Johnson the Man in Loss to Seahawks

Say what you want about Larry Johnson but he played the best game of any running back this exibition season in the Chiefs 42-31 loss. Johnson shut down his critics as he out performed Derrick Blaylock with an exception all around game.

WI's Nick Athan and Jon Miller team up to provide you a double dip of their thoughts and opinions following Saturday's game against the Seahawks. Some of their opinions may be the same, some will be different but hopefully you will feel informed after reading this offering. UP FIRST: NICK ATHAN

In a Priest Holmes type of effort, rookie running back and much maligned Larry Johnson led the Chiefs in rushing with 77 yards on 12 carries. He also caught two passes for twenty five yards while playing with the first offensive unit. But what the Chiefs gained in this game was a back-up for Dante Hall who might be out longer than anticipated with a sore hand.

Johnson returned a kick-off 85 yards as he showed every coach on the staff that given the chance he can do it all. The Chiefs brass, especially Carl Peterson, has to be excited about the performance of Johnson.

Dick Vermeil has been touting Derrick Blaylock but he's not the same runner as Johnson. On Saturday night against the Seahawks, Johnson was patient, waited on his blocks and showed the ability to make defenders miss him in the open field.

Even with his amazing performance, Dick Vermeil was not ready to name a back-up to Holmes.

"I was really pleased with Larry Johnson (tonight). I thought he did a real good job. He has talent and he'll get better. He finds daylight and he delivers blows. He ran really tough and I was real pleased with him."

Not a ringing endorsement. Maybe Vermeil was concerned with the play of his defensive back-ups. The starters allowed 195 yards of offense in the first half but the reserves gave up 193 in the third quarter and they made Seahawks un-drafted free agent running back Kerry Carter look like the reincarnation of Emmitt Smith. Carter rushed for 53 yards on only 11 carries and he scored two touchdowns.

The Chiefs defensive reserves looked lost and confused. They missed tackles and the Chiefs will be in serious trouble if they lose any of their starters because they have failed to develop reserves who can spell the starters.

Rookie cornerback Julian Battle was schooled by wide receiver Koren Robinson in the third quarter. The Seahawks played their starting offensive unit through most of the third quarter and they exposed some glaring holes in the Chiefs defense.

Back up linebackers Quinton Caver and Kawika Mitchell were ineffective. Only Monte Biesel looked good. The Chiefs also had zero safety production from their reserves as Lyle West, Shaunard Harts and Clint Finley missed tackles and seemed lost and confused.

But the biggest concern of the night was the fact the Chiefs starting secondary was ineffective. William Bartee was replaced in the starting lineup by Dexter McCleon and Eric Warfield started opposite him.

Warfield continually played ten yards off Robinson as the Seahawks picked apart the Chiefs secondary with perfectly orchestrated timing patterns. Matt Hasselbeck looked sharp and for the first time this exhibition season the Chiefs outside of R. Kal Truluck, who had two sacks, was unable to get to the Seahawks quarterback.

It's understandable that the Chiefs played a vanilla defense but they only time they even blitzed the Seahawks was in the second half with back-ups. Warfield and McCleon both lacked aggressiveness and if the Chiefs pass rush is not better in the regular season, then the Chiefs might experience some long Sunday afternoons.

The most positive note of the entire game however was the play of the reserve offensive lineman. Jordan Black, Jason Andersen, Darnell Alford and Jonathan Ingram all played well in stretches. The Chiefs need them to step up in the final exibition game to solidy what are very weak postions at guard and tackle behind the starters.

Todd Collins was also impressive as he connected for two touchdowns, one to Marc Boerigter and the other to Jason Dunn. Collins passed for 144 yards and was sharp despite throwing one interception. Starter Trent Green also was productive as he found tight end Tony Gonzales for a 14 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

The starting defensive line was not productive as Vonnie Holliday, Eric Hicks and Ryan Sims seemed to be manhandled by a very suspect Seahawks offensive line. The big three over pursued and they received little help from the starting linebackers. Hasselbeck showed mobility and ran for first downs several times as the Chiefs failed to contain him in the pocket.

The Chiefs have to be pleased with the emergence of Johnson and the fact the starting offensive unit less Holmes was very productive.

The Chiefs have only three days to prepare for their next pre-season game against the Rams on Thursday. They also have to cut their 91 man roster down to 76 by Tuesday. The Chiefs have 11 roster exemptions because of the players they allocated to NFL Europe. Those players do not have to be cut until the final rosters are set at 53 one week from today.

The Chiefs starters are not expected to play more than a quarter on Thursday night and this will be a big week for Priest Holmes.

He has thrown down the gauntlet about getting a contract extension and says that he won't play in the regular season opener two weeks from today without the extension.

Holmes only played in one series on Saturday and Holmes stated before training camp that he wanted to play significantly against the Rams in the final exhibition game. But it's unlikely the Chiefs will play him more than a series or two.

The last exhibition game is to evaluate back-ups to fill the final roster spots. It's not a game that will evaluate contract extensions for players.

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DOUBLE COVERAGE, TAKE 2

Larry Johnson looked better running behind the #1 OL in this game than he has in previous games. He has been getting reps in practice with the #1 OL, but for what ever reason, had not looked as good as he did against the Seahawks on Saturday night.

His 12 carries for 77 yards has put him back in the battle with Derrick Blaylock for the #2 running back position behind Priest Holmes.

Holmes played just one series for KC and had one carry for four yards before hitting the bench early, as was planned. Too bad for Chiefs fans that the first possession was a short one.

His kickoff return for a TD was also a nice boost for him. Maybe he has taken Vermeil's 'coolness' towards him to heart and has used it as motivation.

Seattle ripped the Chiefs through the air no matter who was at quarterback. Starter Matt Hasselback threw for 198 yards and ran for nearly 40 before departing at intermission.

Backup's Trent Dilfer and Seneca Wallace were a combined 15 of 17 in the second half for 149 yards, giving the Seahawks 347 yards passing on the game.

KC was ahead 21-10 at the break and most of the first team players exited the game midway through quarter number two.

Trent Green had a decent game, but backup Todd Collins really shined in my opinion. Yes, he still threw several short/underneath routes, but he also went deep, including one completion to Snoop Minis that was good for 44-yards. (Even though the ball was slightly under thrown).

He found Marc Boerigter and Jason Dunn on scoring strikes near the endzone as well.

For the game, Collins was 12 of 18 for 144 yards and two TD's with one INT. He is making me feel more comfortable should Green have to miss any time this year.

We mentioned Larry Johnson's kickoff return for a TD (85-yards), but Jarmar Julien also shined returning kicks, averaging 41 yards per return on two kicks, including a 61-yarder.

Punter Jason Baker had one punt for 51 yards and Leo Araguz had one 45-yard kick and one for 32-yards that was downed inside the 20. That is a hot battle with Baker holding the slight edge.

On the whole, the offensive starters turned in a solid performance and the defensive starters turned in a ‘bend-don't-break' performance. The Chief's #1's won the battle before giving way to the reserves.

Maybe people will stop using the term ‘bust' when speaking about Larry Johnson now. It was unfair and premature for some to say those things about Johnson; give the kid some time.


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