Broncos Rally To Beat Chiefs, 24-17

Another terrible performance from the Chiefs' defense ended in another loss Sunday. It's beginning to look like no matter what KC's defensive coaches come up with, they just don't have the horses to make it work. Talent is an issue, but somewhere along the line coaching must to be held accountable.

Love him or hate him, nobody is on a hotter seat right now than defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, who's conservative approach to defense is undermining Kansas City's foundation of defensive youth.

I'm no football expert but I've watched enough Denver Broncos games to know that Mike Shanahan was going to throw the ball late in the fourth quarter facing a third-and-nine situation from his one-yard line. Despite that, Cunningham sent only four rushers after the quarterback, which really hasn't worked for the Chiefs all year.

This team has only six sacks on the season, and will likely set the NFL record for fewest sacks in a year by a team. Meanwhile, Cunningham's corners spend more time back peddling to prevent a big play rather attacking aggressively at the line of scrimmage to disrupt opposing wide receivers. This week cornerback Brandon Carr was the victim. There isn't any excuse for the way KC's defensive staff has rendered him virtually useless over the last month and a half.

Carr has the talent to be an outstanding cornerback but is being forced to play a style of defense that goes against the grain of his development. On the other side of the field the Chiefs allow Brandon Flowers to play tighter coverage, and to be fair Flowers is a far better corner than Carr.

But Carr's technique - he's generally sitting 10 yards off the receiver before the ball is snapped – means he's often beaten on basic short routes because he can't react fast enough to close in on the ball. That's coaching. Cunningham and his staff are potentially ruining this young talent.

Head Coach Herm Edwards will have to spend some one-on-one time with Carr in the offseason and get him refocused and rebuild his confidence. The Chiefs need the young corner next year if the defense is going to improve.

Cunningham's offensive counterpart, Chan Gailey, didn't fare much better. Denver's defense is flat out awful but held the Chiefs to 260 yards of offense because once again, some of the play calling was atrocious. With the Chiefs facing a first and goal on the 10-yard line early in the game, Gailey called three ill-advised plays that were designed to gain a yard or two instead of trying to score a touchdown.

In the second half, it was Tony Gonzalez to the right, left and up the middle. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen never tried to get into any rhythm with any other receiver than Gonzalez. At one point, Gonzalez had caught three of eight passes thrown to him. Bowe had a nice game with 96 yards, but needs to be more involved if the Chiefs are going to take the next step on offense.

The Broncos had obviously studied Thigpen's tendencies so they harassed Gonzalez at every point on the field - especially at the line of scrimmage. Note the difference from the Chiefs defense? The Broncos corners and safeties challenged Thigpen's primary target. That's good coaching.

The Chiefs still have a long ways to go, but Sunday showed they could play a competitive game in Denver, where they've played some of their worst football over the last 10 seasons.

But Sunday also showed that the entire coaching staff still does not trust the players enough to give them more freedom on both sides of the ball.

Four to Remember:

LB Derrick Johnson - Can't say I saw anything that tells me he's the man for the middle of the defense. He was lost at times in his pass coverage. What really bothered me was his tendency to take on blockers instead of going after the ball. I was disappointed that the Chiefs didn't use Johnson to blitz Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. Give him a pass on this game, but he needs to be far more active in the middle of the defense if he wants to get the job next year and a big contract extension.

CB Maurice Leggett - If he keeps playing like this the Chiefs should consider putting him in Carr's place and letting the two switch roles the final three games of the season. Leggett has come a long way and in back-to-back weeks he's scored touchdowns. His 27-yard interception return for a touchdown Sunday could have won the game for the Chiefs but the rest of the defense didn't take his lead.

DE Jason Babin - Blew a huge play in the fourth quarter when Cutler tried a bootleg near the goal line. Babin had a bead on the quarterback but completely whiffed - if he'd had better instincts it would have been a safety. Instead, Cutler made a clutch throw resulting in a first down and breathing room. It was a big play because the Broncos scored a touchdown on that drive, putting them ahead for good by seven points.

HC Herm Edwards - You know he gets a tip of my hat today. On the Chiefs' only touchdown drive of the game in the second quarter, he went for it in Broncos territory on fourth down. Late in the game facing a seven-point deficit and a fourth and goal with less than five minutes in the game left, Edwards showed tremendous confidence in his young quarterback and offense. I see what he's doing and I think based on the way he didn't want to hear what any of the other coaches on the sidelines were saying, he put the game on his shoulders. I wish some of his other coaches had that belief.

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