Monday Morning QB: Coordinator Blues

I'm not sure what happened on Sunday, but the men perched behind Head Coach Herm Edwards didn't cut the mustard against Oakland. Both offensive coordinator Mike Solari and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham called had there share of mistakes against the Raiders. It's a good thing that Herm Edwards had the guts to bail them out with his fourth down call late in the game.

This game had me a bit perplexed. Forget it was the Raiders and the Chiefs. Forget the fact that the the last seven meetings have been decided by seven games or less. Forget the fact that both teams battled major injuries. But the top coordinators for the Chiefs seemed to be watching another game.

I don't understand why Gunther Cunningham played only four men at the line of scrimmage in obvious running situations. When the Raiders needed a short gain on third down they handed the ball to fullback Zach Crockett, who only had to split the gaps. Oakland's running backs had enough space that it was easy pickins' for the Silver and Black when they needed to move the chains in the first half.

The linebackers, outside of Keyaron Fox, didn't react or move to the ball very well. Raiders quarterback Aaron Brooks showed his mobility and frustrated the Chiefs' defensive line with his Houdini moves that left defenders sprawled on the turf after whiffing on him play after play.

But the blame lay at the feet of Cunningham, who employed a gameplan against the Raiders that didn't get the job done in Miami. You have to understand the opponent, and Cunningham called the game like he had never faced Oakland before.

I realize this criticism sounds harsh, but that can't happen on Thursday night against the Denver Broncos.

The Raiders, after losing LaMont Jordan early in the first quarter, kept moving down the field with precision. Cunningham's defense didn't make any adjustments and seemed to be playing somewhere else besides Kansas City. Oakland had the ball for nearly 21 minutes in the first half and Cunningham either couldn't get the correct personnel on the field or he thought that Kenny Stabler was behind center for the Raiders.

In a critical junction midway through the third quarter, with the Raiders facing a third down after losing both their starting offensive tackles to injury on the previous play, Cunningham only rushed four players. Brooks then completed a first-down strike to Ronald Curry. That's inexcusable. In your house, you play to win, and with a charged crowd behind you Cunningham should have sent the house and relied on his two All-Pro corners to cover the receivers down the field.

Solari wasn't any better in the first half, either. It started great when he used Chris Terry at right tackle and moved Kyle Turley to tight end. But that wasn't enough to get more than seven points in the first half. On a critical third and two late in the second half he pulled Larry Johnson in favor of Michael Bennett. Instead of running the ball with the team's best offensive weapon, he tried a rollout pass that Green was forced to throw away to avoid a sack.

The puzzling thing is, this came from a man that decided to correctly give the ball to LJ on a critical third and goal from the five-yard line in the first quarter, staking KC a 7-0 lead. He didn't learn that lesson last week in Miami, when he gave up on the running game far too early in the second half. He has to learn to call plays that have the best offensive players touching the ball as often as possible, especially in a close football game, and especially with tight end Tony Gonzalez out.

For the second week in a row the offense has fluttered, and it's not because of a flip-flop in the starting quarterback. Instead, it boils down to simple execution, attitude and heart. They didn't show that until the final drive of the game.

Granted, the defense played better in the second half, but that's not good enough. As a unit they have to come out and be willing to scrape, brawl and fight to stop an opposing offense that isn't that talented, especially one that was missing so many players. This defense has to create turnovers and it can't wait until 32 seconds remain in the fourth quarter.

At least the head coach showed some major guts when he went for it on fourth and one from his own 30-yard line with three minutes left in the game. Larry Johnson got the two yards he needed, but the Raiders helped when they tried to tackle him by the facemask.

That put the ball back into Green's rusty hand and he marched the Chiefs down the field. After two stellar passes, one to Eddie Kennison and one to Samie Parker, LJ punched it in with a one-yard run that gave the Chiefs a 17-13 lead with 1:32 left in the game.

In the end, the Chiefs were saved by a rookie seventh-round draft pick who did what he was supposed to do: make a play that quite likely kept the Chiefs in the hunt for the postseason.

Four To the Bench:
1. Nick Athan – I admit, I was darn worried late in the game. I really thought the Chiefs would lose. If not for the steady manner of Warpaint Illustrated's Mike Nugent, I might have written an entirely different column. The Chiefs did what they had to do. With a sigh of relief in my belly, I will go on record and say the Denver Broncos have no chance on Thursday night to defeat Kansas City at home. NONE!!!

2. LB Kawika Mitchell - He had eight tackles on the day, but he really needs to step up his pass coverage. It's really not a matter of skills, but instead he needs to take better angles to the men he's covering in open spaces. I'm not sure if it's speed. It's certainly not due to a lack of hustle or focus. He was so strong in pass coverage a year ago, so it's a bit baffling to me. Let's hope he solves some of those issues in short order with the Broncos heading into town.

3. HC Art Shell - Why did such a great person take this job, and how can he sleep at night knowing the Raiders found yet another way to lose a football game? They're at eight and counting with no end in sight. He was so desperate late in the game that he inserted wide receiver Jerry Porter on the last drive. That's the act of a man who has lost touch with the core of his football team.

4. WR Randy Moss - I've never seen a player quit on his team over and over again like Moss. On the Raiders final offensive play, he never attempted to make a play for the ball that fell into the hands of Chiefs' rookie safety Jarrad Page. He stood there and really could not have cared less. He's lost his mojo and my respect as one of the NFL's most talented receivers. Clearly he wants out of Oakland, and Al Davis should ship him out at season's end. Top Stories