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Some Chiefs Thoughts As They Prepare For Broncos

We’ll find out on Wednesday a bit more of what De’Anthony Thomas’ future may be as the Chiefs punt returner. Far be it for me to tell a very good special teams coordinator like Dave Toub how to handle his job, but . . . it’s time to let Frankie Hammond handle those kicks and give DAT his chances with the ball on offense.

DAT was a disaster in Oakland. Whether he was spooked by the rain and wet ball, or had trouble handling the prime-time spotlight and his chance to show the league and the country what he can provide the Chiefs, he was a negative on punt returns.

He was back for four punts and got his hands on two, producing returns of 15 and minus-12 yards. A negative punt return of more than a few yards is inexcusable for any returner. As he did on three other punts, Thomas allowed the ball to hit the ground, two yards in front of him. He caught the ball on the bounce at the 20-yard line, and started trying to run around the coverage that enveloped him very quickly.

Even with that backward return, Thomas got another chance. The Raiders punt could have easily been caught, and at the least he could have called for a fair catch. Instead, he allowed the ball to hit the turf; it bounced at the 16-yard line, and was downed by the Raiders at the 10-yard line. …Read More!

Chiefs Fill Berry’s Roster Spot With D-Lineman

With an open spot on the active roster due to Eric Berry moving to the reserve-non-football illness list, the Chiefs signed defensive lineman Nick Williams off the Pittsburgh practice squad.

The 6-5, 309-pound Williams was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Steelers. He spent the 2013 season on the injured-reserve list after suffering a pre-season knee injury. He’s spent the entire 2014 season on the Pittsburgh practice squad. The 24-year old Alabama native played four seasons at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Chiefs also swapped linebackers on the practice squad on Monday. Darin Drakeford was moved to the practice-squad-injured list and replacing him is 6-1, 235-pound outside linebacker Ja’Gared Davis. A Texas native and product of Southern Methodist University, Davis has spent the last two years with New England. The Patriots released him from their practice squad on Saturday. Over two seasons, he’s been on and off the active roster and practice squad. He was on New England’s active roster for six games. Davis is 24 years old and entered the league in 2013 with Houston as an undrafted rookie free agent.

Report Card: Chiefs GPA Takes A Hit

PASSING OFFENSE: C – The passing game was under wraps in the first half, but there were good reasons for that considering very wet weather conditions that made ball handling problematic. Once the weather cleared and the Chiefs were 14 points behind, they had no choice but to throw the ball. For the most part, Alex Smith was his usual efficient self, throwing a pair of touchdown passes, with no interceptions. But the pass protection left much to be desired for the offense.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D – Jamaal Charles ran for 80 yards, but never really broke loose against the Raiders defense. His longest run was 11 yards. Knile Davis was largely invisible with just two carries for two yards. De’Anthony Thomas had one jet-sweep for nine yards. This was not the normal production outing for the Chiefs offense.

RUSH DEFENSE: F – The Chiefs defense has been very good against the pass this season, and inconsistent versus the run. They got run over by the Raiders offense, first with Latavius Murray and his 112 yards on just four carries. Then it was Marcel Reece who hammered them for 37 yards on eight carries in the fourth quarter to set up Oakland’s winning touchdown.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B – Over the course of the rainy evening, the Chiefs had some bad moments in the kicking game, especially with some poor decision making on punt returns by rookie De’Anthony Thomas. But they had more plays that allowed them to get back into the game during the second half, thanks to kick returns by Thomas and Knile Davis and punt returns by Frankie Hammond.

COACHING: D – Andy Reid is always quick to take the blame when his team struggles, and he did the same after the loss to the Raiders. No question, Reid’s call list for the Kansas City offense was quite conservative in the first half and rainy conditions made him pull in the game plan even more. That helped create a very slow start for a team that really performs at its peak when they are running in the lead.

Tale of the Tape: Chiefs vs. Raiders

The Chiefs entered Thursday night’s game with a significant on-paper edge over the Raiders. By the time Sunday’s gave was over, they fell victim to an Oakland team that played far above what it has shown in 10 previous games.

Here’s the post-game tale of the tape, reflecting the performance of the Raiders:

Position

Pre-Game

Post-Game

Reasons

 

Quarterback

Alex Smith was the best quarterback on the field, but not by much. Raiders rookie Derek Carr did a plenty to get his team in position to win the game. Smith started slowly, but improved as the evening wore on.

Running back

There are not many games where the Chiefs will be outperformed by another club’s run game but that happened in Oakland Latavius Murray and then Marcel Reece were bookends for the Raiders victory, out running Jamaal Charles and the suddenly invisible Knile Davis.

Tight end

Travis Kelce led all receivers with 67 yards and Anthony Fasano caught a touchdown pass against an Oakland team that barely acknowledged a TE was on the field.

Wide receiver

The Raiders went into the game with a slight edge and they maintained that Thursday night with 14 catches on the night, while the Chiefs wide guys had seven catches all night.

Offensive line

They opened holes for the running game and protected their quarterback – the Oakland blockers were key to what the Raiders were able to get done. Chiefs O-Line struggled all day.

Defensive line



The Oakland group was not sensational, but they got some things done, especially veteran defensive end Justin Tuck. The Chiefs D-Line got trampled by the Raiders run game that averaged 6 yards per carry.

Linebackers

The Chiefs linebackers did not have a good game, but they played better than the Oakland backers that seemed more intent on celebrating than they were in playing heady football.

Secondary

Led by the veteran Charles Woodson, Oakland’s defensive backs were more active against both the run and pass. Chiefs corner Ron Parker was torched by Raiders offense.

Special teams

This was not a perfect performance by the Chiefs in the kicking game, but they pulled more from their special teams than Oakland did in the Raiders performance.

Coaching

It was one night in a long season, but Tony Sparano gets the edge for simply keeping his team engaged, involved and interested in doing the things necessary to win.

Intangibles

Pride is a powerful emotion and the Raiders showed it in buckets against the Chiefs. They wanted to end their victory drought. That made a difference.

Chiefs Comeback Falls Short In Oakland

The Chiefs five-game winning streak came to an end on a soggy Thursday night in Oakland when the Raiders picked up a 24-20 victory.

It was the first winning performance in over a year for Oakland, as the Raiders are 1-10 on the season. It was the first time the Chiefs lost a game in seven weeks. They are now 7-4 on the season.

The first half of the game was played in a downpour and the Raiders took advantage and jumped to a 14-point lead in the third quarter. But the Chiefs came back with 17 unanswered points and grabbed a three-point lead with just over nine minutes to play. That’s when rookie quarterback Derek Carr pulled together a 17-play, 80-yard scoring drive that finished up with a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver James Jones that posted the winning points.

Here’s our coverage of the game that joins the history of the great Chiefs-Raiders rivalry:

Chiefs Can’t Stop Raiders, Winning Streak Ends

They were down to start, up in the middle, and then down at the end.

For the first time in the last two months, the Chiefs rode the football roller coaster Thursday night and by the time the Oakland Raiders posted a 24-20 victory, Andy Reid’s team was sick to its stomach over inconsistent play, missed opportunities and the end of their five-game winning streak.

“I didn’t have the team ready to go the way we should have,” Reid said afterwards. “We obviously started way too slow, and we didn’t finish strong enough. They outplayed us and outcoached us.”

The Raiders picked up their first victory of the season because they ended up controlling the line of scrimmage for more minutes than the Chiefs did. They punched out 179 rushing yards, provided rookie quarterback Derek Carr with solid pass protection and spent a lot of time on defense squeezing the running lanes and making it difficult for Jamaal Charles to find significant running room.

Reid’s idea for an offensive game plan against the Raiders was no surprise – he wanted to establish the running game with Charles. Oakland was prepped to stop the Chiefs on the ground, but because of a rain and a constant downpour in the second quarter, Reid was reluctant to open up his offense for the passing game.

“I was probably too conservative all the way around early in the game,” said Reid.

Across the statistical board, the offenses played on even terms. Oakland had an edge in the running game (179 yards) while the Chiefs owned an advantage throwing the ball (234 yards). The only turnover was on special teams and there were a total of three sacks between the teams.

But what killed the Chiefs on offense and defense was third down. They had played so well on third down entering the game ranked No. on offense and No. on defense. But on this Thursday night, they converted just 2 of 14 third-down snaps, while the Raiders moved the sticks 8 of 16 times.

“We certainly didn’t start the way we wanted too,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “Then in the second quarter it got nasty out there and you are limited a bit with the weather.”

The first half was the worst 30 minutes of football the Chiefs have played since that inexplicable loss to Tennessee in the season opener. They got nothing done on offense, even though they held a time of possession advantage and ran 10 more plays than Oakland. Seven possessions produced just three points and 120 offensive yards.

Defensively, the Chiefs were gashed by Latavius Murray, a second-year running back out of the University of Central Florida who missed all of the 2013 season due to a foot injury suffered during the pre-season. The 6-3, 225-pound former sixth-round pick has been gradually working his way into what had been an anemic Oakland running attack over the first 10 games.

There wasn’t anything gradual about his effect on the Raiders offense Thursday night. The teams traded the ball four times before the Raiders finally got Murray into the game. His first carry went for six yards. His second was an 11-yard touchdown run, the first of the season against the Chiefs defense. Along with Sebastian Janikowski’s PAT kick, Oakland owned a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

On the Raiders first offensive snap of the second quarter, they pushed their lead to 14-0, as Murray ripped off a 90-yard touchdown run through the Chiefs defense. He was touched by just a single player, as inside linebacker Josh Mauga got a glancing arm blow on his legs as he chugged through a hole on the right side of the formation, then cut back and ran away from the Kansas City defense.

It’s the longest run recorded against the Chiefs in the club’s 55-season history, topping an 87-yard run by Paul Lowe of the San Diego Chargers in 1961.

Momentum was wearing only silver and black at this point, and Smith tried to get the Chiefs offense moving and did not with a possession that produced a pair of first downs. But ultimately they stalled and Dustin Colquitt came on to punt. With a pretty good rain falling at the time, Colquitt’s high punt for field position was muffed by Oakland returner Denarius Moore; the wet ball went through his hands and bounced off his right shoulder, and Chiefs linebacker Frank Zombo fell on the fumble at the Oakland 11-yard line.

Presented with a gift to get back in the game, the ran three plays that produced just 6 yards on a 1st-down run by Charles. They were stuck at 4th-and-5 at the Oakland 5-yard line and settled for a 24-yard field goal by Cairo Santos. That 14-3 score is what the teams carried to the locker room at half-time.

The pace of the rain slackened a bit in the third quarter, but all the Raiders were able to produce was a 40-yard field goal from Janikowski that gave them a 17-3 lead with 5 minutes to play in the period.

It was at this point where Reid effectively abandoned the early game plan. Without the rain, he decided to open things up and called plays designed for Smith to get the ball down the field.

That proved to be the fuse that lit the offensive match for the Chiefs. It was just 6 plays and 60 yards for Smith to find tight end Anthony Fasano wide open near the goal line for a 19-yard touchdown play. Santos made the PAT kick and the Raiders lead was now 17-10.

Early in the fourth quarter, Smith and the offense tied the score, overcoming a pair of holding penalties and producing a 4-play, 65-yard scoring drive topped by a 30-yard touchdown connection between Smith and Charles. The next time the Chiefs had the ball, they picked up another Santos FG, this one from 25 yards.

With 9 minutes to play, the Chiefs held the lead for the first time. Considering the way they had played on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter this season, Reid’s team appeared to be in the driver’s seat for another victory.

But the Raiders did not go away. After losing Murray to a concussion in the second quarter, and watching veteran backs Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew struggle to produce anything in the run game, Oakland’s coaching staff put the ball in the hands of fullback Marcel Reece, who they moved to the running back position.

Starting a possession at their 20-yard line, the Raiders kept feeding the ball to the 6-1, 250-pound Reece. Two runs produced 16 yards and a first down. Some passes were mixed in as the Raiders continued picking on left cornerback Ron Parker. They strung together six first downs and picked up yards on a pass interference call against Parker. More importantly, they were running the clock and holding onto the ball.

Eventually, on the second play after the two-minute warning, Carr and Jones hooked up for the 9-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the winner. Jones beat Parker in the end zone on the play. With Janikowski’s PAT kick, the final score was set at 24-20.

The Chiefs had one more possession, but they weren’t able to make any headway against the Oakland defense and the winning streak was over.

After a few days off, the Chiefs will begin preparations to host the Broncos next Sunday and the game becomes oh so important to the Chiefs since they need a victory to get back into a tie for first place with Denver.

“We’ve got another big division game; we’ve got to handle this in the right way,” Smith said of the aftermath of Thursday night’s loss. “We have to build on it.”

Column: A Chance For Greatness Slips Away

The task was obvious. On the road, with no timeouts left and down by four points, the Chiefs had 102 seconds to play.

They had spotted the Oakland Raiders a 14-point lead, came back and scored 17 points to regain control, then lost the scoreboard edge on a late Oakland touchdown.

Still, the game’s outcome was not final. It sat at a moment in time that provides good teams the opportunity to become something more; it’s a chance to be great.

The 2014 Chiefs went into Thursday night’s game in Oakland a good team. They left the Bay Area a good team. The chance to show the football world they had what it takes to be something more than good was lost, as the Raiders held on for a 24-20 victory at the Oakland Coliseum.

Those believers in “trap” games can come away from the soggy evening muttering “I told you so.” But this wasn’t an outcome built on the Chiefs looking backwards at beating Seattle, or forward to next Sunday’s game against Denver. This game was won by an Oakland team that pulled itself out of the NFL gutter for an evening and played like it was the Super Bowl.

“They outplayed us; they outcoached us today,” said head coach Andy Reid.

As usual, his view was succinct and on the money. When a team has played the way the Chiefs have in the 2014 season, they are not going to be overwhelmed by any opponent. The NFL these days does not have teams that play to a dominating level in every outing. For a team like the Chiefs, NFL parity adds up to having a chance to win every game they play, and a chance to lose at any time. Control of that opportunity rests in the hands of good teams.

It certainly was for the Chiefs. Oakland quarterback Derek Carr connected with wide receiver James Jones for a 9-yard touchdown pass, and combined with the PAT kick, the Raiders grabbed a four-point lead with less than two minutes to play. The drenched denizens of the Black Hole celebrated like their team had just captured the Lombardi Trophy.

Over many hours in OTAs, mini-camps, training camp and practice-after-practice, the Chiefs trained for situations like this. It’s one of those forks in the road that pop up in the season’s journey where a team can harden its toughness and resolve. When a team hits on a moment like the one the Chiefs faced, they decide anything is possible.

It started off so well – rookie returner De’Anthony Thomas returned the kickoff from deep in the end zone, carrying it 48 yards to the Chiefs 39-yard line. They were now 61 yards away with 95 seconds to play.

The Chiefs had eight snaps before giving up possession on downs. Their only first down came because the Raiders were flagged for not one, not two, but three different penalties on a 4th-and-3 play. Without help from the zebras, the Chiefs produced just four yards on the possession. They did not challenge the Oakland end zone. They did not even challenge the Raiders red zone. They started on their 39 and ended on their 48 – eight snaps, four yards gained, five more on a penalty. Quarterback Alex Smith did not throw the ball well, but he was under intense pressure. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Travis Kelce had opportunities to make difficult catches but could not make the plays. On the final play, Frankie Hammond did not appear to be on the same page on the play called as Smith, as the pass fell incomplete without the wide receiver anywhere close to catching the ball.

For the Raiders, it was about as close as they’ll get in this 2014 season to the Super Bowl. They are now 1-10, and based on their first 10 outcomes, on paper they had no business winning this game. But the victory for Tony Sparano and his team was testimony to what’s possible when a group of men grows tired of being embarrassed and trod upon. It’s the NFL, and anything is possible on a given Sunday, Monday or Thursday, especially when pride gets involved.

Greatness did not show itself on this night with the Chiefs. That does not mean they aren’t capable of reaching a higher level before time runs out on the season. Given the quality of their next five opponents, they figure to have more chances to rise above in the most difficult of circumstances.

“We’ll learn from this and become a better team because of it,” Reid said.

Pre-Game: Chiefs at Raiders

6:55 p.m. CST – Just 30 minutes away from kickoff. Field conditions are not good, but then they never are in Oakland where the field can look chewed up on a sunny day. If anything, that may hurt the Chiefs and Jamaal Charles. It should not matter. Enjoy the game.

6:50 p.m. CST – The National Weather Service forecast for Thursday night on the East Bay called for mostly cloudy skies (check), with temperatures in the 50s (check, 54 degrees at 30 minutes before kickoff) with a 30 percent chance of showers (check), with a west wind blowing at 5 miles per hour and lessening through the evening.

6:45 p.m. CST – A recommendation for your entertainment and education: a story by Kansas City resident Jeffrey Chadiha on Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles for ESPN.com. Here’s the link and it’s worth your time.

6:35 p.m. CST – Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr is 0-10 in his first NFL season. The last time the Chiefs faced a quarterback that began his career with an 0-10 record was on November 11, 1984 when Warren Moon and the Houston Oilers rolled into Arrowhead Stadium. Moon got his first NFL victory that day, as the Oilers won 17-16. Remember, Moon was not a true rookie – he’d signed that year with Houston coming out of the Canadian Football League.

6:25 p.m. CST – Inactive reax: no surprises for the Chiefs, as they will again be short-handed at wide receiver with five active, but only one veteran in Dwayne Bowe. Even with two cornerbacks out, the Chiefs still have four they can play. The Raiders must fill in two starting spots at left guard where they will not have Gae Jackson and left cornerback where Carlos Rogers is inactive.

6:20 p.m. CST – The Chiefs will kick off tonight as an 8-point favorite over the Raiders; the last time they were an 8-point road favorite was September 27, 1998 when they beat the Eagles in Philadelphia 24-21. That was the season before Andy Reid got to Philly. The last time they were favored by seven points or more was against the Raiders, when they won 20-9 in December 2006.

6:15 p.m. CST – At half-time of tonight’s game, former Raiders punter Ray Guy will receive his Hall of Fame ring representing his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2014 class. Guy is the first true punter to earn induction into the Hall. He’ll receive his ring from Hall of Fame coach John Madden.

6:10 p.m. CST – Inactive players for the Raiders against the Chiefs are quarterback Matt McGloin, cornerback Carlos Rogers, cornerback TJ Carrie, safety Jonathan Dowling, guard Gabe Jackson, guard Tony Bergstrom, tight end David Ausberry.

6:05 p.m. CST – Inactive players for the Chiefs against the Raiders tonight are quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Chris Owens, cornerback Jamell Fleming, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

Chiefs-Raiders Highlights New Oakland Quarterback

Another chapter in one of the most historic rivalries in the history of pro football goes down Thursday night when the Chiefs visit the Raiders in Oakland.

Kickoff is set for 7:25 pm. CST at the Oakland Coliseum with television coverage on the NFL Network and in Kansas City on Channel 41.

It will be the 111th time the Dallas Texans-Kansas City Chiefs have faced the Oakland-Los Angeles-Oakland Raiders. Some 40 years ago when the American Football League was rolling through its final days, the Chiefs and Raiders rivalry reached its apex, as one or the other played in three of the first four Super Bowls against the NFL.

That’s all prehistoric times in pro football, especially in today’s world of 144-character rants and immediate analysis and reaction from the Internet and social media. These teams have not played each other in a game that mattered in the month of November or December in many years. Actually, the last critical game was just a few hours into the 21st Century when the Raiders under head coach Jon Gruden showed up for the first game of the 2000s and the last game of the 1999 season. A Chiefs victory in Gunther Cunningham’s first year as head coach would have sent his team to the playoffs but Oakland won in overtime.

Since then, the Raiders have struggled to play with any sort of respectability. The Chiefs have often done the same. Thursday they arrive for the first of two outings this season with the Chiefs at 7-3 and the Raiders at 0-10. Oakland is the only team in the league that has not won a game in this 2014 season and their last victory was 367 days ago.

It’s an interesting situation for the Chiefs. The Thursday night game brought a short preparation week for Andy Reid, his staff and players. They had Monday and Tuesday to think and act Raiders and then left on Wednesday for the Bay Area. That’s about half their normal amount of prep time for a game. …Read More!

Tale of the Tape: Chiefs vs. Raiders

There are 11 categories in our weekly Tale of the Tape comparison, and generally the Chiefs have posted a majority in their favor each game, somewhere around six or seven areas of the competition.

But Thursday night’s Tale of the Tape falls decidedly in favor of the Chiefs. That would have been expected given the seven-game difference in the loss column between the teams. It’s a decided difference, as in our estimation the Chiefs have an edge in 10 of 11 areas, missing only at wide receiver.

That’s on paper; it will be fun to see it play out on that suspect field in Oakland: …Read More!

Report Card: Chiefs Easily Pass The Seahawks Test

From Arrowhead Stadium

PASSING OFFENSE: C – What passing offense? The Chiefs pass game was hardly a factor in the game, with just 16 passes thrown by Alex Smith. That produced just 6.8 yards per game and only one play of more than 20 yards. Essentially, the team’s wide receivers had just four targets and Dwayne Bowe caught two of those for a mere 18 yards. One positive was certainly the fact Seattle did not sack Smith.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A – Injuries and a re-shuffled offensive line made early season production tough for Jamaal Charles. But he’s climbed back to the level he established over the last five years with his 159-yard performance against Seattle. Charles averaged eight yards per carry, going off on a 47-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter and scoring two touchdowns along the way. Knile Davis added a 4-yard touchdown run and rookie De’Anthony Thomas had three end-around type runs that produced 22 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: A – The Chiefs were able to keep the clamps on the Seattle passing game, limiting quarterback Russell Wilson to just 178 passing yards. They were able to sack Wilson twice, including a big takedown on the final Seattle possession by nose tackle Dontari Poe.

RUSH DEFENSE: B – Ordinarily, a performance where a defense gives up 204 rushing yards is not going to score a good grade. But while the Chiefs gave up yardage to both Marshawn Lynch (124) and Russell Wilson (71), the longest of the positive runs was for just a 17-yard gain.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B – Not much was asked of the Chiefs kicking game in the victory over Seattle, at least not until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. That’s when Dustin Colquitt got off a pair of punts that went for 50-plus yards and made it very difficult for the Seahawks to come back. Plus, the Chiefs averaged 31.7 yards on three kickoff returns, while limiting Seattle got an average kickoff return of just 15.8 yards.

COACHING: B – The victory was not a perfect performance by the Chiefs. But Andy Reid and staff continue to find a way to win games – five in a row at this point – and they’ve done it by sticking to their plan of an efficient run-based offense and a bend-don’t-break defense. They lost the ball twice on fumbles against Seattle and still earned the victory. Yes, the wide receivers still do not have a touchdown catch, but Dwayne Bowe had several sensational downfield blocks that provided more running room for Jamaal Charles. Week-to-week, parts of the plan don’t quite come together, but Reid and staff have been able to produce a winning performance.

So You Want To Build a Super Bowl Team?

Seahawks owner Paul Allen, head coach Pete Carroll and G.M. John Schneider with the Lombardi Trophy

History sits there waiting for us to use it as a resource; there are lessons to be learned from the success and failure of those who came before.

Consider the task of building a Super Bowl championship team. There have been 48 trophies awarded since the first game was played after the 1966 AFL and NFL seasons. Of the league’s 32 teams, 19 have won at least one Super title, with a dozen franchises picking up multiple Lombardi Trophies.

Change is constant in the NFL, so the lessons of building a championship team from the 1970s do not always translate to the football business of today. One thing that factors into every championship equation is having enough players that are schooled, motivated and physically gifted. The changes come in how those players are acquired from one era to another.

Led by general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, the Seattle Seahawks finished the 2013 season with a 16-3 overall record and a convincing 43-8 victory over Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII. They bring the 2014 version of the Seahawks to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, just a year removed from their championship squad.

“This is year five right now,” Carroll said of his tenure in charge of the Seahawks. “I think how you develop a championship mentality that gives you an opportunity to play on late in the season and see how far you can take it every year . . . we’re focused on what’s up and what’s right here right now. That’s the way we’ve done it.”

…Read More!

Next Opponent – The Seattle Seahawks

Game – No. 10.

OpponentThe Seattle Seahawks.

2014 record – The Bills are 6-3 on the season and they’ve won three in a row, after losing back-to-back games in October. They started the season 1-1, and then were 3-3 before their current win streak. They’ve beaten Green Bay by 20 points (in the opener), Denver by 6, Washington by 10, Carolina by 4, Oakland by 6 and last week, the New York Giants by 21 points. The lost on the road in San Diego by 9 points, fell to Dallas by 7 points in Settle and dropped one in St. Louis by 2 points to the Rams. They are 2-2 on the road this year and they are 2-1 against the AFC West.

Seattle is plus-49 in point differential (240 scored, 191 given up), plus-3 in turnover ratio (9 giveaways, 12 takeaways) and minus-5 in sack ratio (18 allowed, 15 on defense.) Overall in offensive yards they rank #10 in the league, #1 in the running game and #31 in passing yardage. In yards allowed on defense they are #3 overall, #4 against the run and #18 versus the pass.

Buffalo is the league leader in rushing yards per game (170.9) and average yards per carry (5.5). They are #6 in converting on fourth down (3 of 5) and #7 in points per game (26.7.) They are among the NFL’s bottom ranked teams in punt coverage at #32 (14.7 yards per), #29 in punting (36.4-yard net average) and #28 in sacks per pass plays (13 in 328 pass plays.) …Read More!

