Trent Green (B): Last year Chiefs quarterback Trent Green seemed to make all the right decisions. But this year, he's struggled get into a groove. He's only thrown four touchdowns in the first quarter of the season. On the flip side he's thrown three interceptions and the most costly was the 102-yard pick that Marcus Coleman snagged out of the air that turned a sure Texans victory into a devastating loss. Green has been handicapped this season with the injuries to his wide receiver corps but he's a veteran. His performance against the Ravens however suggests that he's back on track. With Eddie Kennison set to return and with the emergence of Chris Horn, Green's second quarter should great out hire despite the stiffer competition.
Priest Holmes (A+) - By far the Chiefs top performer in the first quarter. Not so much for his rushing yards a league leading 476 yards. No not for his six touchdowns which ties him for the league lead through four games. Nor for overcoming a severe ankle sprain that had some in the media proclaiming that he would be out for weeks. For me it was the effort he showed in trying to chase down Marcus Coleman on that 102-yard touchdown run. Superman nearly caught Coleman and knocked the ball out of his arms. Still the effort was magnificent and he showed why he's the team leader. A lot has been said that Holmes might hang up his cleats after this season. If that's the case, Chiefs fans should enjoy the ride the next twelve games and remember how devastating he was against the Ravens last Monday night. I would like to see Holmes get more involved in the passing game and that should happen once Kennison returns.
Derrick Blaylock (B) - Outside of his performance filling in for Priest Holmes on Monday night, Blaylock has done very little nor had the impact that he had on the Chiefs offense last year. For whatever reason the Chiefs are not throwing to their backs and Blaylock has shown an ability to make plays after he catches the ball. He's been a decent runner but it's clear that he can't carry the load. Still he's ahead of Larry Johnson on the depth chart.
Larry Johnson (D) - I'm being kind. Johnson has not endeared himself to his teammates and coaches with his media enhanced battle with Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil. For someone this talented and supposedly as composed as an athlete to come out of college in quite sometime, he has struggled to adjust to his role. Honestly he has no role as he continues to battle his own demons and playing time behind Blaylock and Holmes. I still defend the drafting of Johnson but he needs to grow up and understand that he'll get his turn. It could be as soon as next season if Holmes retires. The Chiefs are not going to trade their former top draft pick so he better make the best of it because the day will come when he'll be counted on.
Tony Richardson (A) - Another player who quite likely is playing his final season in the NFL. Richardson's performance against the Ravens especially against All-World linebacker Ray Lewis understates the value that Richardson brings to this team. He is their spiritual leader and when he's on the field, nobody plows holes and lead blocks like T-Rich. Chiefs fans might have taken him for granted but he is as valuable to this offense as Green, Holmes and Gonzalez.
Omar Easy (D-) - I've yet to see anything that tells me that Omar Easy can be a productive NFL fullback. But with the injury to Kris Wilson, Easy has become the only true back-up to Richardson and its clear when he's in the backfield the offense is not the same. The Chiefs must develop a solid fullback and that should be a high priority in the draft next season.
Tony Gonzalez (A-) - The All-Pro tight end for the most part despite double and triple teams has manage to lead the Chiefs both in receiving yards with 228 yards and catches with 18. With the injuries to the Chiefs receivers, Gonzalez has had to overcome some daunting odds but he's stayed with it and the Chiefs offense has improved over the last couple of games because Gonzalez has been used more. I keep beating this horse but when Kennison returns the middle of the field will open up and Gonzalez could have a career year. No longer will the safety be able to cheat on Gonzalez with an outside receiver threat.
Jason Dunn (A) - The back-up tight end already has two touchdowns this season after snagging three last year. He's pound for pound the best blocking tight end in the history of the NFL but he has hands as well. He was after all a former #1 draft pick and he has great hands. Dunn's performance against the Ravens adds a new wrinkle to the Chiefs offense. It was the wrinkle they hoped that second round draft pick Kris Wilson would bring to the offense before his broken leg that has forced him to the sidelines the first eight weeks of the season. Dunn needs to be used more in the offense and that will help Gonzalez get open and create the mismatches this offense needs to be successful.
Eddie Kennison (C+) - The Chiefs top receiving threat has been hamstrung with an injury that has caused him to miss the last three games. He made a grand debut against the Denver Broncos and showed what happens when he stretches the field. Kennison needs to get back on the field and that will open up the Chiefs entire offense. It's clear when Kennison is on the field this offense runs more smoothly. As of Tuesday, Kennison was about 95% back to his old form. A week off will do him wonders and the Chiefs offense should get a boost in Jacksonville next weekend with a healthy Kennison on the field.
Johnnie Morton (A) - Nobody has surprised me more than Johnnie Morton. Rumors of his release in training camp were fueled by his Achilles heal injury that caused him to miss the entire exhibition season. Still despite the heat from the media and his coaches, Morton has stepped up his game and become the top receiver on a team that needs one badly. Morton is on pace to gain over 1000 yards and he's second behind Gonzalez in receiving yards and catches. Morton has showed a fire and passion that has been missing the last two years as he struggled to find a groove in this offense. But he has his it working this season as he's caught every ball that's been near him.
