Air Herm Has Arrived

The Chiefs are no longer afraid. Take a bow, Herm Edwards. You no longer play "not to lose."

It was as clear as the sunny day in San Diego last Sunday when the Chiefs went into hostile territory and upset the Chargers, 30-16. They did it without fear.

It would have been easy for Edwards and his offensive coaches to ground the air attack and any hint of aggression along with it early in this game. They were facing a defense that, while it's taken its share of lumps this season, still has Shawne Merriman, still has Shaun Phillips and still has the ability to put a hurtin' on your quarterback.

Remember last season's visit to Qualcomm? The Chargers dominated Kansas City's offense right from the first pass attempt of the game, when Randall Godfrey charged up the middle unimpeded and decked Trent Green. San Diego would pile up six sacks that night and at the end of it, KC's offense looked bloodied and beaten.

So what did the Chiefs do on the first play of the game Sunday?

They tried to throw the football.

The pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Two plays later, Damon Huard almost threw an interception.

No matter. Edwards was sticking to his gameplan. Kansas City's offense came right back on the next possession and Huard hit Bowe with a 22-yard strike down the middle on a first-down play. It was an early sign of things to come, and even though Huard was sacked and fumbled two plays later, the Chiefs never abandoned their aggressive approach.

Give Edwards, offensive coordinator Mike Solari and quarterbacks coach Dick Curl credit. The fans and media have been hard on them recently, so they deserve a mountain of praise for the gameplan that was drawn up and executed without trepidation out west.

The Chiefs ran 25 first-down plays against the Chargers. Thirteen were runs, 12 were passes, and Kansas City didn't run more than three times in a row on first down until they had a lead and were milking the clock.

This is a stark contrast to the earlier games this season. As I pointed out last week, against the Vikings the Chiefs ran almost 80 percent of the time on first down, and at one point they called 11 runs in a row.

In my preview of the Chiefs-Chargers matchup, I mentioned that the best way to defeat San Diego was extensive use of the shotgun formation. The Chiefs didn't have great success out of the shotgun, but they did spread the Chargers out all game long, and it worked. It opened holes for Larry Johnson in the running game, and some of KC's biggest plays (a 24-yard pass to Kris Wilson, a 22-yard touchdown to Tony Gonzalez) came out of spread formations.

Here's a shocker - the Chiefs even went empty backfield a few times. That's enough to scare any offensive coordinator or head coach concerned for his quarterback's health. But not these Chiefs.

What they did in San Diego on Sunday was a big deal. The Chiefs piled up almost 400 yards of offense. That simply doesn't happen to the Chargers at home.

In San Diego's home opener, the Chicago Bears inched their way to a meager 202 yards. Last season, the Chargers' defense surrendered only one legit 400-yard game at Qualcomm. The St. Louis Rams racked up 412 yards in Week 8.

And hey, forget the Chargers. Three-hundred and ninety yards of offense in a road game? Kansas City's offense certainly hadn't come close to that kind of performance this year, and last season it happened only once (against a poor defense in Cleveland). Heck, Dick Vermeil probably gave Herm a congratulatory phone call Sunday night.

So, is the change for real? Will Edwards, Solari and Curl keep their foot on the accelerator? Chiefs fans can only hope, but with six of their next eight games scheduled inside Arrowhead Stadium, KC's offense has no reason to be scared of anyone.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, this week's opponent, are surrendering over eight yards per pass attempt and have allowed quarterbacks to complete 63 percent of their passes.

With the likely return of Eddie Kennison, Edwards and company will have another weapon at their disposal in the passing game. Surely they'll find a way to use it. Judging by Tuesday's press conference, the Chiefs are thinking that way.

"It helps you offensively when you have a three-prong offense, in my opinion," said Edwards. "You've got three guys who can make plays for you when they touch the ball. Now, it's just a matter of orchestrating how we get them the ball."

Air Herm is flying, and it's time to hit the afterburners. No fear.

Listen carefully, and you can almost hear the theme song from Top Gun blaring in your ears. And Dwayne Bowe can be Huard's wingman any day. Top Stories