Monday Morning QB: Next Up - Colts

I did my best to watch the Chiefs and Jaguars on Sunday, but I also watched two other games intently, hoping the Patriots and Steelers would do the Chiefs a favor. It was far too early in the day to start rooting for the San Francisco 49ers to defeat the Denver Broncos, but it all worked out for the Chiefs and now they head to Indianapolis.

The Chiefs did what they had to do: beat an opponent with their backs against the wall. We can play the ‘what if' game all we want, but despite the losses in Denver, Miami and the killer in Cleveland, Kansas City still backed into the playoffs.

The big problem facing head coach Herm Edwards this week is to get Trent Green back into a groove for the Colts game. The home crowd booed him Sunday and backup Damon Huard replaced him briefly in the third quarter, leading the Chiefs to a touchdown. Green struggled, turning the ball over three times, including two awful interceptions.

It's sad when you think about it because Green has been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL since 2002. His numbers rank a shade behind Peyton Manning.

It's clear that with a $7.5 million cap hit awaiting the Chiefs on Green in 2007 they better be darn sure that Green is the man. Based on the ovation that Huard received, it's clear what the fans think, but the fans won't make this decision. That's a good thing because I wouldn't want anyone else starting on Saturday for the Chiefs in the playoffs.

After the game, Green answered a barrage of questions from reporters for twenty minutes, making it clear he's not ready to hang up his cleats. We can all evaluate the problems that he's endured this season but you have to remember he missed nine weeks. It was an almost certainty that his timing was going to be off.

That's what Green thinks his biggest problem was since coming back from a concussion. He also admitted to looking at his career during his layoff and if it was worth continuing after this season. He decided it was, and I think he deserves another season.

Let's hope the Chiefs can shore up the offensive line this offseason. That more than anything has been the culprit for Green's struggles since his return.

Another area of need will be on defense, where the Chiefs have to keep playing every snap. Edwards talked about his team letting up when they're ahead in games and that has to change if this defense is going to reach the next level.

As far as defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, I just don't understand the philosophy of playing a prevent defense against a young, inexperienced quarterback.

It killed this team in Cleveland when Derek Anderson came off the bench and picked apart the Chiefs defense with ease. On Sunday against the Jaguars, fellow wet-behind-the-ears quarterback Quinn Gray nearly pulled off the same feat.

This defense is better in every facet, but they still don't have that killer instinct. They have to be far more aggressive. They have to create more turnovers. They dropped two sure interceptions on Sunday that kept the margin of victory closer than it needed to be.

But for now, let's enjoy the New Year Year and thank the three other AFC teams that are sitting out the playoffs today.

Five to Bench

1. Cincinnati Bengals - Thanks for the late Christmas gift! After tearing up the league early in the year and self-proclaiming themselves as AFC contenders, they lost the final three games of the year to miss the playoffs. This team has spent more time dealing with the plethora of players who have been in trouble with the law than trying to win meaningful games down the stretch.

2. Tennessee Titans - For all the talk about Vince Young being the NFL Rookie of the Year, he laid an egg when his team needed him the most on Sunday at home against the New England Patriots. Young had a rough day. He has the legs and the arm to be a player in this league, but he's not ready to be adorned as the next great quarterback just yet.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars - I'll give Jack Del Rio credit for changing quarterbacks in the second half, but it was the act of a desperate man. The Jags were facing an uphill battle trying to win in Kansas City, but in the end the move will likely be second guessed in the off season.

4. Denver Broncos - If you're a Chiefs fan, you've got to love it. Watching Mike Shanahan blow a crucial game like that was unbelievable. His conservatism in overtime cost him the playoffs. This was a game that could have signaled resurgence for Denver who, despite some woes at quarterback under Jake Plummer, could have taken a huge leap forward in the development of Jay Cutler. Now you have to wonder what will happen to him as he gnaws on this all offseason. The media talks about the age of the Chiefs defense at certain positions, but the Broncos have some real issues to shore up before September.

5. Detroit Lions - Why did they even try to win the game in Dallas on Sunday? Someone in that front office needs to be fired, because Detroit simply threw away the top pick in the draft. The bus from the hotel should have been outfitted with a flat tire. The Oakland Raiders, who will probably screw up the pick anyway, are now on the clock.

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