From Arrowhead Stadium
RUN THE BALL
Even without Jamaal Charles, down for the season due to a knee injury, the Chiefs have enough talent that they should be able to run the ball. They need desperately to start stringing together longer drives that would allow the defense to stay off the field. Opponents average nearly 9 minutes, 30 seconds more in time of possession. Part of that is the fault of the Chiefs defense. Part of that is an offense that can’t sustain drives and hasn’t been able to run the ball with effectiveness. FAILED β the attempts to replace Jamaal Charles with the running back by committee is not getting the job done. They had just 103 yards rushing on 28 carries, or 3.7 yards per run. Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster had just 63 yards between them on 18 carries.
IMPROVEMENT FROM CASSEL
In the first three games it has not been a good season for Matt Cassel. While his completion percentage is at a career high level, all of his other statistics are down, some considerably. He’s averaging just 5.2 yards per attempt and has thrown five interceptions, including one last week that ended a late-game opportunity for the Chiefs to win or tie the game and go to overtime. Cassel has found receivers in WR Dwayne Bowe and RB Dexter McCluster, but he hasn’t connected with his other wide receivers, including Steve Breaston. Only Jacksonville has thrown the ball for fewer yards than the Chiefs 130.7 yards per game, and one of the Jaguars’ games was played in a monsoon. Cassel needs to stabilize his play and step forward. SUCCESS β It was Cassel’s best performance of the season, as he continued to keep his completion percentage above 60 percent and improved his average yards per attempt.
MAKE MCNABB UNCOMFORTABLE
At the end of his successful career, Donovan McNabb does not have the legs he did when he broke into the league. That makes him less of a running threat and more of a pocket passer. So far this year, McNabb has struggled with his accuracy, as he’s completed 58 percent of his passes, but has averaged just 5.9 yards per attempt. He’s thrown only one INT, but he has been sacked eight times, or once every 11 passing plays. Last week, the Chiefs did a good job of keeping San Diego’s Phillip Rivers off-balance and he did not have a good day throwing the ball. They need all that and more against the Vikings. SUCCESS β Although the Chiefs had only two sacks, they were keeping McNabb’s feet moving throughout the game. Along with those sacks came at least five other plays where the Chiefs hit McNabb. They got the job done.
The Chiefs are not going to shut down Adrian Peterson. Over his career, Peterson has averaged 95 rushing yards per game. If the K.C. defense can hold him to his average consider that a victory. They have to make sure he doesn’t snap off the big running plays that are so much a part of his signature. Broken tackles are also part of the A.P. profile and the Chiefs need to do something we have not seen much of in the first three games β rally to the ball. To contain Peterson, he must be surrounded by tacklers; seldom is one man going to bring him down. SUCCESS β The Chiefs run defense kept Peterson contained and he broke off just one long run. Otherwise, the Vikings couldn’t get much going on the ground, save for end-around runs by WR Percy Harvin.