Cornerbacks Still a Question Mark

The Kansas City Chiefs answered a lot of questions when they played the Jets in week one, but there is still one we don't have an answer to. Here it is… Are the Chiefs corners good enough to keep winning until Warfield returns in week four?

I purposely waited a day to write this. Chiefs' fans deserved a day to celebrate a great victory without having to face any questions about potential trouble. There was much to celebrate too, with such an awesome display of defense! Chief's fans haven't seen that kind of defense since James Hasty was playing cornerback. However, speaking of cornerback…

Everyone in Kansas City had better pray that cornerback Pat Surtain is able to play next week against the Raiders. As good as the Chiefs were on defense, the Jets were even worse on offense. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles dropped a sure-fire touchdown with no Chief defender within 10 yards, and another on the very next play that was both a lousy effort to make a catch and an off-target throw. Still, it was a catchable ball. Don't expect too many drops from the Raiders receivers, or too may passes from Raiders quarterback Kerry Collins to look like that third down pass to Coles just mentioned.

The worst pass of the day by Jets quarterback Chad Pennington was his last one, on their first possession of the fourth quarter. Pennington drove his team to the Chiefs two yard line by way of a 12-play drive. The Jets had to go for a touchdown on 4th and goal being down 27-0, so what does he do? He tosses a fade pattern intended for Justin McCareins that was as bad of a pass as I've ever seen. It was like they had never practiced that play. On the next Jets series, Jay Fiedler was the quarterback.

In spite of horrendous quarterback and receiver play, they still threw for 333 yards with a 61.4 completion percentage. With a decent quarterback it could have been much worse. From my vantage point in the press box, I saw open Jets receivers on almost every play. It's true that the Chiefs defense brought very effective pressure against the Jets, but if Trent Green played for the Jets he would have thrown for over 500 yards. Also, if you have Pennington on your fantasy team, trade him now! If you can't trade him, cut him, he has to be hurt. There is no way he could play that poorly if he had recovered fully from off-season shoulder surgery.

Back to the key to next week's game at Oakland. Late word is that Surtain is recovering from a mild concussion, and will play. That is amazing since he was completely knocked unconscious on his interception. It is also amazing the Chiefs held any pro team to seven points with Dexter McCleon and DeWayne Washington as their cornerbacks for two and a half quarters. The Chiefs haven't proved they have an answer for when NFL quarterbacks start picking on McCleon, because it hasn't happened….. yet. I am thankful the Jets didn't start Fiedler, it looked to me like he could have thrown McCleon's way often.

The Raiders, having played Thursday night, surely watched the Chiefs game and took notice of all the open receivers, dropped balls, and bad passes, and the 333 yards allowed through the air. If the Chiefs pressure doesn't get to Collins, Moss, Porter and the rest of the Raiders receivers aren't likely to be as generous as Coles was. However, there is reason for optimism. The Raiders offensive line is not particularly good in pass protection, especially both tackles. They are a bit slow coming out of their stances and the Chiefs speedy blitzers such as safety Sammy Knight, cornerback Benny Sapp, and linebacker Derrick Johnson should be able to be very disruptive.

With the loss of defensive tackle Ryan Sims (foot), look for the Chiefs to use the 3-4 formation a lot more than perhaps they would have. When Sims left the Jets game, and with defensive tackle Junior Siavii inactive, the Chiefs used the 3-4 alignment and had some success. Defensive tackle Lional Dalton commented after the game that the 3-4 was just put in since the team came back from training camp in Rivers Falls, WI. Dalton indicated that the formation was particularly effective against the run, but during the Jets game the Chiefs were very successful with blitzing at least one of the four linebackers plus a safety on occasion in passing situations, and the Raiders may not have an answer for the team speed the Chiefs can put on the field utilizing that formation.

If Pat Surtain can play, the Chiefs will be in a very different situation opposed to having to start DeWayne Washington in his place. The difference could be a 2-0 start and a lead in the AFC West for the 2005 Chiefs, or a dissapointing 1-1 start.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories