August Struggles Continue Against Rams

From Arrowhead Stadium

The struggles of August continued for the Chiefs on Friday night. They were not as bad as their first pre-season performance, but certainly not improved over their second pre-season performance.

There is no upward tick on what the Chiefs are getting done in this 2011 exhibition season, now that they are 0-3 after losing 14-10 to the St. Louis Rams, sending the Governor’s Cup back down I-70 to the Loo.

What matters most in these pre-season games is what the first units do when given their opportunity to play. It wasn’t pretty for the No. 1 offense and defense for Todd Haley. Not pretty at all.

Defensively, they got run over by the Rams, who had two first quarter possessions that produced a pair of TD passes by QB Sam Bradford. The only mistake Bradford made was an interception by ILB Derrick Johnson that gave the Chiefs offense the ball at the St. Louis 7-yard line. After a touchdown run by Jamaal Charles was pulled off the board by a holding penalty, the offense had to settle for a field goal.

Mistakes, penalties, blown assignments – there were all those things that generally point an NFL team towards defeat. Especially a mediocre team like the Chiefs.

“Slow starts (by the offense and defense) got that game going in the wrong direction,” Haley said. “Defensively, we couldn’t get settled in for the first two drives. Offense added a three-and-out on the first possession that never helps matters after a 14-play drive to start the game (by the Rams).”

It was an ugly start that improved marginally but did nothing to soothe the hearts of the 40,000 or so fans that bothered to show up for the game. Several times the crowd gave the Chiefs a shower of raspberries for poor offensive play, penalties and Haley’s decision to go for a late field goal, rather than a touchdown.

When the game was over, there was only a 12-yard difference in the offensive output of the Rams compared to the Chiefs. But St. Louis was balanced between the run and pass. The Chiefs, last year’s leading rushing team in the NFL, were top heavy on the passing game, as three quarterbacks threw for 251 yards. The running game had just 58 yards on 20 carries.

The Chiefs did not turn the ball over, but they did have eight penalties walked off against them, one that erased Charles’ TD run there in the second quarter. They were horrible on third downs (3 of 14 for 21 percent), while the defense gave up 10 of 17 for 59 percent to St. Louis.

The No. 1 offense did not play well. Same for the No. 1 defense. The kicking game was actually a bright spot, but there needs to be more than special teams to win games.

“Obviously we want to win with that first offense in there,” said Cassel, who finished a pedestrian evening throwing the ball, hitting 6 of 13 passes for 59 yards. “We want to put points on the board. I’m sure we’ll go and watch the film and learn a lot and try to build on that.”

Not sure the tape of the first quarter is going to provide much in the way of anything but embarrassment for the Chiefs on both sides of the ball. The game is won on the line of scrimmage, whether pre-season, regular season or post-season. The Rams controlled every inch of that line for the first 15 minutes of the game, when it was No. 1 units against No. 1 units.

“We came out, we executed and got two touchdowns early,” said Bradford, who threw hit 9 of 16 passes for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “That’s what I was looking for, and talked about all week.”

The first quarter belonged entirely to Bradford and the Rams offense, as they ripped off 22 plays, went for 133 yards and used 12 minutes, 47 seconds of the quarter. Bradford and RB Steven Jackson were sensational in the two possessions. The quarterback hit all eight of his throws for 72 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. Jackson ran 12 times for 66 yards and caught one pass for five yards. In those first two possessions, the Chiefs defense never laid a glove on Bradford, as he threw without interference.

St. Louis’ initial scoring drive went 12 plays in 73 yards, with Bradford connecting with WR Mike Sims-Walker on a 6-yard touchdown pass. The impressive plays came on a pair of third down conversions for the Rams. On a 3rd-and-19 play – set up by back-to-back St. Louis penalties – Bradford and WR Brandon Gibson connected on a 20-yard play. Then on 3rd-and-4, Bradford threw short to WR Danny Amendola for a 4-yard completion. Five plays later, Sims-Walker was wide open in the end zone, after he got behind FS Kendrick Lewis.

The second Rams scoring drive of the first quarter used 10 plays and went 60 yards, as they converted a pair of third down plays before Bradford threw 11 yards to TE Lance Kendricks for a touchdown. With the PAT kick by Josh Brown, St. Louis held a 14-0 lead with less than a minute to play in the initial period.