Chiefs Staying Away From Zebras/Yellow Hankies

They sport one of the best records in the AFC after nine games, but the Chiefs have not been a dynamic contender. They do not have an offensive play that gained more than 48 yards. They do not have a lot of big plays on defense either, with one touchdown but only eight takeaways or not even an average of one per game.

No, the Chiefs are not a highlight-making club. They have built their season on efficient if not spectacular play on both offense and defense. They have made minimal mistakes. Andy Reid’s Chiefs are not beating themselves.

There is no greater evidence of their efficiency than penalties. The Chiefs have the fewest penalties against them than any team in the league in the 2014 season. There have been 49 penalties called, and 42 infractions walked off. That’s an average of 4.6 flags and 37.4 yards per game.

This year’s average for NFL teams is 62.4 penalties for 525.6 yards. To provide a bigger picture, the most penalized team in the league is Pittsburgh with 83 penalties walked off and New England has given up 699 yards in penalties.

A team’s penalty level does not translate to a successful season. Last year, the Seattle Seahawks led the NFL in penalties with 128 and won the Super Bowl. However, for a team like the Chiefs that has a slim margin of error, it’s vital that they do not give their opponent yardage or take away some of their own gains with penalties.

The team’s tendency away from forcing the yellow hanky to the ground is testimony to the Chiefs coaching staff’s stubbornness of working the fundamentals in practice. Whether offense, defense or special teams, there are portions of practice each day where the Chiefs go over the basics they handled on the first day of training camp. …Read More!

Who Gets To Play? / Snap Judgments – Buffalo

How can a player perform if he can’t get on the field?

Plays or “snaps” in live action can be one of the most revealing statistics available in football for establishing just where a player stands on his team’s personnel evaluation list.

When asked publicly, coaches will frequently say that a specific player remains in good standing or is healthy enough to play, then a look at the post-game snap counts indicates something else. Yes, there are a finite number of plays in each game with 45-plus players all trying to capture a moment in competition.

From game-to-game, differences in snaps can be misleading, due to injuries or strategic reasons involving that week’s opponent. But as the weeks and games string together, the trends begin to reveal that something is up.

It always revealing when the discussion is about rookies and other inexperienced players. Take outside linebacker Dee Ford. Maybe it’s just coincidence, maybe it’s something more, but from the San Francisco game, where he had that embarrassing moment when he ran away from a tackle of 49ers running back Frank Gore, Ford has just 18 snaps on defense. That’s 18 defensive plays in four games, with 16 coming in the fourth quarter of the blowout victory over St. Louis. …Read More!

Chiefs Have Busy Day With Roster Shuffle

Cyrus Gray and Demetrius Harris are down and out. Phillip Supernaw is in, Charcandrick West is up and Adam Schiltz has returned.

Those were the actors that were part of a busy personnel Tuesday for the Chiefs. Here are the details:

  • Gray – The running back/special teams stalwart goes to the injured-reserve list due to a knee injury (torn ACL) that he suffered last Sunday in Buffalo.
  • Harris – The first-year tight end broke his right foot during pre-game warmups in Buffalo and did not play in the game. He’s also headed to the injured-reserve list.
  • Supernaw – He was signed off the Baltimore practice squad, where he spent most of the season with the exception of four games on the active roster (see more below).
  • West – A 5-10, 205-pound undrafted rookie out of Abilene Christian University, West has spent the first 10 weeks of the season on the Chiefs practice squad. In the 2014 pre-season, he carried the ball six times for 31 yards.
  • Schiltz – He was claimed at the start of training camp off the waiver wire after his release by Tennessee. Schiltz was released on August 24th, signed to the Chiefs practice squad on September 9th, released on September 16 and now signed again.

No matter assignment, Parker gets it done

It’s a mantra repeated often in the world of sports:

It doesn’t matter how you start; it matters how you finish.

Right now, maybe the greatest example of that adage wears No. 38 for the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s cornerback-strong safety-nickel back-free safety-slot corner Ron Parker.

He was the defensive star of the game for the Chiefs in their 17-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Parker forced a fumble that stopped a Bills touchdown run and then almost single-handedly stopped Buffalo’s final attempt to gain the lead in the fourth quarter when he broke up three of the last four passes thrown by quarterback Kyle Orton.

Not bad for a guy that started his NFL career just three years ago as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Newberry College, an NCAA Division II football program in Newberry, South Carolina that plays in the South Atlantic Conference. Parker signed with Seattle in July 2011, and spent time with the Seahawks, Oakland and Carolina over the 2011-12 seasons. Most of that time was on practice squads and spent 10 games on the active roster of three different teams.

Consider this with Parker – the Seahawks released him not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, but on five different occasions. The last time was on the cut down to the NFL limit of 53 players on August 31, 2013. The Chiefs claimed him off waivers on September 1, 2013, and he’s been with them ever since, the longest stay of his career to date.

“He’s relentless,” head coach Andy Reid said of Parker. “He’s the one out at practice diving to bat balls down. That’s just how he goes. It’s great to see him rewarded with a game like this.”

Playing safety in the Chiefs base 3-4-4 defense and then cornerback in the 2-3-6 scheme, Parker as all over the field against the Bills, and he didn’t just play one side of the field. Parker spent most of the game locked up in man-to-man coverage on Buffalo rookie Sammy Watkins, who in the Bills previous two games had more than 100 yards receiving in each one.

That was special for Parker because Watkins also played his college football in South Carolina, at Clemson University in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Parker was out of school by the time Watkins showed up at Clemson, but there was no question where the football attention was focused on.

“That’s how we practiced all week,” said Parker. “I was following 14 in practice so it wasn’t a surprise. We had it in the game plan and we stuck with it.”

His big play came when he chopped the ball out of the hands of Buffalo running Bryce Brown at the five-yard line as the Wichita native was about to score a first half touchdown for the Bills.

“I was on Watkins and when he (Brown) broke free, I knew I had to shed the block and got after him,” said Parker. “I wanted to make sure I kept everything inside of me, so when I shed the block and he was inside, I went after the ball and popped it right out.”

Brown’s fumble rolled into the end zone where tight end Scott Chandler had a chance to pick it up, but couldn’t grasp the ball and it jumped out of the back of the end zone for a touchback, Chiefs football.

“That’s something we work on every day in practice,” Parker said. “As a defensive unit, we try to go after the ball. We always go for the strip.”

Parker really put a cherry on top his football sundae by breaking up three passes in four throws deep in Chiefs territory:

  • 1st-down: Orton’s pass to Watkins was underthrown with Parker holding a position advantage and knocked down the ball.
  • 2nd-down: This time Orton went short left to wide receiver Chris Hogan, but Parker had underneath coverage and the pass sailed high.
  • 4th-down: Orton went back to Watkins on his right, but Parker got in the way and nearly intercepted the pass as the Bills turned the ball over one downs.

“I don’t really feel picked on,” said Parker. “He’s (Watkins) their go-to-guy and it was time to make a play. I was prepared and ready for anything.”

Play of the Game: Chiefs Force Fumble On Punt Return

QUARTER – 4th period, with 9 minutes, 57 seconds to play.

SCORE – Bills held a 13-10 lead.

DOWN & DISTANCE – 4th-and-goal at the Chiefs 16-yard line.

SET – Chiefs in punt formation; Bills in punt return alignment.

With less than 10 minutes to play, the Chiefs need an impact play from some part of their team. Whether it was an offensive touchdown, or a defensive takeaway or a explosive play from the special teams, the Chiefs were running out of time.

Enter Albert Wilson and Anthony Sherman from the Chiefs punt team. Wilson was filling in for injured running back Cyrus Gray as the personal protector, who stands just behind the snapper and takes care of any push up the middle from the punt rush. On this play, there was no pressure up the middle. Sherman was the left wing on the protection team, lined up outside Frank Zombo and Josh Mauga.

On the snap from Thomas Gafford to Colquitt, Sherman got some pressure from Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes. Sherman stopped the momentum of the rusher and then ran down under the kick, with Hughes on his hip, trying to block him.

Colquitt got off maybe his best kick of the game, hitting it for 53 yards and it came down at the Buffalo 31-yard line and into the hands of Bills punt returner Leodis McKelvin. When he caught the ball, there was no coverage man from the Chiefs within 15 yards of McKelvin. But he was undecided on what direction to go. He took a step left, then came back and took a step right and finally put his foot on the gas pedal and headed to his right.

But Wilson came in from McKelvin’s left side and grabbed him with one arm at the waist and was pulling him down to the left side of the play. When Wilson did that, McKelvin’s right arm was cradling the ball and it was above the rest of his body. That’s when Sherman hit him on the arm, knocking the ball loose.

Sherman momentum took him past the football, but he was able to angle his body so he beat both McKelvin and Hardy, who had chances to recover. It was Chiefs ball, 1st-and-10 at the Bills 26-yard line. Two players, later Alex Smith scored on an 8-yard run and the Chiefs had what proved to be the winning points.

“I just wanted to try to make something happen for my team,” said Wilson, the undrafted rookie out of Georgia State University. “But it was Sherm that made the play.”

It was enough of a play that McKelvin was still nearly distraught after the game when talking about what happened.

“If you fumbled the ball, you fumbled the ball,” said McKelvin. “I have to get out there on the field and do what I do as a defensive player after the fumble. I have to go out and get us off the field, either force them to go three and out or go off the field. We didn’t do that.”

Keys To Victory For Chiefs vs. Bills/Recap

          

Four

Make sure the defense continues to limit big plays

Offensively, the Bills have been inconsistent as personnel issues and injuries have led to changes at quarterback, running back and shuffling of receivers. Thus, they rank in the bottom half of the league in offensive yards, both rushing and passing, and points. But Buffalo is one of the league’s top offenses when it comes to big pass plays, with 30 completions for 20 yards or more. That total includes completions of 61, 80 and 84 yards. That comes from weapons like Sammy Watkins and C.J. Spiller (currently on the injured-reserve list.) The Chiefs defense has allowed only 20 passing plays of 20 yards or more and none of those went for more than 48 yards. It’s the biggest reason the Chiefs pass defense is ranked No. 1 in the league, allowing less than 200 yards per game. With a strong pass rush, better production from the safety position and more zone coverage schemes, the Chiefs have kept opposing receivers in front of them in the secondary. It’s the biggest area of improvement for the 2014 defense.

OUTCOME – The Chiefs defense allowed a 27-yard play by running back Anthony Dixon and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Orton to wide receivers Chris Hogan. Otherwise, the Chiefs were able to keep the ball in front of them in pass coverage as Orton threw the ball 48 times, was sacked once and took off running twice. That’s 51 pass plays and only one play went for more than 20 yards. MISSION ACCMOPLISHED

Three

Do not give Bills any edge in the kicking game.

The Bills have solid special teams performers, including returner Leodis McKelvin who has dented the Chiefs before with a return touchdown and they have a veteran kicker in Dan Carpenter. McKelvin has yet to crack off a big return on punts and kickoffs – he’s overdo. Carpenter has hit five FGs in a row including 53 and 58-yarders. Opponents have not had a return of more than 41 yards against the Bills, so Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas need to change that number. Rookie kicker Cairo Santos has experienced plenty of wind conditions in the last two weeks at Arrowhead Stadium, but it’s nothing compared to what is a normal November afternoon in western New York with the north wind blowing in off Lake Erie.

OUTCOME – The Bills struggled to make anything happen on special teams. Leodis McKelvin had a 23-yard punt return and Marquis Goodwin a 24-yard return. But those returns did not serious damage to the K.C. defense. By forcing a turnover on a Buffalo punt return, that was a big edge for the Chiefs. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Two

Force Kyle Orton to make mistakes with the football

Kyle Orton has played well since he took over as the starting quarterback for E.J. Manuel a month ago. He’s throwing at a completion percentage of 67.4 percent, averaging eight yards an attempt with only three interceptions. He’s also fumbled and lost the ball twice. That’s not always been the nature of Orton’s time as a starting quarterback, especially in his first stints in Chicago and Denver where he was found wanting and sent packing into a continued career as a little-used backup for the past three seasons. The Chiefs defense needs to shrink his decision making time by pressuring every drop back and passing play. History shows that mistakes will follow. Orton has been sacked once every 9.3 passing plays and that’s largely because he’s pretty much immobile in the pocket. The Chiefs defense needs four or five sacks in this game.

OUTCOME – This did not happen, as the Chiefs couldn’t get close enough to Orton on a consistent basis to have him worried about the bodies around him in the pocket. He did not throw an interception and completed 61 percent of his throws. FAILED

One

Continue to keep the backside of Alex Smith’s jersey clean

So much of everything that must happen for the Chiefs to win goes through their quarterback. Even keys to defensive performance are tied up in keeping Smith upright, mobile and without too much stress. When that gets done, it reduces the chances of mistakes, turnovers, big-yardage sacks and similar offensive gaffs that can flip the game’s field-position fight against the defense. The Chiefs are getting the basics done on offense, with third-down conversion, red-zone effectiveness, few penalties and fewer turnovers. They are efficient and productive and that comes from protecting Smith. Buffalo has a strong defense, especially a trio of Pro Bowlers on the line with Marcell Dareus, Mario Williams and Kyle Williams. It’s the ultimate test for the Chiefs offensive line, which has been progressing so much in the last month. They must play their best game of the season.

OUTCOME – The Chiefs definitely failed in this key are, but the fact they were still able to secure a victory says more about Alex Smith than it does his pass protection. There are tough defenses on the horizon in Seattle, Denver, Arizona, Pittsburgh, San Diego – the offense must do a better job of protecting their man. FAILED.

Officiating Report: Rookie’s Crew Barely Visible

The Chiefs had very little problem coming from the officiating of referee Brad Allen and his crew in Sunday’s game against Buffalo.

They entered the game as the league’s least penalized teams and should come out of the weekend in the same position after having only three flags walked off against them for a total of 19 yards. One other penalty was declined.

Two penalties against the Bills played a big part in the way the fourth quarter rolled for the Chiefs. On a 4th-and-1 play at the Buffalo 46-yard line, the Bills offense lined up as if they were going to run a play. Naturally part of that procedure is an attempt to draw the opposing defense offside. In this case it appeared to work as Chiefs defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson came across the line of scrimmage.

But it was Buffalo rookie right tackle Seantrel Henderson that was flagged for flinching, a false start. The Bills ended up punting the ball away.

Later in that final period, on a 3rd-and-8 play, tight end Scott Chandler was the intended receiver, but he was called for offensive pass interference, setting back the offense 10 more yards. They punted two plays later.

There were no coach’s replay challenges or challenges by the booth official.

So far in nine games, the Chiefs have had 42 penalties walked off against them for 337 yards.

Here’s the hanky report for the Chiefs against Buffalo:

#

Team

Player

Penalty

Yards

1.

Offense

A.Fasano

Holding

Minus-10

2.

Offense

E. Fisher

False start

Minus-5

3.

Punt team

J-M Johnson

Unnecessary roughness

Minus-4

4.

Offense

M. McGlynn

Illegal use of hands

Declined

Offense-3, Defense-0, Special teams-1.

Report Card For Chiefs vs. Bills

PASSING OFFENSE:  C – The Chiefs went into Sunday’s game against Buffalo aware that they faced one of the best front-seven groups among NFL defenses. The Bills proved that true, as they sacked quarterback Alex Smith six times in 35 passing plays, essentially once every time the Kansas City offense dropped back to pass. No small wonder that Smith got little done in the passing game. Other than a 27-yard completion to wide receiver A.J. Jenkins and a 23-yarder to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, there were no completions of more than 15 yards. Bowe had his best game of the season, with eight catches for 93 yards.

RUSHING OFFENSE:  B – Again, there was little doubt that Buffalo’s defense went into the game with the idea of stopping Jamaal Charles, and they were not able to do so, giving up 6.5 yards per carry, including a 39-yard touchdown run. Smith grabbed 25 yards on four carries, including his touchdown run. Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas were not a factor in that part of the offense.

PASS DEFENSE: C – The Chiefs defense was able to sack Kyle Orton just once on 49 passing plays. They flushed him out of the pocket on two other snaps, but that was not the type of pressure that’s going to turn the game. One impressive thing the pass defense did was take injured rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins (groin) out of the passing equation, allowing him four catches in 10 targets for 27 yards and no catch longer than eight yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: B – The Bills averaged 5 yards per carry, but they were able to hit the Chiefs for only one big play, a 27-yard run by Anthony Dixon. For another weekend, the K.C. defense got through a game without allowing a rushing touchdown.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B – Absolutely, the only thing that kept the Chiefs kicking game from an A grade was the decision making of punt returner De’Anthony Thomas. Twice he caught punts inside the Chiefs five-yard line, something that should never happen no matter the potential of the returner. He caught one punt at the two and the other at the four, getting both punts back to the Chiefs eight-yard line.

COACHING: B – Andy Reid and his coaching staff had to rely on their NFL experience to get their players in the right positions to handle what was a fired up Bills defense. One of the toughest things for any player or coach to do in a game where the other guy is controlling the flow is be patient. But that’s what Reid and his staff did. They stuck to their plan because it was a good one and eventually they were able to push enough buttons for a victory.

Chiefs & Bills Sunday Pre-Game

11:30 a.m. CST – Kickoff between the Chiefs and Bills is just over one hour away. Enjoy the game and remember to check back late in the afternoon and into the night for our coverage from game No. 9 of the 2014 season. Enjoy.

11:20 a.m. CST – Sammy Watkins comes into the game with back-to-back 100-yard receiving games. The last time the Chiefs defense gave up a 100-yard receiving performance by an opposing rookie was last November, when San Diego’s Keenan Allen caught nine passes for 124 yards.

11:10 a.m. CST – Turnovers are always important numbers in deciding the outcome of any football game, but they are going to be very important on this afternoon in western New York. The Chiefs do not turn the ball over, and they don’t take it away very much either in this 2014 season, with five takeaways and seven giveaways. On the other hand, the Bills have taken the ball away 18 times, but returned the favor 11 times. With the weather also a factor in the ball handling, keeping possession of the big will be very large.

11:05 a.m. CST – Terry and Kim Pegula the new owners of the Bills said this weekend that a new stadium must happen in Buffalo and they plan to end the Bills annual trips to Toronto to play. “There’s going to be a new stadium somewhere, that’s all I know,” Terry Pegula told the Associated Press in an interview. No location or timeline has been defined.

11 a.m. CST – The National Weather Service forecast for early Sunday afternoon in Orchard Park, New York, site of Ralph Wilson Stadium is a slight chance of rain between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The skies should be mostly cloudy with wind from the west between 5 and 10 miles per hour. The chance of precipitation is 20 percent. Temperature expected to be right around 40 degrees.

10:50 a.m. CST – The Chiefs made a roster move on Saturday, as they activated linebacker Joe Mays from the injured-reserve list. Mays was the team’s designated player to return after suffering a wrist injury that required surgery in August. He has been practicing for the past two weeks. To make room for Mays, the team released injured linebacker Jerry Franklin.

10:40 a.m. CST – Reax to inactive players: it’s going to be interesting to watch if Joe Mays moves back into the starting lineup; that’s where he was before suffering a torn ligament in his wrist that sent him to surgery and missing 10 weeks of action. The Bills will have wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Fred Jackson, but how healthy will they be and how much of a contribution can they make?

10:37 a.m. CST – Inactive players for the Bills against the Chiefs are wide receiver Mike Williams, safety Jerome Couplin, cornerback Ron Brooks, running back Philip Tanner, linebacker Randell Johnson, left guard Cyril Richardson, wide receiver Marcus Easley.

10:35 a.m. CST – Inactive players for the Chiefs against the Bills are quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Jamell Fleming, safety Daniel Sorensen, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, outside linebacker Josh Martin.

10:30 a.m. CST – Early word at the Ralph indicates that wide receiver Sammy Watkins and running back Fred Jackson are expected to play against the Chiefs despite their groin injuries. Game-day inactive players just a few minutes away.

10:25 a.m. CST – It’s the Chiefs and Bills this afternoon at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Coming up in the next hour, we’ll update you on the news of the morning, including the inactive players for both clubs in just a few moments.

A Pair of 5-3 Teams Fight For Momentum In Buffalo

The Chiefs and Bills have played many important games over the last 50 seasons, but it’s safe to say it’s been many years since one of their meetings has carried significance for both teams.

That won’t be the case Sunday afternoon when they play at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. Both teams are 5-3, both teams are playing good football and both teams need to establish credentials for the race to the AFC playoffs.

Kick off comes just after 12 noon, with television coverage by CBS.

It’s far too early for extensive discussion the 2014 post-season. However, in this game it’s a factor that cannot be ignored. Both of these teams are not only in the chase for the playoffs at mid-season, and both are not division leaders. Ahead of the Chiefs in the AFC West is Denver, with New England pacing the Bills in the AFC East. These teams will fight for wildcard spots in the tournament, and there are quite a few other clubs in the mix for those two spots.

This is the 46 game between these original brothers of the American Football League. The Chiefs and Bills played at the end of the 1966 season for the chance to appear in the first Super Bowl. K.C. won that game in Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium. There were plenty of other impactful encounters between the teams. It was especially true in the 1990s when they played two games in the playoffs and several regular-season contests that drew attention across the league. …Read More!

Officials Preview: Rookie Referee Brad Allen

The Chiefs will have another rookie referee handling their game Sunday in Buffalo.

First-year official Brad Allen’s crew will handle things on the floor of Ralph Wilson Stadium. It’s the group’s ninth assignment of the year to date.

A native of Lumberton, North Carolina, Allen was a late addition to the list of NFL officials for the 2014 season and came into the fold in the spring as an umpire. But when Mike Carey made a late retirement to work for CBS-TV, Allen was promoted to a referee’s position.

Allen is the first rookie NFL official that debuted as referee in 62 years. The 44-year old grew up in southeastern North Carolina and attended Pembroke State University. Allen worked his way up through the college ranks, eventually landing in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

…Read More!

4 Keys To Victory For Chiefs Against Bills

      

Four

Make sure the defense continues to limit big plays

Offensively, the Bills have been inconsistent as personnel issues and injuries have led to changes at quarterback, running back and shuffling of receivers. Thus, they rank in the bottom half of the league in offensive yards, both rushing and passing, and points. But Buffalo is one of the league’s top offenses when it comes to big pass plays, with 30 completions for 20 yards or more. That total includes completions of 61, 80 and 84 yards. That comes from weapons like Sammy Watkins and C.J. Spiller (currently on the injured-reserve list.) The Chiefs defense has allowed only 20 passing plays of 20 yards or more and none of those went for more than 48 yards. It’s the biggest reason the Chiefs pass defense is ranked No. 1 in the league, allowing less than 200 yards per game. With a strong pass rush, better production from the safety position and more zone coverage schemes, the Chiefs have kept opposing receivers in front of them in the secondary. It’s the biggest area of improvement for the 2014 defense.

…Read More!

Tale Of The Tape – Chiefs vs. Bills

The Chiefs and Bills bring matching 5-3 records into their game on Sunday in Buffalo. When the teams are broken down position-by-position, there’s not a lot of margin between the teams. Buffalo has better wide receivers and a stout defensive line. The Chiefs have better running backs, tight ends and linebackers. Breaking down the other categories for comparison and these clubs are close.

Here’s how we see the tale of the tape: …Read More!

Next Opponent – The Buffalo Bills

Late owner & founder Ralph Wilson (L) and new owner Terry Pegula (R)

Game – No. 9.

OpponentThe Buffalo Bills.

2014 record – The Bills are 5-3 on the season and they are coming off their bye week. They’ve won three of their last four games, after starting the season with 2-0 record with victories over Chicago in overtime by three points and 19 points over Miami. They also had victories by 3 points over Detroit, 1-point over Minnesota and 20 points in their last game over the New York Jets. They lost by 12 points to San Diego, 6 points to Houston and 15 points to New England.

They are plus-13 in point differential (178 scored, 165 given up), plus-7 in turnover ratio (11 giveaways, 18 takeaways) and plus-5 in sack ratio (23 allowed, 28 on defense.) Overall in offensive yards they rank #24 in the league, #23 in the running game and #20 in passing yardage. In yards allowed on defense they are #8 overall, #8 against the run and #13 versus the pass.

Buffalo is among the league leaders in sacks with 28 (#2), interceptions with 18 (#3t), fewest points allowed with 165 (#5) and third-down defense, holding opponents to a 36.2 conversion percentage (#5). They are among the NFL’s bottom ranked teams in pass protection at #28 (23 sacks in 301 passing plays) and No. 31 in first downs (135). …Read More!

Notes, Quotes: Vick Earns Jets Starting QB Job

From Arrowhead Stadium

Sunday was a solid first start for Michael Vick as the No. 1 quarterback for the New York Jets.

It was good enough that head coach Rex Ryan said Vick will play on, no matter the health of Geno Smith.

“As long as he’s healthy we will go with Mike,” Ryan said. “I think Mike did a good job. He was going against a tough defense and we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He got dinged up a bit at the end there, but was able to come back. I thought overall, Mike played well.”

Smith had opened the first eight games for the Jets, and the second-year quarterback was struggling, along with battling an assortment of injuries. Vick had seen limited snaps before last week’s game where he finished up for the injured Smith against Buffalo.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Vick said. “If I’m starting next week, then I’m happy. I have to do more than I did today.”