Dante Hall (C+) - If anyone has been a disappointment in the offense it's been Dante Hall. He' struggled to adjust to a starting role and increased playing time due to injuries. He's yet to have a breakout game as a receiver and has yet to stretch the defense with his speed. The Chiefs however have not used his strengths and have tried to use him in pass patterns that simply don't bring out his skills as a receiver. They need to stop all those fancy wide receiver screens and try to take advantage of his speed on slower cornerbacks.
Chris Horn (A) - Everyone in the NFL loves stories like Chris Horn. He's overcome every possible odd, played in every league you can play in and has vaulted himself as a playmaker in the Chiefs offense. Injuries have aided his cause but he's also taken advantage of his opportunity and give the Chiefs coaches credit for getting him on the roster from the practice squad before the Texans game. He scored his first NFL touchdown in that game and his possession catches in the Ravens game showed that if the ball is in the air anywhere near Horn; he'll catch it. He's a solid #3 receiver and he reminds me so much of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey; that the Chiefs might have themselves a diamond in the rough.
Richard Smith (D) - For all the hype of the pre-season, when the regular season came around, the undrafted free agent from Arkansas, simply fell down on the job. To his credit, there was a reason he was undrafted and he has skill as was evident in his performance this pre-season. Now back on the practice squad, Smith has an opportunity to find the skill level that made him the training camp darling.
Samie Parker & Kris Wilson (INC) - Neither 2004 draft pick has made an impact on the Chiefs offense thus far. Parker the much-heralded speed burner form Oregon has battled a hamstring injury and has struggled to understand the offense. Wilson broke his leg in the final exhibition game in Dallas and he's scheduled to be back in five to six weeks. His absence has been one of the reasons the offense struggled so much this season. He was a major factor in the Chiefs plans for a revamped offense and it will be interesting to see if they incorporate his talent down the stretch.
Willie Roaf (A): After struggling the first two weeks of the year, the media; yours truly included, thought that Roaf had reached the end of his career. He looked slow and unable to plant his feet. He looked anything but an All-Pro tackle. But in the Texans game he was outstanding. Then last Monday night he was so dominate in pass protection and devastating pan-caking blocks in the running game against the Ravens; Chiefs fans leaped for joy. It was by far the most impressive game by any Chiefs tackle this season. It's clear he's nowhere from the end of the road.
Brian Waters (A-) - Did you see Brian Waters lay out Ray Lewis play after play on Monday Night? With two pro-bowl offensive linemen on the field at the same time, it's easy to overlook how good Waters has become. The former fullback has successfully made the transition to stud guard and he's in the same class as Will Shields. Waters has become so consistant that he's just as nimble in pass protection and run blocking. He's as valuable a linemen as the Chiefs have on the roster and he's young enough to get even better.
Casey Wiegmann (B+) - Two weeks ago the Kansas City Chiefs signed their starting center to a long term contract extension. It was a strong move and Wiegmann's future is bright. Cast-off by the Chicago Bears three years ago, he's quietly positioned himself as one of the teams most stable linemen. This year he has struggled at times and some of the holding calls have been uncharacteristic and that's why he's graded out a little low. Still he is the anchor on the line and he's one of the NFL's best centers. He just needs to plant his feet better and do a better job of protecting the interior of the line. Too many times this season Trent Green has been sacked by defensive linemen coming up the gut.
Will Shields (A+) - This man is simply the best guard in the NFL. He might be one of the best of all time and his play this season has been amazing. His work ethic and attitude has been one that amazes veterans and sets an example for rookies that clearly make him the Chiefs team leader on the line. He's also helped transition in a new right tackle in John Welbourn. He's had to keep an eye on his duties and responsibilities as well as that of Welbourn. Shields hasn't missed a beat as he continues to impress his coaching staff and the players on the Chiefs roster and those on the teams that he faces each week. Nobody lineman in the NFL pulls on running plays better than Shields and when the Chiefs need to gain a yard or two in short yardage it's often you'll see the Chiefs running somewhere behind Shields.
John Welbourn (B-) - When the Chiefs made the draft day trade to acquire former Eagles guard John Welbourn, everyone knew he was the replacement for the departed John Tait. Welbourn in the past has shown a fiery demeanor and has fit in well with the cast of characters on the Chiefs offensive line. Though he's struggled at times in the Chiefs offense especially in Denver against the Broncos; he has turned things around as late. His turnaround might have to do with being pulled in the Panthers game during a key drive late in the first half. Chris Bober replaced Welbourn and since that point; he's responded and played better football.
Chris Bober & Jordan Black (C+) - Other than the above mentioned drive; the Chiefs have used Bober in a variety of roles as a fill-in to give his offensive line teammates a rest. Bober was a started with the New York Giants the last three seasons but is clearly a back-up for the Chiefs. That's not a bad thing. He can play both guard positions and is currently the back-up for Casey Wiegmann. Jordan Black has played sparingly but has thrown some decent blocks when he's been in the line-up.
Kevin Sampson & Brett Williams (INC) - Nether have done anything this season and both are considered prospects. They represent the current back-ups and one of them could become the heir apparent to Willie Roaf. But for now they are languishing on the bench and the chances of real playing time or being active on game day will have more to do with injuries than talent.
Tomorrow will grade out the defense.