Kansas City’s only first half score came after Bradford proved he was human. With the ball at the Chiefs 7-yard line, he threw a pass to his left that ILB Derrick Johnson leaped up and swatted down. Johnson then grabbed the rebound for the interception and the offense had the ball at the St. Louis 7 for its best field position of the night.

With a chance to get back in the game, Charles ran over the hole at left guard and left tackle seven yards for a nice touchdown run. But rookie Rodney Hudson, starting at LG for Ryan Lilja was called for holding, wiping out the touchdown and putting the Chiefs back to the 17-yard line. A pair of passing plays produced 9 yards and that brought Ryan Succop in to kick a 26-yard FG with just more than 10 minutes to play in the first half.

“That was an opportunity to get back in the game and we couldn’t get it done,” said Cassel. “That was disappointing.”

Cassel left the game on the next possession, as Tyler Palko came in and actually moved the ball into Rams territory before Dustin Colquitt punted it away. When the Chiefs got one more shot with the ball, Cassel came back to run the two-minute offense but ended up 2 of 4 for 19 yards and the Chiefs ended up punting the ball away again.

QB Ricky Stanzi started in the third quarter for the Chiefs and on his third possession led the offense to K.C.’s only touchdown, a pretty 32-yard pass play to TE Cody Slate. Succop’s PAT kick made it 14-10, and there was still just over 15 minutes of football to play.

Palko came back in the game late in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs offense had 1st-and-goal at the St. Louis 3-yard line. Palko’s next three throws went incomplete and rather than go for a touchdown to take the lead, Haley sent Succop in to attempt a 21-yard FG.

But in a fitting end to a night where half of the Arrowhead Stadium lights went out in the first half, Rams DE Robert Quinn blocked the FG and thus the score was set at 14-10.

15 Responses to “August Struggles Continue Against Rams”

  • August 27, 2011  - hock5 says:

    Bob, I’m confused as to why we are a mediocre team because our head coach doesn’t give a crap about pre-season. You’re worried about our running game? Maybe I missed something, but I sure hope our first team Oline plus Jamaal, McClain, TJ, McCluster running the whole game is going to be a little better than watching Jackie Battle try to be productive. I know it is frustrating watching the Chiefs during these times, and as a season ticket holder paying full price it really is, but let’s reserve judgement on our Chiefs..who btw are the reigning division CHAMPS. We sucked just as bad last year in the preseason.

  • August 27, 2011  - Chiefs Struggle Again In 14-10 Loss | Chiefs Football at says:

    [...] Game story – August problems continue. [...]

  • August 27, 2011  - tuan says:

    hey Bob, carl peterson is no longer here so you need to let it go if you want to cover the chiefs, I’m a true chiefs fan and alway be,it’s how funny you call the chiefs (mediocre) base on an the freaking preseason game,I known you still hold it in you after the chiefs fired your boss, let it go !!! I were subscribed to your side last year but it seems like you just find your way to talking down on them any change you get, I known some of it are fact but not to the point as you discrided it. expect me to pay $25 again ? get real.

  • August 27, 2011  - Adrian W. says:

    “What matters most in these pre-season games is what the first units do when given their opportunity to play.”

    Not necessarily… What about the other 60 guys vying for jobs? And the other 30 who will actually play this season?

  • August 27, 2011  - el cid says:

    Who are you guys? Do you have any idea what you saw with the first stringers last nite? Just posting to see it on your computer screen?

    I know let’s make the Sept game against the Bills a practice so guys who won’t be playing in the NFL for the Chiefs can get their pics in a real NFL uniform. No, wait, the NFL will be counting this as a real game even if Haley’s team is not ready to produce.

    Meaningless game, sure at least to “tuan” and Haley but who will play at a pro level Sept. Might check out the schedule, we have a period where we will play almost all the playoff teams. If we do not get production from the start of the season, it will be ugly.

    Almost forgot tuan and hock5 you forgot to close with “go chiefs” bunch of haters.

  • August 27, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Was Lilja hurt?

    If Gaither can stay healthy, what will the O line look like at mid-season?

    We have missed several opportunities in the end zone with “jump balls” from the QB’s. That’s why Baldwin was drafted.

    Stanzi appears to be legit QB prospect. Good feet, arm and sees the field pretty well. I’m encouraged.

    Looks like the Chiefs will have trouble stopping teams that run the ball well. That will make for a long year.

