There were so many items to complain about Sunday afternoon. The play calling, once again, was not good until midway through the third quarter. The Chiefs continue to resemble the Oakland Raiders in their abundance of penalties. The $19 million running back, Larry Johnson, could not get on track the entire game and the aging Ty Law didn't have his best game.
On the other hand, the defense for the most part was stellar. In fact, I'll go as far as saying this defense might be the best in the AFC West, even if they have a ways to go in being dominant. But they're on the right track.
Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham continues to make adjustments throughout the game. Vikings Running Back Adrian Peterson was a man in the first half, scoring a touchdown and generally giving KC's defense fits. But in the second half outside of a single 11-yard run, the Chiefs hit Peterson hard and he eventually wilted in the heat.
Next week the Chiefs face a San Diego offense that might be the best in the league. If they can shut down the Chargers in San Diego it will be a major statement.
The best part of KC's defense Sunday – besides Jared Allen - was Derrick Johnson, who continues to climb the linebacker ranks in the NFL. He was challenging Minnesota's offensive linemen all game long, ducking beneath them and blowing up running plays. In pass-rush situations, the Chiefs are almost using him like Derrick Thomas.
It's taken time for the Chiefs to build a better cast around DJ, and now with Allen's return, he can be let loose to make plays. He remarked after the game that he's flying around the field like he did at the University of Texas.
All that defense allowed the offense to finally shake off some of the rust that has been plaguing this team since the first preseason game. Quarterback Damon Huard showed some poise in recovering from a poor first half.
Huard had enough touch to find his old offensive weapon, tight end Tony Gonzalez, and new toy, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. The rookie from LSU made some tough catches and his touchdown late in the fourth quarter was the game winner. He's beginning to show that he was indeed the second best wide receiver in the 2007 draft class. The Vikings had no answer for Bowe's acrobatics..
The offense still has a long way to go to catch up to the defense, but in the locker room after the game, the players really didn't care about which side of the ball made more plays. This was a team win, and now with a 1-2 record the Chiefs are only one game out of first place.
Five To Remember
1. TE Tony Gonzalez - As a fan it's hard to appreciate the expected. I'll say this once again: Gonzalez is the best tight end in the game. He talked last Sunday about getting on the same page with the offensive coordinator, and was diplomatic about it, but KC's downfield attack worked soundly midway through the fourth quarter. Gonzalez's big third down catch was key in the touchdown drive, and if Huard can keep feeding him the ball, eventually that will get LJ back on track.
2. K Dave Rayner - I'm sold. Beyond the 39 and 49-yard field goals, he put all four of his kickoffs into the end zone five yards deep. Punter Dustin Colquitt told me that his leg was strong, and clearly Rayner has lived up to expectations. He's quickly made the Chiefs forget Justin Medlock, who hasn't had a sniff of the NFL since he was cut the Monday after the Texans game. Kudos to the Chiefs, who didn't bite on taking one of the old guys like Morten Andersen or Jon Carney.
3. DE Jared Allen - Eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Allen was all over the field against the Vikings on Sunday, and KC's five sacks were a testament to his return. The thing about Allen I've always respected most is the fact he never ever quits on a play. As long as the runner or the quarterback is not down, he keeps playing 100 percent. I know it's only been one game, but I'd already open up contract extension talks with his agent. He showed Sunday why he's every bit as good as Colts' defensive end Dwight Freeney.
4. DE Tamba Hali - Like Allen, he had a monster game, with two sacks in clutch situations. The Chiefs are free to rush only four from this point forward, and that means the linebackers are free to drop in pass coverage. That will pay huge dividends down the line. Hali has been steady all year and it appears that he has no intensions of falling into a sophomore slump.
5. OC Mike Solari - I was harsh last week on the Chiefs' offensive coordinator. He was the crux of my entire article today before he gave up on the run and started to call plays that attacked Minnesota's weakness. Solari still needs to make those adjustments a lot faster. The Chiefs tipped their hand to the Vikings far too many times with formation shifts, and for two and a half quarters Minnesota knew what was coming. I wouldn't mind if Solari spread the field more often by using three wide receivers and bringing in a fullback to try and run the ball better. He still needs to get the running game going, and sooner or later he needs to see what backup fullback Boomer Grigsby can bring to this offense. But overall, he took a step forward on Sunday, and that's huge for this team.
Offense? Defense? Chiefs Win As A Team
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