Denver @ Kansas City – Rewind
1. Dante Hall is incredible. There are not enough words in the NFL language to describe the history that Chiefs fans are watching every Sunday. Hall before it's all said and done in his career, will smash every return record in the NFL. Even further the bar he sets will never be matched by another player in NFL for twenty or thirty years. He's in a zone that is reserved for players like Joe DiMaggio, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky. If Hall continues this pace, he will be the 2003 NFL MVP.
2.He didn't catch a lot of passes but for the second game in a row, Tony Gonzalez found the end zone. With the Chiefs trailing by seven points, Gonzalez made a catch only he could make, tying the score at 7-7 in the first quarter. Gonzalez also made some key blocks that sprung big holes for Priest Holmes. His catches are down but he's the most complete tight end in the NFL. Before the season is out, Gonzalez despite his numbers lower than normal will become the Chiefs all-time reception leader.
3. Trent Green played another mediocre game. That's not a negative. In fact, he made two big plays. That's all the Chiefs are asking of Green. The pass to Gonzalez was critical in the game. It was third down and the Broncos were blitzing. Green side-stepped linebacker Al Wilson, double pumped, took a viscous shot but delivered a strike to Gonzalez. In the third quarter, after Denver took a 20-10 lead, Green perfectly executed a five play seventy-seven yard drive that culminated with another perfect pass to Johnnie Morton. The passing game is a concern but it just needs some confidence and rhythm.
4. Shawn Barber is paying huge dividends for the Chiefs. The fact that he's able to roam the field is a huge plus for the Chiefs revamped defense. His pressure late in the fourth quarter on Jake Plummer forced the Broncos to attempt a long 53-yard field goal that they missed. He nearly sealed the victory with an interception that he dropped on the Broncos final possession. In fact, if you look at the replay, the ball appears to hit off his chest, then his leg and back into his arms. It was not reviewed.
5. Ryan Sims continues to impress me. He was held, tackled, pushed and still came on every play. He missed the entire second quarter because he was in the locker room getting an IV, because he had been sick earlier in the game. His presence in the middle of the defense and his contributions are allowing the Chiefs to get pressure on the quarterback with only four down linemen. His emergence has allowed John Browning to become a star on defense. Browning stuffed Clinton Portis on third and goal that prevented the Broncos from putting the game out of reach.
6. Don't look now but sixth round draft pick Jimmy Wilkerson is about to become a star on the Chiefs defense. Wilkerson busted up several runs and put pressure on Plummer. He has an incredible inside move as the Chiefs are trying to convert him from end to tackle on the defensive line. He has already put on twenty pounds of muscle since being drafted last April. Wilkerson has a motor that won't quit and the talent to become a star in the NFL. He'll get a lot of playing time now that R-Kal Truluck might be sidelined for a month with a severely sprained ankle.
7. Eric Warfield made a huge mistake lining up on the wrong side of the field that allowed Portis to run 66-yards untouched to the end zone. Warfield once again was a victim of very soft coverage in passing situations. It seems to me he has a lack of confidence to play bump and run. The Chiefs were able to get rookie Julian Battle some playing time and he could become a starter by December. He's the most gifted of the Chiefs cornerbacks from a raw talent perspective. He just needs some maturity on the field. He'll be another Albert Lewis before his career is finished.
8. Credit special team coach Frank Gansz, Jr. He knew the Broncos would be keying on Dante Hall on the opening kick-off so after a short kick, Hall fielded the ball and then handed it off to Marc Boerigter who reversed the field and ran it back 44-yards to open the game. Gary Stills had a bone crushing block that allowed the play to develop.
9. Chiefs tried another trick play in the second quarter. On a third down play from the five-yard line. Green pitched the ball to Holmes who threw a pass to Eddie Kennison for an apparent touchdown. But after further review, Kennison was not pushed out of bounds and only had one foot in bounds. Had Holmes thrown the ball more to the inside it would have been a touchdown.
10. Last props to Dante Hall for giving up the rock to his head coach. After Hall scored his back breaking touchdown, he gave the ball to Dick Vermeil. The primary reason the Chiefs are 5-0 is because of the relationships the players have with their head coach.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Green Bay Packers – October 13, 2003
1. The Packers after an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals on the road have won back to back games over the Chicago Bears and at home last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Renovated Lambeau field will play host to the Chiefs on Sunday but Kansas City has never lost in the historic stadium.
2. The obvious key for the Chiefs is stop future hall of fame quarterback Brett Favre. He's not the same quarterback he was a few years ago and he's been erratic in stretches this season. The Vikings tortured him on opening day and the Cardinals made him throw bad passes in their other loss. Like last week against Plummer, Favre likes to move around the pocket. Nobody throws the ball better on the run than Favre. If the Chiefs can make him a pocket passer they should be able to intercept several of his passes on Sunday.
3. I'm predicting now that Trent Green and the offense will light up the Packers secondary. Though they played good last week against the Seahawks, the Seattle offense was plagued by conservative play calling. The formations that Kansas City will show the Packers should confuse them all day long.