Vick at one point completed 12 straight passes, and he ended up completing 75 percent of his 28 passes, for 196 yards, or an average of seven yards per attempt. He did not throw an interception; he did fumble once, but was able to land on the ball to retain possession.

Ryan’s decision to keep him on the field was welcomed by Vick’s teammates.

“I think it’s a good decision,” said running back Chris Johnson. “The way he came out there and played and didn’t turn the ball over and made the throws; he kept us in the game.”

A Vick-Reid run-in

Andy Reid and Vick had a chance in the pre-game warm-up period to say hello and catch up on events. They met again in the fourth quarter when Vick ran out of bounds and was kept from falling on the ground by the Chiefs head coach.

“He kind of caught me,” Vick said. “I heard somebody grunt and I looked over and it was him. I have the utmost respect for Andy, a friendship that I will value until my last day on this earth. I’m happy for him; he’s a great coach and it shows.

“It was tough to get my first start against one of my former head coaches. Obviously, I wish we would have won, but we didn’t.”

Personnel notes

Inactive players for the Chiefs against the Jets were quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Chris Owens, cornerback Jamell Fleming, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and outside linebacker Josh Martin.

The Chiefs made a roster move Saturday, promoting rookie safety Daniel Sorensen from the practice squad. Sorensen was on the game-day active roster for the season opener against Tennessee, but was released the next week and then signed to the practice squad. To make room for Sorensen, the Chiefs released defensive end Damion Square. Sorensen saw a dozen plays in the kicking game, essentially replacing Martin, who was out with his hamstring injury.

Rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines started at left cornerback, with Fleming down because of injury. Ron Parker kept the starting job at strong safety despite the active status of Eric Berry.

Inactive players for the Jets against the Chiefs were quarterback Geno Smith, wide receiver Walter Powell, cornerback Darrin Walls, linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali, offensive lineman Dakota Dozier, offensive lineman Wesley Johnson and nose tackle T.J. Barnes.

The Jets made a roster move on Saturday, promoting quarterback Matt Simms from the practice squad. To create a roster spot for Simms, the Jets released wide receiver Chris Owusu.

Some numbers of note

Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga led all tacklers with 10 against his former team . . . linebacker Justin Houston’s two sacks gives him 12 on the season . . . nose tackle Dontari Poe picked up a sack, giving him three on the season . . . Mauga and free safety Husain Abdullah were credited with hits on Michael Vick during the game . . . Cairo Santos kicked off five times, but only two landed in the end zone and one for a touchback. The Chiefs were playing a bit of cat and mouse games against New York returner Percy Harvin, especially after he ripped off a 65-yard return. On those five kickoffs, the starting field position for the Jets offense was the New York 29, 37, 34 and 20-yard lines. On Harvin’s return, it was the Chiefs 43-yard lie . . . the game was played in 2 hours, 47 minutes, one of the fastest games in recent Chiefs seasons.

Finally Back On the Field, Berry Makes Contribution

From Arrowhead Stadium

When he limped to the locker room in Denver on September 14, Eric Berry did not contemplate that his sore ankle would keep him off the field for more than the second half of that game against the Broncos.

Seven weeks later, Berry finally was back on the field of play in the Chiefs 24-10 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday.

It was seven long weeks of rehab on what turned out to be a high ankle sprain that Berry suffered in the second game of the season. Although he did not start against the Jets, he saw plenty of playing time in the nickel and dime defenses field by coordinator Bob Sutton.

“It was fun getting out there with the guys,” Berry said. “We put in a lot of work during the off-season. Seeing them ball out on the field and make plays while I couldn’t be out there to help them, it was tough to watch.”

The situation against the Jets was plain to see; Berry was back at safety in the sub-packages with six and seven defensive backs. But Ron Parker stayed in the starting lineup at safety next to Husain Abdullah. Whether that will continue into the next eight remaining games remains to be.

“As long as I’m doing my part, as long as we’re getting it in, I have no problem,” said Berry. “The coaches came up with a good plan for us and we got a nice secondary, and got a good rotation. We just come in and handle business.

“We got a W today, so that’s all that matters.”

The Chiefs defense got through the game without two contributing defensive backs: nickel/slot corner Chris Owens (knee) and cornerback Jamell Fleming (hamstring). With Fleming out of the starting lineup, rookie Phillip Gaines started at left cornerback. When the Chiefs went to their sub-defenses, Gaines handled the slot cornerback role, with Parker moving to the corner and Berry stepping in at safety.

With Berry back, and Owens and Fleming expected to return in the next week or two, the odd man out appears to be cornerback Marcus Cooper. Once left cornerback starter, Cooper can’t get on the field with the No. 1 defense anymore. After he was replaced in the opening lineup by Fleming, he’s been relegated to special teams performances.

Cooper passed on an opportunity to talk about his situation.

Report Card: Chiefs vs. Jets

From Arrowhead Stadium

PASSING OFFENSE: B+ – There were not a lot of major passing plays in the Chiefs victory over the Jets. The longest completion was 34 yards and there were no other completions of more than 15 yards. Alex Smith was efficient, completing 67.7 percent of his throws (21 of 31) for just 6.4 yards per attempt. Smith had two touchdown passes and was sacked just once.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C – Andy Reid did a good job of sticking with the run game, although that should not have been that tough considering the Chiefs had the lead from the first quarter and were never really challenged by the Jets. Rookie De’Anthony Thomas added a nice factor to the run game, turning in the longest running play of the day on a 26-yard end-around play. But Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis combined for 87 yards on 23 carries. This was not a performance that met previously set Chiefs standards.

PASS DEFENSE: C – The Chiefs allowed the Jets just 196 net passing yards; anything less than 200 yards in the current ways of NFL offenses is considered good defense. They were not able to handle Percy Harvin, who rang up 129 receiving yards on 11 catches, including a 42-yard reception. The pass rush got to Michael Vick three times, but for a total of just 10 lost yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: B – Chris Johnson did not touch the ball until early in the second quarter, and after the way he ran through the Chiefs defense one has to ask why he wasn’t a bigger part of the offense earlier in the game? Johnson showed he still has the speed to outrun just about any defender in the league. The Jets ran a number of wildcat plays and those did not produce much in the way of yards for New York’s offense.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B – Rookie returner De’Anthony Thomas turned in a nice return, bringing a kickoff back 78 yards and setting up the Chiefs third touchdown. But they also gave up a 65-yard kickoff return by Percy Harvin, where kicker Cairo Santos tried to bring him down with a leg tackle more familiar to soccer than American football. Dustin Colquitt spent the game kicking for field position rather than distance, so his numbers were down.

COACHING: B – This matchup featured coaching staffs that knew each other well, and worked the same schemes on offense and defense. Andy Reid and crew did a good job of preparing their units for the type of performance necessary to win the game. Offensively, the Chiefs were conservative because of the defense the Jets put on the field and very windy conditions inside Arrowhead Stadium. Defensively, the Chiefs did a good job keeping Vick surrounded and not running all over the place.

Chiefs Make Fast Start Standup For 24-10 Victory

From Arrowhead Stadium

In the National Football League it’s all about the fourth quarter. That’s where most games are won or lost in these days where any given Sunday has true meaning no matter who is playing who.

But the Chiefs beat the New York Jets in the first quarter Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. They scored two touchdowns in the game’s first 12 minutes and made those points stand up for a 24-10 victory, their third straight winning performance and fifth in their last six games. At their midway point of the season, they are 5-3.

“I think this team has a lot of confidence right now,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “We feel like we’ve been playing good football and taking the right steps in the right direction these last few weeks.”

The post-game stats sheet did not reflect a domination victory for the Chiefs, as the Jets gained more offensive yards and put up similar numbers in first downs, rushing, passing and a lack of turnovers. The game’s offensive star was New York wide receiver Percy Harvin with 11 catches for 129 yards. Starting his first game for the Jets, quarterback Michael Vick posted solid numbers, including a 75 percent completion rate and no interceptions.

“Right now, we’re not making the critical play at the critical time,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “We score and then we have a kick returned against us. We’re just not closing things out and that’s what good teams do.”

The Jets could not overcome that first period when the Chiefs scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Running back Jamaal Charles reached the end zone on a 1-yard run and Smith and tight end Anthony Fasano put together a 2-yard touchdown play that did not look anything like it was drawn up by Andy Reid’s coaching staff.

That 14-0 lead made the remaining three quarters a matter of back and forth with the football, as both teams scored a touchdown and added a field goal. So, it still came back to the first-quarter performance of the Chiefs, where they held the ball for 10 of the period’s 15 minutes, had 11 first downs, 147 offensive yards and total domination of a Jets team that came into the game riding a seven-game losing streak.

“We are always looking to get out there and start fast and make the other guy play from behind,” said center Rodney Hudson. “That makes it easier for the defense, because it forces the other team to throw out their game plan. You don’t win a game in the first quarter, but you can set the tone for the rest of the game.”

That first quarter gave every indication the Chiefs were on their way to a blowout victory. On the first possession, they went 81 yards in 12 plays and in typical Chiefs fashion, chewing up 6 minutes, 22 seconds before Charles scored on a one-yard run behind the blocking of nose tackle Dontari Poe, who entered the game as the fullback in the Chiefs goal-line alignment. The big play in the drive was a 26-yard end-around run by rookie running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas that set up the K.C. offense at the Jets 14-yard line.

With their second possession in the quarter, the Chiefs drove 71 yards on six plays before scoring their most unusual touchdown of the season. On a first-and-goal play at the Jets two-yard line, Smith’s pass was deflected by Jets linebacker Calvin Pace. Lying on the ground after failing on his cut-block attempt was Fasano and he pinned the deflected ball on his hip, pulled it in for a reception and crawled into the end zone without being touched by a Jets defender. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 14-0 lead.

“That was just how we drew it up,” said head coach Andy Reid. “We are starting a new trend in the NFL.”

It was a play that really was a sign of what type of season it’s been for the Jets.

“Getting down is tough,” said quarterback Michael Vick. “When you get down 14-0, you can come back, but everybody has to pull together; it has to be a total team effort . . . we let some opportunities slip away.”

New York finally got something going in the second quarter, producing a 15-play, 81-yard drive that used nearly nine minutes of the period. The score came on a 3-yard pass from Vick to wide receiver Eric Decker and after the PAT kick, the Chiefs lead was 14-7.

But on the ensuing kickoff, Thomas returned the ball 78 yards to the Jets 29-yard line and four plays later Smith connected on a 12-yard scoring pass to tight end Travis Kelce. The Kansas City lead was 21-7 after the PAT kick with 39 seconds left in the first half.

The Jets went to the halftime locker room with a show of life, courtesy of wide receiver-returner Percy Harvin. He returned the kickoff 65 yards and the Jets picked up another 10 yards when Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos was called for tripping; that came on his unsuccessful attempt to tackle Harvin. New York had the ball at the Chiefs 33-yard line, but could not reach the end zone and settled for a 39-yard field goal by Nick Folk on the final play of the first half, making it 21-10.

On its first possession of the second half, Kansas City put three more points on the board with a 19-yard field goal from Santos that capped a methodical 16-play, 75-yard drive that lasted eight minutes. That 24-10 score held up as the final.

“I feel OK about where we are at,” Reid said of his 5-3 Chiefs. “I like the aggressiveness that the team is playing with. We’ve got a ton of room to improve on both sides of the ball and special teams. We’ve got to get better. But I’m proud of them for starting with two losses and then coming back and putting some things together, putting some wins together.”

The Chiefs will take their 5-3 record on the road to Buffalo to play the Bills who are coming off their bye week. The Jets will try to break their losing streak against Pittsburgh.

It’s Chiefs-Jets Pre-Game From Arrowhead

From Arrowhead Stadium

11:40 a.m. CST – It’s less than 30 minutes from kickoff. Join us after the game Sunday evening for complete coverage of the Chiefs hosting the Jets. Enjoy the game!

11:35 a.m. CST – The Jets defense has just three takeaways so far this season (one interception, two fumbles recovered.) That’s the fewest in the league. The second fewest turnovers caused are the five by the Chiefs defense. The Jets are tied for the league lead in most giveaways with 18 in eight games, matching the total of Jacksonville. The Chiefs are tied for the seventh fewest giveaways with just seven in seven games.

11:30 a.m. CST – A lot of chitchat on the field as there are plenty of connections between these two teams, despite the fact they seldom play each other. Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton exchanging pleasantries with Jets linebacker David Harris, and the head coaches enjoyed a rather lengthy conversation at mid-field. The arrival of Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt broke that up.

11:25 a.m. CST – It’s Alumni Day at Arrowhead, as running back Priest Holmes will see his name added to the ring of honor inside the stadium. He’ll be joined by an expected group of over 75 former Chiefs players, including running back Marcus Allen, who is making is first return in years to Arrowhead. Also, former head coach Marty Schottenheimer will be in the house. Some physical problems have made travel difficult for Marty, but he decided he wanted to be here for this event.

11:20 a.m. CST – The Jets made a roster move on Saturday, promoting quarterback Matt Simms from the practice squad. To create a roster spot for Simms, the Jets released wide receiver Chris Owusu.

11:15 a.m. CST – The Chiefs made a roster move Saturday, promoting rookie safety Daniel Sorensen from the practice squad. Sorensen was on the game-day active roster for the season opener against Tennessee, but was released the next week and then signed to the practice squad. To make room for Sorensen, the Chiefs released defensive end Damion Square.

11:10 a.m. CST – There’s a big Eagles reunion going on at mid-field with Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg chatting up at least a half-dozen Chiefs assistant coaches. The group worked together for many seasons in Philadelphia.

11:05 a.m. CST – The National Weather Service forecast for early Sunday afternoon at the Truman Sports Complex calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the low 60s. It’s expected to be a very windy afternoon; it’s certainly a breezy morning, with the wind blowing out of the south-southeast from 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. There is no precipitation in the forecast.

11 a.m. CST – Kicking to the west goal posts, Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos was one of two from 53 yards. His first attempt was short by at least five yards, as the swirling winds kicked up and knocked the ball down. On his second try, Santos kept his kick low and just cleared the cross bar.

10:55 a.m. CST – The Jets have announced that recently acquired wide receiver Percy Harvin will start against the Chiefs, stepping in for Jeremy Kerley. New York will start rookie Marcus Williams on the corner for the inactive starter Darrin Walls.

10:50 a.m. CST – A lot of conversation with kicker Cairo Santos as he goes through his pre-game FG workout under very windy conditions. Santos was good from 53 yards kicking with the wind at his back to the east goal posts. As usually happens with Arrowhead, the wind at the top of the stadium is blowing from the east. Given the way the wind swirls, right now the wind would be at the back of the kicker going both ways. The education of a rookie kicker!

10:45 a.m. CST – It will be interesting to see just what role Eric Berry plays with the defense on his return after five weeks on the sidelines due to a high ankle sprain. Head coach Andy Reid was unwilling to make any sort of statement on Friday about whether he’ll rejoin the starting lineup or play behind Ron Parker.

10:40 a.m. CST – Inactive reax on both teams: no surprises for the Chiefs as they will be light at cornerback with Chris Owens and Jamell Fleming out of the action. Expect Marcus Cooper back in his starting spot at left corner and rookie Phillip Gaines to continue in the slot/nickel corner role for Owens. With the Jets, they have to hope that Michael Vick can stay upright and in the game, because with Geno Smith down, that leaves only Matt Simms available as a backup QB. Just called up from the practice squad, Simms appeared in three games last year for the Jets.

10:35 a.m. CST – Inactive players for the Jets against the Chiefs are quarterback Geno Smith, wide receiver Walter Powell, cornerback Darrin Walls, linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali, offensive lineman Dakota Dozier, offensive lineman Wesley Johnson, nose tackle T.J. Barnes.

10:30 a.m. CST – Inactive players for the Chiefs against the Jets are quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Chris Owens, cornerback Jamell Fleming, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, outside linebacker Josh Martin.

10:25 a.m. CST – Good morning from the Truman Sports Complex where on a chilly Sunday morning the Chiefs are preparing to host the New York Jets in game No. 8 of their schedule. We will update you during the next hour on news items from the field. Coming first in just a few moments will be the game-day inactive players for both teams.

Chiefs Promote Sorensen To Active Roster

The Chiefs made what for them is an unusual Saturday roster move, as they promoted rookie safety Daniel Sorensen from the team’s practice squad.

The move indicates Sorensen will be active for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets. Unless some sort of injury has popped up in the last 24 hours, or safety Eric Berry has suffered another setback trying to return from his high ankle sprain, Sorensen’s promotion is likely tied to the absence of cornerbacks Jamell Fleming and Chris Owens from special teams. Both players have been ruled out of Sunday’s game, as has outside linebacker Josh Martin, the club’s best special teams performer.

Sorensen played in the opener against Tennessee, but was then released and added to the practice squad. The 6-2, 208-pound Sorensen went undrafted this past spring coming out of Brigham Young University.

To make room for Sorensen, the Chiefs released defensive end Damion Square. After being claimed on waivers from Philadelphia in the week before the opener, Square has been on the 53-man active roster for seven games, but was declared a game-day inactive player each week.

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Jets

One team has lost three games, the other seven. Those numbers alone show us who has the edge in the tale of the tape between the Chiefs and New York Jets on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

A position by position look at the two teams lays out the big edge the Chiefs carry into the game. There are only two or three areas of the teams where New York carries an edge when compared to the Chiefs. The rest of the comparisons show a big edge for the Chiefs and indicates on paper what should be a fairly easy victory for Andy Reid’s team: …Read More!

Secondary & Snap Judgments/Post-St. Louis

The Chiefs are seven games into the 2014 season. They are 4-3 and alive in the fight for a spot in the AFC tournament field for January.

But so far they are more than alive when it comes to pass defense. The Chiefs go into their mid-season mark game against the New York Jets as the No. 1 ranked defense in the league against the pass.

They are allowing an average of 195.7 passing yards per game. That’s 15 fewer passing yards per game than the No. 2 ranked pass defense: the New England Patriots at 210.9 yards.

With the injuries that dominated the defense at the start of the 2014 season, the problem area seemed to fall directly on the secondary. There was a new starter at left cornerback in Marcus Cooper and a new starter at free safety with Husain Abdullah. When strong safety Eric Berry went down with an ankle injury in the second game, Ron Parker stepped into the scene and has remained there; he may have been the best defensive back on the field in Sunday’s victory over St. Louis.

Chris Owens came in and earned the nickel/slot coverage role. When Cooper struggled, the Chiefs moved Jamell Fleming into the starting lineup, joined by rookie Phillip Gaines who stepped in for an injured Owens.

There have been a lot of moving parts just at the back of the defense, but they’ve pulled together fairly quickly, faster that even the perpetually positive Andy Reid could have imagined. …Read More!

REPORT CARD: Highest Grades Of The Season For K.C.

From Arrowhead Stadium

PASSING OFFENSE:  A – It was a very good performance for the Chiefs offense throwing against the St. Louis defense. Quarterback Alex Smith was on fire, completing 85.7 percent of his passes and averaging 8.1 yards on his 28 passing attempts. Smith had no interceptions, was sacked twice and he did a good job of distributing the ball, connecting with eight different receivers.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B – The Chiefs did not have great individual productivity in the run game against St. Louis. The only thing that came close was a 36-yard touchdown run in the second half by Jamaal Charles that was part of a 73-yard game on 13 carries for the man that’s their offensive engine. That was the team’s longest scoring run of the season and the longest run of any kind for Charles in 2014.

PASS DEFENSE: A – The Chiefs defense took advantage of inexperienced Rams quarterback Austin Davis, along with an injury situation on the offensive line that did not allow for continuity in pass protection. In the first St. Louis possession, Davis hit a 43-yard gain to wide receiver Kenny Britt. After that play, Davis was 14 of 23 for only 117 yards. The K.C. defense gave him no room to breathe.

RUSH DEFENSE: B – The way the game unfolded, St. Louis did not have many opportunities in the second half to keep working on its running game. The young backs trio of Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason showed promise and hit a couple of nice runs, but overall the Kansas City defense stifled the Rams runners.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A – Until Sunday, the kicking game struggled to make a contribution for the 2014 Chiefs. They expected big plays on a weekly basis because that was something they did last year. But the trickle-down effect from the team’s early injury situation this year shuffled the cards for the special teams and they are only now producing consistent effort in the kicking game. Against the Rams, the Chiefs produced a kickoff return touchdown from Knile Davis and rookie kicker Cairo Santos produced a 53-yard field goal.

COACHING: A – Week-by-week, the profile of this team is being established by the play-calling and actions of head coach Andy Reid and his coaching staff. The offense has shown success when Reid splits the opportunities 50-50 between run and pass. Defensively, the Chiefs are transitioning away from all press man-to-man coverage to more off-coverage and zones. It’s helped limit the big plays against them. This team started 0-2 and was hampered by injuries. They’ve now gone 4-1 in the last five games as injury replacements have been blended into the effort.

Houston On Pace For Record Season, Big Contract

From Arrowhead Stadium

Every time Justin Houston grabs an opposing quarterback for a sack these days, one can almost hear the cha-ching of a cash register in the distance.

Houston’s three sacks led the Chiefs to a 34-7 victory over St. Louis. Overall, the Chiefs took Rams quarterback Austin Davis down seven times. That’s the best pass rush performance by the Chiefs since October of last year when they dropped Terrelle Pryor nine times in a victory at Arrowhead Stadium.

Those three sacks now give Houston 10 on the season. That’s halfway to the franchise record of 20 sacks by Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1990. It’s also where he was last season after seven games. Injuries knocked him out of most of the second half of the 2013 schedule and he had just 11 sacks when it was all said and done.

That he’s back at that number with a chance for more if he stays healthy comes at a very good time for Houston. His contract expires at the end of the 2014 season, and he could become an unrestricted free agent. He could also become the Chiefs franchise player, a move that would hold him out of free agency and under contract for another season.

Either way, Houston will become a very rich man, and those dollars continue to go up with each moment he lifts himself off an opposing quarterback and adds another notch to his pass rusher belt.

He now has 36.5 sacks in 50 games and that total has him already ranked No. 9 on the Chiefs list of career sackers. With his sack hat trick against St. Louis, he passed Wilbur Young (35). If he stays healthy, just ahead of him and reachable by the end of the 2014 season are Bill Maas (40), Jared Allen (43) and Eric Hicks (44.5).

However, the most reachable number for Houston is D.T.’s single season record with 20 sacks. After seven games in 1990, Thomas had seven sacks.

“I’ll worry about at the end of the season,” said Houston. “Right now I’m taking it one game at a time. My goal is to get as many sacks as I can every game. That’s my job. Every time I can put pressure on the quarterback, that’s a plus.”

The efforts of Houston and the rest of the Chiefs pass rushers were helped along by a series of injuries along the Rams offensive line that left the group in tatters by the fourth quarter. Here’s how it broke down:

  • Left tackle – Jake Long started, but left in the third quarter with rookie left guard Greg Robinson moving over one spot.
  • Left guard – When Robinson went to tackle, Mike Person came in to play at left guard.
  • Center – Scott Wells went down with an elbow injury in the second half and No. 1 backup Tim Barnes was listed as inactive because of an injury. That brought Barrett Robbins off the bench to play the position.
  • Right guard – Rodger Safford started but went down in the first half with a shoulder injury. Davin Joseph came in to fill that spot.
  • Right tackle – Joseph Barksdale started and finished the game.

With eight blockers active, there was nowhere else to go for the Rams if they suffered any more injuries. But Houston says he didn’t pay much attention to the revolving door around the St. Louis offensive line.

“I just focus on me and what I can do,” said Houston. “I get the call in from the coach and then I just zone in on the tackle. I spend time in the film room studying the tackle’s weaknesses and then I try to use them against him.”

Most Sacks By Chiefs Player In First 7 Games Of A Season

#

Player

Season

Sacks

Final Total

1.

Justin Houston

2014

10

?

Justin Houston

2013

10

11

3.

Tamba Hali

2013

9

11

4.

Mike Bell

1984

8.5

13.5

Neil Smith

1992

8.5

14.5

 

 


Santos Hits Big FG, Learns The Arrowhead Winds

From Arrowhead Stadium

Cairo Santos learned how to kick field goals in St. Augustine, Florida. He played college ball kicking at Tulane University, where he played home games inside the Superdome.

Through the first six games of his rookie NFL season, Santos had seen near perfect weather conditions at Arrowhead Stadium and in Denver, Miami, San Francisco and San Diego.

But in the seventh game on the schedule Santos saw the winds of Arrowhead Stadium. Mother Nature’s breath was coming from the south-southeast. On Sunday, Santos learned about the Arrowhead winds, but he was able to overcome them and showed his moxie by hitting a career-long 53-yard field goal into the wind on Sunday in the victory over the St. Louis Rams.

“It was the windiest day I’ve kicked in, ever, college or anywhere else,” said Santos.

The rookie from Brazil handled it all without a problem. He made his field goal attempts of 28 and 53 yards, along with seven kickoffs, including four that went for touchbacks and one that he knocked into the Arrowhead stands on the fly.

“Even though it’s windy you can’t over-think it,” said Santos. “You just have to hit it solid and trust your kick.”

Santos earned trust in his kicks during his pre-game kicking session. That’s where he got his first taste of the swirling winds of Arrowhead. Whatever direction the wind is directing the flags at the top of the west end of the stadium, on the field it’s going in the opposite direction.

