What's Behind The Curtain?

Last week, the Chiefs played without a heart. This week, the Chiefs found out what happens when you play without a brain. It's too bad the Chiefs did not watch "The Wizard of Oz" as children, otherwise they would have known they would be sent back home to Kansas at the end of the story.

Mistakes and poor strategy destroyed any chance for Kansas City to salvage their season against Baltimore at home on Sunday. The Chiefs made a multitude of errors to destroy their sparkling, 18-0 December home winning streak.

On the opening drive, tight end Jason Dunn dropped a pass at the Baltimore 8-yard line, which would have set Kansas City up with first and goal. Instead, Lawrence Tynes compounded the error by missing a 32-yard field goal. The Chiefs finished the first half by turning the ball over three times, blowing two potential scoring opportunities deep in Baltimore territory and setting up a field goal drive for the Ravens.

Those pratfalls were only beginning. Tamba Hali's offside penalty on third and five on Baltimore's second drive sparked a march culminating in Matt Stover's 41-yard field goal. More importantly, Hali's error shifted the early momentum in Baltimore's favor.

In the third quarter, when the Chiefs had the Ravens stuck at their own 13, Greg Wesley blew a coverage and allowed a wide open Mark Clayton to catch an 87-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Steve McNair. The play put the Chiefs down 13-0 with 6:38 left in the third quarter.

Of course, it might have helped if the game plan had not been designed by the cowardly lion. In the first half, the Chiefs went with a max protect scheme, giving Green few targets down the field. A frustrated Green repeatedly threw into coverage, resulting in two interceptions. After falling behind 13-0, offensive coordinator Mike Solari did not even once attempt a first-down pass.

Instead, he repeatedly ran a first down: run, second down: run, third down: pass, sequence. Amazingly enough, the strategy worked well enough to put Lawrence Tynes in position for a 49-yard field goal (only after the Ravens buried Trent Green for a 10-yard sack on his predictable third down pass attempt).

The worst offense came with 12:11 left in the game and the Chiefs at the Ravens 39. Facing fourth and six, with a chance to swing the momentum in their favor after the defense had forced the Ravens to fumble, Herm Edwards decided to punt. Baltimore responded with a game-killing nine-minute touchdown march.

Game over.

Now that we've been off to see the wizard and all the smoke and mirrors no longer obscure our vision, we have discovered that Edwards has not been able to truly transform this defense. Although they have significantly improved, the defense cannot be relied upon in critical situations. The defensive improvement seems to have come at the cost of the team's offensive edge. The end result is mediocrity.

Right now, this team looks no better than an 8-8 squad. Hopefully, the organization will soon figure out that putting on a pair of ruby slippers and prancing down the yellow brick road is a poor strategy for success in the NFL.

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