Showdown Is Here … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

From San Diego, California

One of the reasons the Chiefs will play today’s AFC West showdown with the Chargers holding first place and a two-game lead on the rest of the division has been their ability to juggle various injuries over the first 12 games.

At various times they were without Dexter McCluster, Ryan Lilja on offense, and various contributors on defense, players like Jon McGraw, Kendrick Lewis, Brandon Flowers and even Tyson Jackson. But they have been able to overcome those injuries, win games and do it with a roster that’s not deep in talent waiting to play.

But on this Sunday under what’s expected to be sunny skies and warm temperatures, they have their biggest challenge of the season. QB Matt Cassel, their offensive leader and the man who has made giant strides in his development this season, is home in Kansas City. Cassel is recuperating from his appendectomy. He will watch the game that begins at 3:15 p.m. and can be seen on CBS, with Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker handling the broadcast.

Brodie Croyle steps into the starting lineup and all this comes down in a game they need to win and against an opponent that has made a habit of winning games in December. Whether or not the Chiefs can extend their winning streak to four games will depend a great deal on how well the offense molds with Croyle.

“If Brodie plays it should be a pretty seamless thing,” said LG Brian Waters. “It’s not like he’s a rookie who hasn’t played or started a game before. The differences come in little things and we’ve worked all week on taking care of those, things like cadence and how he handles the hand-off and drop back.

“This is not a complete redo.”

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis agreed.

“There are no drastic changes for the offense,” said Weis. “For the most part the core doesn’t change at all for any of them.”

Something does change however, and that’s taking the trigger man for the last 27 games and sitting him down. That Croyle has started NFL games before is fine. But it’s been 455 days since he started a game, and there are a lot of different faces involved than on September 13, 2009 when he started the season opener against Baltimore.

“We’ve had a productive offense,” Croyle said this week. “We have shown we can get things done and put points on the board. It’s my job to go out and keep us going in that direction.”

There is one aspect of this sudden change in the Chiefs offense that plays to Croyle stepping into the role. After his team was hammered by the Broncos in Denver back on November 14, Todd Haley took his team back to the basics. Not only was it a trip back to doing things the way they had been working at the start of the season, but a decision was made by the coaching staff that less would be more.

At a time in the season when coaches tend to grow their schemes because so much of what’s in their playbooks is already on tape, Haley went the other way.

“Everybody thinks more bullets, more ammo from an offensive standpoint,” Haley said. “I learned from the inside of being an assistant coach (for Bill Parcells) when say you have 50 plays in the game plan and he says no, you’re only allowed to have 30, so figure out what the heck you like. I’ve learned from that. I think it’s good, you’re able to do less better, just because you practice it more and you just get better at the things that you do.”

So while Croyle does not have the snaps in the game action, the rests of the offense has been honing their skills on a handful of plays. What the Chiefs do these days is change the formations or the way players are lined up, but essentially the plays remain the same.

“It has fit in nicely in this case because we have tried to find the things that we do the best and just do it from more looks,” Weis said. “That doesn’t take any exact science to figure that out, we are just trying to do what we do and that is it.”

Weis had to go back and pull out tape of Croyle’s last start to get an understanding of his quarterback and his abilities. But Haley says the lines of communication within his coaching staff have made the transition much smoother.

“I feel like we’ve come together and we’re operating at a high, efficient level,” Haley said. “I don’t think I’d change anything about what we’re doing; I think all of our players are well coached and well prepared and in the same respect, I think our coaches have a great feel for what our players are capable of doing, what their strengths are and what the areas we want to play to are with each and every player.”

All this comes down against an opponent they know very well. The 6-6 Chargers have put themselves in a position where they must win to stay alive for a chance to win their fifth consecutive division championship. It’s been an odd year for head coach Norv Turner and his team, with a lot of injuries, holdouts and roster moves. The Chargers defense has allowed the fewest yards per game in the NFL and the offense generates the second most yards each game.

But San Diego is prone to mistakes. They’ve turned the ball over 24 times including a league high 14 fumbles lost. QB Philip Rivers has been sacked 29 times and overall their protection ranks among the bottom third of the league. The Chargers special teams have been a disaster and opponents have scored six touchdowns on returns against them.

Still, Haley says they are the AFC West’s best team.

“They’re a highly, highly skilled team that is one of the hottest, if not the hottest team in the league and the best team that we’ve seen, no disrespect to anybody else,” Haley said. “This is the best team that we have played. We’re a developing team that each and every one of these experiences is a new one. We’re trying to become a good team and we’ve got to go on the road against a really good team that’s an established, good team.”

And they have to do it without their starting quarterback.


  • BILLS – released LB Thomas Williams; signed DT Kellen Heard off the Raiders practice squad.
  • BRONCOS – signed K Steve Hauschka; released OL Stanley Daniels.
  • DOLPHINS – placed WR Brian Hartline on the injured-reserve list (finger) ending his season; signed TE Dedrick Epps off their practice squad.
  • LIONS – placed LB Isaiah Ekejiuba on the injured-reserve list (knee) ending his season.

9 Responses to “Showdown Is Here … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 12, 2010  - Butler says:

    Lets go through the GATES Padlock Them
    Head on to St Louis wrap this thing up
    I am confident we have TEAM to Get-R-Done

    Go CHIEFS Go

  • December 12, 2010  - Dennis says:

    This is going to be such a great test to see how far we have really come as a TEAM. Cassell has been playing well, but it takes 11 guys to get it done. I thought Brodie did a really good job against Baltimore last year, but we just could not close the deal back then. I can’t wait to see how this goes today. I think we will show up well, win or lose. Hopefully we can close the deal and come out with a W.

  • December 12, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    Blacked out in the UK today. Thanks a lot Sky. Asshats.

  • December 12, 2010  - MEDennis34 says:


    Sky has the Chiefs game listed in the guide @ 3:15. Where did you get your black out info?

  • December 12, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    I don’t have Sky. I bought the NFL gamepass thing. Which has every game except the ones that are blacked out because Sky paid money so I couldn’t watch them. $300+ so they could take two games away. I want a refund for those… No pub’s gonna be open until midnight for me to watch the game either. So it’s gonna have to be a 101 KCFX stream for me.

    When I was in the US I had DirecTV and Sunday Ticket and never had any issues. Everything was in one place and I was out of market so I could always see KC play. Now, I have to have Gamepass and Sky to watch them… Really frustrating. And if they make the playoffs, it’s all on Sky and only Sky.

    Could the commentators on Sky be any worse? It’s like the last time they played football was in high school. And, British people talking about Football just shouldn’t be allowed. It doesn’t sound right and it sounds like they should be having tea and crumpets while doing it.


  • December 12, 2010  - MEDennis34 says:

    So do they say things like, “…jolly good time watching this American footbul, right O.”

    Well at least you will have Len, Mitch, and Kendell to get you through the game. I have been on weekends for three years now and this year the company has banned streaming content. All I have left is NFL game center; granted it is more refined then in the past, but not a sub for the Fox.

    GO CHIEFS!!!!!!

  • December 12, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    If I ever hear them say “jolly good” when commentating during an NFL game I’m leaving this country for good.

  • December 12, 2010  - gorillafan says:

    Not tryn to b mr negative but I’m really glad we have a 2 game lead if ya know what I’m sayn!

  • December 12, 2010  - bhive01 says:

    Let’s hope that OAK holds on to their deficit.

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