Great Time for a 'Bye Week'

The Kansas City Chiefs entered their bye week after a stunning and disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. It couldn't have come at a better time. The team is reeling. After getting blown out in Denver on Monday night a little over a week ago, the Chiefs were again blown out (at least in the last 2 ½ quarters) at home by the Eagles. It's time to regroup and the bye week comes at a great time for this team.

During this week of rest and reflection for the Chiefs they need to get some key players back on the field. Eric Warfield and John Welbourne return to the team this week after serving league-mandated suspensions. Willie Roaf should be ready to play after missing three games with a hamstring injury. Others like Trent Green, Jason Dunn, and Tony Richardson can certainly use the week of rest to allow their bodies to heal.

After four games and a 2-2 record the Chiefs season is far from over, even though it feels like it. Having some of their deficiencies exposed this early in the season with a free week to work on them could be a very good thing. Having three of their remaining four AFC West division games at home could also be a very good thing. The key will be their ability to regroup, and that should begin during this bye week. The offense and defense need to review what is working, what is not working and what, if any, personnel changes they should make. Here are my thoughts.

OFFENSE:
Three times this season, the Chiefs offense has started the game off hot. They've scored at least 17 points in the first half of those games. The problem has been two-fold. First, they haven't been able to carry that productivity over to the second half and I think this lies at the feet of offensive coordinator Al Saunders.

It appears that once the Chiefs get a lead, the team gets conservative and tries to shorten the game. Against the Eagles for example, the Chiefs went three and out on their first two possessions of the 2nd half. These possessions came on the heels of back to back touchdown drives by the Eagles, one to end the first half and one to begin the second half. On those two drives, the Chiefs ran the ball on first and second down with little success. The Chiefs are not a team built to shorten games. They need to stretch their legs offensively.

The offense must continue to attack in the 2nd half if they are to contend for the playoffs and the AFC West title. It is a telling statistic that the Chiefs have not scored a meaningful touchdown in the second half of a game this year. Saunders needs to go on the attack and never let up.

Second, when the Chiefs fall behind and are forced to pass, they have not been able to produce. The loss of Roaf and Welbourne has been major factors in their inability to give Green enough time in the pocket. However, other than Eddie Kennison, the Chiefs have not had a reliable option to throw to. Saunders needs to find ways to get Tony Gonzalez involved in the down field passing game. Where has the dual tight end threat provided by Kris Wilson been?

It's time for his talent to move from the OTA's and training camp to the games on Sunday. Sammie Parker and his drops have been damaging; if we were going to get a multitude of drops from our second wide receiver we should have kept Johnnie Morton. At least he could have made a few meaningful catches along the way.

OFFENSIVE SOLUTIONS:
Activate John Welbourn and cut Jeremy Parquet (resigning him to the practice squad). That cut might not even be necessary since the Chiefs cut Jonathan Ingram on Tuesday afternoon.

Resign Freddie Mitchell and cut Chris Horn. We need another veteran wide receiver and Freddie already has some familiarity with the offense. I know Horn is a fan favorite, but there is really no difference between Horn and Marc Boerigter in what they provide this offense. Boerigter is bigger and more experienced, so I give him the nod.

Another option would be to keep Horn and cut Will Svitek (resigning him to the practice squad).

DEFENSE:
The Chiefs defense has been horrendous the last two games and it was so-so against the Raiders. Based on their performance the question really needs to be asked: Is Gunther Cunningham a good X's and O's defensive coordinator? But where's the attacking defense?

He is a tremendous motivator and brings a much-needed feisty attitude to the team. However, I'm not really seeing a defensive scheme that keeps the opposing offense on its heels (like Denver and Philadelphia did to us).

I'm willing to give Cunningham a pass through the first four games because of personnel. He lost a corner back that could cover man to man when he lost Warfield to a four game suspension. He lost his one penetrating defensive tackle when Ryan Sims went down with injury. The Chiefs lack of a disrupter in the middle and a second man-to-man cover guy has forced Cunningham to play zones. While those zones are limiting the numerous big plays by the offense, they also are not delivering big plays by the defense.

I think it is hampering Cunningham from running the schemes he wants to run. Going to man-to-man coverage on the outside will also free Cunningham up to go wild with his speedy linebackers. They seem to be somewhat restrained at this point and need to be let loose.

DEFENSIVE SOLUTIONS:
First activate Eric Warfield and cut DeWayne Washington. Washington's biggest impact of the Chiefs this year has been holding the ball for Tynes' kickoffs against the Eagles.

Start Warfield and move McCleon to the nickel. Enough of this coach-speak from Vermeil about winning the spot from McCleon. McCleon's inability to cover man to man is handcuffing Cunningham.

Sign Cletidus Hunt and place Ryan Sims on IR. It sounds like Sims may not make it back until week 10 or 12 if at all this season. Add in a couple of weeks to get football ready and you're lost for the season. The Chiefs tried this wait it out game with Kris Wilson last season and it gained them nothing. What would the Chiefs look like now if they had used that spot to trade for Keenan McCardell at the beginning of the season last year?

The rotation of Browning, Dalton and Siavii needs some help. Hunt is a 6'4" 310 pound defensive tackle who has shown the ability to penetrate. He's a six-year veteran who has 17 sacks in his career (two seasons with 5 or more). Hunt has been rumored to be a bit of a locker room cancer, but at this point the Chiefs need his disruption on the field. Winning will deal with the disruption in the locker room.

Promote Alphonso Hodge from the practice squad and release Khari Long (resigning him to the practice squad). Hodge was lost during the preseason trying to understand the various zone coverages the Chiefs were utilizing to prepare for life without Warfield. If the Chiefs play more man coverages, Hodge is a guy that can help them. He's more physical than McCleon and he's better in coverage than Sapp. Sapp is an excellent blitzer and tackler but a liability in coverage. There is room for both of them. Long could be a player in the future, but right now he's only gotten on the field when the Chiefs were way out of it against Denver.

In two weeks activate Barber and put Fox on IR. If Fox is going to be out a long time, the same scenario as Sims applies. Don't waste the roster spot hoping to get him back for three of four games. Get a player on the field.

SPECIAL TEAMS:
One bright spot has been the special teams. Rookie punter Dustin Colquitt has played four NFL games and his punts have yielded three fumbles. However Kansas City has only recovered one of them. Still because of the way he punts the ball those turnovers should continue. The Chiefs need to get down field as though they expect one to happen and be in position to recover. He's averaging 42 yards a punt with a 35-yard net. It should be noted that the seven-yard difference between gross and net is not due to returns but balls bouncing into the end zone. Again, the Chiefs need to improve their punt coverage to down some of those punts.

Placekicker Lawrence Tynes has been pretty good. He's hit seven out of nine field goals (78%) and all 10 of his extra points. Further, he's averaging 60.8 yards on his kickoffs with two touchbacks. That means on average, his balls are landing around the four-yard line.

SUMMARY:
A change of philosophy and a change of personnel is necessary. This is a great time to bring Mitchell in (if he's healthy). He can spend the next week working on routes with Boerigter, Parker and Wilson, being covered by Warfield, Hodge and Bartee to get ready for the Redskins.

The Chiefs can use Todd Collins and Damon Huard to throw them passes. Getting Hunt in this week will give him time to get acclimated to his teammates along the defensive line. Let him do some physical work against Welbourn so they both get back to some contact. The Chiefs attacked the off season, it's time to attack the bye week and continue to attack the last 12 games on the schedule.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories