Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans – Rewind
1. Priest Holmes sits. Yes he scored two touchdowns and he caught passes out of the backfield in open spaces. But nothing was as significant as resting him the lat five minutes of the third quarter and the entire fourth. Holmes was all business on Sunday. He was clearly the focus of the offense the first two and half quarters but he only had 22 touches. But he made the most of them gaining a combined 156 yards. His clutch touchdown run with only twelve 12 seconds left in the half insured the Chiefs would enter the locker room in front by seven points.
2. The Chiefs might have found their shut down corner in Dexter McCleon. He played his best game as a Chief on Sunday as he intercepted Texans quarterback David Carr after bating him and recovered a fumble to thwart another drive. The William Bartee experiment, at least as a starter, might be over. McCleon has shown an ability to close in on receivers but more important he rarely seems to be out of position. Bartee had the speed to play cover but his instincts have always been in question. Regardless, Bartee will be back this week and upgrade their nickel package.
3. Jerome Woods was badly burned by rookie wide receiver Andre Johnson but he was instrumental causing a fumble in the second half. Though the Chiefs have had major contributions from their free agents this season, Woods has been the closer in the new defense. He has been brilliant in stopping the run and shadowing the cornerbacks. With more freedom to run this year, Woods is making more plays.
4. Dante Hall continues to amaze me. He's quickly becoming the Chiefs most potent offensive weapon. His 73-yard punt return on Sunday was so electric that he had the Reliant Stadium crowd wrapped around his finger. They were cheering for Hall after the touchdown. Hall has the ability to score from anywhere on the field. But the most impressive thing about Hall's performance on Sunday was his patience. He only returned one punt all day and it was the only returnable punt of the day.
5. Speaking of special. Shaunard Harts has quietly become a solid backup at Safety. He scored his first defensive touchdown after intercepting an errant pass from David Carr. Harts took a beating last year but he has made the most of his opportunities this year and gives the Chiefs a solid option when they rest either Woods or Greg Wesley.
6. How about punter and kick-off specialist Jason Baker. His tackle on special teams brought down the house. When was the last time the Chiefs have had a punter who showed that kind of fight. With the feeble attempts of the Steelers and Texans kicker to tackle Hall, it's good to know that the Chiefs last line of defense has the ability to tackle. In fact, the entire coverage team has been awesome the last two weeks.
7. Tony Gonzalez touched the ball. He narrowly missed a touchdown in the first half but Trent Green looked early for Gonzalez as he had his best game this season. Gonzalez has been struggling to get open but as the Chiefs passing game expands down field to their wide receivers, then Gonzalez will be more effective.
8. Speaking of Green. He continues to struggle as he threw two more interceptions. He managed to find at least get the ball into the end zone when he hit Eddie Kennison in the third quarter that put the Chiefs up 21-7. But Green seems to be either rushing or not being patient enough in the pocket. The Chiefs offensive line was beaten several times last week and Green had to throw the ball away. His first interception was supposed to go to Dante Hall in the corner of the end zone. But Green's arm was hit and the ball fluttered into the arms of Marcus Coleman. Green needs to either step up in the pocket or start running. Green has shown an ability to run for significant yards in the past and he should take advantage of the opposing defenses sagging in passing situations.
9. I have to give Derrick Blaylock props. He scored his first rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter from twenty yards. He has earned his back-up role with the Chiefs and continues to be productive when he gets into the game. Rookie Larry Johnson did make an appearance and looked comfortable running the ball. The Chiefs will need both of their back-ups before the season is over.
10. The down side of the game were the dropped passes. Gonzalez, Tony Richardson, Kennison, Hall and Johnnie Morton gave up huge yards by not securing the ball before wanting to run downfield. They might be able to get away with that against the Texans but the next five weeks the Chiefs have no gimmies like they had on Sunday. They need to catch the ball better if they want to keep winning.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens – September 28, 2003
1. Stop Jamal Lewis and you win. He leads the NFL in rushing and he's the only offensive weapon on the Ravens roster. He will carry the ball 40 plus times and gain 150 yards but as long as the Chiefs hold him to one or two touchdowns, then they should win the game.
2. Tony Gonzalez needs a breakout game. The Ravens linebackers are the best in the NFL but even though they posses great power and ability, the Steelers threw over the top of them in week #1 and Gonzalez needs to play behind them and in front of the safeties.
3. The Chiefs can't let Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis dominate. Let him get his ten solo tackles but make him work hard. They also need to keep Peter Boulware from getting to Trent Green. Boulware has struggled this year but he can dominate the game and he is overdue for an impact performance.
4. The Chiefs are hoping that Chris McAllister didn't learn anything from his one game suspension. He was not with the team last weekend in San Diego after he missed a team meeting. McAllister has all the tools to be the best cornerback in the NFL but a contract dispute, DWI and in-team fighting has the Ravens wondering if he'll ever reach his potential with the Ravens.
