From Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan
HOLD THE BALL
After points scored, the turnover ratio is the No. 1 statistics for deciding who wins and who loses football games. It’s not infallible, but it’s a good 75 percent plus advantage to winning for the team that’s on the plus side of the turnovers. The Chiefs ended up on the negative side last week against Buffalo, minus-2 to be exact. The 34-point outcome was more than just the two fumbles and an interception. But when Dexter McCluster coughed up the opening kickoff, it set the tone for the afternoon. Last year, one of the keys to the Chiefs division championship was their ability to protect the ball. They fumbled just 15 times, less than once a game. They lost only six of those. They’ve already lost two in one game. The 2011 Chiefs are not good enough to giveaway possession of the ball. FAILED β they failed miserably as they turned the ball over six times in all, including three fumbles. They are now minus-7 on the turnover ratio in two games.
PLAY SMART, FUNDAMENTAL FOOTBALL
Protecting the ball falls into this category as well, but the Chiefs must play the game the way they are taught and the way they have played before. That’s remaining fundamentally sound, not breaking from the scheme, not trying to be Superman and win the game themselves. It’s working together and believing in what they are doing. Yes, I know that all sounds like a bunch of football pabulum but it’s hugely important. There was no cohesion and there are a lot of excuses that could be made for it happening, but the fact is until the Chiefs get on the same page and work together, it’s going to be a disappointing system. This is especially important on defense, and truly important against a Lions team that has some unique weapons. Fundamental football is the only way to win a game like this one. FAILED β Eight penalties is not smart football. Detroit receivers running free in the secondary is not smart football. The Chiefs were anything but smart on Sunday.
The Chiefs offense has been struggling for some time and part of that can be traced to poor protection for QB Matt Cassel when he’s throwing the ball. Some of this falls to the passer as well, but Cassel has been taken down far too many times. The Bills defense is not one that will rack up a lot of sacks, but they dropped him twice in 38 pass plays. That’s not way out of line, in any fashion. But the Lions present a different matter, with the type of pressure that can come from Kyle Vanden Bosch and the big stud inside, Ndamukong Suh. If Cassel goes down, so do the Chiefs chances for victory. PUSH β They gave up two sacks in just 24 passing plays with Cassel, or one ever 12 plays. One of those was a garbage sack at the end of the half. Press box stats gave the Lions just three QB hurries.
RUN THE BALL
There’s no doubt what the offensive personality of this Chiefs team is β they run the ball. If they can’t run the ball, they can’t win. They are not that good a passing team, Cassel is not that good a quarterback and the protection is not good enough to keep the Lions defense off the passer enough to zoom the ball up and down the field. If they are going to win, they must run. Last week they got 108 rushing yards on 18 carries. That’s an average of six yards per carry, which is pretty darn good. But two of those runs produced 45 yards. That means the other 16 averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. Whether it’s Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, Le’Ron McClain or all of the above, they must run. That requires the offensive line controlling the point of attack. SUCCESS β not that it ended up mattering much. The Chiefs were able to run the ball against the Lions with a more KC-like 151 rushing yards at 5.2 yards per carry. Unfortunately, the biggest piston in that running game engine appears to be done for the year with Jamaal Charles and his left knee injury.