Chiefs Can't Sustain Momentum

There is something to be said for winning a big game, but it's another thing to come out the next week and lay an egg in front of your home crowd. That's precisely what happened on Sunday as the Jacksonville Jaguars blanked the Chiefs 17-7 in front of a less than full house at Arrowhead Stadium.

Football games are always won in the trenches, and the Jaguars' defensive line was determined to take advantage of the Chiefs' poor play calling and execution by an offense that shot itself in the foot time and time again. On the first drive of the game a 66-yard march was ruined by a missed chip-shot field goal that could have given this team momentum.

In that opening sequence the Jaguars were fooled by KC's passing attack and the Chiefs quickly managed to get into the Jacksonville red zone with relative ease. But the play calling became predictable from there on out and the quarterback, Damon Huard, didn't make good decisions.

On offense this game was lost early when offensive coordinator Mike Solari chose to completely ignore Dwayne Bowe. The Chiefs never threw the ball his way in the first half and didn't find him until midway through the third quarter. By then, it was too late.

There is no excuse for that whatsoever. I pleaded my case before last week's game for Herm Edwards to take control of the offense. What may end up happening now is that the change may come thanks to the shoulder injury Huard suffered in the fourth quarter.

Next week could be the beginning of the Brodie Croyle era. It's no secret that KC's second-year quarterback has been Edwards' preference all along, but circumstances have prevented Croyle from starting. But since this offense can't maintain any consistency from one half to the next, why not make the switch?

Right now, outside of Bowe, there's almost no energy on this offense at all. The running game is missing in action, and the star in the backfield isn't running with the same thunder that brought the home crowd to a roar the last two seasons.

I thought Larry Johnson would pick up the pace and meet the challenge of Jacksonville's defense after what happened last week in San Diego, but clearly that didn't happen Sunday. Instead, Johnson might have regressed a bit.

I'm not sure what it's going to take to get this football team to right the ship in the running game but the coaching staff – offensive coordinator Mike Solari mostly -needs to come up with a few plays that don't have LJ crashing into the entire front seven play after play.

If they don't, the home crowds will continue to shrink and KC's chances of winning a weak and bland AFC West will disappear. At that point a whole new brand of concerns will enter the picture.

But let's not blame the offense alone. Kansas City's defense didn't help matters. They held the Jaguars to 17 points, but poor coverage on third down allowed Jacksonville to move the chains and control the clock.

Cornerback Ty Law hurt his team today, as he was routinely picked on in obvious passing situations. On several third and long plays he was too far off the receiver and could not close to either deflect the ball or prevent a first down. Law still has game, but he didn't build his reputation by sitting back. He built it by being aggressive.

I'm no expert in Cover 2 philosophy, and I'm certainly not one to question defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, but I'm not sure I'll ever understand the reasoning behind playing your corners so far back when the quarterback is constantly under pressure.

The Chief sacked David Garrard four times, and when he was under pressure he generally locked onto the receiver on Law's side of the field. To me, if you're going to be a dominating defense, you have to put faith in your guys in the defensive trenches to do their job.

That means your corners need to play tight and aggressive. If they don't, then teams gain momentum by sustaining drives. Jacksonville's 18-play, 77-yard drive consumed almost 11 minutes in the first quarter.

If the Chiefs don't want to regress as a defense they need to shore up their execution and playmaking in the secondary. I'd rather see my corners get burned deep than watch them give up short completions time after time after time.

There isn't any doubt that Herm Edwards will be tempted to bring Croyle off the bench this week, especially after he drove the team down for a touchdown to conclude yesterday's game. For the sake of team chemistry and energy, he might have little choice in the matter, even if Huard is healthy and ready to go next Sunday.

This football team needs a spark, because they are too talented on offense to be shut down at home against any NFL team, even one as good as Jacksonville. In the meantime, they can count their blessing, as they are still only a half game out of first place in the division.

Five To Remember

1. RB Kolby Smith - The Chiefs need to get Smith into the gameplan next week. He received his first action in mop up duty against Jacksonville, but why not get him into a position to be that third down back? Michael Bennett hasn't really done much, and in fact the coaching staff hasn't really given him much of an opportunity since the Chicago game. With Johnson struggling (more on that in a moment), Smith is already playing special teams, and if anyone saw the dichotomy between Jacksonville's Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, you can see how a back like Smith could be a nice change of pace with LJ.

2. RB Larry Johnson - I understand why he's upset, but he's not playing the game with the same fire he had prior to his new contract. He needs to run with the same vigor and power he did a year ago. Last year, if he was going to be held to a short gain via the run or pass, he'd still make someone feel it when they tackled him. He'd lower his shoulder and deliver the blow. Sunday Johnson ran to the locker room after Croyle's touchdown pass. You win and lose with the guys in the locker room. I respect that LJ is frustrated, but the only way this football team is going to get into the post season is if LJ gets on track. If he can't do it with his legs, he needs to do it by supporting his teammates through the final snap.

3. KC O-Line - It's gut check time for the five veteran starters. Sooner or later they have to start blocking in the run game with the same proficiency they've displayed in pass protection. They have to be willing to stay on their feet and do what it takes to get Johnson some running room. There are veterans on this line who aren't playing up to snuff. None of them are going to be replaced because there really isn't any proven depth on the squad right now, but they need to start playing like there's someone behind each and every one of them, pushing them.

4. P Dustin Colquitt - If he's not the team MVP so far, I'm not sure who is. He was worn out after punting seven times on Sunday, and if he hadn't done so well the score might have been even more lopsided. The bottom line is that Colquitt can't keep doing this week in and week out. He's punted 29 times in five games and that's far too many. He'll become ineffective as the season wears on. Colquitt is playing at an All-Pro level, but there are only so many booming punts in his left leg.

5. OC Mike Solari - Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Smith out-coached Solari on Sunday. It didn't start out that way, as the Chiefs moved right down the field through the air, but Smith knew Solari wouldn't stick with the pass and that fell into the strength of Jacksonville's defense. Nobody runs against them, but their secondary is vulnerable. Sooner or later you just have to take what the defense gives you. All afternoon long the Jaguars didn't double up on any of the Chiefs wide receivers, including Dwayne Bowe. Smith's defense invited the Chiefs to test out his corners, and they declined until the game was out of reach. It's these kind of decisions that make me wonder about what type of offense Solari can run. This week he may get a chance to show what he can do with Brodie Croyle.

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