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Count Alex's Losses
10-01-2008, 10:51 PM
http://kan.scout.com/2/796737.html

Chiefs Head Coach Herm Edwards rarely shows emotion during games. When his rookie cornerback, Brandon Carr, picked off a Jay Cutler pass at a key moment last Sunday against the Denver Broncos, Kansas City’s defenders were jubilant in their post-play celebration. Arrowhead Stadium was rocking.

Meanwhile, CBS cameras caught Edwards staring at the ground, pacing the sideline, his expression calm. Likely, at that moment, he knew his team was only ahead by three points with a full quarter and a half of football left to play. There was no reason to celebrate, not just yet.

But when the game was over, Edwards’ emotion flooded out inside Kansas City’s locker room as his team huddled together. He told his players they deserved to win, and they had to earn it. Then his voice raised, he became animated, and Edwards spoke four little words that are significant to his entire organization.

“Let’s build on that! Let’s build on that!”

Why are those words so significant? Why was Edwards so passionate at this moment? It’s really quite obvious.

His team had lost 12 straight games. Until Sunday’s win over the Broncos, there was no hard evidence that Edwards’ youth-centric plan was on the right track, that any progress was being made. The Kansas City Chiefs, as far as many fans and media members were concerned, were aimlessly drifting about, going nowhere fast.

But not now. The Chiefs, as Edwards told his team after the game, beat a good football team. There were no flukes, no unforced errors. The Chiefs were simply better than the Denver Broncos, and so the first building block has been laid.

How do the Chiefs lay more bricks? Here’s what must be done.

• Continue to establish the running game.

After struggling to run the ball against the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, the Chiefs’ rushing attack has found life the last two weeks to the tune of 397 yards and a whopping six yards per carry. That’s the second-best two-game stretch running the ball from any Chiefs offense during the Herm Edwards era, surpassed only by the 423 yards rushing Kansas City put up in Weeks 11 and 12 of 2006.

If the change is for real, if the Chiefs have truly resurrected their dormant ground game, it will show this weekend against the Carolina Panthers. Don’t be deceived by Carolina’s mediocre ranking against the run. The Panthers’ front four – Julius Peppers (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662071), Maake Kemoeatu, Damione Lewis (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662042) and Tyler Brayton (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3735342) – will test KC’s offensive line, and middle linebacker Jon Beason (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662018) is playing well again after a sensational rookie year (140 tackles).

If the Chiefs can run on the defense they face Sunday in Carolina, it will be proof they can run on just about anyone this season. That’s one important brick in the foundation of a Herm Edwards team.

• Improve the pass rush.

Through four weeks, the Chiefs have only one sack from a defensive end (rookie Brian Johnston (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3724390)), and only three sacks as a team. That’s not good enough, and Gunther Cunningham knows it – he’s obviously been up nights trying to find a way to pressure quarterbacks.

The Chiefs have blitzed, mixed up their defensive fronts, and even used linebacker Demorrio Williams (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3243092) as a hand-on-the-ground pass rush specialist. Nothing is working particularly well at the moment.

If opposing quarterbacks remain unmolested, KC’s young secondary will suffer. The Chiefs face another experienced quarterback, Jake Delhomme, and one of the best receiving tandems in the league this week – Steve Smith (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662078) and Mushin Muhammad, who has aged but is still capable of putting up big numbers as he did last week (eight catches, 147 yards, one touchdown).

• Find a third receiver.

Dwayne Bowe (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3698848) has shrugged off any signs of a sophomore slump, and Tony Gonzalez (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3698854) is on his way to another Pro Bowl. That’s great – is anyone else going to step up on third down and move the sticks?

Right now the Chiefs haven’t found a reliable third receiver. Devard Darling (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3263025) has only three catches, leaving some to wonder what happened to the player we saw during training camp. Will Franklin (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=2974804) finally got on the field last week and caught a ball. Jeff Webb (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3698881) caught a pass last week, but only because he was the lone receiver running downfield.

Darling, Franklin and Webb have one thing in common – none of them have converted a third down before halftime. The Chiefs must find a third target in the passing game who can get open and help the offense establish early leads. Bowe won’t be covered by rookie corners every week, as he was Sunday against the Broncos on multiple third downs.

• Keep stuffing the run.

The Chiefs were making me look awfully stupid for proclaiming their run defense fixed following the preseason. After getting gashed by the Patriots, Raiders and Falcons through three weeks, the gaps were finally filled against the Broncos.

Denver totaled just 94 yards on 22 carries, with 18 coming on a meaningless run by Michael Pittman (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3124144) as the clock expired. Most impressive about the Chiefs’ run defense against the Broncos was their performance on first down – 10 attempts for just 19 yards before Pittman’s run, with a long of only seven yards.

The Chiefs stopped the run on first down, put the Broncos in passing situations, and reaped the rewards by intercepting Cutler twice. Is it any wonder Denver’s normally prolific bootleg attack was relatively benign this past Sunday? Stop the run, and the bootleg isn’t nearly as threatening.

Was the performance a mirage? The Panthers bring a big offensive line and a terrific one-two punch at running back this weekend with DeAngelo Williams (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3662083) and rookie power back Jonathan Stewart (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3735373). Tank Tyler has matured into a guard’s worst nightmare and Glenn Dorsey (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3722647) is already drawing double teams – will Derrick Johnson (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3698860), Demorrio Williams, Pat Thomas, Bernard Pollard (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3698871) and Jarrad Page (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3698868) hold up their end of the bargain?

• Cover kicks, return kicks.

The tone was set Sunday when rookie linebacker Weston Dacus (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3295466) clobbered Andre Hall (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3689939) on Denver’s first kickoff return. The Chiefs’ kick coverage had its best game all year against the Broncos, but still got gashed by Eddie Royal (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3960267) on a punt return.

Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3723954) and Dantrell Savage (http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=8&c=1&nid=3049240) both ripped off huge returns, but a penalty set the Chiefs up on their own 11-yard line to start the game. Have the Chiefs discovered competent special teams, finally, or will more 65-yard runs be required to move the offense from the shadow of its own goal line?

• WIN!

This brick is important for Herm Edwards. The Chiefs are 1-3. That record must be improved upon – remember, Clark Hunt said he wanted his team to compete for the playoffs. Will the wall of wins be high enough in January to warrant another year for Edwards as Chief Bricklayer? If his team establishes the running game, improves the pass rush, finds a third receiver, stuffs the run, and covers and returns kicks, the wall will be tough to knock down.

Count Alex's Losses
10-02-2008, 12:34 AM
Thoughts?

Der Flöprer
10-02-2008, 12:40 AM
Good analysis. NOW LET'S BUILD ON THAT!!!

SBK
10-02-2008, 12:46 AM
We're a pass rush specialist, MLB and probably a S away from a really good, young D.

GoTrav
10-02-2008, 10:04 AM
We're a pass rush specialist, MLB and probably a S away from a really good, young D.

DaJuan Morgan? Seems we spent a lot of picks at the safety spot to still have that position as a place of need.