Chiefs Were Overmatched

I guess you can whine about offensive playcalling, if you like. You can whine about too much soft coverage from Ty Law. And you can whine about 10 yards rushing.

But all of that will distract you from the reality of the situation.

Truth is, the Chiefs just got whipped by a better team on Sunday. Goliath caught David's rock and turned him into a dark smear.

A loss in Arrowhead Stadium is tough for any Chiefs fan to handle, but it takes a real juggernaut of a team to pull it off. Last year, it took the 12-4 Baltimore Ravens. The year before, it took the reigning NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles.

In 2007, it took the Jacksonville Jaguars, perhaps the AFC's best team outside of the New England Patriots. And that includes the Indianapolis Colts, a team the Jaguars dominated to the tune of 44-17 last December.

I'm quite serious. The Jaguars are that good. Jack Del Rio has won almost 60 percent of his road games over the last three seasons. This football team has always had a defense and a running game, but what they've always lacked – until now – was a quarterback. Byron Leftwich never panned out, and last year David Garrard was rocky.

But something has changed. Compare the Garrard you saw on Sunday to the one who was pulled for Quinn Gray at Arrowhead last December.

Garrard is playing like a sleeper MVP candidate this year. He won't throw as many touchdowns as Peyton Manning, but he'll convert just as many key third downs, especially with his ability to scramble. After Manning, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, Garrard might be the AFC's best quarterback. And I'd love to see what he could do with a pair of receivers like Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh.

The Chiefs were throwing the kitchen sink at Garrard on Sunday. When Jacksonville converted a third-and-15 play on their first drive of the game, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham appeared to absolutely lose his mind.

After only rushing three and sitting back in zone defense on that key third and long, Cunnigham chose to send blitz after blitz at Garrard for the remainder of the afternoon. That left the aging Ty Law exposed on the corner, and Garrard picked on him time after time, completing pinpoint passes to average receivers.

Garrard was sacked twice during his opening drive and hit numerous times as the game wore on, but he never once panicked. Your average quarterback would have wilted under this kind of pressure. Leftwich certainly would have, and we saw Philip Rivers do just that a week ago. Three weeks ago, the Chiefs exposed Rex Grossman. But not Garrard. He kept his cool and kept his team in the game.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville's defense was doing what they do best – dominate. Most people will talk about the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers as the NFL's best defense, but the Jaguars rank right there with them.

The Chiefs had faced good defenses this year – Chicago, Minnesota, San Diego – but none as complete as Jack Del Rio's squad. Minnesota and San Diego both had huge weaknesses in their secondary. Not Jacksonville.

For the first time this year the Chiefs faced a truly complete defense. The Jaguars have the pass rushers (Bobby McCray) and corners (Rashean Mathis) to complement their pair of Pro-Bowl defensive tackles, John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. Without a running game, teams like the Vikings are the only sort the Chiefs will beat this year.

Faced with throwing every down while offensive tackle Chris Terry made his case for early retirement (it's Herb Taylor time, Herm), KC's offense was hopelessly outclassed. You can blame Damon Huard all you want, but name one quarterback who's ever beaten Jack Del Rio's defense without a supporting running game.

So yeah, I guess you could panic over Sunday's 17-7 loss. The Chiefs' third-down defense looked like a sieve, the offensive line looked lost, and 10 yards rushing looked like the end of Larry Johnson's career. But the Chiefs won't face a team that looks like this one again all year.

Hey, it could be worse. The Chiefs could have lost by 38 points to the San Diego Chargers. As it stands, right now they have a get-well date with the Cincinnati Bengals and the NFL's worst defense. Panic if this happens again next week.

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