5. The Chiefs have to throw the ball downfield. Chargers quarterback Drew Brees managed 270 yards on the Ravens defense. He also threw three interceptions but the Chargers were playing with a depleted wide receiver corps. Marc Boerigter must be a part of the Chiefs passing game this week. The Ravens secondary is very physical and Boerigter has the ability to separate himself in the open field.
6. Trent Green needs to study the Steelers opening day victory over the Ravens. Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Maddox was surgical in dissecting apart the Baltimore secondary. As stated earlier, Green must air it out down field. That will keep the linebackers in pass coverage and away from attacking the run.
7. The offensive line should dominate the Ravens defensive line. The Baltimore 3-4 defensive scheme shouldn't give the Chiefs any new wrinkles or problems. They've faced the same formations the last two weeks against Pittsburgh and Houston. The Ravens defensive line is not very big or physical and they were manhandled last week against the Chargers.
8. Time of possession will be huge in this game. In the Ravens two wins, they've controlled the clock primarily with Lewis. This past weekend, the Chiefs showed the ability to sustain longer drives. They were very effective in taking the Reliant stadium crowd out of the game on Sunday. They need to do the same this weekend.
9. Rookie quarterback Kyle Boller has been woeful in the teams two victories this season. Boller will be a great NFL quarterback some day and the Chiefs need to make sure he has zero to little success in Sunday. Boller has the ability to throw the ball deep and that has been a weakness for the Chiefs secondary this year.
10. Blitz. Blitz. Blitz. The Chiefs only rushed four linemen on Sunday against the Texans. They're already going to have eight men in the box against the run but they have to put pressure on Boller. His only target has been tight end Todd Heap. Heap however only has a 5 yard per catch average.
Around the AFC West
1. The Oakland Raiders were embarrassed on Monday Night against division rival Denver. The Broncos outscored the Raiders 21-0 in the first quarter and the outcome was never in doubt as they rolled to a 31-10 victory.
2. When was the last time you ever saw Rich Gannon yell at his teammates on the field. Gannon needs to look in the mirror. He has not thrown the ball downfield and this team misses Barrett Robins under center. But Gannon looks like he's seeing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his line of vision. He's fast approaching 40 and he looks like a beaten player. He's the only one who can bring them back and he needs to act like a leader instead of a crybaby.
3. I might have been wrong about Jake Plummer. What he's done in the first half of the last two games against the Chargers and the Raiders leads me to believe that Denver might be able to hang with the Chiefs all season. Plummer has an easy test this weekend against the Detroit Lions at home on Sunday. They could be 4-0 before they meet the Chiefs the following week.
4. Though Clinton Portis continues to shine at running back, back-up Mike Anderson who was forced to fill in for Portis when he was injured, reminded the rest of the AFC West that he can carry the team offensively. In his relief role, Anderson ran for 70 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown.
5. Before the AFC West fans kill the Raiders. Remember last year they lost four games in a row after winning the first four games of the season. They went on to dominate the AFC in the second half only losing only once before their Super Bowl appearance.
6. You heard it hear first. Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer will not be the San Diego head coach at the end of the year. They stand 0-3 and have already lost twice in the AFC West. They can't play defense, can't score on offense and have no special teams.
7. The Chargers have all but killed their chance to get a new stadium in San Deigo with their bad start. The sentiment and the bandwagon in San Diego will be to jump on the MLB Padres. With a new baseball only stadium ready for 2004, rumors of the Chargers bolting to LA could become a reality.
8. Raiders owner Al Davis might be in for a coaching change himself. Bill Callahan was the players choice to replace Jon Gruden a year ago. But Davis might shock the team by jettisoning his head coach. It's too bad he can't coach the team himself. That would be fun to watch.
9. Look for more NFL head coaches to start fibbing about game injuries. Mike Shanahan was not fined by the NFL for lying about the injury to Jake Plummer a week ago. However, the NFL did fine the team for not wearing the proper uniforms against the Chargers. Very interesting. You can lie and cheat but if you don't wear the correct uniforms you get fined. I love the NFL bureaucracy.
10. When was the last time the Chiefs and Broncos started the same season 4-0? Let's hope they both win this week.
Next Week in the AFC West
The Chargers go on the road to Oakland in a must win game for both teams. If the Raiders win they'll climb back to .500 for the season. But if they lose, they will be in last place in the AFC West. The Chargers never play well in Oakland and Schottenheimer has not had great success in Oakland throughout his career.
The Broncos play host to the Detroit Lions. Talk about a chip shot! The Lions played lights out at home on opening day defeating the Cardinals. Don't laugh Arizona beat the Packers last Sunday. This is the type of game, the Broncos lost last year and if they don't at least bring their ‘B' game, they could lose; especially if they look past the Lions in anticipation of their showdown with the Chiefs the week after.