Chiefs Fall To 0-4 With 27-16 Loss To Giants

It didn't take long for the Giants to assert their dominance in Sunday's 27-16 win over Kansas City. Nor did it take long for the Chiefs to assert their inferiority. Jamaal Charles' fumble on the opening kickoff - resulting in a New York touchdown - ripped the optimism from Chiefs fans before they had the chance to get their hopes up.

When Kansas City's offense did finally take the field, Todd Haley unveiled his Chan Gailey tribute by coming out in shotgun the first four plays, including two snaps from the wildcat formation with Larry Johnson at the helm. The problem is, the Chiefs couldn't execute in the trendy formation. A valiant effort, and certainly something they should keep in their repertoire, but unsuccessful on Sunday.

Since I've been beating up the offensive line and the brass that compiled the personnel that currently makes up the unit, it's only fair to point out that KC's line played better today than in any game not against the Raiders so far this season. The Chiefs weren't outstanding, but blocked well enough to assist Johnson in some productive runs. Johnson only averaged 2.9 yards per carry, but found running room in the second and third quarters.

Kansas City's line also gave Cassel more time in the pocket than they've given him against any team not named the Raiders. He wasn't able to set up camp in the backfield, but he wasn't running for his life as he did against the Eagles. Though the Giants had only recorded three sacks prior to Sunday, they have talented pass rushers.

Cassel still has not logged a single game that proves he's worth $63 million. He did throw two touchdowns against no interceptions, and his receivers certainly did not help by dropping several passes. However, Cassel repeatedly overshot open receivers downfield and held the ball longer than recommended.

Cassel apologists will cite his touchdown-to-interception ratio in defense of their leader, but the fact that Cassel did not commit a turnover Sunday had more to do with the Giants' inability to capitalize. Cassel fumbled the ball three times, with the Chiefs recovering every time.

He also threw what should have been an interception in the end zone on a pass intended for Mike Vrabel. A Giants' defender was called for holding Vrabel, so the hypothetical turnover would have been negated, but Cassel's decision to throw the ball was worrisome nonetheless. Cassel created with his feet, rushing four times for 25 yards, but we still haven't seen the Cassel who's supposed to lead the Chiefs back to the promised land.

One promising sign Sunday was Tamba Hali. Perhaps no one received more criticism over KC's feeble pass rush last season than Hali, the one-time first-round pick and sidekick to Jared Allen. Sunday, he ducked under a New York tackle and swatted the ball out of Eli Manning's hands, recording his second sack and forced fumble of the season.

Another promising sign, which has been the case all season by my estimation, was the hard running of Larry Johnson, who is running with renewed fervor. He talked last week about not feeling comfortable because of three other backs receiving playing time, but Sunday he continued to fight for every yard. Put this year's LJ behind the line of ‘06, and he probably duplicates his 1,700-yard campaign.

Probably the most worrisome development in Sunday's game was Haley's playcalling. Yes, Kansas City's offensive line isn't stocked full of Pro Bowlers and road graders, but you can only get away with the draw so many times, and the Chiefs ran it too often. The draw is a deceptive play. If the defense knows it's coming, they should have no problem stopping it.

Then there's KC's red zone offense. After being bailed out by a pass interference call, Kansas City was granted a fresh set of downs inside New York's 10-yard line. In total, it took the Chiefs eight plays within scoring distance to finally score, and in the first six goal-to-go situations on that possession, they lost six yards.

When Kansas City got near the end zone, Haley abandoned the running game. While the Chiefs' offensive line isn't going to push many teams around, if there's no threat of a run up the gut for a score, opposing defenses will sit in a tight zone, which is more effective in a short space like the end zone. If you have Johnson, use him. It may be time for Johnson's fantasy owners to cut or trade him if Haley chooses to throw on every down in scoring situations.

Also alarming was Dwayne Bowe's absence. While he dropped a couple of passes Sunday, including a touchdown, Bobby Wade wasn't exactly reliable, either. You have to get the ball in Bowe's hands before the fourth quarter. His ability to churn out yards after the catch is unmatched on KC's roster. Some slants, hitches or screens would have been better than nothing.

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