Chiefs Find Identity on Offense

Coming into the 2007 season, Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards thought he had a team that could dominate opponents with the running game. Kansas City's offense slammed the ball into defenses stacked to stop the run. They got stuffed.

Undeterred, the Chiefs kept slamming Larry Johnson into the line even though opposing linebackers camped out in Kansas City's backfield while their secondary mates kicked back and sipped Piña Coladas.

The Chiefs lost their first two games.

On the verge of losing their third straight game, with frustrated players screaming at the coaching staff, it finally dawned upon the Chiefs that perhaps it was time to try plan B. Lo and behold! Despite what everyone believed, the Chiefs discovered they could throw the ball.

The Chiefs staged a fourth-quarter comeback vs. Minnesota. They blew away San Diego with 24 points in the second half. Along the way they found out that rookie wide receiver Dwayne Bowe could catch the ball with two guys holding his legs and another riding piggy back. At the end of the Chargers game, Johnson found running room because quarterback Damon Huard had hurt San Diego's defense with big plays downfield to Bowe and tight end Tony Gonzalez.

The Chiefs do not have the dominant run blocking they had in the past. Furthermore, their screen passes haven't been effective since all-world guard Will Shields retired. The bottom line - this team has to attack down the field to set up the short game.

Fortunately, Bowe's emergence as a number one receiver allows Gonzalez, Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker to fall into more natural roles. Kennison never had the hands to be a go-to receiver, while Parker is much better in the slot. Gonzalez no longer has to carry the load as the primary receiving threat, which is awkward for the offense when opponents force the tight end to protect the quarterback.

Right now, Huard appears to be the weak link on offense. After his inspired play off the bench last season, karma has caught up with him as a full time starter. The batted balls that hit the turf last year are getting picked off this season. Even so, if Huard goes back into his shell, the offense will stall. Edwards has to accept more turnovers than he would like if his team is going to win.

Now that offensive coordinator Mike Solari knows what he has on offense, there are no more excuses. Solari must continue to mix up his play calls and instruct Huard to throw the ball to Gonzalez and Bowe at critical moments? even if they are covered. If he continues with this strategy, this team has a good chance to win the AFC West.

Otherwise, it will be a lost season. Much like the first two games.

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