Sunday, the winds were out of the south-southeast, blowing at a steady 10 miles per hour with gusts up to 20 mph. But on the Arrowhead playing surface, the wind was actually blowing across the field from west to east.

So when Santos went on the field to try a 53-yard field goal towards the west goal posts, he was actually kicking into the wind.

“It really wasn’t affecting the ball too much,” said Santos. “It might affect you mentally if you let it get to you. In warm-ups you hit a lot of balls to see what it’s doing. All day it wasn’t moving the ball too much, so you just have to trust it.”

During his warm-up session, Santos had problems on several long FGs attempted to the east goal posts, or with the wind at his back. But going west, he hit a field goal from the exact spot where he was faced with the 53-yard attempt in the second quarter.

“The ball stayed straight,” Santos said of his kick. “The crowd let me know better because I couldn’t really tell how far it was going to go. As soon as it came off my foot they started cheering, so I thought ‘OK, it must be good.’ That’s when I saw it hit the net and knew it was good.”

After starting two of four on field goals, Santos has now made eight straight field goals, including five of six FGs longer than 40 yards.

“It’s good to gain more confidence when you start making those long ones, the pressure kicks,” said Santos. “You gain more confidence and feel more comfortable. That translated to touchbacks today as well.”

Santos had seven kickoffs, and the last four were touchbacks that had no chance of being returned. In the first three kicks, he kicked just once into the end zone, but the Rams had starting field position on the other three of the 35, 20 and 13-yard line.

Alex Smith Turns In another Top Effort

From Arrowhead Stadium

Yes, the Chiefs have not had a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass so far in the 2014 season. The longest pass play of the season for Andy Reid’s passing offense stands at 33 yards.

So while there’s not been much in the way of explosive production, the Chiefs passing game gets better each week, providing the K.C. offense with efficiency and solid plays. The 34-7 victory on Sunday over St. Louis was another example of the profile that’s developed with Reid and quarterback Alex Smith.

They are throwing the ball less, but making more things happen and it all starts Smith at the trigger position. Against the Rams, the Chiefs did not have a pass completion of more than 30 yards. They did not have a touchdown pass in the game, and now for seven games the team’s wide receivers have not caught a pass for a score.

But Smith has been very efficient:

  • Completion percentage – Smith hit 24 of 28 passing attempts, or 85.7 percent of his throws. That’s the best one-game completion percentage in Chiefs history.
  • Interceptions – Smith did not throw an interception among his 28 passing attempts, and he’s thrown only one interception in the last six games.
  • Spreading the wealth – There were nine players targeted on passing attempts and there were eight receivers that caught at least one pass. That’s nine out of 13 possible receivers that were active for Sunday’s game. Over the season, 14 different players have caught at least one pass
  • Third-down efficiency throwing the ball – He was eight of 11 on third down throws for 131 yards. Six of those completions moved the sticks.

“There was a little play there to Knile (Davis) that came up short and that early third down to (Travis) Kelce was very close to coming up there (for a completion),” said Smith in talking about his 24-of-28 performance. “There’s still room for improvement . . . but yeah as far as completions we were pretty efficient.”

As he did late in the victory over San Diego last week, Smith used his arm, feet and mind to assure another victory. The moment came in the middle of the third quarter, when the Chiefs offense faced a third-and 13 play at their own 22-yard line. They led 17-7 at the time, but the game’s outcome remained in question. Turning the ball over on a fourth-quarter punt would have given the Rams very good field position.

Feeling pressure from the St. Louis pass rush, Smith got out of the pocket and took off running. Despite the fact he needed 13 yards for a first down, he thought it was a good opportunity to run and he looked like a genius when he picked up 15 yards with his legs before sliding to a halt. Then, he got 15 more yards when St. Louis rookie cornerback E.J. Gaines was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for supposedly striking Smith in the head with his helmeted head.

“The percentages are down any time you have a position like that,” Smith said of third-and-13. “You have a chance to convert. I was able to use my legs and got some good blocks down field and was able to keep that drive going.”

It was a 30-yard play that pulled the Chiefs into St. Louis territory at the 48-yard line with a first down. They moved the ball all the way down to the Rams 10, but had to settle for a 28-yard field goal from Cairo Santos. And, they used up another three minutes on the third quarter clock while adding three points to their total.

With the running game providing balance, the Chiefs offense is not in danger of setting record other than winning games. The guy that makes that happen is Alex Smith.

“Any time you have balance those guys aren’t able to pin their ears back and go,” said Smith, who was sacked on back-to-back plays near the end of the second quarter and none afterwards. “You are going to help yourself as far as the pass rush goes.”

Chiefs Highest Completion Percentage for a Game (minimum 20 attempts)

#

%

Quarterback Opponent

Cmp

Att

Date

Result

1.

85.71

Alex Smith St. Louis

24

28

October 26, 2014 W 34-7

2.

85.00

Alex Smith @ Oakland

17

20

December 15, 2013 W 56-31

3.

82.61

Brady Quinn Carolina

19

23

December 2, 2012 W 27-21

4t.

80.95

Trent Green Denver

17

21

December 16, 2001 W 26-23

80.95

Dave Krieg @ N.Y. Jets

17

21

November 29, 1992 W 23-7

6.

80.77

Trent Green @ Washington

21

26

September 30, 2001 W 45-13

7.

80.00

Trent Green Detroit

20

25

December 14, 2003 W 45-17

8.

79.41

Trent Green Indianapolis

27

34

October 31, 2004 W 45-35

9.

79.31

Trent Green Cincinnati

23

29

January 1, 2006 W 37-3

10.

79.17

Len Dawson @ Pittsburgh

19

24

November 15, 1970 W 31-14

Pre-Game Notes: Chiefs-Rams From Arrowhead

From Arrowhead Stadium

11:35 a.m. CDT – It’s now less than 30 minutes from kickoff between the Chiefs and Rams. Our post-game coverage will go down late Sunday afternoon and all Sunday evening with information on every angle of his game. Enjoy!

11:33 a.m. CDT – This will be the 45th Governor’s Cup game between the Chiefs and either the St. Louis Cardinals or Rams. That includes all games played in the pre-season and regular season; they’ve not met in the post-season. The Chiefs hold a 26-16-2 record overall, going 7-1-1 in the regular season and 19-15-1 in the pre-season.

11:30 a.m. CDT – One other factor to be considered with the weather conditions – it will be a high-sky today, with very bright sunshine. The way Arrowhead is situated on an east-west axis, limits the chances that any player trying to find the ball will deal with sun in their eyes. However, remember that the Rams play indoors and do not have to deal with the type of lighting conditions they’ll face today. It’s just something else to consider.

11:25 a.m. CDT – Rams head coach Jeff Fisher steps in and breaks up a conversation between Andy Reid and Clark Hunt at mid-field. Only another head coach with the tenure of a Jeff Fisher could pull that off. It would have been interesting to hear any exchange between Fisher and Hunt. Back in 2011, after the Chiefs fired Todd Haley, Fisher went to Dallas for what was supposed to be a day-long interview with the Hunts, along with then G.M. Scott Pioli. The session ended up lasting less than 60 minutes, as Fisher called a halt when he did not like the non-answers he was hearing from the Chiefs. Ultimately, the Chiefs kept Romeo Crennel as head coach.

11:20 a.m. CDT – The National Weather Service forecast for early Sunday afternoon calls for sunny, windy and hot conditions, with a high near 85 degrees. Winds will blow from the south-southeast 10 miles per hour, increasing as the afternoon goes on to between 15 and 18 miles per hour, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Right now it’s 65 degrees. …Read More!

Chiefs Host Rams With Chance To Gain Momentum

The demanding six-game opening to the Chiefs 2014 schedule is now behind them. They went 3-3 record, after an ugly 0-2 start.

On Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium, stage two of the schedule begins with a visit from the St. Louis Rams. Kickoff comes just a few moments after 12 noon. FOX provides the television coverage.

This next stage of the season covers five games and at this time four appear very winnable for the Chiefs. The opponents will be St. Louis (2-4), the New York Jets (1-6), Buffalo (4-3), Seattle (3-3) and Oakland (0-6). The recent stumbles of the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks may make Andy Reid’s team a favorite to win all the games.

It’s a five-week stretch that will set up the last part of the season and determine whether the Chiefs make a run to a spot in the playoffs or suffer through a non-descript season where January will be spent at home and not on the field.

Other than its .500 record, the ups and downs of the first six games have helped burnish the character of the 2014 Chiefs. There’s a resilient nature visible from Andy Reid’s team. They had a chance to win five of their first games but lost by seven at Denver and five points at San Francisco in moments where they were unable to execute like a winning team. That was not the case with the 23-20 victory over San Diego last Sunday.

“We were a couple plays away from being 4-1,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “We understood that we didn’t make the plays (to win). ” …Read More!

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Rams

In the last three seasons the Chiefs and Rams have produced victories and defeats in almost matching numbers:

  • Kansas City – 16-23, .410 winning percentage.
  • St. Louis – 16-21-1, .434 winning percentage.

The Chiefs have an extra game in the equation because of their appearance in the first round of the 2013 AFC playoffs. It’s been nine years since the Rams were in the post-season tournament.

Still, there is a real difference between the clubs as they get ready to face off on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs have been trending up, while the Rams have been headed in the other direction, especially this season with its 2-4 record. Injuries have caused problems for St. Louis, but nobody with the Chiefs is providing any sympathy given the problems they’ve had with injuries.

Even with the Rams recent victory over Seattle fresh in everyone’s mind, there’s no doubt that on paper, the Chiefs have the edge in talent for this meeting. The key for Andy Reid and his team is to make sure what’s on paper comes alive on the field.

Here’s the tale of the tape in 11 key positions and areas between the teams: …Read More!

Next Opponent – St. Louis Rams

Game – No. 7.

Opponentthe St. Louis Rams.

2014 record – the Rams are 2-4, winners of their last game, beating Seattle 28-26 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis last Sunday. They lost the season opener to Minnesota, 34-6. But they’ve scored 2-point victories over Tampa Bay and Seattle. Along with losing to the Vikings, the Rams have fallen to Dallas by 3 points, Philadelphia by 6 points and San Francisco by 14 points.

They are minus-47 in point differential (129 scored, 176 given up), minus-3 in turnover ratio (10 giveaways, 7 takeaways) and minus-12 in sack ratio (16 allowed, 4 on defense.) Overall in offensive yards they rank #13 in the league, #18 in the running game and #11 in passing yardage. In yards allowed on defense they are #23 overall, #28 against the run and #14 against the pass. …Read More!

Finally, Relief At Quarterback For Chiefs Defense

Super Bowl winner Peyton Manning one week, multiple Super Bowl champion Tom Brady pops up a few weeks later. It’s Super Bowl starter Colin Kaepernick and Philip Rivers in consecutive games. The Chiefs have opened the season against some of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League and beaten two of them – Brady and Rivers.

The quarterback cycle for the Chiefs defense turns in a different direction starting Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium when they host the St. Louis Rams.

Coming up first is second-year, non-drafted Rams starter Austin Davis (left), followed by the Jets struggling second year starter Geno Smith. There’s a trip to Buffalo to face the Bills and journeyman Kyle Orton. Seattle visits Arrowhead with Russell Wilson leading the Seahawks before the Chiefs head to Oakland and face the Raiders with their rookie starter Derek Carr.

Last year, the Chiefs started their season winning nine consecutive games with most of those coming against inexperienced and marginal quarterbacks. When they faced quarterbacks like Manning, Rivers and Andrew Luck in six of the season’s last eight games, they were 2-6 and done after losing a first-round game in the playoffs. …Read More!

Chiefs Lose Practice Squad Linebacker To Tampa Bay

From the Truman Sports Complex

Linebacker Orie Lemon stay the Chiefs practice squad lasted less than a week, as he signed on Wednesday to a spot on the 53-man roster with Tampa Bay.

It’s the second practice squad linebacker to leave for a spot on the active roster of another NFL team. Nico Johnson moved on last week to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Chiefs announced they signed linebacker Darin Drakeford to fill the practice squad spot previously held by Lemon. The 6-1, 240-pound product of the University of Maryland, Drakeford signed with the Chiefs last year as an undrafted rookie free agent, spending the 2013 pre-season with the club and registering six total tackles and a forced fumble. He was released in the final roster cut before the 2013 opener and signed to the Chiefs practice squad where he spent four games.

Since then he’s spent time with the New York Giants, Indianapolis and Atlanta.

Report Card: Chiefs Put Up Nice Grades In San Diego

PASSING OFFENSE:
B – The wide receiver position finally showed itself in the Chiefs offensive performance in San Diego when Dwayne Bowe caught five passes for 84 yards. Quarterback Alex Smith had a very good day, completing nearly 68 percent of his passes for an average of 7.9 yards per attempt. The pass protection was spotty, allowing three sacks in 31 pass plays. That’s too much pressure on the QB.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A – As the Chiefs offensive play-caller, Andy Reid came out of the locker room for the first half determined to get his running game moving. There’s no better person to make that happen than Jamaal Charles and he ran for 95 tough yards on 22 carries, including a record-setting 16-yard touchdown run that lifted him to the status as the Chiefs all-time leading rusher.

PASS DEFENSE: B– Bob Sutton’s defense kept San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers guessing all afternoon by backing off their normal dose of press coverage and playing more zone than they have at any point this season. Rivers did throw two touchdown passes, but the Chiefs got to him for two sacks and an interception to end the game.

RUSH DEFENSE: B – San Diego rookie sensation Branden Oliver came into the game as one of the most productive young running backs in the league over the first six weeks. But the Darren Sproles-clone was unable to cut loose against the Chiefs defense. Oliver finished with 67 yards on 15 carries and otherwise the Chargers ground game was not a factor in the outcome.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B – Rookie kicker Cairo Santos finally got a chance to show the NFL what the Chiefs saw during the pre-season when he beat out incumbent Ryan Succop for the kicking job. Santos hit a career-long 48 yard field goal for the winning points along with two other FGs and he’s now hit six in a row.

COACHING: A – With an extra week to prepare for a division rival, Reid and his staff put together solid game plans on both offense and defense. The plot was a ball-control offense paired with a defense that schemed to eliminate big plays from Rivers and the San Diego offense. The players followed the script and lifted the Chiefs to a 3-3 record on the season.

4 Keys To A Chiefs Victory/Recap

        

Four

Keep a handle on Chargers tight end Antonio Gates in the red zone

The 34-year old Gates is in his 12th season and remains a factor in the San Diego passing game. He’s been very successful against the Chiefs over the first 11 seasons; the K.C. defense has been his favorite end-zone target, with 14 touchdown catches. In those scoring plays against the Chiefs, 10 came in San Diego victories. This season, Gates has 24 catches and 25 percent of those went for touchdowns (6). With the exception of a 21-yard scoring play, his TD plays have all come inside the opponent’s 20-yard line – from the 12, 8, 8, 8 and one-yard lines. With both Eric Berry and Chris Owens out of the game, the Chiefs depth in the secondary is going to be severely tested. Backup safeties Kurt Coleman, Kelcie McCray and Jamell Fleming are going to be very important in this game to provide help for starters Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker. Keeping Gates out of the end zone would significantly improve the Chiefs chances for a victory.

OUTCOME – The Chiefs did not quite get this done, as they gave up a touchdown to the Chargers tight end and overall he caught three passes for 67 yards and that 27-yard touchdown play. Give this a PUSH.

Three

They need points from the kicking game

Five games into the season and the Chiefs do not have anything on the scoreboard from their special teams, either on a punt or kickoff return, or a blocked punt or field goal returned for a touchdown. That needs to change over the final 11 games; the kicking game production from last season spoiled the Chiefs, but it also established what’s possible from this group. Knile Davis needs a kick return longer than 34 yards. Rookie De’Anthony Thomas has only gotten two punts in his hands, with his longest return 28 yards. San Diego does a good job in punt and kick coverage, not allowing any scores and keeping opponents to a long return of 38 yards. The K.C. kicking game needs to help by keeping the Chargers off the special teams scoreboard, but they needs to add points for the Chiefs.

OUTCOME – While Cairo Santos did a nice job with his three field goals, including the game winner from 48 yards, the special teams were not able to do anything more about putting points on the team’s scoreboard. FAILED

Two

Put the clamps on the San Diego running game

The Chargers run game is limping around these days and will not have Ryan Mathews and Donald Brown at their disposal because of injury. That leaves rookie Branden Oliver as the key runner. He was undrafted coming out of the University of Buffalo, but the small back (5-8) already has 57 carries for an average of 4.4 yards per run. Oliver has also had a 52-yard run, and that’s longer than any gain by the Chiefs run game this season. The only help for San Diego is journeymen Shaun Draughn and Ronnie Brown. Even though quarterback Philip Rivers is throwing the ball consistently and with production, making the Chargers offense one-dimensional will only help the Chiefs chances to getting to the passer.

OUTCOME – The Chiefs defense was very successful in this category, limiting the Chargers to just 69 yards on 15 carries. Of course, it helped matters that Ryan Mathews and Donald Brown were both inactive because of injuries. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

One

Cut Jamaal Charles loose; minimum of 25 touches

With the bye week and limited touches in the game before the Chiefs vacation, Jamaal Charles should be feeling better than he has since suffering a foot injury moving out of the dorms at the end of training camp. It’s time for Andy Reid to put the ball in the hands of his best player. In 13 quarters of action, Charles has 51 touches, 42 carries and nine pass receptions. That’s four touches per quarter and there’s no way those are enough opportunities for an offensive talent with his history. If Reid has been protecting Charles because of injuries, then so be it. Charles says he’s healthy. It’s time for him to show that, and time for Reid to give him that chance, especially in the passing game where he’s caught nine passes. San Diego is allowing 4.7 yards per carry this season; the Chiefs need to drive that number higher with Jamaal Charles.

OUTCOME – Charles needed 25 touches; he got 24. While he was not enough of a factor in the passing game, he spearheaded a run game that really allowed the Chiefs to play the style of football that best suits them. Andy Reid stayed with Charles and it produced 95 yards on those 22 carries MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Chargers/Recap

The Chiefs were a step behind based on the pre-game edge in these all important categories. But they made up for that with their actual play on the field where they turned the tables on San Diego in six key areas and were able to pull off a 23-20 road victory in the AFC West.

Here’s the look on the tale of the tape:

Position

Edge

Outcome

Reasons

 

Quarterback

Going into the game, San Diego’s Philip Rivers was the hottest quarterback in the league. Coming out of Sunday’s action, not so much. The most productive quarterback on the field was Alex Smith as he posted Rivers-like number completing 67.9 percent of his throws for an average of 7.9 yards per attempt.

Running back

Jamaal Charles was the best offensive player on the field Sunday as he got back into the running grove and set the franchise record for rushing yards along the way. Knile Davis was not nearly as successful, averaging 2.5 yards per carry. SD rookie Branden Oliver was impressive with 67 yards on 15 carries.

Tight end

Antonio Gates was the best tight end on the field Sunday, something that’s not unusual when he’s facing the Chiefs. He caught only three passes, but they went for 61 yards and a nice 27-yard touchdown play. Travis Kelce caught all four passes thrown his way for 33 yards, but that was it from the K.C. tight ends.

Wide receiver

The Chiefs kept wide receivers Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal bottled up all day; they had 10 catches for 128 yards. But Dwayne Bowe had a breakthrough game, catching five passes for 84 yards or 16.8 yards per catch. It was easily the best game of his season.

Offensive line

This head-to-head matchup was really a push, because while the Chiefs got the job done more often in the running game, the Chargers were better in providing pass protection for Rivers.

Defensive line

This was another area where the difference between the units was slim. The Chargers group had more pressure on Smith, with defensive tackle Corey Liuget grabbing a sack and six total tackles. Chiefs defensive linemen did not have a sack and were credited with just three total tackles.

Linebackers

Tamba Hali and Justin Houston did their jobs when it came to the pass rush, as they got after Rivers and each knocked him down once. Hali forced a fumble on his sack, but the Chargers were able to recover the ball. Josh Mauga was all over the field for the Chiefs, against the run and in pass coverage.

Secondary

The best defensive back on the field Sunday was Chargers safety Eric Weddle, who finished with 10 tackles on defense and two more in the kicking game. Everyone else had their struggles, particularly the San Diego cornerbacks that played without Brandon Flowers and Jason Verritt.

Special teams

The Chiefs were solid across the board in the kicking game, all though they were not able to plug in any big plays to help the cause. But with rookie kicker Cairo Santos hitting 3-of-3, including the 48-yard game winner, the edge goes to K.C.

Coaching

Give a lot of credit to defensive coordinator Bob Sutton for pulling his secondary out of its normal man-to-man coverage and used more zone schemes. Play caller Andy Reid kept dialing up plays for the Chiefs running game and did a good job of keeping the offensive scheme balanced.

Intangibles

The Chargers may have been guilty of looking ahead to their Thursday night game against the Broncos in Denver. Give Andy Reid credit for making his team believe in what they were able to do on the road in such a difficult environment.

Statement Made With 23-20 Victory Over Bolts

With two weeks to prepare the Chiefs did something on Sunday in San Diego that does not happen often – they won.

When rookie kicker Cairo Santos made a 48-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play giving the Chiefs a 23-20 victory, Kansas City’s favorite football team had its first victory in seven years in San Diego and only their third in this century.

It was a performance where all three parts of the Chiefs game made big contributions. The offense did not give the ball away and kept the San Diego offense on the sidelines. The defense gave the Chargers very few opportunities when they did stay on the field and the special teams provided three field goals from Santos, including that game winner.

Now 3-3 on the season, the Chiefs have two straight home games coming up against St. Louis and then the New York Jets.

Here’s our coverage:

Santos Makes His First Game-Winner For Chiefs

There are very few kickers in the NFL that can buy, rather than rent. Few ever attain a status where they can be assured of future employment.

One kick does not lift Chiefs rookie Cairo Santos to a position where he can think about planting roots.

But his game-winning 48-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play gave the Chiefs a 23-20 victory over the Chargers and may finally allow Santos to buy green bananas and think about a lease until the end of the Chiefs season.

After starting his season making just two of four field goal attempts, Santos has not missed on his last six kicks, including making field goals of 28, 40 and 48 yards against the Chargers. He’s now eight of 10 on the season, or an 80 percent success rate.

That’s about average for a kicker in today’s NFL, but it’s certainly a huge improvement from his 50 percent rate to start the season. Plus, he made the most important kick of his young career.

“Listen, the kid won the job,” head coach Andy Reid said of the competition between Santos and Ryan Succop. “I felt like he was going to make it. He’s made the opportunities he’s had during the last couple of games. He was due for an opportunity like this. He stepped up and did a heck of a job.”

It was the best performance of Santos six-game NFL career, not only on field goals, but handling kickoffs as well. He had six kickoffs and three were touchbacks and the three that were returned brought just 58 yards in returns. After those six kicks, the Chargers began possessions at the San Diego 20, 18, 20, 20, 17 and 20-yard line.

Santos first field goal came in the second quarter from 28 yards away and gave the Chiefs a 10-7 lead. FG No. 2 came in the third quarter from 40 yards and pulled the Chiefs within one point, trailing 14-13.

When the Chargers tied the game with just under two minutes to play, Santos and the rest of the kicking unit were plotting what could be coming up next.

“I was talking with Thomas and Dustin and we talked about it coming down to a situation like that,” Santos said. “We said a prayer and that meant a lot to me. It calmed me down and showed how powerful that stuff can be.

“It put me in a good mindset and I just went out and did what we do in practice. I just calmed down and trusted the process. That’s all that was running through my mind.”

Santos said he barely noticed when San Diego head coach Mike McCoy tried to ice him by calling timeout. The move came down before Santos had begun his final movements to kick the ball, so it was not a herky-jerky moment. “We kind of expected that to happen,” Santos said.

Finally the time came and the snap was true from Gafford and the hold was perfect by Colquitt. The kick started out to the right and for awhile appeared to be headed to the right side of the upright.

But then the kick straightened and easily made it past the right upright for the field goal that won the game.

“I was pretty confident now that I’ve had a couple of kicks in a row and that helps the confidence,” said Santos. “It started right but I felt like I had a good kick that would come back a little bit. It did.”

There were more than a few Chiefs veterans on the sideline remembering the final game of the 2013 regular season in the very same Qualcomm Stadium. The Kansas City situation for the playoffs was set that day, so Reid played his backups and they almost pulled off an upset of the Chargers starters. It was in that game that Succop missed a 41-yard field goal with four seconds to play that would have given the Chiefs the victory and knocked San Diego out of the picture for the playoffs.

“A lot of guys tell me that’s why I’m here, because of that kick,” said Santos. “I remember watching that game last year; I had no idea I’d have the chance to be with the Chiefs. I’m glad I could help this time.”

Column: Biggest Chiefs Victory In A Decade Or More

Consider the ramifications of the Chiefs victory Sunday afternoon over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium:

  • The winning effort lifted them to a 3-3 record; not bad for a team that started the season 0-2.
  • By beating the Chargers, the Chiefs assured themselves that the Bolts were not going to run off and hide with first place in the AFC West.
  • It was the Chiefs first victory in San Diego since 2007 and only the second victory there since and including the 2003 season.

However, more than anything else, the significance of the 23-20 winning performance was this: for the first time in over a decade they won a road game against a divisional opponent with a winning record.

“It was amazing out there today,” said running back Jamaal Charles. “Everybody got to see how it’s supposed to be out here.”

