It took seven weeks into the regular season to finally get a look at Baldwin but fans got a taste of why he could be valuable in the future. Baldwin made his debut and made a difference in spite of hauling in just a single 14-yard reception. Regardless of his inexperience, it is easy to see that Baldwin must be accounted for by the defense with his large frame and strong hands.
The rookie struggled with his routes and had obvious timing issues with Cassel but made a difference, regardless. With Baldwin, Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston the Chiefs have a potentially dominant receiver corps that combined for 12 receptions and 154 yards (nine for first downs) Sunday. Having all three on the field opens up KC's offense and, in theory, makes it easier on the quarterback. But that's another topic.
2. Matt Cassel's Regression
Just when you think Cassel has turned a corner, he lays an egg like he did Sunday. Cassel was 15 of 30 for 161 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns, good for a quarterback rating of 38.3. The real kicker is that Cassel's top receivers, Bowe and Breaston, had several improbable catches, making Cassel's stats look significantly better than they really are.
Cassel had an awful game following up an impressive day against the Colts in his last outing. It's not as if he was under duress all day, either, as he was not sacked and received decent protection. Good offensive line play, plus good receiver play, usually translates to a decent day from your quarterback. Cassel, however, was amazingly bad and will be under heavy scrutiny this week. Is it still too late to get on the Andrew Luck bandwagon?
3. KC's Shuffling Linebackers
Andy Studebaker was back in the starting lineup this week, pushing struggling rookie Justin Houston into backup duty. Neither player, however, made much of an impact, as they combined for just three tackles. Houston certainly gives the Chiefs an advantage in pass rushing situations but his inexperience has been a liability at times. For now, the steady-handed Studebaker will have to do until Houston can mentally catch up to his talent.
At the other linebacker positions the Chiefs are relatively comfortable. Tamba Hali disrupted the Raiders' quarterbacks all day while Derrick Johnson added 12 tackles. Jovan Belcher made his presence felt on short-yardage running plays and has developed into a player with a hard-nosed attitude that this defense has lacked for years. When/if Houston steps up, KC's defense could be scary.
4. Short-Yardage Defense
The Chiefs' defensive line has not been a strength since the days of Neil Smith and Bill Maas, but this defense is slowly developing a name for being tough in short-yardage situations. Several times this season we have seen the Chiefs hold on third and fourth-down situations in large part to the defensive linemen. Kelly Gregg and Tyson Jackson have been a major part of the improvement.
Neither player will stick out in the box score, but should be judged by the productivity of the linebackers behind them. Early in the second quarter, the Raiders were on Kansas City's five-yard line. They handed the ball off four times and failed to score, with Johnson making four stops.
5. A Rushing Touchdown
Le'Ron McClain's one-yard touchdown run will go down in the record books as the Chiefs' first rushing touchdown of the season. Upon review however, McClain fumbled the ball into the end zone short of the goal line. Jon Asamoah would recover the fumble but was not credited with the recovery. Later in the third quarter, Chiefs' defensive back Javier Arenas ran seven yards out of the wildcat for KC's first unofficial rushing touchdown of 2011.
Asamoah and Arenas are odd names to see scoring touchdowns, but that was the story all day for the Chiefs. In addition to Arenas and Asamoah (unofficially), cornerback Brandon Flowers and safety Kendrick Lewis added interception returns for touchdowns. That's 28 total points scored by an offensive guard and three defensive backs. Perhaps Haley has them on the wrong side of the football?
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