Inside the Huddle: Kansas City Chiefs

Colt Power Publisher Ed Thompson goes inside the locker room with Warpaint Illustrated Publisher Nick Athan, who answers five questions.

CP: 1. We're hearing that Damon Huard might have to start if Trent Green isn't healthy enough to go. Even if Green can start, he could get the hook if he struggles early. Are the Chiefs better off with Huard at the helm? What do you see as the biggest difference between the two quarterbacks?

WPI: Damon Huard has quickly become the fan favorite in Kansas City. Trent Green has struggled and is hobbled by a sore ankle. Herm Edwards will not hesitate to start Huard over Green if his starting quarterback isn't 100 percent.

The one thing that makes Huard so good is the touch he puts on the ball. The wide receivers and tight ends love the way he delivers the ball. He's far more accurate than given credit and he's also more mobile than Green. If Green throws early interceptions Edwards is already on record that he'll make the switch.

If that happens, he'll give the Chiefs a spark because his teammates believe in him.

CP: 2. The Chiefs have only scored a total of six points in the fourth quarter over the last three weeks. They haven't scored more than seven in the fourth quarter since mid-November. Can you spot any reason why they seem to fade in the last fifteen minutes?

WPI: I think part of that is the fact they've been either protecting leads or trying to play catch up. But more direct they've been turning the ball over and that has hampered this team's ability to score points late.

This offense is designed to take time off the clock late in games, but they can't afford to be too complacent on Saturday if they have a lead. The Chiefs know that keeping the ball away from the Colts high-octane offense is a priority so they'll be more methodical if they have the lead in the fourth quarter. Herm Edwards is far too conservative late in games because he uses the clock as his ally when the team is ahead.

The Chiefs offense is different than the one the Colts faced three years ago in the playoffs. It's not as explosive because of a patchwork offensive line. They can still put up points when they need to but they haven't done it at times in the fourth quarter.

CP: 3. What do you see as Kansas City's biggest weakness that the Colts are most likely to try to exploit?

WPI: The Chiefs biggest weakness has been their lack of aggression in putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Kansas City's defense is designed to function off the basis that it can get enough pressure from the front four to create opportunities for turnovers from the back seven. When the Chiefs do get that pressure, they generally get those turnovers. When that happens they generally win football games.

The Colts should expect the Chiefs to blitz often on Saturday. If Manning has the patience he should find receivers open in the middle of the zone. The Chiefs are not as quick to the ball in the secondary and that has allowed teams to gain 10 to 15 yards with little resistance.

If Manning constantly goes for the homerun there is enough talent in the secondary to bridge that distance and pick off some errant passes.

CP: 4. Ty Law is an old nemesis of Peyton Manning's from their playoff matchups when Law was in New England, but from what I'm hearing he's lost a step and is giving some generous cushions these days. Is that accurate? How do you think he and the rest of the secondary will hold up against Manning & Co.?

WPI: Law has lost a step or two but his ineffectiveness at times is due more to a lack of pressure from the front seven. The Cover Two concept for corners is predicated by the linebackers dropping back in coverage in front of the receivers. The corner's job is to keep the receiver in front of them. The safeties chip in to cover the ball deep if the linebackers are not in front and the corners have to take that spot in the zone.

Bottom line is that the Chiefs don't play a lot of man to man defense but that could change on Saturday. You can say what you want about Ty Law but he has Manning's number and Marvin Harrison's. He doesn't have the closing speed he had when he was in New England but that shouldn't matter much on Saturday because he knows Manning's tendencies.

The rest of the secondary is solid. Cornerback Patrick Surtain has been the biggest beneficiary of playing opposite Law. He's more free to make plays. Surtain has a nose for the football and even though he doesn't pick off a lot of passes, he generally never gets beat deep down the field.

Veteran safeties Greg Wesley and Sammy Knight have been solid. Wesley is better in pass coverage but Knight is a hard hitter and is outstanding supporting the run. The one to keep an eye on is rookie Jarrad Page. He's made some big plays defending the pass and his speed to the ball is lightning quick.

CP: 5. When you look at Larry Johnson's splits, he's been most successful right up the middle (4.8 yards per carry), had decent success to the left (4.2 yards per carry), but has just 2.5 yards per carry when he runs right. Is that a weak area for the offensive line or is it just a freakish stat?

WPI: I think that is a freakish statistic but I don't think that'll be the case on Saturday. With undersized Colts defensive ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, Johnson should find plenty of room between the guards and tackles to gain chunks of yards. Both of the Colts defense ends are better suited to rush the quarterback and they tend to over commit against the run. They don't have the ability to slide down the line. LJ will exploit that and could have a banner rushing game.

The one thing about Johnson that has been so great this year is his patience at the line waiting for his blockers to open up the holes. It doesn't take much to get LJ free and if the Colts don't close up those holes it could be curtains.

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