4. Kansas City must mark tight end Bubba Smith. He's very good at coming back to the ball when Favre scrambles from the pocket. Shawn Barber needs to shadow him when Favre rolls out and force Favre to throw the ball over the top. If that happens the Chiefs safeties could close in and pick off the throws. The only other passing weapon for the Packers is Donald Driver. After an injury plagued season in 2002, he's back to his old form. This one time Chiefs practice squad player has the ability to do what Rod Smith did last week in Kansas City. Dexter McCleon needs to take Driver out of the game early.
5. I would not be surprised if Marc Boerigter has a big game. The Chiefs tried a long pass with him in the Denver game that he almost hauled down. I expect the Chiefs to use a lot of four wide receiver sets and the Chiefs needs to use his speed down field.
6.The Packers are not a very good in their special teams. Don't be surprised if Kansas City pulls off a fake reverse that fools Green Bay and leaves Hall open for a big return. Can he do it five weeks in a row and set an new all-time NFL record? You bet he can. The Packers will shank punts and not kick to Hall but if the Chiefs pin the Packers back defensively, then they will be forced to kick to Hall.
7. This will be homecoming for Vonnie Holliday. The former Packers defensive end has a lot to prove in this game. He has four sacks on the season but only one since opening day. He was hurt in the Ravens game but played last week. He's due for a big game and nobody knows Brett Favre better than Holliday. He had his best day as an NFL professional day in Green Bay last year sacking Drew Bledsoe five times.
8. Mike Maslowski needs to pay attention to Ahman Green. Green has had success this year running the ball and wearing down defenses. But he'll be used in play action and has the ability to make plays catching the ball out of the backfield. Maslowski needs to watch Green like a Hawk! If he can do that, he'll blow up some set screen plays and dump off passes.
9. I expect the Lambeau crowd to be very loud. Kansas City had a difficult time in Baltimore with the noise. Though they started in poor field position most of the game, they were not very creative offensively deep in their own territory.
10. Being 6-0 is nothing new to Dick Vermeil. He accomplished it two times in his career. Once with the Philadelphia Eagles and the second with the St. Louis Rams. The Eagles failed to get to the Super Bowl when they did it but the Rams were a different story.
Around the AFC West
1. Not sure where to start. Let's go with the Raiders. They lost to the hapless, bumbling, stumbling, winless Chicago Bears. They allowed Kordell Stewart to score 18 points in the fourth quarter. Stewart struck on two long touchdown drives to give the Bears the lead. The Raiders kicked a field goal to tie the game but the Raiders Swiss cheese defense allowed Stewart to get his team into field goal position. Edinger kicked a 49-yard field goal with no time remaining giving the Bears a 24-21 victory..
2. The Raiders actually are fortunate to be only 2-3 on the season. They should have lost to the Bengals at home and if not for the San Diego Chargers prevent defense; the Raiders would not have come from behind by fourteen points late in the quarter and won that game in overtime.
3. What's up with kicker Sebastian Janikowski? He clanked the tying field goal, missed an extra point and he's becoming a human tragedy every time he kicks the ball. He's either incredible or ordinary with every kick. You think that bar fight had anything to do with it?
4. After the loss, Raiders owner Al Davis had to be upset with his coaching staff. But he can't blame them. The Raiders are old, slow and their window was slammed shut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last years Super Bowl. This team needs to overhaul the entire roster by getting younger and faster. However, due to their crippling salary cap, that might not be so easy.
5. The Raiders must travel to Cleveland next weekend to play the Browns. Tim Couch appears to have won his starting job back after his amazing performance last Sunday night against the Steelers. He only hit 20 of 25 passes and threw his first touchdown of the season. The Raiders might be 2-4 entering their Monday Night game against the Chiefs in two weeks. Ouch!
6. The Chargers found much maligned David Boston. He finally shut up his mouth long enough to catch two touchdown passes in the Chargers 27-21 defeat in Jacksonville. Rumors persist that the Chargers will release Boston at the end of the year and take the cap hit to rid themselves of their biggest liability.
7. Speaking of rumors. The Spanos family, who owns the Chargers, might be considering a coaching change. Schottenheimer is 5-0 this year and he lost the last four games of the 2002 season. That's nine losses in a row. San Diego has a buy week and they might be shopping for a new head coach before Christmas.
8.What happened to LaDainian Tomlinson. He only carried the ball ten times for 38 yards rushing. After a stellar performance against the Raiders a week earlier, Tomlinson looked tired. He's been over used the last two seasons and he already looks spent.
9. Drew Brees once again played a very strong game. He passed for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns. He might have the most talent of any AFC West quarterback but his surrounding cast is inferior. Plus the vanilla play calling by Schottenheimer has left Brees a pocket passer. He needs to move around the pocket more.
10. For those who doubt that Schottenheimer has any business coaching in the NFL, need to read his statement after the game. "The Score doesn't matter," he said to the press gathered after Sunday's game. "I talked all week (in practice) don't even bother looking at the scoreboard." Someone might need to remind the beleaguered head coach that the pre-season ended five weeks ago.