The Chiefs went their first full game without Jamaal Charles at running back and the results were generally dismal. With the Vikings' defensive strength still thwarting the run, expect Minnesota's success to continue there.
It was going to be a four-man committee stepping in and filling the void in the Chiefs' offense ripped open by the season-ending knee injury of running back Jamaal Charles
The job was considered too big for one man, so it would be Thomas Jones
, Dexter McCluster
, Jackie Battle
and fullback Le'Ron McClain
all working together to pick up the slack for the offense missing one of the NFL's most dynamic backs.
But Week No. 1 A.J. - After Jamaal - did not go so well. Those four backs, along with a one-yard run from quarterback Matt Cassel
had 27 carries for 81 yards, a paltry 3-yard per-carry average. Only one run went for more than 10 yards - a 16-yard run by McCluster. Only three runs went for more than five yards. Those 25- to 30-yard breakouts that were always part of the Chiefs' offense with Charles were not there.
McCluster finished as the team's leading rusher with 45 yards on nine carries. Jones got most of the work with 14 carries for 31 yards. Battle carried once for two yards. McClain carried twice for two yards. Combine the receiving yardage for McCluster, Jones and Battle and the backfield produced 102 yards in total offense. Divide that number by four and that's puny production.
The only point in the game where the Chiefs were able to run the ball was coming out of the locker room at halftime. On their second possession of the period, McCluster carried on four straight plays for 35 yards. It was all part of an 18-play drive that ended with a field goal from Ryan Succop
"We had to get first downs, we had to stay on the field," said McCluster of the Chiefs' attitude coming out of the locker room at halftime. "We don't want our defense to get tired. Coming out in the third quarter, we wanted to go out there, stay out there, we wanted to drive and we wanted to make a statement."
Offensive coordinator Bill Muir used all sorts of combinations with his backs. Most of the alignments included two backs, rather than one. It was Jones and McClain, then McCluster and McClain, plays with Jones and McCluster and then Battle with Jones and Battle with McClain. For the first time this season, the Chiefs used three tight end plays with tackle Jared Gaither coming into the game as an eligible receiver. When tight end Anthony Becht
went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, Gaither came in for two-tight end plays.
None of that worked in the first half, when the Chiefs couldn't buy a first down. It finally started working in the second half. That's a momentum the offense hopes to carry over into this Sunday's game against Minnesota.
--Against San Diego, the Chiefs got their best game of the year from their defensive line, including 2009 first-round choice defensive Tyson Jackson
, who finished the game with five tackles. "The defensive line did a great job," said head coach Todd Haley. "There was progress and that's what we are looking for and they took another step forward to that."
In their loss to the Chargers, the Chiefs finally got something going in the kicking game, particularly in the returns of Javier Arenas, who ripped off a 35-yard kickoff return and a 37-yard punt return. "Special teams played good enough for us to have a chance to win the game," said head coach Todd Haley. "That's a great sign because that's where we need help. I think our return game can be great and I was really pleased with Javier and what he did.
After watching his team lose to San Diego, head coach Todd Haley knows what he wants to see out of his offense in the near future - more yards in the running game after contact and more yards in the passing game after the catch. The YAC has not been a strong point in three games for the Chiefs. "There are some things we can work on in practice to help improve those areas," Haley said. "We had 27 carries in the game, and if we could get just one yard more on each carry, we'd end up over 100 yards rushing, a few more first downs, all of which would help us score some more points."
CB Brandon Flowers' status for this week remains unknown as he recovers from a right leg injury suffered against San Diego on Sunday. Head coach Todd Haley said he was excited to see how well Flowers was moving around the building on Monday. Differing sources say it's a right knee or right ankle injury. When Flowers went down on the field, he grabbed his right knee.
SS Jon McGraw came out of the Chargers game in the second quarter with a left knee bruise and did not return to the defense. McGraw had been struggling in stepping into the starting lineup for injured Eric Berry.
TE Anthony Becht left the game against San Diego late in the third quarter with a left hamstring injury. Becht was running down the field blocking when he pulled up and grabbed the back of his left leg. Becht walked off the field and did not return to the offense.
WR Dwayne Bowe had to leave the field for several plays against San Diego out of near exhaustion. Bowe has been on the field week after week for just about every play of the offense.
TE Leonard Pope had a hero/goat-type of game against San Diego. Pope caught three passes for 32 yards, including a late TD and a 23-yard pass that set up an opportunity for the Chiefs to win the game. But he also had two big penalties, a holding call and then an unsportsmanlike conduct call when for some reason he ripped his helmet off in the end zone after scoring.