The Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0 right now. That’s the good news.
The even better news, the Chiefs really haven’t played well yet.
Yeah, the Monday night game was exciting with the return game and the defense.
Sunday’s win was even uglier against the Cleveland Browns, but honestly, it was ugly all around.
Let’s start with Kansas City’s favorite whipping boy, quarterback Matt Cassel.
Two horrible picks in the first half. Looked ridiculously bad at times. Had trouble completing the ball downfield. Looked like what people are saying he is. However – quick aside – if he’s as horrible as everyone says, why is he even in this league? And how bad is Brodie Croyle that he can’t beat him out? And before you say money, Cassel accomplished more in that one year with the Pats than Croyle ever will. He doesn’t go from close to Pro-Bowler to crap in two years. Something’s not right in that equation.
But as bad as Cassel was in the first half, this team was still in the game at halftime. A friend of mine said, “quarterback is the most important position on the field.” However, I’ll disagree with that in this case – for this team, it’s not. Cassel is not the most important player on the field. Neither is Croyle or whoever lines up under center.
The Chiefs were down at halftime because of two stupid defensive mistakes that led to touchdowns. First: the blown coverage by Eric Berry – his third in two games that has led to a touchdown – allowing Joshua Cribbs to get over the top and behind the defense. If Cribbs gets behind the defense, you’re not going to catch him.
The second came from the coach on the field Mike Vrabel. The Chiefs had forced a stop on third down and were going to give up a field goal, making the score 10-10 at halftime.
That penalty gave the Browns new life. Payton Hillis got the touchdown, Chiefs were down and people were freaking out.
In the second half though – especially the fourth quarter – things turned around. Cassel started hitting receivers. He has turned Tony Moeaki into his security blanket. Dwayne Bowe made an appearance. Chris Chambers made a couple of plays. The running game looked better. Cassel was able to lead the team down the field and they made plays.
After these first two games, these are the big problems that I see – well, besides Cassel. Cassel’s issue is “get better.” I think there are ways to improve his performance, but not many. And I’m not ready for Croyle yet.
1.) Chiefs not getting ball in the hands of their playmakers. Yes, people are freaking out about Jamaal Charles. And they should – though if you take away Charles’ run at the end of the first half, he rushed 10 times for 29 yards. Dexter McCluster only touched the ball in the offense one time. That has to change. Which brings me to No. 2.
2.) Play-calling. This was borderline atrocious at times Sunday. I’ve heard people compare offensive coordinator Charlie Weis‘s play-calling to Jimmy Raye and I can’t totally disagree. Why do you run Charles on a third and short instead of Thomas Jones? I don’t know. There were several questionable third down calls, even second down calls. I haven’t been sold on Weis yet. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is a different story. But I digress.
3.) Eric Berry. Yes, he’s making plays. Yes, he’s a rookie. But three of the four touchdowns the Chiefs defense has given up can be at least partially blamed on Berry. He has to continue to get better.
The Chiefs have been a very opportunistic team this year. But you can’t count on a return touchdown of some sort every week. You just can’t. I like how the defensive line has been playing. Derrick Johnson looks hungry. Brandon Flowers looks healthy now. I like this defense.
Weis famously said he was brought here to “fix the quarterback.” The last two NFL quarterbacks he worked with were Brady Quinn – now a third string quarterback who can’t beat out Tim Tebow – and Jimmy Clausen – who can’t get on the field in Carolina.
Cassel has been disappointing in his two years here. The excuses he had last year – poor offensive line, lack of familiarity with receivers/playbook – are not there this year. He needs to be better. No one disagrees with that.
But Cassel is not the only problem this team has. And in two weeks now, the Chiefs have shown they can win in spite of him. How much longer that can continue, I have no idea. We’ll know more Monday night after the San Francisco 49ers – the next opponent – play the New Orleans Saints.
And at 2-0, well, that’s a pretty good place to be. And it’s a place Chiefs fans aren’t too familiar with. Enjoy where you are, enjoy the ride.
And remember. The Scott Pioli/Todd Haley regime has already won as many games in 18 tries as the Carl Peterson era won in its last 32. Things are looking up. This team is going in the right direction. And the Chiefs STILL haven’t played a really good game yet in all facets of the game.