I dare you to remember the last time the Chiefs won a road game in the AFC West against a team that had a winning record and a spot in the playoffs at the end of the season. Go ahead . . . I’ll give you a couple of minutes to consider Chiefs history . . . cue the game-show music.

How about the 2007 season, when they beat the Chargers and San Diego went on to post an 11-5 record and made the playoffs. Before that, it was the 2000 season when they beat the Broncos in a season where Denver finished 11-5 and in the playoffs. In both of those seasons, the Chiefs did not make the post-season tournament, proof again that there are no guarantees when talking about team achievements and earning a ticket to games in January.

But, here are the simple facts of the matter – winning in the division and winning on the road are the mile post markers that separate the paths of contenders and pretenders. By keeping San Diego’s offense off the field and overcoming some of their own mistakes, the Chiefs established their credentials for the 2014 season.

Andy Reid’s team is not to be trifled with, not after the physical, mental and emotional performance they displayed against the Chargers. If Reid and his staff stay in their team’s profile with the game plans, they will challenge for victory in every one of their 10 remaining games, whether played at Arrowhead Stadium or on the road.

That script was very evident in San Diego. Offensively, they established their run game quickly and stuck with it riding the rested legs of Charles. He carried 14 times in the first half, and his last two runs went for zero and minus-three yards. If ever there seemed to be a point where Reid might abandon Charles and the run game it was coming back out of half-time. But the first two play calls of the third quarter went to Charles, for six and then 10 yards.

The Chiefs are an offense where success comes from the run, setting up the pass. A lot of folks that believe the game of football has been changed over the last few years of more emphasis on passing simply refuse to face facts. It’s a different formula for each team but there’s no doubt that Reid’s team can’t win if they don’t run the ball.

And to successfully run the ball, a head coach and play caller have to maintain their patience. Seldom is a successful run game built on first half carries that produce big yardage. It’s the cumulative effect, the pounding that can be administered to the defense, where two or three-yard gains, become five or six-yard gains and then runners start cracking off longer runs. That attitude makes for more proficient and productive passing games as well.

Defensively, the Chiefs had a very different look in coverage against San Diego. There was a new starter at left cornerback with Jamell Fleming replacing Marcus Cooper. At strong safety, Ron Parker started again for the injured Eric Berry. In the slot, rookie Phillip Gaines was the man that replaced the injured Chris Owens.

Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton had his team in more zone pass coverages than they’ve shown all season. They played very little press man-coverage at the line of scrimmage. This move worked out quite well. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed just 54.8 percent of his passes for an average per attempt of 6.6 yards. Wide receivers Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal were non-factors in the San Diego offense. It’s an approach that should not go away.

Right now the schedule turns for the Chiefs. They’ve played four of their six games on the road, going 2-2 but with a big division road victory over the Chargers. In their 10 remaining games they will play six at Arrowhead, including visits by all three division foes. They dug themselves a hole to start the season, and they’ve now filled it in and are back to base. There is so much now available to them in the division and conference. Denver is the only team in the AFC with just one loss. There are four teams with five victories and the Chiefs have beaten two of them: San Diego and New England.

This victory was the most impressive performance the Chiefs have had under Andy Reid and his coaching staff. Or Romeo Crennel before him, or Todd Haley, or Herm Edwards, and possibly even Dick Vermeil; this was a statement to everyone, themselves and the rest of the league just what was the makeup of the 2014 Chiefs.

“This was an opportunity for us to show what we were made of, show the country,” said quarterback Alex Smith.

Chiefs Little Guy Becomes Big Man In 23-20 Victory

It was a typical AFC West nail biter Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Chiefs chances for a rare victory in southern California eventually came down to their little big man from Brazil.

Rookie kicker Cairo Santos’ 48-yard field goal with 21 seconds to play gave the Chiefs a 23-20 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

It was a huge division victory on the road for the Chiefs, evened their 2014 record at 3-3, earned their first victory in San Diego since 2007 and ended a five-game winning streak for the Chargers.

“We took it on as a challenge,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “We understood coming into this game that we were a couple plays away from being 4-1. We understood that we didn’t make the plays and this was an opportunity for us to show what we were made of, show the country.”

The winning field goal came after the Chargers had tied the game just inside two minutes to play on their own 48-yard field goal from Nick Novak. Considering the fourth quarter prowess they showed over the season’s first six games, San Diego seemed set for another late victory before heading to their Thursday night game against the Broncos in Denver.

“It was not good enough situationally as a football team,” said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy. “Third down on both sides – offensively and defensively – was poor overall. We couldn’t sustain drives and couldn’t stop drives.  We’ve got to play better football.”

In the end they could not overcome the Chiefs efforts on offense and defense. Alex Smith and his offensive mates dominated the football, holding it for 39 minutes, an advantage of 18 minutes. Smith threw a touchdown pass and did not turn the ball over. Running back Jamaal Charles had a big day, running for 95 yards including a touchdown scamper where he became the leading runner in franchise history.

But the star of this game and the catalyst for the victory came from the Chiefs play on defense. With the Chargers getting limited opportunities with the ball, coordinator Bob Sutton’s defensive group made sure San Diego had trouble stringing together successful plays and extended possessions. Left cornerback Marcus Cooper did not start, as he was replaced by Jamell Fleming in the opening group. Sutton had them working out of a sub-package of 2-3-6 and limited the Chargers to just 251 yards.

That defensive effort wrapped up at the end of the game when safety Kurt Coleman grabbed an overthrown Philip Rivers pass intended for tight end Antonio Gates and the Chiefs flew home a winner.

“It was a big win against a good team with a great defense and a great quarterback on the other side,” said Charles. “We decided we weren’t going to leave here without a win.”

The game started with a 15-minute quarter that was largely a punting show for Dustin Colquitt and Mike Scifres; they kicked four times and kept flipping the field position edge. The Chargers cracked the scoreboard first, stringing together one of their better possessions late in the first quarter when a five-play drive was helped along by a pair of penalties against the Chiefs defense in pass coverage. The most painful was a pass interference call against Fleming in the end zone as he was covering wide receiver Malcom Floyd. With the ball at the one-yard line, Rivers found tight end John Phillips all alone in the end zone and after the Novak PAT kick; San Diego led 7-0.

Seemingly unfazed by falling behind early, the Chiefs offense came back and tied the score as Smith led them on a 6-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown run by Charles. He snaked through the San Diego defense and was not touched until he crossed the goal line. That’s when he took a big hit from former teammate Brandon Flowers. But it was Charles that walked off the field under his own power with the touchdown. Flowers stayed on the turf for a time, walked off the field with some assistance and he was eventually declared out because of a concussion.

Charles had five carries in the drive for 40 yards and the scoring run pushed Charles into position as the most productive running back in franchise history, giving him 6,071 yards, one more yard than former record-holder Priest Holmes.

The defense took San Diego’s offense off the field in three plays, and the K.C. offense came back out and ate up 9:31 of the second quarter clock before ending a 14-play possession with a 28-yard field goal by Santos. The Chiefs held a 10-7 lead with less than four minutes to play in the half.

Rivers came back and drove the Chargers 80 yards in just 41 seconds, connecting for a 27-yard touchdown pass to Gates with 14 seconds to play in the half. San Diego went to the locker room up 14-10.

After winning the pre-game coin toss, the Chiefs deferred so they had first chance for the football in the second half. Smith made that strategy work, directing a 12-play possession that used 6:25 of the clock, before settling for a 40-yard field goal from Santos and they trailed 14-13.

When San Diego got the football on offense, they held it for just three plays and 62 seconds, before punting it away. The Chargers did not see the ball again until the fourth quarter, as Smith took his offense on an 11-play, 70-yard drive over 7:43 of the third quarter. They scored on the first play of the fourth quarter, through an 11-yard touchdown pass from Smith to fullback Anthony Sherman. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 20-14 lead.

The Chargers didn’t get to 5-1 on the season by giving up in the fourth quarter; they actually held on to the ball for more than a minute on their next two possessions. But they couldn’t reach the end zone, as Novak kicked 24 and 48-yard field goals, the latter kick tying the score 20-20 with 1:57 to play.

Without timeouts and after losing field-position yardage when rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson was flagged for holding on the kickoff, the Chiefs offense had the ball at their eight-yard line. Smith put together a tough, gritty drive, helped along by a 15-yard facemask penalty against San Diego defensive tackle Corey Liuget. Smith picked up 43 yards on three straight completions to Bowe (19 yards) and tight end Travis Kelce (16, 8) before the Chargers defense stiffened.

On fourth-and-two from the San Diego 30-yard line, Santos shook off a Chargers timeout in an attempt to ice him and made the 48-yard field goal.

Now 3-3 on the season, the Chiefs return home this coming Sunday to host the St. Louis Rams. San Diego at 5-2 will play in Denver on Thursday against the Broncos.

4 Keys To Victory For Chiefs Against Chargers

        

Four

Keep a handle on Chargers tight end Antonio Gates in the red zone

The 34-year old Gates is in his 12th season and remains a factor in the San Diego passing game. He’s been very successful against the Chiefs over the first 11 seasons; the K.C. defense has been his favorite end-zone target, with 14 touchdown catches. In those scoring plays against the Chiefs, 10 came in San Diego victories. This season, Gates has 24 catches and 25 percent of those went for touchdowns (6). With the exception of a 21-yard scoring play, his TD plays have all come inside the opponent’s 20-yard line – from the 12, 8, 8, 8 and one-yard lines. With both Eric Berry and Chris Owens out of the game, the Chiefs depth in the secondary is going to be severely tested. Backup safeties Kurt Coleman, Kelcie McCray and Jamell Fleming are going to be very important in this game to provide help for starters Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker. Keeping Gates out of the end zone would significantly improve the Chiefs chances for a victory.

…Read More!

Officials Preview: Referee Bill Vinovich & Crew

The San Diego Chargers will find the officiating crew in Sunday’s game against the Chiefs quite familiar.

Referee Bill Vinovich led the group of zebras that worked the Chargers regular-season opener against Arizona. That’s the only game San Diego has lost this season. In that game, the officials walked off six penalties for 47 yards against the Chargers. It’s not unusual for an NFL crew to see a team twice during a full season, but two games in seven weeks does not happen very often.

In six games this season, Vinovich and his crew have averaged 12.5 penalties walked off for 93.7 yards. Those numbers leave them near the top of the league’s list of least busy or least intrusive officiating groups. In those half-dozen games, the home teams are 5-1; the only visiting club that won with Vinovich and crew was Green Bay last week when the Packers beat the Dolphins in south Florida.

The last Chiefs game that Vinovich worked came in October 2013 when he handled the Chiefs 26-17 victory over the Titans in Nashville. Over his career, he’s worked five Chiefs games, and K.C. is 3-2 in those outings. …Read More!

Next Opponent – San Diego Chargers

Quarterback Philip Rivers and the rest of the Chargers will be wearing their baby blues on Sunday vs. Chiefs

Game – No. 6.

Opponentthe San Diego Chargers.

2014 record – the Bolts are 5-1, riding a five-game winning streak. They lost the season opener to Arizona, 18-17. Since then, they’ve beaten Seattle by nine points, Buffalo by 12 points, Jacksonville by 19 points, the New York Jets by 31 points and last Sunday, they topped the Raiders in Oakland 31-28. They are plus-73 in point differential (164 scored, 91 given up), plus-7 in turnover ratio (2 giveaways, 9 takeaways) and plus-3 (9 allowed, 12 on defense.)

Franchise began – in 1960 as an original member of the American Football League and named the Los Angeles Chargers. The original owner was Barron Hilton, son of Conrad Hilton who began the Hilton Hotel chain that continues today. Barron Hilton branched out into many other businesses during his days as an active businessman. That included joining Lamar Hunt as a member of the so-called Foolish Club of original AFL owners. He’s the last surviving member of that founding group. Hilton moved the Chargers to San Diego in 1961 where they’ve been since. He sold his controlling interest in the Chargers for $10 million in 1966 to Los Angeles businessman Gene Klein, who also owned the Seattle SuperSonics team in the NBA. Hilton will turn 87 later this month and reportedly still holds a small sliver of ownership in the Chargers. And, he’s also the grandfather of Paris Hilton, who is famous for something but heaven knows what. …Read More!

Chiefs Lose Nico To Bengals

From the Truman Sports Complex

Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson, Jerry Franklin – all have been added to the Chiefs 53-man roster in the last two years as inside linebackers. None of the five came to the team as a Chiefs draft choice.

Nico Johnson was a fourth-round choice in the 2013 NFL Draft out of the University of Alabama, but he was not able to take advantage of his status through on-field performance. That journey ended on Tuesday when Nico Johnson left the Chiefs practice squad and was signed to a spot on Cincinnati’s 53-man active roster.

To fill that spot on the 10-man developmental team, the Chiefs signed linebacker Orie Lemon.

…Read More!

Answer Bob – After Bye Week #2

Here are the final batch of questions and my answers. Thanks for your interest. We’ll do this again soon.

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R W says: Bob, do you think the Chiefs lament passing on WR Kelvin Benjamin and taking Dee Ford with their #1 pick this past year? Benjamin looks like a breakout rookie playmaker while Ford is still feeling his way. Also, how would you grade out Dorsey as GM at year 2 on the job? Is it still too early to tell? If so, when will it be fair to assess his performance as the guy sitting in the big chair?

Bob says: I’d say it is way too soon for anybody to pan the selection of Ford in the first round. I think they grabbed a talented young player, who has skills that are tough to find when it comes to rushing the passer. Now, it’s certainly debatable on the issue of whether the Chiefs needed to grab another linebacker, rather than a wide receiver. No doubt Benjamin has been an impact rookie, catching 31 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns for Carolina. Right now, I don’t believe the Chiefs lament their decision to pass on Benjamin, who went five picks after Ford at No. 28 to the Panthers.

I would think the ideal time to gauge the performance of John Dorsey will be after this season. Two years on the job is at least a foundation for evaluation of his decisions. On the roster coming out of the bye week, there are 12 players inherited from previous regimes. Of that dozen, eight are starters on offense and defense, along with two more on special teams. The other 15 are starters added in the 2013-14 seasons. A lot of work has been done by Dorsey and his crew and they should get time to see how it plays out.

…Read More!

Answer Bob – After Bye Week #1

The bye week is now in the Chiefs rearview mirror and work begins in earnest on Wednesday for a trip to San Diego to face the division leading Chargers.

We are also working in earnest to answer your questions from the bye week. Here’s segment one, with more to come.

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Morten Nyholm says – Once again thanks for all your great work on this site; every morning here in Denmark starts with bobgretz.com. Here are my questions: 1.) the offensive line was much criticized in camp and after the Tennessee game. I know there is still work to be done, but how do you think they’ve improved so fast?
2.) Being 2-3 at this point, I guess many would have settled for that given the schedule. How far do you think we can go this season?
3.) You have followed the Chiefs for ages; within the organization is there a belief that this is a championship team in the making?
4.) Dwayne Bowe? Is it time to let him go after the season?

Bob says – God  Morgen Morten. Thanks for your support and the kind words. Here are my thoughts:

1.) So much successful offensive-line play depends on the coordination within the five guys. It’s only something that can be developed over time. A single blocker can work in here or there, it’s something else when you have a second-year guy moving to left tackle, a left guard that was on the street the week before the final pre-season game, a rookie at right guard and a left guard at right tackle for a game, before he was replaced by a journeyman tackle. If this group did not improve from game-to-game the Chiefs offense would really be in trouble. There’s no question stability has led to improved performance as a group. The next step comes with defining just how talented any of the five starters are individually – that will show the future direction of the unit, not only this season, but beyond.

…Read More!

Chiefs Add Tight End To Practice Squad

The Chiefs released a tight end from the practice squad last week and came back and added another one on Monday.

Brandon Barden was signed to the 10th spot on the developmental roster. A 6-5, 245-pound Georgia native has been on the street since he was released by Jacksonville on the final pre-season cutdown back at the end of August.

Barden came into the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent with Tennessee in 2012. He was released after training camp that year, signed to the practice squad and was elevated to the 53-man active roster for the final three games of that season. He was released in 2013 and signed by the Jaguars.

He began his college career at Virginia Tech University, but transferred to Vanderbilt University after one semester. At Vandy, Barden caught 107 passes for 1,234 yards over his career.

Bye Week/Practice Squad Moves

As of Thursday evening there were no known changes on the Chiefs 53-man active roster.

But general manager John Dorsey and his crew were busy making a few moves on the 10-man practice squad.

Released were fullback Jordan Campbell and tight end Justin Jones. This was the second time this season that Campbell was moved off the practice squad list. He was with the Chiefs in the pre-season, waived on August 30th, signed to the practice squad on August 31st, released from the practice squad on September 9th and then re-signed September 16th.

Jones was signed on September 16th after spending time with New England.

One of those empty spots was filled when the Chiefs signed rookie cornerback Ayodeji Olatoye. …Read More!

Offense At Bye Week – Struggling For Consistency

The first five games of the Chiefs season have been interesting to watch, especially trying to figure out what the team’s offense is going to do each week. Just where Andy Reid takes that side of the football over the last 11 games on the 2014 schedule will paint the picture of whether the Chiefs are a contender or a pretender.

After five games the Chiefs offense does not yet have a consistent personality. Like most NFL teams these days, Reid and his offensive staff construct a game plan each week based on the opponent. There’s no old school thinking where they tell the opponent “this is what we do when we have the ball, stop us and then we’ll adjust.” The working premise of opponent-driven game plan is the offense telling the defense “we think this is what you like to do, so we will develop our plan to make you do something you are not comfortable in doing.” It’s an obvious advantage to any offense if they have a running game and a passing attack that are both effective and productive. It’s imperative in the opponent-drive game plan.

So far this season, the Chiefs offensive inconsistency can’t totally be blamed on the game-plan approach. It has more to do with other factors. It’s come from the injuries that shuffled the offensive line at the start of the season. Another factor is the emergence of several playmaking threats that are new weapons for Reid and his offensive staff. They’ve also played an early schedule with three road games, and three of the five opponents have top 10 NFL defenses.

Whatever the reasons, in five games the Chiefs offense has been all over the road: …Read More!

Conversations With The Chiefs Assistant Coaches

As the Chiefs roll into their bye week, the assistant coaches were made available to the media on Tuesday, along with the three coordinators. Normally, only the coordinators speak to the media, and that happens once a week.

But several times during the year, the assistant coaches are made available in mass. At least they are on teams that trust their coaches to handle a few questions. Here are some of the best comments from Tuesday’s session.

Quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy (pictured right with Alex Smith) on distributing the targets in the Chiefs offense, and making sure playmakers like Jamaal Charles and Travis Kelce get more chance to have the ball in their hands: “The challenge for us as coaches is to try and make sure that we are in different personnel groupings and different formations, yet we don’t keep it too complicated for the players to where they don’t know where to line up and they don’t know what route to run and we don’t know what progression to go to. You see from Week 1 against Tennessee to where we are now, we are doing a lot more stuff. The guys are becoming more comfortable and understanding where we’re putting them and then they’re making plays.”

Running back coach Eric Bieniemy on Jamaal Charles on the cusp of setting the Chiefs record for most career rushing yards: “When you’re a player, you never really gain a full appreciation for anything while you’re playing. As you grow older and you get more mature, more than anything you get a joy out of your kids learning what you did. And I think more so than anything, he’ll appreciate it later on in life. His girls will appreciate it and I’m sure his family, they obviously appreciate it right now. But Jamaal has bigger goals. Obviously he wants to win the Super Bowl; he wants to accomplish other goals in life.”

…Read More!

Chiefs Will Get Week Off To Lick Their Wounds

From the Truman Sports Complex

Andy Reid gave his team the entire week off so they can lick their wounds from a 2-3 start, especially the 22-17 loss to San Francisco.

They do not have to report back to work until next Monday, although injured players are expected to keep up their schedule with the training room.

“It’s important that we step back here and as coaches evaluate what we’re doing, look in the mirror first at what we’re doing and making sure we’re putting the players in the best position to make plays,” said Reid. “It’s important that the players are getting a little time off here and that they use it wisely and rest up. We’ve got a couple nicks and bruises and we need to make sure we get those cleaned up, so when they come back (next) Monday they are ready to go.”

Reid also gave his team the entire week off last season, but the 2013 Chiefs were 9-0 at their bye week.

Their 2-3 start this year is obviously quite a bit different, but Reid felt the need to break up the routine with the entire week off. By rule, teams can ask the players to practice twice during the week, but they must have four consecutive days off over next weekend.

Despite the losing record, quarterback Alex Smith says his team is headed in the right direction. …Read More!

Notes, Quotes: Niners Kicker Getting Better With Age

Phil Dawson has been kicking so long in the NFL, his career actually started in another century.

His rookie season with the Cleveland Browns was in 1999, or the 20th Century. Sunday’s game against the Chiefs was No. 236 in his 16th season.

Dawson’s leg is still strong, as he nailed all five of his field goals, including kicks from 52 and 55 yards. He’s now made seven consecutive 50-yard-plus field goals. At the age of 39 (he’ll be 40 in January); Dawson shows no signs of being finished with his NFL career.

“There is no expiration date on Mr. Phil Dawson,” said Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh. “We put him in some real tough situations kicking the 50-yard-plussers and he just stepped up and knocked them down . . . he knocked them down like a Hall of Famer. He can stand in front of the mirror and say ‘I’m Phil Dawson. I’m a football player’.”

While he appreciated the sentiment, Dawson said of Harbaugh’s comment: “At 39 years old, I don’t enjoy looking in the mirror very much. I’ll pretend to be a football player without looking in the mirror.”

As far as Dawson was concerned, the long field goal opportunities presented to him were no problem for him.

“Those are fun to me; those are kind of the difference makers in a lot of games,” said Dawson. “Sometimes when you go out there and it’s a lower percentage kick, it frees you up to let it rip.”

Injury report

Late in the game, cornerbacks Chris Owens and Phillip Gaines were injured on the same play, trying to block the late field goal by San Francisco’s Phil Dawson. With Owens coming off the left side and Gaines the right side, they met in front of Dawson. Gaines head hit Owens in the knee. Both players walked off the field, Owens limping due to his sore knee and Gaines wobbly because he got his bell rung.

Also, running back Cyrus Gray suffered a fractured hand, but could have returned to the game.

Defensive report

The Chiefs picked up three sacks with defensive end Allen Bailey collecting 1.5, outside linebacker Justin Houston one and nose tackle Dontari Poe split the sack with Bailey . . . With the Chiefs spending most of the game in their base 3-4-4 defense, inside linebackers Josh Mauga and James-Michael Johnson led the team in tackles. Johnson had 11 and Mauga 10 stops. Safeties Husain Abdullah (8) and Ron Parker (7) were also busy on tackles.

Special teams report

Rookie kicker Cairo Santos made his only field goal attempt, hitting from 42 yards. There was a situation at the end of the third quarter when the Chiefs faced a 4th-and-4 from the Niners 36-yard line. It would have been a 54-yard field goal attempt, but Andy Reid called for a punt instead.

“I thought field position was an important thing at that time and I thought (punting) was the right thing to do,” said Reid.

It didn’t work out that way as the punt went for a touchback and the 49ers took over at their 20-yard line, making it a 16-yard net punt.

On kickoffs, Santos hit all four of his kicks into the end zone, averaging 4.5 yards deep. All four were returned, and on average the Niners starting field position after those kickoffs was the 22.5-yard line. On kick coverage, the Chiefs allowed an average of 27 yards to wide receiver-returner Bruce Ellington.

Dustin Colquitt punted four times, with an average of 40.3 yards per kick. His punts went for 38, 51, 36 and 36 yards. He also had his first touchback of the season, leading to his low net average of 35.3 yards. No punts were returned, as Ellington had two fair catches, one punt was downed and there was the touchback.

Anthony Sherman was credited with two tackles in the kicking game.

Personnel report

The Chiefs captains for today’s game were quarterback Alex Smith, wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, cornerback Marcus Cooper, nose tackle Dontari Poe and linebacker Frank Zombo.

According to post-game statistics, the only active Chiefs player that did not play against San Francisco was backup quarterback Chase Daniel. For the 49ers, another Missouri quarterback did not play, backup Blaine Gabbert, along with guard Dillon Farrell.

The seven inactive players for the Chiefs were quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Albert Wilson, wide receiver Donnie Avery, safety Eric Berry, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff and defensive lineman Damion Square.

The inactive players for San Francisco were quarterback Josh Johnson, wide receiver Quinton Patton, cornerback Tramaine Brock, center Marcus Martin, right tackle Anthony Davis, tight end Vernon Davis and defensive tackle Tank Carradine.

Starting for Berry at strong safety was Ron Parker, with A.J. Jenkins opening at wide receiver for Avery. By the end of the game, Junior Hemingway got more snaps as the No. 2 receiver.

For San Francisco, Jonathan Martin opened at right tackle for Anthony Davis, Vance McDonald took Vernon Davis’ spot at tight end and Perrish Cox filled the hole at left cornerback created with Brock’s absence.

Participating in their first NFL games on Sunday were running back/receiver/ returner De’Anthony Thomas and cornerback Jamell Fleming.

Wait Is Over: DAT Plays, Contributes In San Fran

It was a long time coming, but Chiefs rookie De’Anthony Thomas finally got a chance to play a regular season NFL game on Sunday in Santa Clara, California.

