Blocking Issues Continue In Loss To Eagles

In an effort to find some semblance of a silver lining in the garbage cloud that was Sunday's 34-14 loss to the Eagles, I found next to nothing. Jamaal Charles looked fast, but that is not exactly breaking news. Everyone knows Charles is fast.

The one true positive that came out of Philadelphia was Matt Cassel's ball security. Given almost no time to throw Sunday, Cassel still managed to complete 14 of 18 passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions. He wasn't attacking downfield, but didn't throw interceptions.

The two most glaring problems with Kansas City's most recent effort were the same old story - offensive line and pass rush, and that's in order. I've been beating the offensive line drum for a while now, but with each pathetic rushing performance, the beating will get louder. Larry Johnson is running as hard as he ever has. Charles has blinding speed. Still, the Chiefs mounted only 99 yards on the ground.

That's just the tip of the iceberg, though, because arguably more glaring than the Chiefs' inability to open holes Sunday was their inability to give Cassel ample time to throw the football. The most gruesome example of this was on a third-and-25 play early in the first half. At that down and distance, everyone knows what's coming, and the offensive line knows it's up to them to let their quarterback sit in the pocket long enough for his receivers to get downfield.

However, KC's offensive line and two tight ends failed. Sean Ryan and Brad Cottam have jobs in the NFL because of their blocking. On this particular play, they didn't showcase any of those blocking skills whatsoever. The Chiefs kept in six blockers, the Eagles brought five rushers, but Cassel had no time.

A play like that, coupled with the body of work the Chiefs' offensive line has put together so far this season, has fans wondering what general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley were thinking this offseason. They brought in receiver after receiver, worked out defensive backs and linebackers, but did virtually nothing to help the offensive line, until midway through training camp.

Before preseason, the Chiefs signed Eric Ghiaciuc and Mike Goff in free agency, and drafted Colin Brown. That was it. The biggest sin Pioli and Haley made was sitting on their hands the majority of the offseason with Barry Richardson, Damion McIntosh, Herb Taylor, and Ghiaciuc. They ran out McIntosh and Richardson as starters during preseason, and neither is on the active roster.

Did it really take a review of last season's film, OTAs, minicamps, and the majority of training camp for the Chiefs to realize their offensive line was in such bad shape? I'm not buying it.

This early into the new regime, this is my only real complaint. Even if the Chiefs are waiting to invest in a long-term solution, they had to have some inkling the status quo was this bad. If they're willing to invest some time and money in Mike Vrabel, Corey Mays and Zach Thomas, because they're the heart of the 3-4 defense, why not do the same with the heart of the offense, the offensive line?

Everything starts with the line on offense. Without it working at least a serviceable level, the Chiefs can't properly evaluate Cassel, Brodie Croyle, Charles, Dantrell Savage, or any of the receivers they've brought in. Even to a layman observer like me, that's inexcusable.

The Chiefs' issues with rushing the passer are understandable. When you're implementing a new base defense altogether, you have a new defensive coordinator, and you're working with young players. A lack of pressure is expected, and even if KC's pass rush isn't formidable yet, it's still improved over last year's. The Chiefs also made a concerted effort to shore up the pass rush with their offseason moves.

Haley and Pioli have made it clear to Chiefs fans that turning this team around is going to be a process, and not all the problems can be fixed in one offseason, but if you're going to stand pat with one unit, the offensive line may not have been the best choice.

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