Signs of Life

Sunday's contest at Arrowhead Stadium might have been the best all year. The Tennessee Titans entered the game with playoff aspirations, but the Chiefs showed some heart and fight even though they lost, 26-17. That's what was missing during the six-game losing streak.

The difference came down to turnovers – a pair of interceptions from Brodie Croyle and a muffed punt from Eddie Drummond. The Chiefs were leading this game at halftime by four points, but for the eighth time in nine games, they lost after leading at the break. That means this team does not have enough closers.

All is not lost, however, because even though Croyle struggled at times, he made some great throws and helped the offense convert 11 of 17 third down attempts. That's a departure from the norm for this team.

The problem with that statistic is it means the team wasn't particularly productive on early downs. That should change next season with a new offensive coordinator, and new offensive line, so the big concern right now is KC's defense.

The common theme for Gunther Cunningham's unit this year has been an inability to make plays in the second half of football games, especially at home, where the Chiefs wound up with a 2-6 record.

Don't blame the defense for the losing streak, but time and again players have not executed the scheme the way it should be. How many times have we heard Herm Edwards complain about defenders abandoning their gaps over the last few weeks? Cunningham has to get his players to be more disciplined in covering their gaps. If not, the type of defense he wants to run in Kansas City won't work.

So the Chiefs lost Sunday because they took on a better football team. What they learn from this game, however, could be huge dividends in 2008.

Five to Remember

1. KR Eddie Drummond - The decision to activate Drummond this week was a direct result of the Chiefs unwillingness to have Eddie Kennison return kicks and Jeff Webb's failure to take advantage of his opportunity. Unfortunately, Drummond's fumble came at a key time and gifted Tennessee three points. This offseason, one of the top priorities for this football team is to find a legit return man.

2. RB Kolby Smith - I believe Smith can be the feature back next season. The thought of trading Larry Johnson in the offseason is nothing more than a dream at this point, but with KC's salary cap in great shape they could trade Johnson and still have money left over to spend. With a new offensive scheme, Smith could be a top-flight running back in this league.

Sunday he averaged 4.6 yards per carry and if not for a lopsided score in the second half, would have easily had another 100-yard game. His moves are reminiscent of Priest Holmes at times and he's someone who should play a lot in 2008.

3. WR Dwayne Bowe - I'm concerned with Bowe's struggles to catch the ball in the cold. The pass he dropped on KC's first offensive play Sunday would have likely resulted in either a long gain or a touchdown. Bowe is the most talented Chiefs receiver in over a decade, but he needs to catch the ball when the temperature drops. Bowe also appears to have hit that rookie wall, which is to be expected, so it's not all that surprising he's struggling now.

4. RT Will Svitek - The Chiefs did a solid job in pass protection Sunday, and one of the reasons was Svitek, who had his best game as a Chief. Antwan Odom, who isn't an elite player but is still an athletic pass rusher, gave Svitek a good test. If he can continue to play this way the final two games, he could find a spot on this team in 2008. The Chiefs need a solid backup for their future left and right tackles, and Svitek could fill that void.

5. HC Herm Edwards - Yesterday's game was close because the team gave maximum effort. It was a tribute to Edwards, who has yet to lose the respect of his players in the middle of a seven-game losing streak.

Players are still believing and working hard in practice. This team still is five or six players from shoring up the roster, but Edwards' plan is starting to take shape. That includes motivating players, and if you solve that issue it comes down to personnel decisions. I believe Edwards will be the ultimate decision maker where that's concerned this offseason, and that's a good thing. Top Stories