Monday Morning Quarterback: Houston Woes

I wonder if Texans head coach Gary Kubiak and Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan traded e-mails about the Chiefs' defense on Sunday? Rightly so, preseason game or not, until this Kansas City defense can stop the bootleg and send at least one man up the field, they deserve what they get.

That might seem a bit harsh, but it's more than fair. On Saturday night, I didn't think Texans' quarterback David Carr could fool the Chiefs with his ball fakes and bootlegs. But he did, and that's disappointing. On the other hand, it appeared that the Texans had a gameplan. The Chiefs may have been expecting a vanilla offense, and didn't get it.

But that's not much of an excuse, and that's about as much slack as this column will give them.

I know Herman Edwards had to be disappointed with the outcome of Saturday's 24-14 loss. Not only did his defense look downright awful at times, but the offense sputtered when Trent Green left the field.

The two biggest questions heading into the 2006 season for the Chiefs are clearly the state of the defense and who'll be the back-up quarterback. Yes, the left tackle situation became an issue with the so-called retirement of Willie Roaf, but that situation should resolve itself in the next week or so.

In River Falls, this defense was masterful at times. They flew to the ball, showed tremendous speed and for the most part were far ahead of the offense the first two weeks of training camp. What happened?

For one thing, rookie Tamba Hali was not in the lineup. He was in a cap and gown in College Station, Pennsylvania, getting his diploma from Penn State. Could he have made an impact stopping the bootleg? I believe he would have done a better job than any of the other defensive ends that lined up on Saturday night.

But what really concerned me was the Chiefs' lack of effort. I didn't see very much of the hard-charging, hitting off the ball explosion that I witnessed first-hand in River Falls.

Herman Edwards told me earlier this year that he wanted his team to play with passion. That seemed like an after thought to me on Saturday night. That was disappointing, and I think I know Edwards well enough to say that had to bother him at this stage of the season.

Yes, the defensive starters played sparingly, but that should have been inspiration for playing hard on every snap of the ball. They could afford to go all-out, knowing that their reps would be limited.

On offense, I only wanted to see two things. Could Kyle Turley handle the chores at left tackle in the absence of Roaf? He did just fine, and if Roaf returns, Turley moves to the right side, this might be the best offensive line in the league.

Second, I wanted to believe that Casey Printers could handle the backup quarterback job if Trent Green gets injured. I'm not a big Damon Huard fan, and I felt that Printers could do something with his rocket arm and mobility.

He fell short of my expectations, but I give major props to Edwards for keeping him in the game. Printers just had a tough time choosing between run and pass. That can't happen against the Giants on Thursday. If it does, then Brodie Croyle will have the upper hand.

In Printers' defense, he was not playing with a full compliment of offensive players. His offensive line, outside of right tackle Kevin Sampson, consisted of backups. He didn't have much time to throw the ball. But he might only have one shot left to impress the coaching staff.

53-Man Roster Update
Five Who Made A Case to Make It
1. LB Boomer Grigsby - Appeared to be a capable backup to Kawika Mitchell at middle linebacker.
2. RB Quentin Griffin - With Dee Brown scoring the only touchdown of the first half, Griffin had some nice runs with the third-string offensive line. I liked the way he smelled the end zone in the fourth quarter.
3. WR Chris Hannon - He only had one catch for 44 yards, but I like his size and speed. He can also return kicks.
4. FB Ronnie Cruz - He blocked like a veteran, caught the ball and did everything you can ask of a player trying to replace Tony Richardson.
5. T Kevin Sampson - He made the key block in opening up the hole that allowed Dee Brown to score the Chiefs first touchdown of the evening. He had some problems in pass blocking, but overall I liked the way he stood his ground.

Five Who Made A Case Not to Make It
1. QB Casey Printers - Enough said about that in this column already.
2. CB Marcus Maxey - He was recently activated off the PUP list, and it showed. With the release of Julian Battle last week, Maxey needs to make some plays if he wants to make the roster.
3. DT Ron Edwards - He's been the talk of training camp since he and James Reed have pushed Ryan Sims and Lional Dalton to second team, but he appears to lack stamina at the moment. He needs to pick it up if he wants to begin the season as the starter.
2. DT Ryan Sims - I've been on his bandwagon for awhile, and he was able to get penetration up the middle on a couple of occasions, but he was controlled at the line of scrimmage way too much. With his big contract, he's going to need to reestablish himself as a force in the middle.
1. DE Eric Hicks - After seeing David Carr execute a bootleg for the first time, I anticipated that Hicks would make an adjustment. He didn't.

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