Chiefs Looked Unprepared

Anyone who reads this column knows I'm a big fan of Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards. Today, you might expect me to urge patience (it's okaaaaay!) or offer excuses as to why his team floundered around the field at Reliant Stadium for the better part of 60 minutes Sunday.

Prepare to be shocked.

The truth is, there are no excuses. Edwards is far from perfect, and his fatal flaw was exposed by Gary Kubiak's energetic young bunch of Texans.

The Chiefs did not look ready to play. Edwards didn't have his team prepared for the regular season opener, and more often not, the same has been true every year he's coached an NFL team.

Let's take a look at Herm's history in season-opening games.

2001 – The New York Jets host the Indianapolis Colts, who blow them out 45-24.

2002 – The New York Jets visit the Buffalo Bills, and win, 37-31.

2003 – The New York Jets visit the Washington Redskins, and lose, 16-13.

2004 – The New York Jets host the Cincinatti Bengals, winning 31-24.

2005 – The New York Jets travel to Kansas City, where they get blown out, 27-7.

2006 – The Kansas City Chiefs lose their quarterback and the game, 23-10, to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Counting Sunday's debacle, that's seven openers, a record of 2-5, and an average margin of defeat of 15 points. As Herm might say "that's not good."

I believe, more often than not, Herm's teams aren't as prepared as they could be to open the regular season. It's the only explanation for his consistent slow starts.

A year ago, the Chiefs tried to run the Dick Vermeil offense against the Bengals and failed miserably. It was soon thereafter scrapped (and wisely, I might add), but Edwards should have realized far sooner – in preseason – that his team had no hope of running a sophisticated passing attack with an emaciated Kyle Turley and future NFL sack king Jordan Black playing offensive tackle.

The gameplan the Chiefs ran most of last year? The one featuring heavy doses of Larry Johnson, bored fans, three yards and clouds of dust? It should have been installed from the beginning.

This year, the Chiefs seemed to want to almost apologize for their 2007 Cro-Magnon football attack in the opener. They came out throwing, dropping quarterback Damon Huard back on 13 of the game's first 20 snaps.

When Eddie Kennison yanked a hamstring on the first play, the Chiefs should have abandoned their "we're sorry for giving Larry 400 carries" campaign. I'm not suggesting Johnson should have received 35 carries against the Texans, but with a quarterback who had barely played in preseason, and an inexperienced wide receiver corps, the Chiefs should have split 40 carries between Johnson and Michael Bennett.

The Chiefs weren't prepared to run "Air Herm." When they fell behind, the Texans realized it, and the gig was up. "Air Herm" led to a Jeff Webb interception (the NFL should start crediting receivers with picks) that negated a chance for Kansas City to grab a field goal at the end of the first half, and a fumble by Kris Wilson that put the game out of reach. It also tired out KC's defense.

I was shaking my head over a number of odd things Sunday. I saw the Chiefs call a pass that involved two run fakes on third-and-12. I saw Ty Law release a streaking Andre Johnson to a safety making his first career NFL start. Kansas City's defensive gameplan should have revolved around doubling Johnson most of the game. Houston's other "playmakers" in the passing game are no-names.

Who looked prepared in Houston on Sunday? The Texans. Kubiak's squad gameplanned extensively in the preseason. That little empty backfield formation they ran against the Chiefs? If you watched Houston's exhibition games, you saw it quite often.

Because of Herm's propensity to field unprepared teams early in the regular season, the Chiefs might never win a division championship. They might never gain a bye or home field advantage in the playoffs. It's difficult to win a Super Bowl as a Cinderella wild-card team every year. A good story, perhaps, but difficult.

Look, the Chiefs are a better team than the one that showed up in the season opener. It's clear the offensive line is improved (Damion McIntosh looked like a poor man's Willie Roaf in that #77 jersey), and Dwayne Bowe appears to be ready to contribute immediately. But the better team might not show up until it's too late.

With Chicago looming this weekend, an 0-2 record looks likely, and a trip to sunny, All-Pro laden San Diego lies further down the road. Can the Chiefs rebound from a 1-3 start? At least Herm has experience on his side in this scenario.

Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez said something to the effect of "nobody knows who the Kansas City Chiefs are" after KC's fourth preseason loss.

Next year, it might help if the Kansas City Chiefs knew who the Kansas City Chiefs were in Week 1.

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