In the post game aftermath of the Chiefs 34-24 loss to the New York Giants on Friday night, the media ripped the KC defense. They did not have a strong game but playing a very vanilla defense generally does not stir up a recipe for a successful evening. The team never blitzed once and they ran very few defensive stunts that could have crossed up the Giants offense.
For the most part, the Chiefs defense made some nice plays when the starting unit was together. The only person missing from the group that will line up against the Broncos one month from today was safety Jerome Woods. After Shaunard Harts failed to cover the hole that led to Ron Dayne's first touchdown run, everyone understands the importance of the Safety in Cunningham's defense.
Harts simply was out of position or Dayne would have been nailed for no gain and the game might have turned out different. On his second touchdown run, linebacker Monte Beisel plugged the wrong hole and Dayne scampered untouched into the end zone.
Now Dayne had a nice game and benefited by seeing two gaping holes but he's no Jim Brown. For the most part, he's struggled his entire career. Still the Chiefs will be facing some of the best backs in the NFL this season and they have to be in the right place, especially on running plays, so ordinary backs like Dayne don't look super human.
I was impressed with cornerback Eric Warfield. He hasn't looked all that solid in training camp but its clear that he and Dexter McCleon are the starters this season. Warfield successfully thwarted every pass thrown his way Friday night.
Second year cornerback Julian Battle is nowhere near the player that the Chiefs had hoped he's be thus far. Battle who was expected to jump ahead of Warfield for a starting spot had three penalties and looked uncomfortable playing man to man. Battle needs to play a lot the next three games because they'll need him in Nickel sets as the season plays out. William Bartee also struggled against the Giants. He seemed a step too slow and played to far off Giants receivers.
Defensive end Erik Hicks looked like a man possessed on defense. He has been tearing it up in training camp and it's clear that he's ready for the regular season. Ryan Sims struggled at times but he was most effective when he came around the guard on stunts than going straight up field. He really needs to step up his game. One thing is certain that of all the defensive players on the field; he has the most pressure to perform.
Rookie defensive tackle Junior Siavvi is going to be a great player for the Chiefs defense. Several times the Giants ran right at him and he held his ground. If the Chiefs can get 25-28 snaps a game out of Siavii this season, the defensive line will be solid as long as the other parts contribute.
Fellow rookie Jared Allen showed that he has a nose for the football. He had a sack and played well above expectations. In training camp, I noticed that Allen seemed to adapt very quickly to his responsibilities in drills. He could push R-Kal Truluck and Gary Stills for significant playing time at defensive end.
The defense has a long ways to go but the gap is shorter than it's been in previous years. I'd be very concerned if this was the fourth exhibition game but after only one game; there is no need to worry. The next two games will determine how far the defense has come and I expect better efforts against the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns.
Offensively the Chiefs have no issues with the exception of developing better depth along the offensive line. Rookie tight end Kris Wilson dropped his first catch and then scored his first touchdown of his young career. The amazing thing about Wilson is the fact he was open on every play. He not only has great hands but he's adept at running crisp routes.
But the talk of camp has been undrafted free agent receiver Richard Smith from Arkansas. He led the Chiefs offense in catches and receiving yards and he's a solid candidate to start for this football team if any of the three veterans ahead of him aren't ready for opening day. Johnnie Morton is out at least another three to four weeks and it's possible that Kansas City could release Morton who has never adapted to the Chiefs offense since he signed as a free agent back in 2002. In fact, Smith appears to me that the young rookie has a solid grip on the Chiefs offense and that makes him a lock to make the team.
Eddie Kennison should be back in a week and Marc Boerigter will be back at practice this week. That means Morton could be the odd man out. I know the Chiefs were a little disappointed in their other rookie, wide receiver Samie Parker. He dropped a pass that would have sustained a drive and though he's made improvements in training camp this past week; he needs a big game or two to insure some much needed depth; especially if KC parts with Morton.
Next up for the Chiefs are the St. Louis Rams next Monday Night. Kansas City will break camp in River Falls one week from today and then return home for good. They'll have plenty of work to do this week to shore up the defense and it will be interesting to see the improvements they can make in practice this week.