There was plenty of complaining about KC's horrid offensive line, Damon Huard's inept play and blown coverages in the secondary.
But watching the Chiefs drop their fifth consecutive game, none of that really stood out as something I felt like complaining about. Instead, I felt like singling out another old problem – one that's plagued this franchise for years – that fully reared its ugly head against the Chargers.
The Chiefs still don't have a defensive tackle – not one – who's consistently getting the job done.
Oh, it started out well this year. Alfonso Boone looked like "the guy" that was going to turn things around for the Chiefs up front. He made everyone stand up and clap in Houston, when he penetrated the Texans' offensive line and made plays in the backfield on two consecutive snaps.
Boone's solid play continued for the first half of the season. Kansas City's defensive tackles had good games against Minnesota, Oakland, and even Green Bay (who could forget the sight of Brett Favre throwing another bomb off his back foot, Boone's hand in his face). They played pretty well in shutting down the Colts a few weeks ago.
But as the season has worn on, Boone, 31 years old, has apparently worn down. With little help from Ron Edwards, who's never wowed anyone, and even less from rookie defensive tackles Tank Tyler and Turk McBride, the Chiefs have struggled at times on defense.
It was all out in the open against the Chargers. Boone, Edwards, Tyler and McBride were pretty much dominated by the interior of San Diego's offensive line. Mike Goff, Nick Hardwick and Kris Dielman opened holes in the running game and LaDainian Tomlinson ripped the Chiefs for 177 yards and two scores. Philip Rivers had a bad day, but made some big plays when there was absolutely no pressure in his face on a couple of snaps.
It all started with about 10 minutes left in the first quarter. Tomlinson took a carry up the middle for 25 yards, and the problem was right in the middle of KC's defensive line. Boone was blown off the ball by Dielman, while Edwards was double-teamed by Hardwick and Goff. The inability of Boone and Edwards to control the play up front meant Donnie Edwards and Napoleon Harris got swallowed up at the second level.
About a quarter later, the problem resurfaced. Philip Rivers completed a 40-yard pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. The main culprit on this play appeared to be linebacker Pat Thomas, who was sucked up on play action, but Boone and Tyler got absolutely no penetration. Rivers stepped up into a squeaky-clean pocket and threw down the field with ease.
It was more of the same when San Diego's quarterback launched a 38-yard bomb, tying the game right after the Chiefs had taken a 10-3 lead, to Vincent Jackson. Rivers faked a handoff and there was absolutely no penetration from the Chiefs at all. Boone and Edwards were stood up at the line of scrimmage.
The final straw? Tomlinson's two long touchdown runs. Both plays featured San Diego's offensive linemen simply engulfing KC's defensive line. Herm Edwards raved about "gap control" this week, in explanation of his team's poor run defense (and yes, Napoleon Harris did look lost on LT's first score), but there's not much a defense can do when it's linebackers aren't free to roam.
The Chiefs tried to solve this problem by drafting Tyler and McBride. Neither have lived up to expectations in their rookie seasons.
Does this team have problems at other positions? Definitely. The Chiefs need to find another wide receiver, a couple of cornerbacks and most assuredly require help on the offensive line. But watching Sunday's game, it became apparent that perhaps a defensive tackle wouldn't be a bad move with Kansas City likely picking in the top 10 this year.
Glenn Dorsey, anyone?
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