    Few too many drops by the WR’s. Penalties and drops simply can’t happen. The defense will be worn down between not stopping the run and three and outs by the offense.

    Hoffman needs to figure out why nearly every punt is blocked.

    Lots to work on. We can’t afford a loss to Buffalo. With our schedule, that would kill us.

  • August 27, 2011  - kc smith says:

    Lets be honest the Chiefs line play is horrible.Im sure Jackson and Dorsey really care while they count their money.The QBs look high schoolish. When motivated Johnson, Berry, charles, mcluster, Breaston can play But other than that ouch. Haley, Muir and Zorn What do these guys do during the week?

  • August 27, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    Bob; Are these guys still out of condition??? Just whats going on with the team??? When you look at the stats, they are terrible. Once again, I know its just preseason. But pretty soon it WON’T BE!!!!!! The Bills come to town on Sept.11th and I don’t want the Chiefs to get embarrassed.

  • August 27, 2011  - TimR says:

    I understand all the expressed angst by everybody, including Bob. We’ve got to understand Haley’s objectives (primarily) for preseason are clearly player evaluation & more skewed to working different parts of the playbook as opposed to a coordinated plan than other teams. They’re trying to get enough reps on tape of guys doing certain things to make the best evaluation they can. Is this at the expense of looking a lot better than we do – clearly YES. Will it benefit us once the regular season begins – very fuzzy at this point. We have to let it play out. A few observations though: 1. I think Pope is almost done. 2. Stanzi has good upside. 3. Studebaker leaves a lot to be desired. 4. Houston & Sheffield are promising. 5. DJ was giving the most professional effort on the entire team. 6. Cassel is staring down his receivers like a hs QB – at least in this game. 7. I REALLY wonder about our play calling. I don’t care how much experience Muir has. Playcalling is more of an art & “feel”. That’s so evident w/ Josh McDaniel. He’s very talented in that regard & he has FAR less experience than Muir. I’ll reserve final opinion on this area for a few REAL games, but its the biggest concern I have for the Offense. 8. Richardson looked pretty bad in this game.

  • August 27, 2011  - Michael says:

    Being a realistic homer is a tough ship to steer, but I try. Bob said the Chiefs are a medicore team, when he could have said it has been a mediocre team so far this preseason. Look at the story headline: “August Struggles.” That’s August, not the 2010 season or the 2011 season. One is done, and the other is yet to be seen.

    I know Haley doesn’t care about preseason wins at all-AT ALL, and the Chiefs play everything as vanilla as you can get it on both sides of the ball in preseason. But other than flashes by individuals or individual units, the overall team has not looked in sync and they’re running out of time. We know it, they know it. I still believe, and hope, the team will be ready to go September 11th, but I admit they’re making me a little nervous. 2 more weeks and we will see.

    notes: Houston and Sheffield look really good. I like Jackie Battle a lot. Great specail teams player; tough, tough runner; good blocker and receiver; a good utlity player to have around.

  • August 28, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    I liked what I saw from Sheffield and Houston too. I think our LB core will be much improved this year. I think we still have some struggles up front though.

    It’s pretty clear from the QB shuffling that this was a practice game to Haley. He put Palko in to test him with the 1st team Offense and I think he did alright. They seem to respect him a bit. I like what I’m seeing from Stanzi too. He’s a bit rough around the edges, but I see him being our future QB if he keeps improving and keeps healthy. No offense to Palko… he just seems more like a stop-gap to me.

  • August 28, 2011  - leo says:

    Well there you go again Bob It is like a broken record from last year. The Chiefs totally sucked last year in preseason, and yet, they won the west.Haley’s plan may be a disappointment to some, but I think he is absolutely doing the right thing to make sure he has the right 53 players. Rememebre Marty didn’t care much about preseason either, and look at the teams he had.
    The one thing I can say about all the whiners and talking heads is that I haven’t seen one team call and ask for your help.

  • August 29, 2011  - Jesse says:

    Leo – WTF? Did you enjoy watching that game? What was Bob supposed to write – that the Chiefs looked awesome and they will win the Super Bowl for sure this year? I mean seriously – the Chiefs looked bad. What else was Bob supposed to write about? You mentioned Haley’s plan – maybe Bob was supposed to write about that? Oh wait – Haley doesn’t share his plan with anyone. What in the world was Bob supposed to write about other than the very specific and apparent difficulties the Chiefs had on the field against St. Louis?

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