After missing the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, the diminutive draft choice from the University of Oregon got the ball in his hands three times. It was hardly a giant sampling of his abilities, but it was production for the Chiefs offense and special teams that was badly needed:

– His first NFL punt return came early in the third quarter, when he grabbed an Andy Lee punt and returned it 28 yards to the Chiefs 42-yard line. That was one of their best starting points for an offensive possession in the game.

– Caught his first NFL pass, going 17 yards for a touchdown four players after his punt return.

– Returned a second punt for 10 yards.

He also was back to return a kickoff at the end of the game, but the ball was hit too well and went out the back of the end zone.

On all three touches, Thomas showed the explosion that he displayed during the pre-season before the Chiefs put him under wraps and then came the hamstring injury on September 3 during practice before the regular-season opener.

“It’s been tough,” Thomas said. “I just want to be patient and keep working hard and my time will come.”

Sunday in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium was finally time for Thomas to get a chance to play and not just rehab and practice. Andy Reid liked what he saw on Sunday.

“We weren’t exactly sure how much we’d get out of him, just from the setbacks that he’s had,” said Reid. “I though he did a nice job when given the opportunity to make plays for us.”

Thomas was excited to get his first chance to return a punt. “I just wanted to get in great field position for our offense,” Thomas said. “I wanted to put us in a good range to score a touchdown.”

That’s just what he did, and he got the touchdown four plays later on the short pass from quarterback Alex Smith that he took to the end zone. It was a play put in to the game plan just for him.

“Yeah, it was a designed screen,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to get out there and make some plays and contribute to our offense.”

He got a big greeting in the end zone from his teammates. “They were saying ‘good job’ and go back out there and make some more plays,” Thomas said.

“I felt really good coming into this game. I’m glad to get this first game out of the way.”

Too Many Failures For Chiefs To Pass This Test

PASSING OFFENSE: C – Alex Smith was not sacked by the Niners, which is a big point to the good side for the Chiefs passing attack. But it wasn’t as if Smith was able to sit back in the pocket as long as he wanted. Smith made sure he got the ball out quickly, although his accuracy was not what it was Monday night against New England, as he completed just 54.8 percent of his passes and averaged 5.6 yards per attempt with two TD throws and the interception. It’s easy to see when the passing game has struggled a bit when Junior Hemingway is the team’s leading receiver (4 catches for 50 yards). That’s no knock on Hemingway; it’s just that the guy with the most catches for the Chiefs should be Travis Kelce, Alex Fasano, Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. Bowe caught just three of the six passes thrown to him, Kelce had two catches in three targets, and Charles caught only one pass.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D – The running game was not what anybody expected in a game like Sunday’s. First, Knile Davis disappeared from the offense, getting two total touches for six yards. That shouldn’t happen for a back that’s run for 100-plus yards in the last two games. Charles got loose once for 26 yards, but on his 14 other carries he gained only 54 yards or 3.9 yards a run. Smith took off just once on the run and picked up six yards. The Chiefs needed more from their running game, especially after they gained the lead in the third quarter.

PASS DEFENSE: C – Overall, the Chiefs defense did a good job against quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his passing attack. First, they dropped him three times for sacks, forced him to run another six or seven times, and they had by the end of the game eight hits on the Niners passer. San Francisco’s only touchdown came on a pass, as wide receiver Stevie Johnson used a swinging forearm to get away from Marcus Cooper and catch the nine-yard score. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd had a big catch of 38 yards, but wide receiver Michael Crabtree was not a factor with just one catch.

RUSH DEFENSE: F – A team can’t go on the road and expect to win when allowing the home team 171 rushing yards. Although early in the game the Chiefs kept Frank Gore and rookie Carlos Hyde under wraps. But in the second half, the Niners committed to the run game and they were unable to slow down the attack. It’s not like Kaepernick blew up the total with his yards – he ran 10 times for 18 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F – This was not a good day for Dave Toub and the kicking game. The positive was a 28-yard punt return that De’Anthony Thomas turned in that helped set up his first NFL touchdown. Cairo Santos hit both of his field goals. But Dustin Colquitt had his first touchback of the season, and that dropped his net average to 35.3 yards. Then there was the fake punt they couldn’t stop from gaining a first down, and then there were an inexcusable 12 men on the field for a San Francisco field goal attempt that cost them time on the clock and all three timeouts. It killed the last chances the Chiefs had to make a comeback.

COACHING: D – There wasn’t much provided by the coaching staff in the second half when things got away from the Chiefs. For some reason, Andy Reid had his team throwing on third and short. It happened three times and there were three incompletions. The disappearance of Davis doesn’t make much sense. The offense got out of balance, finishing with 19 running plays compared to 31 passes. Defensively, they could not slow down the running attack of the Niners.

Chiefs Did Not Break, But They Sure Did Bend

The Chiefs defense knew going into Sunday’s game that the 49ers were going to run the ball.

That’s just who they are on offense, due largely to head coach Jim Harbaugh and a big nasty offensive line that’s coached by a familiar name to Kansas City, assistant coach Mike Solari, they want to run, and they want to pound the ball.

Ultimately, that’s what allowed the 49ers to beat the Chiefs 22-17 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

“We knew what they wanted to do,” said linebacker Justin Houston. “We made some mistakes at a bad point in time and we’ve got to learn from them.

“We left a lot of holes out there in the running game and gave them yards. We’ve got to get more physical and stop the run.”

The Niners did not win because of an overall offensive explosion. They reached the end zone just once on nine possessions.

However, San Francisco ran for 171 yards on the veteran back of Frank Gore, who had 107 yards on 18 carries, a nice 5.9-yard per carry average. Gore got help from his rookie No. 2 man Carlos Hyde, who ran hard and tough to the tune of 43 yards on 10 carries. The running quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran 10 times for 18 yards.

“We’re willing to do whatever it takes,” Gore said. “If we have to run the ball, pass the ball, we all are going to fight for each other, and we made plays in both. So that’s a great thing for this team.”

At half-time the Niners had 65 yards on 13 carries and 12 yards came on a single carry by Gore. But then the San Francisco offense had just 28 plays in the first half, as the Chiefs offense held the ball.

The tables were turned in the second half, as they ran 26 times for 106 yards. After the Chiefs penalty for too many men on the field gave San Francisco a first down with 4 minutes, 19 seconds to play, they sealed the victory by pounding Gore and Hyde, plus a small dose of Kaepernick. Those three ran for positive yardage on seven snaps for 13, 2, 9, 3, 3, 8 and 11 yards, producing four first downs and by the time the Niners kicked a final field goal, they had chewed up more than two minutes of the fourth quarter clock and forced the Chiefs to use all of their timeouts.

“We had to get them off the field there in the fourth quarter and we weren’t able to do it because we couldn’t hold the run game down,” said outside linebacker Tamba Hali. “We can play better than that.”

The Chiefs spent most of the game in their base 3-4-4 defense. They used their sub-dime defense (6 defensive backs) for a few plays, but ultimately they were reacting to the two-back sets that dominated the Niners offensive game plan.

In five games, the 2014 Chiefs defense is giving up 127.4 rushing yards per game, and 4.8 yards per carry. That’s come against 133 running plays where the longest was 24 yards.

“We didn’t get it done stopping the run,” said inside linebacker James-Michael Johnson. “We’ve got to get better and go back to the drawing board and fix the mistakes.”

A Storybook Return Doesn’t Happen For Alex Smith

It was an afternoon of highs and lows for Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

The ending proved a major low, as Smith’s current team lost to his former team, with the San Francisco 49ers grabbing a 22-17 victory.

Smith’s return to the Bay Area was the story line of the week leading up to the Sunday’s game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. While he acknowledged the situation and the interest, he said it wasn’t anything that dominated his thoughts. What was on his mind was finding a way to beat a 49ers defense that he knew, but had never but a situation where he had to beat them.

“Certainly, it was something that was there all week, in dealing with the media,” Smith said of the homecoming angle. “Watching the film it was different, knowing a lot of the guys and the scheme. I’d never played against a coach (Vic) Fangio defense so in that sense it was different.

“But really in some ways it was another game, in a new stadium. This was all new to me.”

The situation was new, but many of the guys wearing the other uniform were not. He spent time prior to the game, afterwards walking off the field and later in the parking lot before jumping on the team bus for the return flight home meeting and greeting many familiar faces.

“I played with a lot of those guys for a long time, but you still want to beat them,” said Smith. “It was different competing against them today. I have a lot of history with some of those guys.”

Smith and the Chiefs offense got off to a fast start, as they scored a touchdown on the first possession of the game, something they’ve not done this year. The 12-play, 81-yard drive was built on Smith’s passing. He completed six of his eight throws for 61 yards and did it concentrating on passes to tight end Anthony Fasano and wide receiver Junior Hemingway. Fasano caught three passes for 32 yards and Hemingway had two receptions for 27. The touchdown came on a two-yard pass to tight end Travis Kelce.

By half-time, Smith was 12 of 19 (63.2%) for 117 yards and the touchdown throw. The second half was not nearly as fruitful after the Chiefs first chance with the ball in the third quarter. That’s when Smith connected for 15 yards to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and then threw his second touchdown pass of the game, dumping a throw to his left where rookie De’Anthony Thomas grabbed it and scored on a 17-yard play.

“Really, our job is easy, just get the ball to De’Anthony,” said Smith. “He’s got that kind of ability, that kind of playmaker. Get him in space and he has that kind of potential. We saw that today.”

After that score, the Chiefs offense came to a halt due to a lack of opportunities. They had just 13 more snaps and Smith was just 3 of 9 (33%) for 26 yards and the interception. The afternoon ended with Smith throwing his first interception since the season opener, as he overthrew tight end Anthony Fasano and the ball was caught by San Francisco cornerback Perrish Cox.

“I threw it and I knew it was going to be close,” said Smith. “They are backing up so deep; the margin of error there is tough. You are trying to get it over the underneath guys and get it back down.

“When I let it go, I felt OK about it. I went down and didn’t see it, but I looked up and saw the DB falling on the catch. You hate throwing those at that time. It’s a one-score game and you are trying to push the ball down field and make something happen.”

Smith had gone 123 passes without an interception, and it was the first time he turned the ball over in a Chiefs road game since the Tennessee game 364 days before. Smith had thrown 267 passes away from Arrowhead without a pick.

Poor Execution Keep Chiefs From Beating 49ers

The formula for winning on the road in the NFL when playing a good opponent is a fairly simple thing to say, but not so easy to do. Winning efforts away from home come when mistakes are few, advantage is taken when opportunities present themselves and the game plan is executed on offense, defense and special teams.

The Chiefs were unable to do most of that in the second half and it cost them a real chance for their third victory of the season. The San Francisco 49ers worked their end of the game well enough to collect the 22-17 decision Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

“We fought hard, we played hard, that’s a good team and give them credit for the win,” said outside linebacker Tamba Hali. “We made too many mistakes. I made mistakes there at the end of the game. We have to get better at the little things.

“We all know we should have won the game.”

They had opportunities, leading the game from the start, giving it up right before half-time, then getting it back in the third quarter and holding it until the middle of the fourth quarter. That’s when San Francisco kicker Phil Dawson made two of his five field goals on the afternoon and helped the Niners advance to 3-2 on the season.

“We had some things that didn’t go our way and we needed them to go our way,” said head coach Andy Reid. “Some of that was our fault. We came off a Monday night and went to the west coast and we battled and that’s not an easy thing to do. We came up a little bit short.”

It was a tale of two halves for the Chiefs. In the first 30 minutes they controlled the ball. In the second 30 minutes, they hardly saw it. San Francisco did not run away with the game in the second half, but they did just enough of the little things to earn the victory, especially in the fourth quarter. They ended up running for 171 yards against the Chiefs defense, with veteran Frank Gore picking up 107 yards on 18 carries. He was the only offensive player to put up any type of impressive numbers. Defensively, there were three sacks and only one turnover – an interception thrown at the end of the game by Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. On special teams the star was Niners kicker Phil Dawson, who went five-for-five on his field goals, including making kicks from 52 and 55 yards.

In the end, there wasn’t much for the Chiefs offense to crow about.

“I felt like we had good balance for most of the game,” said Smith, who was making his homecoming trip to play his old team and the guy that replaced him, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. “There at the end we got ourselves in a couple of third and shorts and did not convert. That hurt us.”

Things started well for the Chiefs, as they took the opening kickoff and Smith directed them in 12 plays for 81 yards before connecting with tight end Travis Kelce for a two-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-goal play at the 2-yard line. Cairo Santos hit the PAT kick and the Chiefs led 7-0. It was the first time this season they scored on the opening possession of the game.

San Francisco came back on its first offensive chance and ended up settling for a 31-yard field goal from Dawson and the score was 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The Chiefs came back and held the ball for more than seven minutes and 14 plays, before they were forced to settle for a 42-yard Santos field goal and a 10-3 lead. San Francisco came right back and Dawson nailed a 55-yarder and K.C.’s lead was now 10-6.

Right before the half ended, the Chiefs defense showed the first cracks in what had been a stout wall the Niners could not get over. But the home team was able to hold the ball for 6 minutes, 39 seconds and on 11 plays went 93 yards before Kaepernick connected with wide receiver Stevie Johnson for a nine-yard touchdown pass. Johnson was wide open on the right side of the end zone after he got away from cornerback Marcus Cooper. That gave the Niners a 13-10 lead at intermission.

But the Chiefs came back and hit the Niners with their not-so secret weapon: rookie De’Anthony Thomas. The young man out of the University of Oregon missed the season’s first four games due to a hamstring injury, but he was ready to play against San Francisco. After the defense held the Niners to a three plays-and-out to start the second half, Thomas caught the punt and returned it 28 yards, setting up the Chiefs in great field position at their 42-yard line.

Running back Jamaal Charles broke free for a 26-yard run and Smith connected with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe for a 15-yard play that gave the Chiefs a 1st-and-10 at the Niners 17-yard line. That’s where Smith dumped the ball to the left flat where Thomas caught it, and sprinted down the sideline and into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown. Santos hit the PAT and the Chiefs led again 17-13.

From that point, the Chiefs offense all but disappeared, while the defense kept Kaepernick and his offense out of the end zone, but could not get off the field. A 52-yard Dawson field goal cut the Chiefs lead to one-point, 17-16.

With just under 14 minutes to play, the Niners faced a 4th-and-1 play at their 29-yard line. The 49ers sent out their punt team, but a short snap to up-man Craig Dahl was carried for three yards and a first down. The Chiefs defense held San Francisco out of the end zone and Dawson’s 27-yard field goal put the Niners in front 19-17.

After the offense went three plays-and-out, San Francisco took over at their 32-yard line and again, the K.C. defense did its job, stopping the Niners offense and on 4th-and-2 at the Chiefs 36-yard line, San Francisco lined up for a 54-yard field goal. But the Chiefs were flagged for having 12-men on the field and those five yards gave the 49ers a first down with 4:19 to play.

Dawson ended up kicking a 30-yard field goal as the Chiefs defense again kept San Francisco out of the end zone. But by then, all of the Chiefs timeouts were gone and they ended up needing to go 80 yards with 2:12 to play for a game winning touchdown.

On their second play, Smith overthrew tight end Anthony Fasano and the pass was grabbed by San Francisco cornerback Perrish Cox, sealing the outcome at the two-minute warning.

Chiefs Ready For A Physical Game In San Francisco

Chiefs defense takes down Niners running back Frank Gore four years ago

A few days before the Chiefs headed off to northern California for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, Andy Reid was a bit uncomfortable as he took questions from the media horde.

Specifically, the subject was the improvement of the Chiefs offense from a brutal loss to Tennessee in the opener, to a two-game winning streak. Did Reid expect running back Knile Davis to have such a large role in the run game? Were pre-season plans for the passing game expected to feature young tight end Travis Kelce? Has the passing game exceeded expectations?

“I feel like these are end of the season questions; I’m having a hard time with it because we have so much room here to get better and we are right in the grinder of it,” Reid said. “We’re nowhere near where we need to be.”

That continued development of offense, defense and special teams will need to show Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara when they face the Niners in game No. 5 of the season.

Kickoff is 3:25 p.m. CDT with television coverage on CBS.

There’s no question the Chiefs level of performance and production has improved over the last month. They’ve begun to show a personality, looking more and more like a hard-nosed team that wants to play physical and complementary football on both sides of the ball.

In the last three weeks, a rhythm has developed with this team, one that’s close to what they showed last year. The eye is on the immediate target in front of them. They’ve dug themselves out of a two-game hole and gotten their record back to the .500 mark. Other than a growing confidence from their dismantling of the Patriots, the last two games means little when playing the 49ers. …Read More!

Officials Preview: Walt Coleman Crew For KC vs. SF

Long-time referee Walt Coleman will work Sunday’s game between the Chiefs and 49ers

There was a lot of chatter around the NFL this week concerning officiating.

A short version is that the guys in the striped shirts are not happy with their bosses at the league office in New York. They are concerned with inconsistencies in grading on-field decisions.

One of their points of contention involves the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah after his end zone slide and moment of prayer in the Monday night victory over New England.

Abdullah was flagged, and the next morning the NFL was quick to announce that the game officials should not have pulled the yellow hankie. That penalty, along with one in a September 21 game between Washington and Philadelphia caused the consternation. On an interception thrown by Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, Redskins defender Chris Baker hit the passer after the pick by his teammate. He was penalized on the play, but league officials said the next day that Baker’s hit was legal under the rules.

The union said both calls were graded correct even after NFL executives announced that they were incorrect. “Consistency in penalty enforcement is extremely important to the players, coaches and fans,” said Jim Quirk, the executive director of the NFL Referees Association. “Uncertainty as to what the league wants called is not a road you want to go down.” …Read More!

Chiefs Injury Report/Berry Out – October 3

From the Truman Sports Complex

Wide receiver Donnie Avery underwent surgery on his sports hernia Friday morning in Philadelphia and “things went well” according to head coach Andy Reid.

Avery is out of Sunday’s game against San Francisco, along with safety Eric Berry, who will miss his third game because of a sprained ankle. Ron Parker will start in Berry’s spot.

Among the other players on the injury report, rookie running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas is listed as probable after missing the first four games due to his hamstring injury. It sounds like Thomas has a chance to make his NFL debut.

“De’Anthony, he’s good to go,” said Reid. “We’ll see how he does; we’ll see how rusty or if he isn’t, we’ll find out.”

There are real questions with the 49ers on the availability of right tackle Anthony Davis and tight end Vernon Davis. Both players did not practice all week – A. Davis because of knee/ankle injuries and V. Davis with a back injury.

San Francisco added defensive tackle Ian Williams to the injury report with an ankle problem. He’s listed as questionable.

Here are the injury reports submitted by both teams to the league office on Friday: …Read More!

Fisher Pushing Performance North, Not South

Eric Fisher (left) and Joe Staley (right): Central Michigan tackles

There hasn’t been much doubt in the minds of those in charge of football at Arrowhead Stadium that Eric Fisher would at some point show why he was the NFL’s first draft choice in 2013 out of Central Michigan University.

In this case, any doubts that may have developed over his first season and a quarter of his second were trumped by patience. With the background and knowledge that the process of becoming a left tackle in pro football is seldom a quick and easy road, being patient was a requirement for the start of Fisher’s career.

In the Chiefs two-game winning streak, Fisher turned in the two best performances of his career. His blocking in the run game against New England was a huge factor in the more than 200 yards Andy Reid’s offense racked up with Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis and Alex Smith. While Fisher gave up a sack of Smith against the Patriots, he’s coming off two games where his overall pass protection was significantly improved compared to the first two games of the season.

Notoriously hard on himself when evaluating his performance, even Fisher has felt and seen the improvement.

“Everything is really slowing down,” Fisher said this week as the Chiefs prepared to face the San Francisco 49ers. “I feel like I’ve made progress every game and it’s all improving. By no way I’m saying there isn’t room for improvement. I’ve got to get better.” …Read More!

Report Card: Chiefs GPA Soars In Victory


From Arrowhead Stadium

PASSING OFFENSE: B – Alex Smith turned in one of his best performances in his short time with the Chiefs, racking up a 144.4 passer rating, with the key stats being three touchdown passes and no interceptions. His completion percentage of 77 percent and average of 9.5 yards per attempt were among the highest of his career. The pass protection was actually good, not great, holding the Patriots pass rush to two sacks in 28 passing plays. That’s the only item that kept them from an A grade.

RUSHING OFFENSE: A – With Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis splitting the carries, the Chiefs ran for 207 yards at 5.4 yards per attempt. The ability of the offense to keep balance in the game plan is huge for the Chiefs as they try to deal with a less than special offensive line situation. In back-to-back victories, they’ve had 137 offensive plays with 53 percent of those (73) being runs called in the huddle.

PASS DEFENSE: A – The opposing quarterback was one of the iconic passers in NFL history and the Chiefs were able to confuse and manipulate their defensive package to keep New England quarterback Tom Brady uncomfortable and often without targets that were open. Brady turned the ball over three times, on two interceptions and then a fumble with a sack that the Chiefs recovered.

RUSH DEFENSE: A – Offensive balance was something the Patriots wanted to carry into the Monday night game, because they are lacking in talented targets and the offensive line has been in a state of flux with two new starters stepping in against the Chiefs. But there was nowhere for Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen to run, as the Pats top backs had 13 carries for 54 yards. New England did not have a first-down rushing until the fourth quarter and ended up with only two on the evening.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C – The Chiefs did not produce much in the way of big plays in the kicking game, but they also did not allow any either. Rookie Cairo Santos made both of his field goal attempts, and that qualified as his best performance of the season. Santos was also strong on kickoffs with five touchbacks in his seven kicks.

COACHING: A – Andy Reid and his offensive staff continues to add pages to their playbook as more and more skill position players are contributing to the effort, especially second-year tight end Travis Kelce and running back Knile Davis. Defensively, coordinator Bob Sutton put together an aggressive plan against Brady, hitting with multiple coverages and a few blitz packages as well.

Chiefs Momentum Grows With Blowout of Pats, 41-14


From Arrowhead Stadium

It was one game, one night in a schedule of 16 and placing too much emphasis on a single outcome can lead to quick and incorrect assumptions about any football team.

Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs. They lifted their record to 2-2 on the season with a 41-14 beat down of the New England Patriots Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium. This Chiefs team opened the season with an ugly 16-point loss at Arrowhead to the Tennessee Titans, a team that hasn’t won a game since.

The Chiefs team that took the field wearing all red uniforms dominated the now 2-2 Patriots. On offense, defense and special teams, Kansas City was able to control the game’s momentum. They did not play like a team that started as poorly as they did just a month ago on the very same field.

“We’ve gotten better each week,” said quarterback Alex Smith, who outdueled New England quarterback Tom Brady by throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Brady had one scoring throw and two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. He was eventually pulled from the game.

After missing last week’s game in Miami with an ankle injury, running back Jamaal Charles was back and he was again the focal point of the Chiefs offense, scoring three touchdowns and producing 108 offensive yards.

“Coach Reid told us that nobody can be judged by their first game,” said Charles who ran for one score and caught a pair of touchdown passes. “All we knew was we had to get better and that’s what we’ve done. We still have a lot of work to do.”

It was the worst defeat suffered by the Patriots since September 7, 2003, when they lost the season opener at Buffalo 31-0. Since Bill Belichick took over the New England football operation, they have had very few games where they lost by 27 points.

“We got to play a lot better if we’re going to be a good team and win games,” said New England cornerback Devin McCourty. “This is the most embarrassing game I’ve ever been part of. We lost in every aspect.”

The Kansas City defense kept the New England offense under control allowing just 290 yards and the Patriots did not find the scoreboard until late in the third quarter when Brady connected with wide receiver Brandon LaFell for a 44-yard touchdown play.

Early in that same quarter the Chiefs picked up their first takeaways of the season, forcing a Brady fumble and then grabbing two interceptions, including a touchdown return of 39 yards by free safety Husain Abdullah. They converted those Patriots turnovers into 17 points.

“We couldn’t get started, turned the ball over in the third quarter,” said Brady. “We have to get ahead of these teams and play from ahead. You can’t get behind good teams on the road.”

Reid’s offense gained 443 yards and improvement has come from expanding the number of players getting a chance to make plays. Along with Charles, running back Knile Davis ran for 107 yards, while tight end Travis Kelce caught eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe grabbed five passes for 81 yards.

“We tried to spread it around as much as we could,” said Reid. “I think against that defense it’s important that you try to get as many different receivers into the mix and we were able to do that.”

The Chiefs dominated the first half limiting the Patriots to only 96 offensive yards. Brady threw for just 72 passing yards and New England managed 24 rushing yards. The Chiefs produced 303 yards in the first half and reached the scoreboard first with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter, as Charles finished off an 11-play, 73-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Smith was four of five in the drive, including a big 15-yard completion to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on a third-and-eight play at the New England 17-yard line. Charles made the end zone on the next play.

On their next chance with the ball, early in the second quarter, the Chiefs hit the Patriots with two big plays. Davis ran for 48 yards on the first snap. On the next play Smith connected with tight end Travis Kelce for 33 yards. Smith then threw five yards to Charles for the touchdown and after the PAT, a 14-0 lead.

They finished out the half with a 7-play, 85-yard drive and after some suspect clock management in the final minute, settled for a 22-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cairo Santos for a 17-0 lead at intermission.

The domination continued in the third quarter, as the Chiefs forced their first takeaway of the season. Outside linebacker Tamba Hali earned the hat trick, sacking Brady, knocking the ball loose and then recovering the fumble at the New England nine-yard line. Two plays later, Charles was in the end zone again, on an eight-yard pass from Smith. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 24-0 lead with just under 23 minutes left in the second half.

