At at every level of coaching, you'll hear the same philosophy about what a team needs to do to win Championships. Regardless if its at the Pop Warner level or the Super Bowl level everyone understands that defense wins championships. The Detroit Pistons won with defense over the summer when they out plated the Los Angeles Lakers. The Baltimore Ravens did it in 2000 the Florida Marlins in 2003 and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.
To some observers the Chiefs 2004 defense appeared to have taken a step backwards after their 21-19 loss on Saturday Night against the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs looked liked like they had made great strides after their Monday Night victory over the St. Louis Rams.
The Chiefs gave up just 68-yards rushing against the Rams in the first half of that game, but the Browns managed to surpass that mark in the second quarter of Saturday's game. The Browns only had one scoring drive in the first half and they managed to get into the end zone by not completing a single pass. With their passing game in ruins, they turned to the run where they ran it down the Chiefs throats chewing up all 80 yards off the scoring drive on the ground. Running back William Green had one long run for 42-yards and Lee Suggs had 28-yards on one carry. Both runs were successful finding gaps in the Chiefs defense. In both cases, the safeties failed to cover those gaps. With both Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley sitting this game out, their back-ups couldn't get the job done. I venture to say if the starters were in the lineup; the Chiefs defense might have faired better against the Browns.
"We knew that they were going to come out and run the ball. They're a great team. They're going to be a great team this season," linebacker Monty Beisel said on KC Chiefs.com "I don't think we really gave up much of anything to them other than those couple runs. Other than that, I think we played pretty well."
Now is not the time to press the panic button because it is still preseason. But it would be good for the team to see some consistency when the reserves get in the game. Kansas City's first and second team rotated played all of the first half and into the third quarter. For the most part they shut down the Browns offense.
But when the third and fourth stringers came into the game in the fourth quarter, they allowed the Browns to score two touchdowns in the last three minutes. The critical blow was the hail-marry pass at the end of the game that might have sealed the roster spot for some of the players on the field in that fourth quarter meltdown.
"You're never down. You never can tell what's going to happen in a game. All glory to God, He gives us the ability to have fun and run around and play. When you put a smile on your face and go out there and play you never know what's going to happen." Browns quarterback Luke McCown said on KC Chiefs.com.
Still the Chiefs can't be happy with the way that they lost the game regardless of who was on the field on defense. With a tough early season schedule, the Chiefs could be in for a rough four game stretch to open the season. At first glance it appeared the Chiefs could be favored in three of those four games but after Saturday's performance, that might not be the case especially if the entire team does not play better. The Chiefs offense even with the injury to Boerigter could not get any consistancy outside of the third quarter when the regulars were on the sidelines.
Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil understands that the defense was not the only culprit as the first team offense could not put the ball in the endzone on their first two drives and had to settle for two Lawrence Tynes field goals.
"Too many dropped passes and too many penalties,'' said Vermeil. "We stopped ourselves that way."
The Chiefs have won one pre-season game left to work out all the kinks on offense and defense. Thursday night they face the the Dallas Cowboys. The last game of the pre-season generally does not feature the starters except for one or two series but Kansas City might adjust that format so they can get some confidence going into the regular season.
But one fact remains, many of the players who were on the field in the fourth quarter, won't make it past Tuesday's cut down date. Now those players will be on pins and needles awaiting a visit from the 'The Turk' on Tuesday morning.