After beating Denver, those words were, "Let's build on that." A week later, Edwards might as well have said, "Let's build on...what?"
That's because his football team went on the road, accomplished absolutely nothing, and actually took a few steps backwards. Instead of picking up the bricks, slapping on the mortar and building on the effort against the Broncos, the Chiefs mostly took a sledgehammer to what they had already built.
Not only did Kansas City's inspiring ground attack completely disappear, but the pass rush remained invisible, no one emerged in the passing game and the run defense collapsed. Fortunately, the special teams weren't completely abysmal. Frank Gansz would be proud.
Last week we discussed the above elements as vital building blocks for the Chiefs. Let's revisit those topics and see if there's any hope of progress over the next month or so.
• Continue to establish the running game.
What happened to the juggernaut rushing attack we saw against Denver? The Chiefs apparently thought they could run on the Panthers, as they came out attempting to flex their muscles in jumbo sets on offense. Seven Larry Johnson carries and two yards later, the coaching staff was obviously mistaken.
The Chiefs couldn't run up the middle, off tackle or outside, and couldn't block Carolina's massive defensive tackle, Maake Kemoeatu. On one play right guard Adrian Jones was beaten so badly he assisted in tackling Johnson when he was forced right into the running back's path.
It appears KC's ground game hasn't made much progress from a year ago, when they ranked dead last in the league. Other than six quarters – a full game against the Broncos and a half against the Falcons – there's been little running room through five games. In fact, it's so bad, through those other 14 quarters, Larry Johnson is averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. Did the Chiefs over-estimate the abilities of Rudy Niswanger, Adrian Jones and Damion McIntosh?
The bad news is what's looming on the horizon. Over the next month the Chiefs face three teams boasting run defenses allowing 3.7 yards per carry or less. The Titans, Jets and Bucs have combined to allow just a single 100-yard rusher in 14 games. We have no reason to believe the Chiefs will run on any of those teams. That spells trouble for Brodie Croyle.
• Improve the pass rush.
Despite the fact they were facing two backup offensive tackles, Tamba Hali and Turk McBride failed to pressure the quarterback Sunday, again. The Chiefs tried an assortment of blitzes, with little success, as the Panthers usually picked them up and completed passes, or toasted them for huge gains. Jake Delhomme might as well have been wearing a yellow practice jersey.
At some point, don't the Chiefs have to admit moving Hali to right defensive end was a bad idea? Twice this year he has faced inexperienced left tackles, and twice has failed to make an impact. Oakland's Mario Henderson, who had previously never started a game, handled Hali just fine in Week 2. Sunday, Carolina's Frank Omiyale, who also had previously never started a game, made Hali disappear again.
In fact, the Panthers had so little respect for Hali's abilities as a pass rusher, they started Omiyale rather than Travelle Wharton, a fifth-year player with extensive experience as a starting left tackle.
What is Hali going to do against Michael Roos, D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Marcus McNeill over the next month? If a Chiefs defensive end is ever going to sack a quarterback this year, maybe Hali should be moved back to left end.
• Find a third receiver.
Token catches from Jeff Webb and Devard Darling in Carolina did nothing to dispel the notion that the Chiefs lack a third receiver. Heck, this time KC's offense couldn't even get much out of Tony Gonzalez or Dwayne Bowe, who combined for a whopping 74 yards.
Will Brodie Croyle's return lead to more success for Webb, Darling or Will Franklin? The Chiefs are hoping so, but unless Damion McIntosh is benched, how will Croyle find the time to locate secondary targets in the passing game? McIntosh has now allowed five sacks in five games, including two last week against the Panthers. And guess who's coming to dinner? Just Kyle Vanden Bosch, Shaun Ellis and Gaines Adams.
• Keep stuffing the run.
We don't need to recount Sunday's performances from DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. But let's not forget the Panthers had been struggling to run the ball before they ran into the Chiefs (or rather, ran over them). That doesn't bode well for the remaining 11 games.
For you fantasy-leaguers out there, here are some good plays over the next month or so: LenDale White, Chris Johnson, Thomas Jones, Earnest Graham, and, of course, LaDainian Tomlinson. All of them play Kansas City. Heck, Reggie Bush might even get 100 yards against the Chiefs in Week 11 when the Saints come marching in.
• Cover kicks, return kicks.
OK, finally, we have something positive. Dantrell Savage did his best to look like Dante Hall, circa 2006, running backwards and losing gobs of yards on a punt return against the Panthers, but his kickoff returns were once again, outstanding. Savage is averaging a healthy 27.3 yards per kick return this year, and the Chiefs are blocking pretty well on special teams for the first time in awhile.
If Dustin Colquitt's leg doesn't fall off, and Nick Novak keeps making field goals, Kansas City might actually boast decent special teams this season. Don't discount the importance of great special teams for these Chiefs. Unless things improve on offense or defense, we'll be seeing plenty of punting and plenty of opponent kickoffs.
Chiefs Fail To Build
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