Monday Morning QB: Playoffs? Not So Fast

I'm not sure what team I was watching on Sunday, but it didn't look like the Kansas City Chiefs team that defeated three playoff teams in succession. Instead, it looked like the old Chiefs teams who had troubles on the road the last five seasons.

This game was arguably similar to the loss in Buffalo a year ago. It was just as deflating to this team, who has only themselves to blame for not showing up to play football on Sunday.

If you're a die-hard fan of the Chiefs, you weren't surprised by the poor offensive effort on Sunday. Damon Huard, the golden child, reminded many fans why Trent Green is the man when he comes back. He struggled mightily, mostly because his offensive line did a poor job in protection.

But the real culprit of the game was offensive coordinator Mike Solari. How many times did he run Larry Johnson up the middle? Play after play. When he finally called a play that strung out the defensive line, LJ was far more effective. It was inexcusable. Where were the screen passes that could have negated the aggressive play of Miami's defensive line? How about a no-huddle offense? How about a trick play?

And what was the reasoning for the play calling early in the fourth quarter? The Chiefs called three consecutive passes, almost completely ignoring Johnson. They needed a touchdown at that point in the game. Miami's defense was playing soft and was going to tighten up near the goal line, anyway. Use your best weapon and give the rock to LJ four times if necessary. That's where head coach Herm Edwards has to step in and tell his inexperienced offensive coordinator to go back to playing smash mouth football.

Why the Chiefs didn't use Johnson late in the game on the final drive further accentuates the point that Solari isn't ready to be the next Al Saunders. With the Dolphins over-pursuing on the snap count, why not employ a shotgun formation and give your backup quarterback some more time to see the field?

Maybe Solari didn't do that because he knew his offensive line was playing one of their worst games of the season. Jordan Black had no answers for Miami's pass rush, nor did Kyle Turley, who looked as bad as he did great last week against the Rams.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham was no better until the second half, when he finally made some changes with his coverage units, but how can you play four-man fronts in obvious running situations. Did he forget that Joey Harrington was the Dolphins' starting quarterback? For the most part, Cunningham's linebackers were ineffective, and it wouldn't have mattered much if Derrick Johnson had played. Backup Keyaron Fox whiffed on a key third-down play, and he still has much to learn before he challenging for a starting spot. That will come in time, but nobody was harder on himself after the game than Fox himself, and that shows me he cares a lot about his performance.

Dolphins' running back Ronnie Brown was a one-man workhorse. To his credit, he just waited for the hole to open up, and usually there was no linebacker plugging the gap. It's not a matter of talent, but rather poor execution by KC's entire defense.

The secondary, outside of rookie safety Jarrad Page, was nowhere to be seen. Ty Law had another terrible game, missing coverages and tackles that could have prevented first downs. Sammy Knight could not secure the middle of the field as no-name tight ends and slot receivers caught one ball after another from Harrington.

So what happens next? That's a good question

Going into this game the Chiefs knew it would be difficult to win in Miami, but Edwards' entire team took a major step back. Kansas City's playoff chances also took a huge step back.

With Denver winning, they now have a two-game edge on Kansas City. The upcoming Thanksgiving night showdown doesn't seem as critical for Denver to win. In fact, the Broncos can deliver a knockout blow.

Yes, the Chiefs showed some heart late in the game, but bad execution in the first three quarters put them in a position to battle both the Dolphins and the clock. Good football teams win close games, like the Chiefs had been doing before the Miami game.

A team that expects to make the playoffs has the ability to win games like this. The Chargers did just that today, coming back from a 21-point deficit against the Bengals, winning 49-41. Philip Rivers had an incredible game, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns.

For the Chiefs, Huard could not get the job done late in the game, and that's why Trent Green should get the nod next week against the Raiders in Kansas City.

It was a good run for Huard, but it fittingly ended in Miami where it all began. The Chiefs have to go back to the drawing board to regain their swagger. It was a costly loss. The Chiefs now have four losses in the conference, and that could be impossible to overcome when it's time to determine Wild Card playoff spots. The Chiefs have little to no shot of winning the AFC West.

Five to the Bench:
1. KR Dante Hall - This is getting old. His fumble early in the game was reminiscent of the one that turned the tide against the Bengals on opening day. It's easy to see that Hall has lost his game-breaking speed. Without that, he's as ordinary as you and me when he returns kicks. What's disconcerting is that on the other side of the field, a slower but tougher Wes Walker showed guts, courage and toughness crashing into the Chiefs coverage teams. That's the type of return man this team needs, and if I'm Herm Edwards I give Jeff Webb his shot against the Raiders. The Chiefs can't play ‘Herm Ball' if they can't get anything more out of Hall.

2. WR Samie Parker - I want to see Rod Gardner start next weekend. Parker might be the worst route runner I've seen in a long time. He doesn't give his all in pass patterns. On the final pass of the game, he wasn't even turned around so he could see if the ball coming. He dropped another pass in the flat in the third quarter because he took his eye off the ball. He needs to run precise routes and not be so lazy. He might be able to get away with that when Trent Green returns, but either way it's not good enough to keep his starting job.

3.OG Chris Bober - How do you let Vonnie Holliday beat you in obvious passing situations near your goal line late in the fourth quarter? Bober was but a part of the offensive line woes, but to be beat by a man who did nothing the entire game, especially one that used to be your teammate, shows how bad this team missed Brian Waters. The Dolphins mixed up their stunts, but for the most part had success getting penetration up the middle.

4. CB Ty Law - He continues to baffle me with his poor play at cornerback. He's either lost a step or the passion to hit. If it's both, then this secondary is in big-time trouble. Law has to make plays, and his missed tackle on a short third-down pass allowed the Dolphins to score three points, the difference in the game. I'm not sure what the problem is, but Law has to make more plays if this defense is going to play better the remainder of the season.

5. QB Damon Huard - Yes, he's our new cover boy for the magazine, but he needed to win this game to shut up all of his critics. I didn't like the fact that he threw the ball to Dante Hall in clutch situations – see #1. His poor decision making was a product of poor play calling, but as a veteran leader he should have used some of the weapons that made him look good over the last three weeks. On two occasions he had Kris Wilson wide open – one on the short third-down pass to Larry Johnson that forced the Chiefs to kick a field goal. On that play Wilson was wide open in the end zone, standing alone behind a cornerback. The other was late in the fourth quarter when Gonzalez was double-teamed. If he had found Wilson he might have scored, because nobody was even close to him. Those are plays you have to make.

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