attack to combine with Bowe and Breaston, Baldwin's addition to the lineup after the bye week will surely create some favorable matchups against the Oakland Raiders. The expectations for Baldwin won't be high but if he can make any contribution, it will free up his teammates even more.
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Five To Remember
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