They added another Santos field goal, a two-yard scoring pass from Smith to Kelce and Abdullah’s interception return for a touchdown.

After going 14 of 23 for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, Brady was pulled in the fourth quarter and rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw his first NFL touchdown pass, connecting on a 13-yard throw with tight end Rob Gronkowski.

“I’ve got to give credit to the Kansas City Chiefs,” said Gronkowski. “They were ready. They came hungry and outplayed us.”

Chiefs-Patriots Pre-Game From Arrowhead


From Arrowhead Stadium

7 p.m. CDT – It’s less than 20 minutes away from kickoff for Monday night football between the Chiefs and Patriots. Complete coverage coming late into the night and morning so check back when you wake up for full attention to this game.

6:45 p.m. CDT – The bound for the playoffs Royals are in the house, with Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer on the Chiefs sideline during the warmup period, posing for pictures with Dustin Colquitt and getting cheers from the Chiefs crowd.

6:40 p.m. CDT – Weather does not appear to be a factor for tonight’s game. Temperature at kickoff is expected to be 80 degrees, dropping into the mid-60s as the evening goes on. There’s little or no wind, as the flags are currently barely ruffling in a 5 mile per hour breeze from the northeast. The wind direction is expected to come from the southeast by the end of the game. The skies are mostly clear, with no precipitation in this evening’s forecast.

6:35 p.m. CDT – Right now, Frankie Hammond is the only returner working on the field in the warm-up period, catching both punts and kickoffs. No sign of Knile Davis on kickoff returns.

6:30 p.m. CDT – The Patriots made a roster move over the weekend, sending defensive lineman Sealver Siliga to the injured-reserve list/designated for return. They signed defensive lineman Casey Walker off the Carolina practice squad. Walker will not play this evening.

6:25 p.m. CDT – Traffic still at a crawl into the Truman Sports Complex, especially on Raytown Road off I-70 eastbound. Open parking spots are few and far between now.

6:20 p.m. CDT – It appeared to be a good warm-up session for kicker Cairo Santos, especially from long distance. Working with snapper Thomas Gafford and holder Dustin Colquitt, but with no opposing rush, he hit field goals from 50, 52 and 56 yards to the east goal posts and then 53 yards to the west. After getting a week off from field goals in the victory over Miami, an accurate Santos will be needed this evening by Chiefs.

6:15 p.m. CDT – Ron Parker will start at safety for Eric Berry, just as he did last week. Berry has now missed 2½ games due to the high ankle sprain he suffered in the first half against the Broncos in Denver.

6:10 p.m. CDT – Reaction to inactive player decisions: will rookie De’Anthony Thomas ever play a game with the Chiefs? He was injured in practice on September 3rd and will miss his fourth game with his hamstring problem. The Patriots will be without starting right cornerback Alfonzo Dennard who was listed as probable with a shoulder injury. No word from New England yet who will step into the starting lineup opposite left cornerback Darrelle Revis.

6:05 p.m. CDT – The inactive players for the Patriots against the Chiefs are wide receiver Aaron Dobson, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, offensive tackle Jordan Devey, offensive lineman Josh Kline, wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, defensive lineman Zach Moore and defensive lineman Casey Walker.

6 p.m. CDT – The inactive players for the Chiefs against New England are quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Albert Wilson, RB De’Anthony Thomas, running back Joe McKnight, safety Eric Berry, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, defensive end Damion Square.

5:55 p.m. CDT – ESPN production for Monday night football literally takes over the floor of the stadium each week, with two different sets and a host of bodies including Steve Young, Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis and that’s not even including Mike Trico and Jon Gruden.

5:46 p.m. CDT – The Chiefs will be all red for the game tonight – red jersey and red pants. It’s the second time in franchise history they’ve gone all red. The first was last year’s home opener in week No. 2 of the season against Dallas.

5:45 p.m. CDT – Good evening from the Truman Sports Complex and Monday night football between the Chiefs and Patriots. We’ll have the game-night inactive players coming up in a few moments. There is heavy traffic coming into the complex right now about 90 minutes before kickoff; still plenty of parking spaces available.

Officials Preview – John Parry & Crew

One of the NFL’s higher ranked officiating crews will work Monday night handling the Chiefs and Patriots in Monday night football at Arrowhead Stadium.

Referee John Parry is in his 15th season as an NFL official and eighth season as a referee. The Patriots know him well – he was the referee for Super XLVI in Indianapolis when the New York Giants beat New England. That’s Parry on the right, holding out a hand to help out a defeated Tom Brady at the Super Bowl.

A financial advisor in suburban Akron, Ohio, Parry and his crew have averaged 15 penalties walked off for 143 yards in three games this season, including the NFL’s regular-season opener in Seattle between the Seahawks and Packers. They also worked the Arizona at New York Giants game and last week handled San Diego’s visit to Buffalo. That ranks them in the top third of flag throwers in the league.

This crew has leaned on the defense, walking off 27 of their 45 penalties against the defenders. That includes 18 coverage penalties, including eight illegal contact calls, more than any other crew. On the offensive side, they have walked off 14 penalties with half that total offensive holding.

The Chiefs are 2-3 in the last five games where Parry has been the referee; the most recent was the Monday night game last season in Denver, when they had fewer penalties than the Broncos but still lost.

…Read More!

Chiefs Practice Update/Injury Report – September 27

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs wrapped up their practice week in preparation for Monday night’s game against New England with what was a normal Friday practice.

Afterwards, head coach Andy Reid said that safety Eric Berry would not play against the Patriots because of his sprained ankle suffered on September 14 in Denver. Berry did not practice on Saturday and has not worked with the team since suffering the injury. Also out is running back Joe McKnight with his Achilles tendon rupture.

Running back Jamaal Charles (ankle) and running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring) both practiced for the third consecutive day. “(Jamaal) did everything,” Reid said of practice participation for Charles. “De’Anthony did all his stuff out here. I’m probably more optimistic about Jamaal than him (Thomas).”

Charles has been designated probable to play against the Patriots and Thomas questionable.

New England made a roster move on Saturday sending defensive tackle Sealver Siliga to the injured-reserve list/designated for return. Siliga suffered a foot injury in the first half against Oakland last Sunday. He played in the first three games with two starts and had eight total tackles. …Read More!

Keeping The Stars Out of the Eyes of Young Defenders

That’s a Tamba Hali sack and strip of Tom Brady in a 2011 game at Foxboro

Tom Brady has been on the NFL’s radar screen for 15 seasons now. With three Super Bowl victories, two other appearances in the league’s final game, his boyish grin and Hollywood lifestyle, Brady has become one of the iconic figures in the game.

Many of the Chiefs defenders attempting to stop Brady on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium were not even teenagers yet when Brady won his first championship ring in the 2001 season with the Patriots victory over St. Louis in New Orleans.

Nose tackle Dontari Poe and cornerback Marcus Cooper were 11 years old. Outside linebacker Justin Houston and defensive end Allen Bailey were 12. Running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas will not be on the field against Brady, but he was just eight years old when Brady first held the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Playing against Brady tends to tighten the emotion strings on young defensive players. It can become a psychological jumble playing against a superstar they watched as a kid, knowing from film study and the defensive coaches that Brady always finds the defensive mistakes and weaknesses. They want to play perfectly because it’s a national stage of Monday night. They feel like they must be perfect given Brady’s experience and skills. But not even the coaches expect their players to go through a 60-minute game doing everything perfectly for the defense.

It’s a combination of emotions that can test the resolve of any young player. …Read More!

Column: Are the Chiefs 32 Points Better Than Patriots?

Let me be the first to lay this in front of you after Sunday’s Chiefs victory over Miami, 34-15.

From the comparative scores department, the Chiefs first winning effort of the season was completed with a 19-point advantage over a Dolphins team that won their season opener by 13 points over New England.

So obviously, the Chiefs are 32 points better than the Patriots when they face each other next Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

OK, you can stop laughing now. There isn’t a soul alive that thinks the Chiefs are more than four touchdowns superior to a team like New England. At least there’s no one in possession of all their mental marbles.

It was a conference victory, a winning performance on the road and they did it without three of their best players – running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson. They did it with a revamped offensive line and a restructured back eight on their defense that took advantage of an inferior Miami team.

Yes, it’s the same Dolphins squad that somehow beat the Patriots by a touchdown and two field goals.

How to explain that? Well, there’s this moment guaranteed to happen to each of the 32 teams in the NFL at least once during a season. The best description of these types of days is a team simply was out of its body and mind and ended up failing against an inferior opponent.

That’s the only explanation for the Dolphins beating New England. And maybe it’s the defining explanation of what went down with the Chiefs in their season opener when they lost by 16 points at home to Tennessee.

Since then, the Titans have been clubbed by Dallas (a 16-point loss at home) and Cincinnati (a 26-point defeat by Cincinnati).

Yes, the Chiefs sit 1-2 on the season, the same as Tennessee and Miami. But they appear to be riding the upward elevator from the basement, while the Titans and Dolphins are headed south.

It’s a scenario where more information is needed before a decision can be made on just what the 2014 Chiefs are capable of producing this season. While Knile Davis, Alex Smith and Joe McKnight got the attention for their performances after the game, it was the Chiefs defense that made the victory possible.

In the absence of defensive starters Berry, Derrick Johnson, Joe Mays and Mike DeVito, this group has been re-calibrated by coordinator Bob Sutton. Against Miami the key performers were Chris Owens, Allen Bailey, Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson and Ron Parker. All made big plays against the Dolphins; none were major contributors last season.

The defense wasn’t perfect; they allowed too many rushing yards (141 on 20 runs) and they were not able to force a turnover, giving them now three games without an interception or recovered fumble. But they pressured quarterback Ryan Tannehill, sacking him four times and not giving the young quarterback a lot of time to survey the field. Speedy receiver Mike Wallace was targeted a dozen times by Tannehill, but caught only five passes, for an average of 14.8 yards per catch.

Sutton dialed up more blitzes in his game plan than in the previous two games combined sending all sorts of combinations of cornerbacks and safeties flying at Tannehill.

Miami is not one of the league’s better offenses; they came into the game ranked No. 21 in offense per game at 325 yards. They had 332 against the Chiefs. Tannehill is still feeling his way, they were without starting running back Knowshon Moreno because of injury and the tight end was barely visible in the game plan. They have a pair of good receivers in Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, but the offensive line had two injury-replacement starters for this game at center and right guard, with a rookie right tackle.

There are never bad victories in the NFL . . . never. They are too difficult to acquire and after all the hard work that goes into preparation, every winning Sunday should be celebrated, especially when it’s the first of the season.

It’s too early to tell whether or not the victory over the Dolphins was a harbinger of what’s still left for the Chiefs in the season’s next 13 games. What we do know is whether they go up or down, they will go with a fighting attitude, even if their best players are not on the field.

No Jamaal, No Problem As Chiefs Beat Miami, 34-15

Jamaal Charles never left the Chiefs bench on Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. He wore a Chiefs t-shirt, red shorts and a Gatorade towel wrapped draped over his shoulders.

No. 25 was not available because of his sprained left ankle. But No. 34 and No. 22 stepped into the opportunity and led the Chiefs to their first victory of the season, 34-15 over the Miami Dolphins.

Knile Davis (#34) ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and Joe McKnight (#22) led all Chiefs receivers with six catches for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Alex Smith threw three touchdown passes and completed 76 percent of his passes. With help from the defense that limited the Dolphins to a single touchdown, the Chiefs earned that first “W” in a game that counted since December 15th of last season when they won on the road in Oakland.

“Our defense, any time there was an adverse situation, they bowed up and got us out of it,” said head coach Andy Reid. “We were able to run the football a little bit and Knile sure did . . . it’s not easy filling in for (No.) 25, but he did a nice job.”

The Chiefs ran for 174 yards without their best running back thanks to Davis carrying the load. He finished with 14 carries in the first half, nine runs in the third quarter and then nine more in the fourth quarter as the Chiefs pounded the Miami defensive front.

“It was a workload but I was happy to handle it,” Davis said afterwards. “As the game goes on, you become more comfortable and you become more productive. I’m tired but I could have run for a few more.”

Davis got things rolling for the Chiefs in the second quarter after the game’s first 15 minutes was a battle of punters. Neither offense was able to maintain possession and produce first downs. There were six possessions – three for each team – seven first downs and five punts in the first quarter.

Midway through the second quarter Miami kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 48-yard field goal wide left and the Chiefs had their best in the first-half field position at their 38-yard line. This one was all Davis (three carries for 25 yards) and Smith (three-for-three, for 37 yards.) The score came on a rugged 21-yard run for a touchdown by Davis. The Chiefs ran a trap play with left tackle Eric Fisher pulling to his right and opened a running lane with a nice block. Davis broke two tackles and chugged into the end zone. The PAT from Cairo Santos gave the Chiefs the early 7-0 lead.

The next time the Chiefs offense got the ball, Smith led them on an eight-play, 76-yard drive that also reached the end zone. The score came on a 20-yard pass play from Smith to tight end Travis Kelce, who did a good job of stretching the ball out and bouncing it off the goal-line pylon for his first NFL touchdown. The big plays in the drive were a 26-yard Smith to McKnight completion and then an 11-yard run on third down by Davis.

That should have sent the Chiefs to the half-time locker room with a 14-0 lead, but Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill drove his offense 74 yards down the field, hitting five of six throws and setting up a 22-yard field goal by Sturgis on the final play of the first half.

After winning the coin toss to start the game and deferring the option, the Chiefs had the first possession of the second half. But they blew that chance when on the third play Smith was sacked and fumbled, with Miami defensive end Derrick Shelby recovering the ball at the Chiefs 19-yard line.

The Dolphins scored what would be their only touchdown of the day, as Tannehill hit wide receiver Brian Hartline for a one-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick made the score 14-10.

But it was after his touchdown that Hartline made the dumb move of performing some sort of touchdown celebration with his teammates. That drew a penalty of 15 yards and when Sturgis kicked off, the ball was teed up on the 20-yard line. A 25-yard kickoff return by McKnight allowed the Chiefs offense to start its possession at their 34-yard line.

Smith and Davis again pushed the offense down the field, with Smith completing five of six passes for 54 yards and Davis ran three times for 19 yards. They converted a pair of third downs, including a third-and-eight where Smith used his legs and ran for 13 yards, moving the chains.

The touchdown came on an 11-yard pass and run to McKnight out of the backfield. The PAT kick gave the Chiefs a 21-10 lead.

However, in the next four minutes the Chiefs allowed the Dolphins to climb back into the game. First, they gave up a 74-yard kickoff return by Miami rookie returner Jarvis Landry. The defense didn’t allow a yard on three Miami plays and Strugis came in and kicked a 51-yard field goal.

Two minutes later, another special teams screw up (illegal block above the waist) left the offense starting a possession at the Chiefs one-yard line. On the first play, Smith was sacked in the end zone for a safety and the Chiefs lead was now 21-15.

But the Dolphins did not get another point, as the Chiefs defense twice held them on fourth downs and the offense scored two touchdowns, with Smith connecting on a four-yard scoring toss to McKnight and running back Cyrus Gray going for six yards in the final minute for a score that set the final 19-point victory.

Now, the Chiefs get an extra day to heal during the week of preparation for hosting the New England Patriots next Monday night.

“It was a good win,” said Reid. “It’s a long season and we’ve got to make sure we keep working. We’ve got a lot of room to improve. We’ve got good talent on this team that is able to get better and we’ve got to keep doing that.”

Pre-Game Report – Chiefs Vs. Dolphins

2:55 p.m. CDT – Kickoff is now just 30 minutes away for the Chiefs-Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Florida. Remember, we’ll bring you post-game coverage Sunday night and early Monday morning. Enjoy the game.

2:45 p.m. CDT – If you aren’t in the states of Missouri, Kansas and Florida there’s very little chance your nearest CBS-TV affiliate is going to show the Chiefs and Dolphins. That’s because more than 90 percent of the country is going to get the Super Bowl re-match between the Broncos and Seahawks from Seattle. Just on Friday, stations in Tampa and Panama City, Florida along with a CBS station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa shifted the game they would show from Chiefs-Dolphins to Broncos-Seahawks.

2:40 p.m. CDT – The National Weather Service forecast for kickoff is mostly cloudy, with light winds out of the southwest and a 50 percent chance of rain, and a strong chance of thunderstorms. Kickoff temperature should be right around 83 degrees with 65 percent humidity.

2:35 p.m. CDT – The Dolphins made a roster move Saturday promoting safety Brandian Ross from the practice squad and releasing defensive tackle Bruce Gaston. Ross has spent time on the Raiders active roster.

2:30 p.m. CDT – Defensively, expect coordinator Bob Sutton to go after the right side of the Dolphins offensive line. Injury replacement Dallas Thomas is making his first start in his third NFL season, while rookie right tackle Ja’Wuan James will start for just the third time. Both Thomas and James are from the University of Tennessee, where they played with the Chiefs starting right guard Zach Fulton.

2:25 p.m. CDT – This is one afternoon where the Chiefs may be able to get an edge in the game through the special teams. Last week against Buffalo, the Dolphins had a punt blocked, fumbled away a punt return and allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown.

2:20 p.m. CDT – The Chiefs get lucky in this game with Knowshon Moreno out today because of a dislocated left elbow. In nine games over his career with Denver, Moreno ran for 681 yards on 161 carries with five touchdown runs. He also caught 16 passes for 220 yards and two scoring catches. The Chiefs were Moreno’s favorite and most productive opponent to run against. In those nine games, the Broncos were 7-2.

2:15 p.m. CDT – The Dolphins are minus four starters for this game against the Chiefs. Starting at running back will be Lamar Miller, at center it’s Samson Satele, at right guard it’s Dallas Thomas and the Dolphins have not made it public who will step in at linebacker for Koa Misi.

2:05 p.m. CDT – With Jamaal Charles out of the action, Knile Davis is scheduled to get the start at running back against the Dolphins. With Eric Berry on the bench, Ron Parker is scheduled to get the start on the back line of the secondary with Husain Abdullah.

2:00 p.m. CDT – The inactive players for the Dolphins against the Chiefs are running back Knowshon Moreno, linebacker Koa Misi, center Mike Pouncey, right guard Shelley Smith, linebacker Jordan Tripp, guard Billy Turner, defensive end Terrence Fede.

1:55 p.m. CDT – The inactive players for the Chiefs against Dolphins are quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Albert Wilson running back De’Anthony Thomas, running back Jamaal Charles, safety Eric Berry, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, defensive lineman Damion Square.

1:50 p.m. CDT – The Dolphins say they’ve sold 70,000 tickets for this game. They are also handing out 65,000 aqua-colored t-shirts to the fans coming into the stadium. So instead of a blackout or whiteout, would this be an aquaout?

1:45 p.m. CDT – It appears the Chiefs and Dolphins will start the game under mostly cloudy skies, with the potential for thunderstorms in south Florida before the end of the action. The playing field at Sun Life Stadium is normally one of the best draining surfaces in the NFL. History indicates it will be the falling rain that causes more problems than the effect on the fields. More weather details closer to kickoff.

Week #3 Notes: Cradle of Kickers – St. Augustine, FL?

Some 300 miles from Miami, traveling up Interstate-95 along the east coast of Florida is St. Augustine.

Known as the oldest continuously inhabited village in the continental United States, St. Augustine saw European explorers as early as Ponce de Leon in 1513 and what became a permanent settlement was set up in 1565. There’s 600 years of history there that went down on the Atlantic Ocean and in the many rivers that crisscross the city.

But it’s doubtful anyone has ever called St. Augie the cradle of kickers. But of the 32 men booting the ball in the NFL, two are from St. Augustine and they’ll be together on the field Sunday afternoon when the Chiefs and Dolphins face off back down I-95 in Miami Gardens.

Caleb Sturgis will be kicking for the Dolphins. He’s in his second season with the team out of the University of Florida and St. Augustine High School. Cairo Santos will be booting the ball for the Chiefs. He will be in his third NFL game after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane University with his high school days coming at St. Joseph Academy in St. Augustine.

Of the 30 other kickers this week around the league there are two that kicked at the same high school – Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, California: Nick Folk of the New York Jets and Kai Forbath of the Washington Redskins. Sturgis and Santos are two of six kickers that have come out of Florida, from St. Augustine in the north, to Ft. Lauderdale in the south. There are also six Texas raised kickers in the league. No other state or area had more than two kickers.

Sturgis and Santos have never kicked against each other in a game – St. Augie and St. Joe were in different leagues and classifications, so they never went head-to-head. But they have spent many hours kicking together in St. Augustine during springs and summers when they came back for visits. …Read More!

Tamba Hali vs. Branden Albert – One More Time

Through his nine seasons in the NFL, Tamba Hali has been taking notes, a lot of notes. Before each game in preparation, and after each game in analyzing the action, Hali records what he saw on tape and then what he saw in live action from the guy trying to block him.

But in week three of this, his ninth season, Hali didn’t have any notes to use in his preparation to face the left tackle of the Miami Dolphins, a fellow by the name of Branden Albert.

“It’s all right here,” Hali said Friday, taping his head to indicate his scouting report was filed away on his mental hard drive. “We both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses that’s for sure.”

Hali actually has more information about Albert than any opponent he’s faced since arriving in 2006. That’s what comes from six years of going against each other constantly in practices and training camp. They probably had a thousand or more snaps between the 2008 season when Albert arrived as a first-round draft choice, through the 2013 season that proved to be the last for Albert in red and gold. In March he signed a five-year $47 million contract with the Dolphins as an unrestricted free agent.

Has Albert been sharing what he knows about the Chiefs defensive scheme? …Read More!

Officials Look: Triplette Crew For Chiefs-Dolphins

The Chiefs are without a victory in the young 2014 NFL season, but one part of their troubles has not been penalties.

So far, they’ve seen 10 flags walked off against them for 87 yards. That’s No. 6 in the league for fewest penalties and No. 7 for fewest penalty yards. Overall, in the Chiefs first two games there have been 33 penalties and 268 yards walked off against both teams.

This week, the Chiefs will get referee Jeff Triplette (right) and his veteran crew when they face the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Triplette is in his 19th season as an NFL official, joining the league in 1996 as a field judge and promoted to referee in 1999.

Off the field, he’s the CEO and President of ArbiterSports, a business he founded that’s developed hardware and software that allows sporting organizations to educate, assign and pay officials for any athletic event. Triplette has also worked in risk management consulting and worked 32 years for Duke Energy Corporation in North Carolina. He’s a retired Colonel with over 32 years of service in the U.S. Army National Guard and Reserve. He was awarded the Bronze Star while serving in the first Persian Gulf War.

Triplette and his crew worked the Jacksonville at Philadelphia game in the opening weekend, and they had St. Louis at Tampa Bay last Sunday. Home teams are 1-1 on the season with Triplette as the referee. His crew has walked off a total of 22 penalties for 200 yards. That ranks them near the top of the list of NFL crews that have thrown the fewest flags. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – September 19

From the Truman Sports Complex

Jamaal Charles was working, De’Anthony Thomas was not as the Chiefs wrapped up preparations for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.

The practice report was identical to what went down during Thursday’s workout when Charles was a limited participant. Thomas along with safety Eric Berry were not on the field.

It remains hard to believe that Charles will be able to play on Sunday with his high ankle sprain. Should he play against the Dolphins, remarkable might not be a strong enough word to describe his comeback. Generally that injury is a four to six-week recovery period.

Thomas continues to be sidelined with the hamstring injury suffered on September 3 during practice. On Wednesday, the rookie from the University of Oregon spoke with excitement about getting his first chance to play in a regular-season game. He was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice but now it’s obvious that he had some sort of setback in trying to return to the field.

Berry will likely be listed as out or doubtful for Sunday against the Dolphins; he hasn’t practiced all week due to the sprained ankle suffered in Denver.

Chiefs Practice Report/Injury Update – September 18

From the Truman Sports Complex

It was good news, bad news day for the Chiefs at practice on Thursday afternoon.

Jamaal Charles with his high ankle sprain was on the practice field, as a limited – it appeared very limited – participant. That was the good news for Andy Reid.

The bad news was that rookie running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas was not on the field. After missing two weeks due to a hamstring injury, Thomas returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited capacity. No word on whether his non-participation was due to a setback or other reasons.

During the portion of practice open for viewing by the media, Charles ran through position drills with the rest of the backs, although he appeared to be moving at less than full speed. Head trainer Rick Burkholder watched every step Charles took. He remains very questionable for Sunday’s game against Miami, but his participation was a good sign for the Chiefs and his recovery.

Also missing from practice was safety Eric Berry with his sprained ankle.

Here are the practice reports for both teams from Thursday: …Read More!

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Dolphins

There’s a lot on the line for both the Chiefs and Dolphins in the third game on the 2014 NFL schedule.

Kansas City needs a victory after losing two by a combined score of 50-27. Miami wants to contend in what could be a competitive AFC East, especially after the Fins season opener beat down of the Patriots. They gave some of that back with a 19-point loss to Buffalo last Sunday. They need to protect their home field if they want to have any chance in the division.

As it shakes out, the Chiefs have a very slight advantage over the Dolphins when the teams are matched position-by-position. The Chiefs have a slight offensive edge thanks to Alex Smith, Knile Davis and the tight ends. Miami has the better groups on the line of scrimmage, something that hasn’t been said about south Florida’s team very often in recent seasons.

