Answers by Kansas City Chiefs insider Nick Athan of Warpaint Illustrated
Be sure to check
out Part 1 about the Patriots
Q1: Matt Cassel has been running the Chiefs offense
since 2009. Now that he's sustained a serious hand injury and
will likely be replaced by Tyler Palko, how will the Chiefs adjust
their game plan? Is Cassel the future or is this the
beginning of the search for a new QB of the future?
Nick Athan: I think once the Chiefs land a new head
coach that whomever that is will likely bring in a new
quarterback. Cassel never really fell in favor within the fan
base. Though he's a leader in the locker room he just hasn't
made enough plays consistently to garner the support needed to take
this team to the next level.
Tyler Palko isn't the answer either. He's been a back up for
five years and never been close to earning a starting role.
Now that doesn't mean he can't become one in Kansas City but I think
the Chiefs would be wise at some point this season, now that Cassel is
out for the year, to give rookie quarterback Ricky Stanzi a
shot. Of the thre quarterbacks in training camp, he looked
Q2: The Patriots have had to shuffle their offensive
line this year with injuries at center (Dan Koppen), tackle (Sebastian Vollmer) and retirement of guard Stephen Neal. That breakdown led to a
safety last week vs the Jets. What can we expect the Chiefs to do to
take advantage of that matchup?
Nick Athan: In theory, that would be something the
Chiefs can taken advantage of on Monday Night. However,
outside of Linebacker Tamba Hali is the teams only premier pass
rusher. This far the Chiefs haven't been able to get any
production out of Tyson Jackson, Allen Bailey or Wallace Gilberry, Hali
has been on an island all by himself.
But the good thing is that Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel knows
the Patriots offensive system quite well and I would not be surprised
if you saw the Chiefs attack that offensive line with a series of blitz
packages that might be able to close the pocket enough that they could
grab a few errant passes from Tom Brady.
Q3: Patriots defensive linemen Andre Carter, Mark Anderson, Vince Wilfork and co had great success last week using a
4-man rush with stunts to get pressure on Mark Sanchez. What
are the chances that the Patriots front four can get pressure on the
Chiefs in passing situations, and what do the chiefs typically do to
compensate for that?
Nick Athan: Over the last two weeks basic four man
fronts have completely shut down the Chiefs offense. In
losses at home to Miami and Denver, they successfully stopped their
efforts to establish the run. And in passing situations,
those teams were able to put so much pressure on Matt Cassel that he
was ineffective in both losses.
However, the other factor right the Patriots defense has to be leery
that Tyler Palko can run with the football. He does have some
mobility and if given time, he can throw the long ball. We've
already seen this year some second and third string quarterbacks defeat
some NFL teams soundly. So the Patriots can't take Palko
lightly. In passing situations, they'd be wise to bring more
than four at all times.
Q4: New England has assembled a ragtag group of defensive
backs on the field as they try to deal with injuries this year. They
rank dead last in the NFL. How will the Chiefs exploit that weakness?
Nick Athan: Like I said before in games against the
Dolphins and Broncos who were near the bottom of pass defense, the
Chiefs struggled. But the Patriots secondary is a mess and
it's very exploitable. In my opinion they don't have the
secondary that can cover the Chiefs trio of receivers, Dwayne Bowe,
Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin.
If Palko gets time in the pocket and has some modest throwing lanes, he
will exploit that secondary. But last week the Patriots were
able to overcome those lapses against an average New York Jets
offense. And with a new quarterback in one of the most
hostile environments in the NFL, they should be able to force some
But that might be easier said then done if Palko has some early success
against the Patriots depleted secondary!
Q5: Tom Brady is on pace to break Dan Marino's
single-season passing record (5,084yards) this season and has had much
of that success by finding Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. How will old
Patriots' coordinator Romeo Crennel try to slow down this offensive
machine, and do you think his game plan will work?
Nick Athan: Like I said earlier, if anyone can stop
Tom Brady it's Crennel. If I were him, I'd bring the heat on
every snap. When the Chiefs defense was playing well earlier
this season, they weren't piling up sacks but they were collapsing the
That's the primary reason the Chiefs went on a four game winning streak
after their 0-3 start. And if I'm Brady, I'm a little leery
about what Crennel might have up his sleeve. Still it's a
daunting task, even with the genius of Crennel, to come up with enough
horses to shut down Brady.
Q6: What are the Chiefs chances of competing for the
playoffs in the AFC West this year?
Nick Athan: It's not going to
happen. The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders will fight it
out for the AFC West. Once the Chiefs lost back-to-back games
at home to the Dolphins and Broncos, their chances to defend their 2010
division title, went out the window. Even if Matt Cassel
hadn't been lost for the season, the chances would have been slim.
Prediction (and why):
Nick Athan: In this game, I'm not
optimistic the Chiefs can remain close in this game. Facing a
talented offense and a premier quarterback, a hostile crowd, Kansas
City is outmatched and out gunned. Patriots win 47
Nick Athan covers the Chiefs for
WarpaintIllustrated.com, part of
the Scout.com NFL network and Fox Sports. You can follow him on
Patriots news: Patirots
Chiefs news: Warpaint
Behind Enemy Lines: Chiefs Part 2
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