View Full Version : Teicher: Starters fare much better than backups

08-21-2005, 01:13 AM

Starters fare much better than backups


The Kansas City Star

The Chiefs aren’t prepared to call off the last half of preseason and declare themselves ready for real football, not after dropping to 0-2 with Saturday night’s 24-17 loss to Arizona at Arrowhead Stadium.

But judging from the first half, the Chiefs are a lot closer to being ready for the Sept. 11 opener against the Jets than they were a week ago. The Chiefs led 10-0 at halftime, then let it slip away during an abominable second half.

Reserve quarterbacks Damon Huard and James Kilian each committed two second-half turnovers, and the Cardinals cashed in. The Chiefs also gave away some points when Lawrence Tynes missed two field goals, reopening a sore from last week, when he missed a kick.

“The second half wasn’t pro football,” coach Dick Vermeil said. “It was a disguise.”

The starters, though, took a big step toward burying a miserable performance in last week’s preseason opener at Minnesota and the changes were most dramatic on defense. The Chiefs played with a fire they didn’t show against the Vikings.

“You can see we’re really buying in to what the coaches are telling us,” linebacker Derrick Johnson said.

Even when it broke down, the first-team defense still managed to get some breaks.

Anquan Boldin beat Dexter McCleon for what appeared to be a 49-yard touchdown late in the first quarter. It was brought back when Arizona’s Leonard Davis was called for holding.

The Cardinals put together their first serious drive midway through the second quarter before stalling. The Chiefs escaped without damage when Neil Rackers was wide left on a 37-yard field goal attempt.

Otherwise, the Chiefs had a different standout on almost every play. Johnson made a couple of big plays, first chasing down running back Obafemi Ayanbadejo after he caught a pass in the right flat and later beating a block to force quarterback Kurt Warner into a premature throw.

Sammy Knight and Patrick Surtain combined to break up a deep pass. Scott Fujita forced running back J.J. Arrington to fumble and Knight recovered. Eric Hicks made back-to-back plays, first getting into the backfield to cause a loss on a running play and then forcing Warner from the pocket and into an incomplete pass.

Offensively, the starters weren’t nearly as smooth. The Chiefs used their first-team offense for most of the first half but it scored only 10 points.

“We’re still not running smoothly,” Vermeil said. “No excuses. We can say we’re better than that, but tonight we weren’t. We wouldn’t have scored a touchdown if we hadn’t gotten that pass-interference penalty. That would have made two games in a row without a touchdown.”

The Chiefs scored that touchdown on their first possession, but as Vermeil indicated, the big play of the drive was a questionable 33-yard pass-interference penalty on Arizona cornerback David Macklin against the Chiefs’ Samie Parker.

Parker got his 8-yard touchdown on a pass from Trent Green when he left the stumbling Macklin behind with a nifty inside fake. He was alone to catch Green’s toss in the end zone.

“Any time you can get the defensive back to fall down on a double move, that’s a pretty good route,” Green said.

Green didn’t set out to pick on Macklin, but wound up doing so after sensing frustration over his inability to stay with Parker. Macklin was penalized twice more for interfering with Parker.

“Once you get a corner struggling a little bit, you just keep attacking him,” Green said.

The starters’ other possessions mostly met with failure. The Chiefs took over at the Cardinals 38 after Arrington’s fumble, but they couldn’t manage a first down and had to punt.

Macklin interfered with Parker twice more on their next possession, giving the Chiefs a total of 34 yards. The drive bogged down when they moved inside the 20 and the Chiefs settled for a 31-yard Tynes field goal and a 10-0 lead.

Tynes later missed field goal tries of 38 and 46 yards, prompting more frustration from Vermeil.

“He’s in the tank,” Vermeil said. “You miss two field goals like that … not in the National Football League.

“We have a real concern.”

The game disintegrated quickly for the Chiefs in the second half. After Rackers made a 27-yard field goal, Huard’s first interception was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Eric Green.

The Cardinals scored twice more and took a 24-10 lead. The Chiefs sliced their deficit on Kilian’s 5-yard touchdown pass to John Booth with 4 minutes, 28 seconds left.

The Chiefs got the ball back twice more. The first time they moved into Arizona’s territory but Ernest Shazor intercepted a Kilian pass.

They took over at their one on the last possession. The Chiefs ran three plays and punted, allowing the Cardinals to run out the clock.

08-21-2005, 01:14 AM

Huard gets a zero rating as backup quarterback


The Kansas City Star

Damon Huard was Dan Marino’s understudy for four years at Miami, and he collected two Super Bowl rings as the No. 2 quarterback to New England’s Tom Brady.

But with backup Todd Collins out with a fractured passing hand, Huard inspired little confidence on Saturday night that he could be a viable replacement if Chiefs starting quarterback Trent Green were to suffer an injury.

Huard completed just one of 12 passes, with two interceptions and a sack in the Chiefs’ 24-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

His passer rating was an invisible 0.0.

“I know he’s better than that,” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. “A quarterback is only as good as his supporting cast.”

Huard’s first interception was returned 27 yards for a touchdown by Arizona rookie cornerback Eric Green. His last attempt on a pass thrown into a crowd down the middle was intercepted by another rookie, Jermaine Hardy.

