Chiefs Fleeing From Train Wreck

There's no getting around the truth. The Chiefs stunk in their 2007 debut against the Houston Texans. For a team that wants to play "tough" football, their performance was particularly disturbing - four turnovers, multiple dropped passes and a missed 27-yard field goal.

Worst of all, the Texans rammed a 10-minute, 15-play march down the throat of Herman Edwards' beloved defense during the fourth quarter. The drive killed any momentum the Chiefs gained from Justin Medlock's third-quarter field goal. The defeat was far worse than the 20-3 score indicated. After one game, the Chiefs have a crisis of confidence.

How can one defeat put a 2006 playoff team on the verge of losing faith in themselves? Easy. Spend the entire off-season hearing "experts" place you among the dregs of the NFL, then go out and perform below those expectations in your first game.

While Edwards would vehemently deny any such crisis exists, his actions indicate he's well aware of his team's fragile condition. After talking up the need for a youth movement all spring, the team cut loose the hand-picked rookie kicker, Medlock, for missing his first NFL attempt. Edwards cited the need for the offense to believe in their kicker. He's clearly afraid that shaky special teams will make his team lose faith in his ball-control philosophy.

While the team's action in dumping Medlock may well be a wise decision, I can't help but notice the similarity to perennial loser Cleveland. This week the Browns canned starting quarterback Charlie Frye after he played a mere 20 minutes of football, trading him to Seattle. A confident organization does not take such drastic action after hitting a bump in the road. Could you imagine the Patriots tossing aside their off-season plan after one loss? No way.

That's why this week's game against Chicago is a critical point in the season. I know calling a game "critical" in Week 2 seems ridiculous, but the Chiefs are in danger of suffering another convincing loss against the 2006 NFC champions. Las Vegas quickly installed the Chiefs as 12-point underdogs after their defeat in Houston. ESPN's Sean Salisbury bluntly called it a "bye week" for Chicago.

Even worse, the Bears are exactly the kind of team the Chiefs aspire to be. A blow-out in Soldier Field would show the Chiefs are not ready to play "real" football. If the Bears sprint out to a big lead and force the Chiefs to sling the ball all over the field (a style Edwards disparagingly calls "Arena" football), they will call into question Edwards' carefully constructed team identity.

Ancient Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu claimed battles are won or lost long before opposing armies collide on the field. After an off-season filled with Larry Johnson's holdout, Trent Green's messy departure, and the three-ring circus of HBO's "Hard Knocks," Chiefs fans have to wonder where victory is supposed to come from.

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