|09-09-2007, 10:15 PM|
Casino cash: $
Whitlock: Chiefs not as bad as expected
Whitlock: Chiefs weren’t as bad as expected
HOUSTON | On opening day, inside Reliant Stadium, playing against a mediocre opponent, the Chiefs were exactly who the experts thought they were — bumbling on offense, horrid on special teams and toothless on defense.
The Texans slapped the Chiefs 20-3, setting the stage for a week’s worth of sky-is-falling analysis in Kansas City.
Surprisingly, and perhaps against my better judgment, I won’t be the ringleader.
Oh, the Chiefs were bad. They turned the ball over four times. Herm Edwards’ pet kicker, Justin Medlock, sliced a first-possession 30-yard field-goal attempt. Eddie Drummond, the return man the Chiefs picked up and kept despite Justin Phinisee’s fine training camp, coughed up a critical fumble. And, most disturbingly, Kansas City’s defense surrendered a game-deciding 15-play, 65-yard, 10-minute, 25-second drive opening the fourth quarter.
The Chiefs just weren’t as bad as I thought they’d be.
An officiating error knocked the Chiefs out of this game. Kris Wilson did not fumble at the beginning of the third quarter. No way. I don’t blame the refs for letting defensive end Mario Williams scoop up Wilson’s drop and run into the end zone. The refs know there’s instant replay, and there’s a way to correct an error that occurs before a whistle.
Someone needs to explain to me how that fumble wasn’t overturned and made into an incompletion.
“Well, I challenged it,” Edwards said after the game. “That’s all you can do.”
Wilson added: “It was definitely an incompletion.”
The bad call turned a 10-0 offensive struggle into a 17-0 rout that rendered Larry Johnson and Michael Bennett useless.
When the half opened, I fully expected the Chiefs to jam Johnson and Bennett down the heart of Houston’s defense. It was there for the taking. Kansas City’s offensive line did a nice job in the running game. In the first half, Johnson and Bennett combined for 55 yards in 11 carries.
They split four carries in the second half. Turnovers, dropped passes, Houston’s clock-eating, fourth-quarter drive and the 17-0 deficit prevented the Chiefs from getting into their ground game.
“We have to get back to the fundamentals,” guard Brian Waters said. “We have to hold on to the football, catch the passes that hit us in the hands …”
Yeah, Dwayne Bowe had a terrible debut. By my count, he dropped three passes. Eddie Kennison’s pulled hamstring on KC’s first play tossed Bowe into the lineup. He choked. Let’s hope Kennison’s injury and Bowe’s performance will get Bobby Sippio off KC’s practice squad and onto the field. Sippio should be KC’s third receiver after Kennison and Samie Parker, who shockingly turned in a solid performance.
Kennison’s early departure (and Bowe’s hands) hamstrung Mike Solari’s playbook. Solari’s opportunity to adjust was blown up when the refs counted Williams’ fumble-return TD.
Hey, I’m not arguing the Chiefs should’ve won this game. That’s not true. But Kennison’s injury and the blown call compromised KC’s shot at being competitive. Trust me, the Chiefs can compete with the Texans.
And this Sunday, the Chiefs might be able to lock the Chicago Bears in a low-scoring offensive struggle, too. The Chiefs have two good backs, a physical offensive line, and I liked what I saw from quarterback Damon Huard.
Despite the drops, Huard completed 22 of 33 passes. His two picks didn’t bother me. Huard made sound, quick reads and delivered the ball with accuracy. He was relatively calm in the pocket.
Defensively, a coverage mistake or poor scheme left safety Bernard Pollard one-on-one with speedster Andre Johnson, who scored on a 77-yard play. Defensive tackle Alfonso Boone gave the Chiefs a presence inside. The Chiefs’ pass rush missed Jared Allen, who has to sit out one more game.
The Chiefs weren’t quite bad enough for me to write them off and begin my “Dethrone The King Campaign” (DTKC). I’m patient. I’ll wait another week.