I can't take anything away from the defense, which probably moved up even further in the defensive rankings after holding the 49ers to only 135 total net yards. That was a masterful game, and they did exactly what they were supposed to do against a young quarterback.
The offense is a different story. Actually, it's the running game that concerns me. They've got to be more efficient. The Chiefs rushed for 125 yards, but it took 40 carries. That's a 3.1 average. I understand that the Chiefs are working with a shuffled offensive line, and I understand that teams are loading up against the run. I also understand that this offense goes as running back Larry Johnson goes and that there are some better defensive teams on the schedule than the 49ers. With the shuffling at offensive tackle, the Chiefs appear to have problems moving the ball on the perimeter. The screen game and the outside runs aren't as efficient as we've seen in the past.
Of course, there's two different tackles leading the charge. Having said all that, with time, these guys can get it together and compete for the playoffs. With all the good teams in the AFC, the way for this team to make the playoffs is to win the division. They're still only a game back of Denver and San Diego and both teams ARE beatable. If the Chiefs can get to San Diego at 3-2, they're in great shape, but that will take a tough win on the road against a reeling but dangerous Pittsburgh team that will be coming off a road game at San Diego.
This team looks good, but the toughest road lies ahead.
My game ball goes to left tackle Jordan Black, who went from perennial offensive line goat to highly-capable backup in one game. The player formerly known as "I-65" played a solid game and was part of an offensive line unit that had no penalties and didn't allow their quarterback to get hit all game.
"Personally, probably for almost a year, I get beat up in the media," said Black. "So for me, personally, it feels good. These offensive linemen didn't really give up any pressure and played a clean game. That's what we look for. That's our reward."
Not only did Black play a solid game on the line, he added a great special-teams play when he downed a quick-kick punt on the one-yard line. When I asked Black about the play, he was pretty amused at the thought of how it must have appeared to onlookers.
"I'll bet the commentators are like, ‘that's not very athletic looking," said Black with a laugh. "I didn't know where the ball was, I just heard the thud of the ball. I kind of looked where I heard the sound, and there was the ball. We were lucky enough that I didn't roll into the endzone when I touched it.
Some of the young guys got an opportunity to play in the second half. Quarterback Brodie Croyle got to handoff and take some knees at the end of the game. Bernard Pollard got some live snaps with the defense. Most interesting of all was young offensive tackle Will Svitek, who played series at both right and left tackle. It was a great opportunity for a talented kid to get out there and get some live regular-season game experience, and it will likely yield some benefits for the Chiefs later this year if anyone else goes down.
Nuge's Nuggets: Cautiously Optimistic
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