On the first play after Arizona made it 10-3, Huard tried hitting Jeris McIntyre on a sideline out, but Green, a third-round pick from Virginia Tech, made a good break on the ball. After making the interception, he returned it down the sideline for the score.

On the next series, Huard went back to McIntyre on his first attempt but overthrew him badly. He then was forced to throw away a pass while under a rush. And he missed the mark on his next pass on third and 13, intended for tight end Edwin Thompson.

Huard, 32, was in the trainer’s room regarding a head injury and not available for comment right after the game, but Trent Green sympathized with him.

“Obviously there are a bunch of different excuses you can make,” Green said, “but there are things that happen when you’re trying to grow as an offense and work on depth and work on timing with new guys and getting protections down and routes down.

“I don’t want to speak for him, and I know he wishes he played better, but we all know what type of player he is. We see him in practice every day performing well, and when he’s given an opportunity, he’s played well.”

A week ago, Huard completed 14 of 26 passes for 125 yards and an interception in the Chiefs’ 27-16 loss at Minnesota

“He’ll bounce back from this, and he’ll be ready to go next week,” Green said, “because it doesn’t look like Todd will be ready by next week.”

Huard got off to a shoddy start when he entered the game with 4 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first half. Playing with second-teamers, he threw incompletions on his first four passes, including an overthrown screen pass intended for Larry Johnson.

His most effective play of the night was from the shotgun: He stepped up into a collapsing pocket and scrambled for the 8 yards needed for a first down. Huard’s lone completion was an 11-yard sideline out to rookie free agent Darrell Hill on the penultimate play of the first half.

It didn’t get any better when the Chiefs opened the second half. On the first drive of the half, Huard missed Chris Horn down the middle; and after a false start penalty, he was incomplete on a third-and-13 attempt for McKenzi Smith.

Huard gave way to rookie James Kilian in the fourth quarter. Kilian completed five of 20 passes for 74 yards but also threw an interception.

08-21-2005, 01:16 AM

Fujita makes impact as reserve
Two-year starter now may be battling for a roster spot

The Kansas City Star

So, this is what it’s come to. Scott Fujita, the Chiefs’ leading tackler two years running, is playing, literally, for his livelihood.

The starting left outside linebacker for the better part of three seasons is this close to being beat out by, among others, undrafted rookie Kris Griffin.

“I thought he did a pretty good job,” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said of Fujita. “I saw him make some plays.”

The latest bad omen came on the opening series of the Chiefs’ 24-17 preseason loss to Arizona on Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Even with a scratch list 25 players deep — five of them linebackers — Fujita didn’t start when the Chiefs’ defense took the field. You knew hotshot first-round draft pick Derrick Johnson would be starting in Fujita’s customary left outside linebacker spot.

But with Kendrell Bell sitting out because of injury, perhaps Fujita could have started on the other side. Instead, it was Griffin on the field with the Chiefs’ top defenders.

The second bad omen had Fujita on the field until the very end, scratching it out with all the dreamers.

It wasn’t all bad for Fujita. Not by a long shot. He pressured Kurt Warner in the first half, stripped running back J.J. Arrington on Arizona’s second possession, and ran down running back Marcel Shipp from behind in the second half. All told, Fujita finished with a game-high seven tackles and a forced fumble, plus played special teams.

Arizona backup quarterback Josh McCown did juke Fujita out of a potential sack in the fourth quarter, but still, Fujita’s performance was worthy of a fourth-year NFL veteran. It was certainly above a guy having to worry about his employment.

Fujita is healed from April surgery to repair his injured right ankle. He was one of the first out of the locker room after the game, walking out the back door before he could be reached for comment.

“That guy, to me, is just a specimen,” said Gary Stills, listed third-string, just behind Fujita at left outside linebacker. “He’s just a very, very intelligent man, and what happened with his ankle injury, I think he’s surprised some people coming back this fast. If it doesn’t work for him here, I know he’ll have a job somewhere else.”

Fujita has been on the other side of this story, too. He arrived at California as a walk-on safety, a two-sport high school star looking for a chance. He left as a beefed up linebacker and fifth-round draft choice of the Chiefs.

He made an immediate impact, even it was for one of the league’s worst defenses. Fujita led the Chiefs in tackles in 2003 with 151, and again in 2004 with 112. That total in 2003 is the fifth-highest in franchise history.

He is a bright guy, once worthy of Ivy League recruitment. And he’s a heck of an athlete, once the winner of a slam-dunk contest held at halftime of a high school all-star basketball game.

The thinking is that Fujita just isn’t defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham’s kind of guy, and may be replaced by a better athlete who’s able to control more ground.

Someone, perhaps, like Griffin.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Vermeil said. “The thing about a person like Scott Fujita is he’s a tremendous competitor. And he’s just becoming healthy.”

08-21-2005, 05:27 AM
Fujita has to make the team. PERIOD.

tomahawk kid
08-21-2005, 08:05 AM
Fujita has to make the team. PERIOD.

He looked like he only guy playing w/ desire in the second half.

I LOVE the KC media. Have I mentioned that recently?

Defense looks good, so we better start worrying about the offense. IIRC, the offense didn't look all that great in the '03 or '04 preseason either. So, based on that, I would go ahead and head for the hills based on the fact we only scored one TD last night.........