Cliff Notes: Chiefs vs Panthers

The Chiefs' worst performance of the 2008 season, and maybe ever, came against the Carolina Panthers Sunday. After an abysmal game against Oakland in Week 2 and a shameful showing against Atlanta in Week 3, it didn't seem like the Chiefs could play any worse.

After an impressive outing against Denver at home that shattered the 12-game losing streak, Chiefs fans had hope the worst was behind them. Well, it wasn't.

The Chiefs were blanked 34-0 by Carolina Sunday, and when the Panthers stuffed Dantrell Savage in the backfield to preserve the shutout, Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" was played and the lyrics, "good times never felt so good" reverberated throughout Bank of America Stadium. For the Chiefs' organization and their fans, the bad times have never felt so bad.

Every facet of the game was terrible for the Chiefs, save perhaps the punting game. The offense mustered only 127 total yards, 35 on the ground and 92 through the air. The defense continued to struggle against the run, allowing 205 rushing yards. Even the return game was bad, highlighted by Dantrell Savage's 10-yard loss on a third-quarter punt return.

Last week, in KC's lone win of the season, Kansas City leaned on two-time Pro Bowler Larry Johnson and his 198 rushing yards. This week, he carried the ball just seven times for two yards. Johnson hasn't carried the ball seven times or fewer since Oct. 30 2005, and hasn't rushed for two yards in a game since his rookie season in 2003.

Terrible play from Kansas City's quarterbacks continued. Last week, Damon Huard threw for 160 yards on 21-of-28 passing with a touchdown, averaging just over seven yards a completion. This week, he was an awful 10-for-21 passing for just 86 yards with two interceptions. Against Denver, the Chiefs' success running the ball enabled them to protect Huard with short, high-percentage routes. This week, the lack of a running game forced them to let Huard throw downfield, thus exposing him for two interceptions.

The only positive from Sunday's contest was Tony Gonzalez, who surpassed Shannon Sharpe's record for all-time receiving yards by a tight end, a record Gonzalez felt he should have broken last week. Aside from the record, nothing good happened for Kansas City.

The right side of the offensive line continued its woeful play, the defense continued to give up yards in chunks, the quarterback play was pitiful, and most importantly, the Chiefs' youth movement seems to be more like a youth stagnation. Young defensive ends Tamba Hali and Turk McBride failed to put any pressure on Jake Delhomme, cornerback Brandon Carr was taken to school by Steve Smith, receiver Will Franklin received zero touches, and linebacker Derrick Johnson was almost non-existent.

Most Chiefs fans and NFL observers expected the Chiefs to go through growing pains this season, but if there is no growth, the pains are aimless. It's time for Head Coach Herm Edwards to award some of his young players a bigger role and give them valuable experience.

Rookie Brian Johnston needs more snaps at defensive end, and can't possibly put any less pressure on opposing quarterbacks than McBride or Hali. Rookie Barry Richardson needs real game experience at either right tackle or right guard, and can't do much worse in pass protection than the incapable Damion McIntosh. Franklin, another rookie, is the most athletic receiver the Chiefs have, save Dwayne Bowe, yet has just one reception this year. Veteran safety Jon McGraw is stealing playing time from rookie DaJuan Morgan.

Kansas City's coaching staff needs to go all the way with this youth movement. Playing time is being wasted on incapable veterans. However, those young players who are getting their shot need to step it up. Chiefs fans should hope this week was just a stubbed toe in the building process, and not a sign of complete stagnancy.

With the probable comeback of quarterback Brodie Croyle and left tackle Branden Albert after the bye week, the Chiefs should be better. Hopefully, Croyle can spread the ball around to the young weapons better than Huard and Tyler Thigpen. Top Stories