Chiefs Must Learn From This Loss

It was very clear in the opening series of the Chiefs' 30-7 loss Thursday night that the outside of Kansas City's offensive line would struggle to protect Brodie Croyle. He had little or no time to survey the field, as he was harassed, hurried and ineffective.

After the Saints' defense had its way with KC's offense, it became even clearer that there was a reason this organization made former Dolphins left tackle Damion McIntosh it's top free-agent priority.

Herm Edwards has preached during every stage of training camp that you have to make plays. At some point every player will have to play man-to-man, and the best will win.

Third-year tackle Will Svitek lost his one-on-one battle with Saints Pro-Bowl defensive end Will Smith, who racked up 10.5 sacks a year ago. It wasn't a good sign for a team that came into the game trying to decide on a starting quarterback, and left wondering if the offensive line can gel in the next 17 days.

The struggles at left tackle have to be a concern to the coaching staff, especially when you consider the fact that tight end Jason Dunn returned to action. He was loading up on the right side, helping right tackles Kyle Turley and Chris Terry.

That means in passing situations, the fullback or halfback needs to help out on the left side, but currently this team doesn't have the physical presence to do that.

Kris Wilson isn't really a fullback, and Boomer Grigsby is still a work in progress. When Larry Johnson gets back into the mix he'll help with his fresh legs. It'll be interesting to see if he's improved his blocking.

Croyle drew undeserved boos from the scattered crowd because there was only so much he could do on his own. It wouldn't have mattered if Damon Huard or Casey Printers had started. The results would have been similar.

After the game, offensive guard Brian Waters defended his teammates and made it known he believes this Chiefs team is playoff-caliber. He wasn't happy with the performance of his line mates but believes it can be fixed.

Meanwhile, Croyle was very down on himself after the game, and took the blame for the poor offensive output.

With one meaningless exhibition game left on the schedules, Edwards and his coaching staff will have to decide if they want to give the regulars more work next week.

Because it wasn't just the offense that struggled against the Saints. The defense gave up chunks of yardage in the middle of the field while tackling poorly. But it's difficult to judge Gunther Cunningham's unit, because for the most part they only played a four-man front, didn't blitz often and obviously wore down because the offense never controlled the ball.

Regardless, Edwards has some work to do over the next 10 days. Today he'll have to trim the roster to 75 players. But I think most of the night he'll be reviewing the game film, looking for some silver linings.

Let's hope he finds them.

Five To Remember:

1. LB Keyaron Fox - He was probably the best linebacker on the Chiefs defense last night. He's really coming into his own and he's playing very physical. The man he's behind, Derrick Johnson, hasn't been as aggressive or productive to this point in the three exhibition games. Don't get me wrong, DJ is a stud, but Fox is really pushing for more playing time. He's been solid in every game and has his sights set on meaningful playing time once the regular season starts. There is no doubt in my mind that he can help this defense dominate.

2. CB Benny Sapp - Mike Nugent and I have debated his value for this football team since camp began. I'm of the opinion that he isn't getting the job done, and looks tentative. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a cornerback who retreats when a play comes his way. When a quarterback is rolling to your side of the field and a receiver is in front of you, you would think the instinct would be to move up and meet the ball and the receiver at the same time. Sapp was moved from nickel back because he wasn't productive, and now the Chiefs have moved him to backup cornerback. I'm not sure it's working.

3. FB Boomer Grigsby - The cult hero finally made his debut. On his first play he missed the lead block. Two plays later he not only chipped a defensive end, giving Croyle more time to escape the pocket, but he ran out in the flat and caught a pass for a positive gain. In the fourth quarter he made two outstanding plays, blocking down field on a Derrick Ross run and a Casey Printers scramble. During the last drive he plowed the road for Marcus O'Keith's touchdown. For one night, he did his job, and with this team needing a true fullback it was good to see him help out in the both passing and running game. Any questions about what he can do have been answered.

4. DT Tank Tyler - If he isn't the starter on opening day, I'd be surprised. Though the Chiefs started Alfonso Boone against the Saints, I thought Tyler had a tremendous game and was KC's best interior lineman. He was instrumental in preventing the Saints from scoring a touchdown on fourth-and-goal in the first quarter, blowing up the play and forcing it to the outside. He also had a sack in the third quarter. Tank has a motor and enough raw talent to be a difference maker for this defense. It'll be interesting to see how good he can become when this defense plays more aggressively.

5. QB Casey Printers - He's really beginning to grow on me. Everyone saw Herm Edwards on HBO's Hard Knocks comment on the progress Printers has made, and he's correct. He's far more accurate and comfortable in the pocket. He's not in danger of competing for a starting spot by any means, but I think he's certainly worth keeping around for another season or two. His arm strength is impressive, and he would have thrown a touchdown had Dwayne Bowe not dropped the ball. Top Stories