Back to the drawing board for the defense. Going into the season everyone knew that Gunther Cunningham had a tough battle ahead reworking a defense that made little to no changes and trying to make them a Super Bowl defense.
Well what Chiefs fans learned is how far the defense hasn't come. They knew going in that Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer would use the bootleg to gain advantage and he was masterful in his deception. That can't be said for the Chiefs defense that routinely fell for the fakes. What was disappointing was that Kansas City never made any adjustments and outside of a couple of plays, Plummer got the best of the Chiefs.
But the killer was second year running back Quentin Griffin who tore up the Chiefs for 155 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns; two by his legs and the other with his hands. Griffin was mighty for Denver especially on cutback runs. The Chiefs defense continually over pursued especially the defensive ends. But the play of the safeties has to be a major disappointment for Cunningham. They did not look good at all.
Jerome Woods and Greg Wesley didn't play well. Woods looked slow and out of place on defense. Routinely he took the wrong angles to stop Griffin on both of his scoring drives. Wesley failed to stop Griffin on his 45-yard drive. Wesley made up for that play by knocking the ball out of Griffin's hand late in the third quarter that resulted in a fumble and kept the Chiefs in the ball game.
The secondary was back-peddling and Cunningham's corners were anything but aggressive. The injury to William Bartee didn't help as he left the game with a concussion and did not return. But too many times especially on third and long, the Chiefs corners were 10 yards or more off the receivers. On some plays, they didn't even have a corner or safety on a Broncos wide receiver.
Second year corner Julian Battle seemed lost on defense and they'll need him to get a better grip of the schemes or they'll have to start using Benny Sapp in his place. Sapp was not active for the game and it's not known if he'd done a better job but it certainly couldn't have been any worse.
Unlike their counterparts on defense, the Broncos corners played a strong bump and run that kept the Chiefs wide receivers at bay. They played bump and run to perfection and that was a shocker considering the Broncos outside of cornerback Champ Bailey are average at best.
On offense the Chiefs outside of Priest Holmes was abysmal. Trent Green with the score 7-3 took a 23-yard sack that killed the momentum and woke up the Broncos home crowd. Green looked like a rookie quarterback at times but his receivers weren't open and like last season when he struggled, he could not step up and make plays. It was obvious that the time Eddie Kennison and Johnnie Morton missed in training camp affected his performance.
Still the Chiefs with no breakaway receiver might once again look to try and pry Keenan McCardell away from Tampa Bay. It's obvious that the Chiefs need a physical receiver and he would fit the bill for a Kansas City offense that needs a jolt. With the injuries to rookie tight end Kris Wilson and receiver Marc Boerigter, Kennison, Morton and Dante' Hall need some help.
Hall was under-utilized in the Broncos game and the Chiefs need to be more creative in getting him into the offense. Kennison made a nice play on the 58-yard catch and run but failed to pick-up a key first down midway through the fourth quarter when he wasn't strong enough to break free on a short gainer that would have given Kansas City a first down.
That play was the ball game and summed up the Chiefs entire performance.
Now the offense won't always look this bad and this will be the toughest road test of the season for the Chiefs. As for the defense, they reverted to some old habits and Cunningham will find ways to fix it. Rookie defensive tackle Junior Siavii was impressive in his time on the field but the defense was mired with poor tackling and that is what killed them the last two years.
Kansas City must now look to start with repairing an defensive line that could be without Vonnie Holliday who played poorly less his one sack on Plummer in the first drive. But Holliday once again hurt his groin and rookie Jared Allen has ability but is a long way from adapting and excelling at the defensive end position. But Cunningham will have little choice but to put Allen into the fire if Holliday is out for an extended period of time.
It's a shame the Chiefs looked so bad on both sides of the ball and head coach Dick Vermeil has plenty to be concerned about with his teams lethargic performance on Sunday.
But this is only one game and it remains to be seen if this game will serve as a wake up call for the team or be a part of skid that not many expected in 2004.