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September 19, 2004

KC's Season All But Over « Kansas City Chiefs »

They might (and I stress might) sneak into the playoffs with a 9-7 record, but that's probably about it.

Sure, there's still hope. If people start wrapping up on tackles and we find a wide receiver that can get separation, we might get pack in the chase. From what I've seen this season, the first game on the road against a team like the Broncos could be a fluke. Losing at home to a team with 3 new O-line players and two significant starters hurt is bad. Very bad.

If they turn it around and reel off 6 straight wins, well, then that will be evidence they've turned it around. But I don't think that's going to happen.

So now that I've pretty much given up on a Super Bowl this year, where shall we place the blame for this loss?

Lots of people are going to look at the defense. Uh-uh.

There's no way anything but a top-3 defense can consistently hold an opponent under 17 points, and that's what KC would have needed to win this game. Nope, it is the offense that is losing games, interestingly, and it starts from having absolutely no credible WR threat. KC could have put the game away several times, but each time, they went 3-and-out or maybe 5 downs max before punting. They left the defense on the field for far too long, and let the Panthers stay too close. In a close game, an offense can use the entire playbook...but when down by 14-21 points, they start having to pass, and the defense can tee off. Our offense should have helped our defense out like that.

Of course, the defense isn't blameless. The defense, as a group, is playing quite well. They get some amazing run-stuffs, they get into the backfield and blow up plays, they hit the QB as he throws...but they are almost invariably a half-step too slow to get the sack-and-strip, one half-step too slow to hit the WR as he catches the ball to prevent the lunge for the first down. With just that extra half-step on merely a few of those dozen plays, and KC would have dominated the game. In a game of inches, KC was consistently short those inches.

Okay, I'll grant you that we were missing Vonnie Holliday and Pro-Bowler Jerome Woods. But that should have lesser impact than the Panther's missing Stephen Davis and Steve Smith.

One point: the Panthers have pretty much used up a season's worth of luck in one game. When a QB throws up a duck as he's been spinning around, the best thing that can happen is an incompletion...except against KC, when it results in a TD. Amazing.

Interesting thought: last year, a bunch of completions, yards, and big gains came from that little swing pass to Priest Holmes as he turned up the sideline, catching him in stride at full speed so he'd get 7-8 yards before anyone could even try to put a hand on him. I haven't seen that pass attempted even once this year. What happened to it?

Final analysis: I still think the Chiefs did the right things in the off-season. They mainly developed players from within, and several of the young players are going to be very good. But injuries are the wild card, and they robbed us of two players that would have starred: Kris Wilson and Mark Boerigter, as well as delaying the development of Samie Parker and Jeris McIntyre who could have played significant helping roles, and preventing the establishment of timing and rapport between Green and his starting WRs Kennison and Morton. There's still time to turn it around, and they may do it yet. But it is difficult to improve very much during the season, and so it is most likely that KC will be right around 8-8, and providing some good experience to young players for next years' Superbowl run.

Posted by Nathan at 04:43 PM | Comments (0)
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