Monday Morning QB: Damon, Defense Take Charge

I'm officially on the Damon Huard bandwagon. After back-to-back solid performances at Denver and at home on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, the Chiefs backup quarterback brought the highflying circus back into the Kansas City offense.

I felt sorry for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Chiefs, facing a must win, came out and fired on all cylinders. The defense created turnovers and the offense scored points. It was the first time in recent memory that both sides of the ball dominated a Chiefs football game in decades.

If this continues, the KC bandwagon is going to fill up. There were very few flaws in Kansas City's gameplan on Sunday. Even the special teams, led by kicker Lawrence Tynes and return man Dante Hall, provided a strong indication that the entire football team was back on track.

But the early star of the game was Huard. With the running game bogged down due to eight and nine-man fronts, Huard lit up the San Francisco secondary, spreading the ball to five different receivers and throwing a pair of picture-perfect touchdowns to Dante Hall and Eddie Kennison.

Two weeks ago in Denver, Huard was zeroed in on the middle of the field. On Sunday he felt comfortable enough in the pocket to take some shots down the field. That more than anything else will be the key to his future success in upcoming road games at Arizona and Pittsburgh.

But regardless, this game will serve as a confidence boost for Huard, and it gave his team a huge shot in the arm. That's what a backup quarterback is supposed to do when he's filling in for a Pro-Bowler. Green won't likely play before the Chargers game on Oct. 22, and Huard has clearly benefited from taking the majority of the snaps in practice.

In the locker room after the game, Huard's teammates were buzzing about his ability to make plays. That leads me to believe they are rallying behind him. That bodes well for Huard and the rest of KC's offense. He did everything right, executing his offense as well as Green might have had he been healthy enough to play.

But the star of the day had to be the defense. They took apart the 49ers offense, recovering two fumbles, intercepting two passes and recording five sacks. They also continued to excel in the tackling department. What really makes me a bit giddy about this defense is the way they are flying to the ball and hitting people. Numerous times on Sunday, 49er receivers were slow to get off the Arrowhead turf.

When Herm Edwards took over as head coach in January he talked about this team playing with more heart. They are doing that, especially on defense. They have not given up a touchdown since the second quarter of the Bengals game. The rest of the NFL needs to take notice that this defense is for real.

When you factor in the play of the special teams, including Hall's 60-yard punt return in the fourth quarter, this team might have played their best overall game at Arrowhead since the mid-to-late 90's. Not since the Rams game back in 2000 has a Chiefs team been so dominant in all three phases.

This win tells me that Edwards and his coaching staff can adjust their personnel just enough from week to week to improve the fortunes of their football team on Sundays.

Edwards spent a significant part of the last two weeks evaluating the players and coaches as he continues to mould this team in his image. That's great news if you're a Chiefs fan.

With the San Diego Chargers losing on Sunday, this division is still up for grabs. In all likelihood, that means the winner of the AFC West is probably going to be the team that plays the best defense down the stretch.

I didn't think I would ever say this, but this Chiefs defense is a legitimate top 10 unit. If the offense can play like it did against the 49ers, this team might just turn a few heads after its 0-2 start.

Players to Bench:
1. Nick Athan - How can I put anyone else on this list after the Chiefs blew out the 49ers? This was a nearly flawless gameplan, but I must forge ahead. I was wrong about the play of Jordan Black. He played his best game as a Chief. No one came close to laying a hand on Damon Huard.

2. Mike Nugent - My counterpart from Warpaint Illustrated predicted that Damon Huard would struggle against the 49ers. That prediction didn't pan out. He was, however, right on a mid-game prediction when he told me that Dante Hall was due for a return score.

3. Lional Dalton - It didn't take long for the former starter to fall from grace. With the emergence of Steve Williams on Sunday, it looks like Dalton might see a few more games on the inactive list. Dalton has played well in the past, but he and fellow linemate Ryan Sims continue to get the short end of the playing time stick.

4. The KC Media - I have to give my fellow brethren a little ribbing. After Herm Edwards gave his game summary and asked for questions, we all had blank stares for a moment. Nobody knew what to ask. The Chiefs turned in such a dominating performance on Sunday there wasn't a whole lot to wonder about. After a 10-15 second pause, the media finally started asking questions. Let's hope this trend continues. If it does, that means the Chiefs are winning games.

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