The Kansas City Chiefs fresh off their Panther kicking on Sunday have two choices after securing their second loss to start the 2004 season. One they can step up and start playing like the Super Bowl champions they want to be or they can lick their wounds, take some calculated chances or call it quits.
Maybe the injury to running back Priest Holmes is a blessing. With so many prime time players on the shelf in the NFL, maybe the Chiefs need to look no further then their opponents last Sunday. The Panthers came limping into town with two of their primary offensive targets on the shelf but players stepped up in their absence and that's what has to happen this week.
Players such as rookie wide outs Richard Smith, Samie Parker and running backs Derrick Blaylock and Larry Johnson. Holmes is impossible to replace but its time some of the younger players need to show some meddle.
Wide receiver Eddie Kennison will be a game time decision for the Texans game, but it's likely the Chiefs could sit Kennison out since their next game is a Monday Night contest at Baltimore. That's followed with a week off and that might be the best medicine for the Chiefs.
The bottom line is the Chiefs have only lost two games and if the first couple of weeks are any indication about the AFC West, it's going to be a dog-fight and 10-6 or 9-7 might just win the division.
That's not much solace for Chiefs fans but it's the best of a bad situation and the AFC West is far from being one of the best divisions in the AFC yet alone the NFL. That's good news for the Chiefs who play five of their last six games against division foes.
But before this season gets away from the Chiefs they might want to make a statement to their fans. Two players on other NFL rosters have been rumored to have interest from Kansas City. The most popular is wide receiver Keenan McCardell from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers cornerback Mike McKenzie.
These moves would bolster both sides of the ball but it's not likely. But both have merit and Dick Vermeil did say something interesting today when talking about bringing up a receiver on the practice squad.
"Not necessarily. Just have to wait and see," said Vermeil. When pushed about going outside the organization Vermeil clearly left the door open, "I don't know."
That's a long way from where Vermeil stood on the issue in regards to McCardell. Now the holdout receiver is clearly past his prime but the Chiefs need serviceable and all they have now is inexperience. But remember this, McCardell made Brad Johnson look like an All-Pro and McCardell has a Super Bowl ring. But getting Tampa Bay to bite on a trade might be tough. Still McCardell has been lobbying to join the Chiefs since mid-summer and though it goes against the philosophy to add players during the season, it might be worth a fourth round draft pick to get the veteran receiver.
As for McKenzie, he recently signed a new cap-friendly deal with the Packers but it's no secret that move was done to facilitate a trade. The problem with McKenzie is that he seems to be one of those players that's never satisfied with his contract. He's played this game before and if he goes to a new team; especially one that gives up a draft pick, the team acquiring him will have to get assurances that he will honor his new contract.
Kansas City in away is fortunate they have to winnable games ahead of them before the bye week. The Texans come into Sunday's game also 0-2 and the week after; Kansas City plays against the Baltimore Ravens who just lost tight end Todd Heap for three weeks with an injury.
If the Chiefs really want to make a run for the Super Bowl this season, then they'll have to make up their minds and do things a bit different. Vermeil is not a gambler and that was very evident on Sunday when he passed up on two short fourth down attempts that could have put more points on the board and that might have been the difference in the game.
But hindsight is 20-20 and plenty of fans are doing more than enough second guessing about the teams off-season failure to sign any new free agents. But Kansas City can do that by making one or two additions in the next two weeks.
If that happens it might make an impact and then again it might not. But its clear what they've been doing is not working so if nothing else it will shake things up and that might be the best thing to get this team playing at a higher level.