For the first time in recent history, the Chiefs weren't embarrassed by Denver's habit of running bootleg plays at will. It was so bad in past years that I was beginning to think somebody on the defense was a slow learner. That might still be the case, because for the first time in a long time, Eric Hicks wasn't on the field. The difference was Tamba Hali and aggressive safety play. Containment was perfect, save for a single fourth-down conversion effort. With everybody expecting a running back plunging into the line, Denver faked a handoff and gave the ball to Javon Walker on an end around for a gain of 16 yards.
Another missing ingredient from the years of Bronco Bootleg Brutalization was Gary Kubiak. After coordinating Denver's offense for 11 years, he left to coach the Texans in January. We saw Hicks fall victim to Kubiak's bootlegs again this preseason. Were all those bootlegs Kubiak's work, or was it simply Hicks? Has the era of ‘bootleg dominance' finally ended? Let's hope so.
Mike Priefer seems to be making an early push to bring the Special Teams Coach of the Year award back to Kansas City. The Chiefs haven't sniffed that award since Mike Stock mysteriously won it in 1997. Not even the ‘Human Joystick'-led special teams units for Frank Gansz, Jr. earned the award. Priefer, a rookie coordinator, has the Chiefs special teams units playing smoothly and efficiently. The kicking units are performing especially well. The Broncos returned four kicks for a total of nine yards. Dustin Colquitt put three punts inside the 20, with two landing inside the three-yard line. Tynes was perfect in his field goal efforts and even put a kickoff through the uprights in the thin Mile-High air. Despite a questionable call that brought back a return, Dante Hall averaged 29.5 yards and 14.4 yards on kickoff and punt returns respectively. It bears repeating that the coverage units held Bronco returners to nine total yards on four returns. Had the score gone the other way, the word "domination" might have been appropriate.
The game recap at NFL.com states that "For the third time in franchise history, Denver didn't commit any penalties." Poor choice of words, NFL.com. Denver committed plenty of penalties, but the yellow flags remained in the referee's pockets. We're not going to sling conspiracy theories in my column. We believe people are human and that mistakes are made for various reasons. Clearly, those mistakes hurt the Chiefs chances of winning, but good teams overcome referee mistakes. The Chiefs failed to take advantage of their opportunities.
In case you didn't have an opportunity to read the aforementioned NFL.com recap, the other games in which Denver was not penalized were in 1967 (also against the Chiefs) and in 1983 in a 31-14 loss against the Bears. I can't be certain of which Chiefs game the 1967 Broncos came away from without penalty. The Chiefs won both meetings, 52-9 at Municipal and 38-24 in Denver. Despite the significant scoring, Dick Vermeil was not the head coach. The 1967 Chiefs played defense.
The Fantasy Ends:
Kansas City's offensive unit is no longer the darling of Fantasy Football GM's. I'm counting this statement as negative for this week, but who really cares? For the first time in over a decade I don't have a Fantasy team. I'm not in a weekly picks contest, and my survivor league flopped when I forgot to submit the week two winner.
Am I the only one who finds his interest in FFL waning? Answer that question later this season when you get dumped out of the playoffs by the housewife who drafted her players based upon jersey color and rear-end quality.
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