In the midst of the Chiefs' coaching change, several changes have also been made to their offensive game plan, including the players executing it. One of those players with a more involved role over the past two weeks has been fullback Le'Ron McClain.
It's somewhat surprising how little McClain has been utilized since joining the Chiefs this past offseason as a free agent signing from Baltimore. McClain spent much of the shortened offseason rallying for a team to "free McClain." In the last two weeks, KC's retooled offensive coaching staff has incorporated McClain into the game plan and for the most part it has been a successful change.
Besides a handful of dropped balls, that is. McClain has dropped several crucial passes the past two weeks but McClain didn't shy away from owning his mistake.
"I just took my eyes off the ball," he said. "I caught that pass seven times in practice this week. I was just trying to get up the field and make a play."
Kicker Ryan Succop has been an overlooked bright spot on this team and one of the few players who has prospered regardless of the infighting. Succop's season did not start out well, however. After struggling during the preseason, Succop continued to have accuracy problems through Week 3, but turned his game around in decisive fashion.
Succop tied Pete Stoyanovich's record of 22 consecutive field goals early in the first half Saturday and was set to break the record just before halftime. Unfortunately, his attempt at the record books was spoiled by the mitt of defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who was moonlighting as a special teams contributor Saturday. To add insult to injury, Seymour again got his hands on a Succop field goal attempt at the end of regulation that would have thwarted the necessity of overtime. Romeo Crennel gave praise to the Raiders special teams' game plan for the multiple blocked kicks but I doubt that is any consolation to Succop.
Considering that Succop was the last player selected in his draft class, however, it is safe to say Succop has exceeded all expectations. Although he will likely be down this week, he is anything but irrelevant.
What's My Motivation Here?
After watching his team seemingly implode against the New York Jets, Romeo Crennel found a way to motivate his squad against the Green Bay Packers last week. With the possibility of a playoff berth and divisional championship on the line, the job wasn't as difficult Saturday. But now that the 2011 season will officially end in a week, Crennel's ability to motivate will be in the spotlight.
With Crennel still auditioning for the permanent role as head coach, the final road game against the Denver Broncos next week will be his most defining moment. If Crennel can get his team to play when nothing is on the line he deserves the opportunity to be a head coach in 2012.
"Well it's a divisional opponent," said Crennel. "That's what we are going to use as motivation. Pride, both in your performance and the group which you represent. These guys have pride and they've got egos. They want to win."
Wide receiver Steve Breaston echoed the sentiment of his coach.
"We're playing for each other," he said. "We've been working hard for each other since training camp and we're not just going out there to lay down. We're going to keep fighting."
Better, But Not Great
Chiefs quarterback Kyle Orton made his second straight start for the Chiefs Saturday but the results were somewhat of a mixed bag. Although the offense moved much better than it has all season, we began to see signs of what many in Denver and Chicago had complained of during Orton's stops in both cities.
Orton has the reputation of being a bit careless with the ball and despite finishing with 300 yards passing and a touchdown, Orton threw two interceptions and dodged several bullets with other throws.
"I think I've got the playbook down," he said. "We haven't hidden the fact that we've only had a couple weeks to work with the wide outs. There are probably going to be one or two in a game where (the receiver) was thinking one thing and I was thinking another. That's just the reality of it."
Although Orton's contract expires at the end of this season, he points to the offseason as the time to build a report between quarterback and receiver.
"It takes a long time," he said. "It takes all summer. That why you work, that's why you go through camp, that's why you work on your own. It takes awhile to get that timing but we've got great receivers. Dwayne Bowe is a special player he came up in a big play for us today."
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