Quarterback Change Not Enough

I'll give props to head coach Herm Edwards, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and a gallant effort by quarterback Brodie Croyle. I said all week this game would come down to a play or two in the final quarter, and the Chiefs should be proud of Sunday's effort in Indianapolis.

But one thing is clear - offensive coordinator Mike Solari is not the right man for the job. The Chiefs had Indy's defense on the ropes in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 10 and the ball sitting on the 43-yard line. They proceeded to squander that opportunity.

Kansas City was a play-action pass on first down from winning this game, but the Colts knew what the Chiefs were going to run on first down every single time. You could tell by KC's formation, who was in the backfield, and which offensive tackles were in the game.

In the ground game, Solari foolishly attempted the same signature running plays that made Priest Holmes an All-Pro. But the Chiefs no longer have the offensive linemen to run those plays (the stretch and sweep), especially against a defense as quick as Indy's. If you're going to beat a fast defense, you have to throw over them to win.

Meanwhile, the Colts could not cover Dwayne Bowe, but Solari's decision to disarm his own quarterback ruined what should have been a win in Croyle's starting debut. With the Chiefs down 10-3, Solari opened up the offense, and the kid came through, tying the game with a long drive where he was allowed to throw the ball down the field. Why he took his foot off the accelerator is a mystery.

Kansas City's new offensive coordinator is sitting in Jacksonville. Mike Shula, the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach, has done a great job with David Garrard and Quinn Gray this year. Shula was Croyle's head coach at Alabama, and the pair should be reunited in Kansas City after Jacksonville's playoff run ends this January.

On the other side of the organization, the guys in the scouting department need to scream up and down in the war room when the next Mason Crosby is available in the draft. Dave Rayner isn't getting the job done. It's clear he's worried where the ball is going to be located before he sets up.

That‘s a direct reflection on the switch at long-snapper from Kendall Gammon to JP Darche. It hasn't worked, because the kicker is worried about the spot of the ball before he strikes it.

He has no confidence in the ball getting to the spot and for a kicker, that's like taking away one of his legs. The decision to draft Justin Medlock while passing on Crosby could haunt the Chiefs the rest of the season, if not the next 10 years.

Despite all these problems, the Chiefs have six games left and still have a legitimate shot to win the AFC West. If you didn't notice, the Chargers lost to Jacksonville Sunday. The eventual division champion might wind up at 6-10.

But the Chiefs would be better suited to play out the stretch with a top 10 draft pick as their goal. With eleven picks to date in their pockets and a roster that will be purged of most veterans this offseason, I'd rather see the team draft higher.

Teams that win games in January are on the same page from scouting, to drafting, to coaching. This organization needs some tough love over the next three or four months, and someone has to make those hard line decisions.

I believe Edwards is the man to do just that. Let's hope he's given the tools. If not, we could have more of the same in 2008.

Five To Remember

1. DE Jared Allen - Deserves to be the highest-paid defensive end in the NFL based on his first-half play against the Colts, but he disappeared in the second half against a battery of backups. If he truly wants to be a rich man, he needs to bring it all game long.

2. CB Benny Sapp - I've been dogging KC's nickel back all season long, but he had his best game of the season Sunday. Sapp's coverage was near-perfect and he delivered some hits. With an aging cornerback tandem playing in front of him, Sapp may have earned another shot in 2008. Hopefully we see the same effort the rest of the way.

3. WR Dwayne Bowe - Brodie Croyle told me he couldn't wait to start throwing Bowe the ball in a real game. The two are the future of this offense and someday may share a connection akin to the one Peyton Manning has with Marvin Harrison. Bowe's touchdown grab in the third quarter of Sunday's game is the type of street-ball effort this offense needs. Sometimes you just throw one up, and I expect the first Croyle/Bowe connection on Sunday won't be the last.

4. RT Kyle Turley - He made a critical mistake in the third quarter on a third-and-one play. All he had to do was seal his block and Priest Holmes might have been able to cut back and score a touchdown. Instead, Turley whiffed on a linebacker and Holmes was strung out to the left, unable to get a first down. Dave Rayner nailed a field goal on the next play, but those four points would have been huge for the Chiefs.

5. HC Herm Edwards - He's finding out that it won't be easy to rebuild this football team in his image. The cupboard was bare when he took over. I'm confident now more than ever that his plan will follow in the footsteps of his friend, Tony Dungy, however. This team is closer than some realize. It needs some new offensive coaches, another great draft and better execution in the preseason to be a perennial AFC West champion, but the future is bright.

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