Chiefs Pass Rush is Still AWOL

The Kansas City Chiefs needed to win Sunday's contest against the Philadelphia Eagles just to keep pace in the AFC West. But right before our eyes, the Chiefs squandered that opportunity in Arrowhead after establishing a 24-6 lead late in the 2nd quarter. Instead the Eagles rolled up 31 consecutive points on the Chiefs defense and that was the primary reason the team lost its second game of the year.

Yes, Trent Greens interception that the Eagles ran back for a touchdown and running back Larry Johnson's fumble were turning points in the game, but the Chiefs' collapse on Sunday was definitely facilitated by the disappearance of the defense.

The game started out with a bang as Kansas City throttled the Eagles offense, but the Chiefs own offense stalled after the turnovers, and they could never regroup. This was exactly the sort of game the Chiefs rebuilt the defense in the offseason.

Kansas City needed their new defense to step up and they weren't up to the task. For the second straight game, Chiefs fans saw the same things from their defense they had been seeing for the last three seasons, breakdowns in coverage, arm tackles, and an overall lack of effort. Unfortunately, that's only the beginning of the Chiefs problems.

The Chiefs need suspended cornerback Eric Warfield to be ready to play as a starter in two weeks when the team faces the Washington Redskins at home. That will definitely help. Once Warfield gets his football legs back, he will improve the Chiefs secondary immediately, but he's not enough. The most distressing part of watching yesterday's game was the absolute lack of a solid pass rush. The Chiefs were unable to consistently put any pressure on Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, and it killed them. It appears that the Chiefs are missing defensive tackle Ryan Sims more than anyone thought. Though Sims was not as productive as some would have liked the last several years, he at least forced opposing offensive lines to double team him most of the game.

In truth, the Chiefs defense did some very good things. They took away running back Brian Westbrook. They intercepted McNabb. They stopped the run. Once Philadelphia discovered they could pass against the Chiefs with ease, though, it was over. McNabb stood in the pocket for most of the game with little concern about a pass rush that could never get to him, and the Chiefs secondary couldn't hold on that long. Thus McNabb threw for 369 yards and three touchdown passes.

Kansas City needs someone in the interior of the defensive line to step up. The likely candidate would be young defensive tackle Junior Siavii. He has the tools and the ability to be a force on the defensive line. To date, he has been a disappointment, never consistently living up to his potential. Tackle Lional Dalton can be effective, but he needs someone next to him that can command the double teams for him to be fully effective. The defensive ends need pressure in the middle to loosen up the outside. With both Eric Hicks and Jared Allen hobbling after the Eagles loss the emergence of Carlos Hall needs to happen quickly for this team to have any success rushing the passer in the weeks to come.

The Chiefs desperately need to find a consistent pass rush. The return of Warfield should help, although Dexter McCleon hasn't been bad in his absence. However, the Chiefs need Sims back to fortify this defense. The season is not over. Kansas City is 2-2 going into the bye, and in truth, it could be a lot worse. They are however, in a state of emergency, and if the ship isn't righted, the season will be a failure. Somewhere, somehow, the Chiefs have to find some way to the quarterback.

Hopefully, after the bye, someone can step. The 2005 season hangs in the balance.

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