If both teams play like they did in the season’s first week, the Dolphins will cruise to an easy victory. If both clubs play like they did last week, the Chiefs have a serious chance to win one on the road.

Here is the head-to-head, position-by-position tale of the tape: …Read More!

Snap Judgments/Denver: Living With A Rookie Kicker

Back in the 1980s the Chiefs had a punter named Jim Arnold. He was a Southern boy out of Georgia and he was as down home a character as one could find in an NFL locker room.

Arnold was a pretty good punter for three seasons (1983-85) with the Chiefs and had a 12-year career in the NFL. To last a dozen seasons as a punter/kicker in the league, a leg man must learn to deal with the stress of performance, the highs and the lows of putting foot to ball and the expectations of coaches, teammates and the fans.

“There are three gremlins you can’t let into your head,” Arnold used to say. “You can’t have fear, doubt and worry sitting on your shoulder. It’s no way to kick. You can’t let them in your head.”

Two games into his NFL career Cairo Santos battles Arnold’s gremlins. Fear, doubt and worry have landed on the narrow shoulder pads of the Chiefs rookie kicker. Just check out the agonizing picture with this post, taken in Denver after he missed the second of his two field goal attempts. That’s a young man grabbing his helmet’s facemask as if he’s trying to hold onto his confidence.

Two games, four field goal attempts, two made, a 50 percent success rate and major concern about whether Santos is up to the task.

“Sometimes you get into a funk as a kicker and you’ve got to work your way out of it,” Andy Reid said of his rookie foot. “He hasn’t missed many field goals in his time, so this is a new experience for him. …Read More!

Report Card – Chiefs Vs. Broncos


PASSING OFFENSE:  B – Although he was under pass-rush pressure for most of the game, Alex Smith used his legs to run away from sacks and he was smart throwing the ball. Smith was accurate on safe throws and when there wasn’t anybody open, he threw it away three or four times. In 44 passing plays, Smith was sacked twice, a better average than the Chiefs showed last week in the opener.

RUSHING OFFENSE:  C – Running away from Denver’s pass rush, Smith ran for 42 yards, including a big 25-yard run on a third-and-four play. With Jamaal Charles out early in the first quarter due to injury, Knile Davis stepped in and got the bulk of the carries, 22 of 31 runs and two touchdown runs. He got 25 of those yards on a single run and finished with 79 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: D – Peyton Manning did not light up the stat sheet throwing against the Chiefs, but he posted all the Broncos needed for the victory. He completed 81 percent of his passes for an average of 9.3 yards an attempt with three touchdowns. The K.C. pass rush got him on the ground one time and was credited with just one other hit on the passer.

RUSH DEFENSE: C – Denver tried to use its running game to balance up the offensive attack, but the Chiefs were able to limit the success of Montee Ball and C.J. Anderson, who combined for 17 carries and 91 yards. The Broncos hit only one big run play, with Ball going for 23 of the team’s 88 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D – Andy Reid says he still has confidence in his rookie kicker Cairo Santos, despite another missed field goal, this time from 37 yards. Santos is just two of four on his FGs, a 50 percent success rate that generally spells doom for NFL kickers. The Chiefs gave up a 54-yard kickoff return as well to Andre Caldwell.

COACHING: C – After a disastrous performance from Reid and his staff in the season opener against Tennessee, this veteran group put together plans on offense and defense that allowed the undermanned Chiefs to push the game’s outcome down to the final minute. Reid did not abandon the running game even though his team trailed by 11 points at halftime.

Chiefs Put Up A Fight But Denver Still Wins, 24-17

 

It was an afternoon that was not expected to be pleasant for the Kansas City Chiefs. Seldom is the annual visit to the mile high aura of Denver something to remember as fun.

Over the years, so many were just like what happened Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field. The Chiefs put up a fight and with less than 30 seconds to play they had the chance to tie the score, maybe even go for the victory. In the end, it was like so many other trips west on I-70 to the foothills of the Rockies – a loss. The Chiefs dropped to 0-2 on the season with a 24-17 loss to the Broncos.

This was a game with plenty of twists and turns, especially in the second half that the Chiefs dominated on offense and defense. In the end, they couldn’t make up for Peyton Manning’s three touchdown passes.

Here’s our look at another rocky mountain low for the Chiefs:

Reid Has Confidence In His Rookie Kicker – For Now

Two games into the season, does head coach Andy Reid have second thoughts about the Chiefs decision to go with rookie kicker Cairo Santos instead of veteran Ryan Succop?

“No, I don’t,” Reid said after Sunday’s loss to Denver in a game where Santos went just one of two on field goals. “He’s got to kick better . . . we have trust in him.”

On his first opportunity of the game, Santos hit a knuckle ball kick but it was good from 45 yards and put the first Kansas City points on the board. That was late in the first quarter and the field goal moved the scoreboard to 7-3 in favor of the Broncos.

His second chance came with five minutes to play in the third quarter, at the end of what was a 19-play possession that chewed up the clock for 10 minutes. When the drive bogged down on a holding call and a sack of quarterback Alex Smith, Santos was called on to attempt a 37-yard field goal.

But his kick was no good. It was more than long enough, but it went just to the right of the right upright and the Chiefs got nothing out of the long possession. It left Denver with a 21-10 lead in what would become a scoreless third quarter.

That leaves him two of four on the season, and 50 percent on FGs is not going to allow any kicker to survive in the NFL. Questions immediately flow as to where the rookie’s confidence sits. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub said during the week that Santos was “just anxious.

“It was his first game,” added Toub, who said his field goal attempts that hit both uprights were off-line because he was lifting his head trying to watch the kicks rather than following through correctly with his head down. “He was looking up to see the result of the kick. He did it on both kicks and it’s something that he normally doesn’t do.”

Whether he did it again in Denver will be discovered on the film. But the kicker is responsible for more than the field goals. Santos kicked off four times, with his first three kicks going for touchbacks. However, the fourth one came down at the goal line and Broncos returner Andre Caldwell brought it out for a 54-yard return into Chiefs territory. That good field position set up the Denver field goal that set the final score at 24-17.

“When he settles down, he’ll be . . . he’s just got to do that,” said Reid. “He kicks it fine.”

Column: Missed Opportunity Stings Chiefs

It’s one of those questions discussed in academic settings, generally within some philosophy setting or curriculum – what’s worse, never having opportunity, or having opportunity and not achieving with the chance?

The Chiefs had a great opportunity on Sunday in Denver. They put themselves in position to shock the NFL world and pull off the biggest upset of the young 2014 season. They dominated the second half of the game at Sports Authority Field, producing long offensive drives that kept Peyton Manning on the sidelines and with contributions from the Chiefs defense, they were able to crawl back from an 11-point half-time deficit and have the chance to push the game into overtime.

It did not happen. The Chiefs could not take advantage of the opportunity they made for themselves and ended up losing 24-17 to the Broncos. They’ve now stumbled to a 0-2 record to start the season with Miami, New England and San Francisco on the horizon over the next three weeks.

The post-game voices led by head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith were quick to discount the idea of “moral victories” coming out of the events of this Sunday. That’s a sentiment that they must believe in and work hard at making sure the rest of the locker room and organization feels the same way. More than a few folks will talk glowingly of the Chiefs performance without mentioning the fact that it was a losing effort, just like the one they suffered in the season opener against Tennessee.

Satisfaction should not be the emotion of these Chiefs. It should be anger bubbling inside this team.

They blew the chance to take the team considered the best in their division and conference into overtime if they had scored a touchdown at the end of the first 60 minutes and tied the score. Or, maybe Reid would have shocked everyone by going for two points after the touchdown and the victory. In any manner, they were in position to win the game. It didn’t happen; a wasted opportunity.

There are many indicators that define the difference between contender and pretender. Being in the position to win a game on the road as a big underdog does not qualify a team as a contender. Being in that position and winning separates the pretenders from the contenders. Pretenders have opportunity and allow it to slip through their fingers.

That’s what the Chiefs did in Denver. There can be plenty of talk about the factors that led to this game being in doubt with seconds to play and the Chiefs knocking on the end zone door. But that chatter bogs down the central lesson that comes from opportunity – a team must take advantage and win.

What should make it sting even more for the Chiefs is that their opportunity on this Sunday was self-made. They were in the position to beat their rival because of what they did and how they handled the Denver defense and kept Manning and the Broncos offense bottled up in the second half.

That scenario seems almost impossible given the fact that Derrick Johnson, Mike DeVito, Jeff Allen, De’Anthony Thomas, Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Donald Stephenson were not on the field for the second half. That’s six starters and a rookie that was expected to make big contributions on offense and special teams.

The huddle and the coaches were all on the same page on this afternoon. The game plans on offense and defense were good ones, and exploited some holes in the Broncos despite their status as AFC favorite. Alex Smith had a day that showed why he was worth getting the big money from the Chiefs. Running back Knile Davis did his job – stepping in for Charles who left with a sprained ankle and he became a major part of the offense. Tight ends Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce showed what’s possible in the Reid passing attack with big guys that can catch.

It’s all just smoke right now because the Chiefs did not win. We are not talking of a 2-14 team trying to battle back to a position of relevance in the league with new players and coaches. They did all of that last year. There’s supposed to be growth from the minor success of 2013, but in two games there are only hints of forward movement.

And, we must remember that it is only two games; there are 14 more to play. If the Chiefs should happen to get themselves in position again to win a game they were expected to lose, they have to win.

That’s what pro football is about – victory. Not moral victory. Just victory.

Strong Chiefs Effort Wasn’t Enough To Beat Denver

As bad as the Chiefs felt last Sunday losing the regular-season opener to Tennessee, it was not nearly as gut wrenching as what happened on this Sunday at Sports Authority Field in Denver.

Down by 11 points at half-time, the Chiefs dominated the ball in the second half, bottled up the Broncos offense and had a chance to push the game into overtime with just seconds left to play and the ball at the Denver 2-yard line.

But a fourth-down throw by Alex Smith to Dwayne Bowe at the goal line was incomplete, tipped by a Denver defensive lineman and spoiling the Chiefs comeback as the Broncos stole away with a 24-17 victory Sunday afternoon.

“It was an intense, physical game, what you expect in a divisional rivalry,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “There are no moral victories; we need to continue to build.”

The Chiefs are now 0-2 and like last Sunday, they face some injury questions involving key players. Running back Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry left the game in the first half with ankle injuries and did not return.

“We are not in the business of moral victories; we don’t look at it that way,” said head coach Andy Reid. “But I appreciate the effort. That can take you a long way . . . with that kind of effort we can do some things.”

Denver is 2-0 and headed to Seattle next Sunday to face the defending champion Seahawks. For the second week in a row, they lived in danger of losing a big first-half lead and the victory in the second half. They walked away again against the Chiefs.

Offensively, the Chiefs came alive even without their best player in Charles, as Knile Davis stepped in and handled the duties, touching the ball 28 times for 105 yards and two touchdown runs. Smith was nothing short of sensational as he ran his way out of trouble (five times for 42 yards) and made good decisions in and out of the pocket with 42 passes thrown, none intercepted and 255 passing yards.

But victory escaped them because of poor play in the scoring zone. On four different possessions they got inside the Denver 10-yard line. They scored twice, but got no points out of the other two.

“When you are in the red zone twice you need to make sure you score,” said Reid. “I need to make sure I put guys in position to score and we need to take care of business down there.”

The Chiefs entered the game as a 13-point underdog, the biggest point-spread difference in the league’s second week. Right off the opening kickoff it had the air of a long afternoon. After winning the coin toss the Chiefs deferred their choice to the second half and kicked off to Denver. Normally that’s not the way to go when playing a Peyton Manning-led offense, but Reid made the call and after a touchback, the Broncos started at their 20-yard line.

On the very first play, speedy wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders out ran the coverage of cornerback Marcus Cooper and connected with Manning for a 48-yard play. Six plays later, where Denver mixed the run and pass, Manning hooked up with tight end Julius Thomas in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick by Brandon McManus gave the Broncos the opening 7-0 lead.

Later in the first quarter, the Chiefs moved the ball to the Broncos 27-yard line but had to settle for a 45-yard field goal by Cairo Santos and it was 7-3. On their first possession of the second quarter, Smith led the offense 66 yards on 10 plays as Davis scored on a 2-yard run. Santos’ kick gave the Chiefs a 10-7 lead that shocked everyone but them.

But on his next chance with the ball, Manning directed a 75-yard, seven-play drive where Denver had six first down plays, and only one second-down snap. Manning was five-for- five throwing the ball, including the 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jacob Tamme. He had completions of 16, six, 16 and 12 yards before the scoring throw. Running back Montee Ball added a 17-yard run and the Broncos led for good 14-10, halfway through the second quarter.

Right before intermission, Manning threw his third touchdown pass of the first half, connecting with wide receiver Demaryius Thomas on a 12-yard connection with Manning where the quarterback threw a perfect ball that beat cornerback Chris Owens. At half-time it was 21-10.

The Chiefs had the first chance of the second half and they put together one of the best defensive efforts that an offense could provide their teammates. It was a 20-play drive that kept Manning on the sideline for a full 10 minutes, as the Chiefs converted five times on third down plays and moved to the Denver 3-yard line with a first-and-goal situation. But a holding penalty against rookie right guard Zach Fulton and a sack of Smith left them at the 19-yard line.

With a 37-yard field goal attempt, Santos pushed his kick to the right and all that effort produced na-da for the Chiefs.

On the next K.C. possession, Smith drove the offense 90 yards on 14 plays, holding the ball for 7 minutes, 42 seconds and they put points on the with another touchdown from Davis, this time from four yards. The PAT had the scoreboard at 21-17 midway through the fourth quarter.

Denver pushed its lead to seven points on a 20-yard field goal by McManus, after they had a first-and-goal at the Chiefs 10-yard line.

That gave the Chiefs seven points to make up with 3: to play and only one timeout in their pocket, along with the two-minute warning. Twice it looked like the Chiefs had given the ball away on an interception by Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and what was ruled on the field a Smith fumble. But the interception was wiped out by a Denver offside penalty, and the fumble was overturned on a replay review, as the officials ruled the play an incomplete forward pass by Smith.

The Chiefs sat first-and-goal at the Broncos 9-yard line with to play. Davis ran for two yards and Smith threw three yards to wide receiver Donnie Avery moving the ball to the 4-yard line. On third down, Denver defensive end DeMarcus Ware was flagged for being offside, moving the ball half-the-distance to the 2-yard line.

Davis was held to no gain on a run, and then on fourth down, Smith’s throw to Bowe at the goal line was tipped at the line of scrimmage by Denver defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and the ball fluttered behind Bowe, ending the possession and the Chiefs dreams of pushing the game into overtime.

“It’s a game we can learn from,” said Smith. “We improved in some areas, like third downs (converting 11 of 16); there are other things we did better than we did last week.

“We just have to keep working.”

2014 NFL Roster Numbers

It’s just about impossible with 32 rosters in the NFL to put together a completely accurate picture of all 53 players with each team. That’s 1,696 players, with about 50 of those names in flux every week of the season.

But the league sat down and put together some numbers on the average height, weight, age and experience for the 32 rosters and their players.

When it comes to height and weight there is not a lot of difference from the tallest and heaviest to the shortest and lightest. There are more differences between teams in age, NFL experience and players 30 years and older.

The Chiefs average 6-feet, 1½ inches, making them tied for 23rd among the tallest teams. They average 243.89 pounds, making them one of the league’s lightest squads, ranked at No. 28. The average age of the roster was 25.72 and that tied them at the 11th youngest team in the league. They averaged 3.75 seasons of play in the league, tied for No. 9 in least experienced. They were tied for eighth in rookies and first-year players with 12 and they were No. 17 with the most players that are 30 or older with eight players.

Here are the No. 1 and No. 32 teams in each category.

  • Height: tallest – Arizona, 6-feet, 2 ¼ inches; shortest – Cleveland, 6-feet, 1 ¼ inches.
  • Weight: heaviest – Indianapolis, 252.26 pounds; lightest – Seattle, 242.26 pounds.
  • Age: oldest – Chicago, 27.08 years; youngest – St. Louis, 25.15 years.
  • Experience: most – Chicago, 4.94 seasons; least – St. Louis 3.26 seasons.
  • Rookies/1st-Year: most – Cleveland, 14; least – Tennessee, 6.
  • Players 30 or older: most – Chicago 16; least – St. Louis 3. …Read More!

Officials Preview: Chiefs vs. Broncos

Last week the Chiefs saw an NFL rookie in Ronald Torbert leading the officiating crew onto the field for the season opener against Tennessee. Torbert was handling his first regular-season game as a referee.

This week the Chiefs see a seasoned pro in Gene Steratore and his crew for the game against the Broncos in Denver.

Steratore is in his 12th season as an NFL official and he’s been a referee since 2006. He has not worked a Chiefs game since November 2012 when he led the crew for the game against Cincinnati at Arrowhead Stadium.

Last week, the Steratore crew worked the Cincinnati at Baltimore game, where the road team was able to win. Overall, there were seven penalties walked off in the game for 74 yards. That was the fewest flags and penalty yards in any of the opening weekend games. The group threw eight flags, with one penalty declined, and it was four on the offense, three on defense and once in the kicking game. They showed no obvious tendencies but they flagged offensive holding twice and called unnecessary roughness twice. There was only one penalty involving pass coverage and that was a defensive pass interference against Cincinnati.

In the first weekend of the regular season, home teams won 10 of the 16 games. In seven of those games the team with the fewest penalties walked off against them won. The most penalized team was St. Louis, hit with 13 flags for 121 yards by Ed Hochuli’s crew. The least penalized team was Tampa Bay in its loss to Carolina. The Buccaneers had three penalties for 15 yards. …Read More!

Next Opponent – Denver Broncos


Game – No. 2.

Opponent – Denver Broncos.

Franchise began – in 1960 as one of the original teams in the American Football League established by Lamar Hunt. The founder of the Denver franchise was the Howsam family with father Lee and brothers Bob and Earl. With Bob Howsam in charge, they got the franchise off the ground for the initial AFL season.

OwnershipPatrick Bowlen and family. The Bowlens bought the team in 1984 from Edgar Kaiser for approximately $70 million. Kaiser and his family’s business empire that was founded by his grandfather were facing financial difficulties at the time, so he sold the team that he bought in 1981 for $33 million. Joining Pat Bowlen in ownership were his brothers John and Bill and sister Marybeth. On July 23rd of this year, the 70-year old Bowlen gave up control of the franchise because of the memory issues he was dealing with as a result of Alzheimer’s disease.

General ManagerJohn Elway is following up his Hall of Fame playing career with a very successful stint as the man in charge of the football operations with the Broncos, or the fancy title of executive vice-president/general manager. Elway was named to the job on January 5, 2011 by the team’s managing owner Patrick Bowlen. In Elway’s three full seasons as G.M., the Broncos have a record of 38-17, a .691 winning percentage with three straight AFC West division titles and a trip last February to the Super Bowl. As a starting quarterback with the Broncos from 1983-98, Elway posted a winning percentage of .645 (162-89-1.) …Read More!

Notes: 3rd Down Failures Halt Chiefs Offense

From Arrowhead Stadium

Third downs killed the Chiefs offense all afternoon in their 26-10 loss to Tennessee.

Quarterback Alex Smith talked after the game about the lack of offensive rhythm caused by the inability to convert on third down, moving the chains and earning another set of downs.

On 12 third-down plays the Chiefs converted just once themselves, while getting a first down from Tennessee on a penalty. Here’s the ugly picture of the team’s offensive problems with third down:

  • 3rd-and-1, Smith pass to running back Jamaal Charles for 14 yards. FIRST DOWN.
  • 3rd-and-3, Smith sacked for a three-yard loss. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-9, Smith throws to tight end Anthony Fasano for six yards. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-8, Smith scrambles for three yards. The Chiefs kick a 35-yard field goal.
  • 3rd-and-12, Smith throws incomplete to wide receiver Donnie Avery. Cairo Santos misses a 48-yard FG.
  • 3rd-and-7, Smith runs for three yards and Titans hit with an unnecessary roughness penalty. FIRST DOWN.
  • 3rd-and-5, Titans sack Smith for minus-six yards. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-10, Another Tennessee sack, this time for minus-seven yards.
  • 3rd-and-5, Smith throws incomplete. The Chiefs ran a fake punt but can’t convert for the first down.
  • 3rd-and-7, Incomplete pass to wide receiver Junior Hemingway
  • 3rd-and 15, Charles catches a pass from Smith for no yards. Punt.
  • 3rd-and-4, Smith’s pass to Avery is intercepted.

The Chiefs offense faced an average of seven yards for a first down on third downs. Overall, those 12 plays gained a total of 10 offensive yards. Smith was sacked three times, while throwing seven passes, completing just two throws and finishing up with an interception.

McCluster enjoys his K.C. return

It was hard to believe at the end of Sunday’s game that Tennessee running back Dexter McCluster finished with more offensive yards than former teammate running back Jamaal Charles. McCluster had the ball in his hands 10 times, picking up 46 offensive yards. Charles had 11 touches for only 34 yards.

“I knew the opportunities would be there and I am thankful for it,” McCluster said after his first regular-season game with the Titans.

After four seasons with the Chiefs, McCluster left in free agency back in March, signing with Tennessee and taking his moves and quickness to Nashville. It’s been a complete transition for the 2010 second-round draft choice since Kansas City was all he knew in his short NFL life.

“My family was here; we were very comfortable,” McCluster said. “In this game you have to adjust on the fly. When adversity strikes you have to be ready for change.”

While his address has changed, he’s serving the same role with the Titans that he served with the Chiefs: catching passes out of the backfield, running outside the tackles and returning punts. Against the Chiefs he had one punt return for minus-2 yards.

Arrowhead Atmosphere Report

The Chiefs claimed 73,569 tickets sold for Sunday’s game with approximately 70,000 in house. The crowd was loud in the first half, even drawing a false start penalty from Titans left tackle Michael Roos on Tennessee’s first offensive play. Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt was happy with how his team handled the noise and atmosphere of Arrowhead.

“It’s always tough when you come into a place like this with the noise,” Whisenhunt said. “We had issues with it and we struggled to protect a little bit because of it. We’ll try to learn from it, but I’m happy with the way our team responded. It’s one of the things we talked about during the week. When you come on the road to an environment like this with the noise you going to have to respond to at some point, and we did that.”

By the start of the fourth quarter, the only noise inside the stadium was the booing from Chiefs fans unhappy with their team. Halfway through the final period there were not enough fans remaining in the stands to work up a good chorus of raspberries as 90 percent of the crowd was already in the parking lots or driving home.

Special teams report

Punter Dustin Colquitt kicked five times and averaged 42.6 yards, with a net average of 43 yards. He knocked two punts inside the 20-yard line on kicks of 37, 50, 30, 44 and 52 yards. McCluster had three fair catches and one punt went out of bounds. The only punt returned was for minus-2 yards as McCluster was dropped immediately by Chiefs cornerback Chris Owens in coverage . . . fullback Anthony Sherman had a tackle and forced a fumble on a kickoff return, but Tennessee was able to cover up the ball . . . rookie safety Daniel Sorensen also was credited with a tackle in the kicking game . . . Frank Hammond had four punt returns for 47 yards, including a 30-yard run . . . Knile Davis had two kickoff returns, his longest going for 32 yards . . . a fake punt did not produce a first down as Cyrus Gray ran for four yards on 4th-and-5 play.

Sunday personnel report

Serving as captains for the Chiefs were P Dustin Colquitt, QB Alex Smith, RB Jamaal Charles, S Eric Berry and LB Derrick Johnson. Tennessee won the coin toss when McCluster called tails and that’s how the coin fell. The Titans decided to defer their opportunity to the second-half kickoff.

Of the 46 active players on Sunday for the Chiefs, only No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel did not play. Running back Joe McKnight saw just one play on special teams. For the Titans No. 2 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst did not see the field.

The inactive players for the Chiefs were QB Aaron Murray, RB De’Anthony Thomas, S Kurt Coleman, CB Marcus Cooper, C Eric Kush, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and DE Damion Square. The inactive Tennessee players were QB Zach Mettenberger, WR T.J. Graham, WR Kris Durham, LB Akeem Ayers, OT Byron Stingily, DL Mike Martin and DL DaQuan Jones.

Sixth-round draft choice Zach Fulton started at right guard, becoming the first late-round Chiefs draft choice to start as a rookie since 1984 when seventh-round selection Kevin Ross opened the season at cornerback. Fulton was one of eight players on the K.C. roster playing their first NFL game: kicker Cairo Santos, wide receivers Frankie Hammond and Albert Wilson, defensive backs Phillip Gaines and Daniel Sorensen, outside linebacker Dee Ford and tight end Demetrius Harris.

Along with those eight another seven players made their first appearance in a regular-season game wearing a Chiefs uniform: cornerback Chris Owens, running back  Joe McKnight, safety Kelcie McCray, offensive tackle Ryan Harris, guard Jeff Linkenbach, guard Mike McGlynn and linebacker  Josh Mauga.

Reporting other numbers

Safety Eric Berry led all tacklers with 15 total stops . . . middle linebacker Josh Mauga had eight total tackles . . . the Chiefs four sacks went to outside linebacker Justin Houston (2) and defensive ends Vance Walker and Allen Bailey . . . before he left with his Achilles tendon injury, defensive end Mike DeVito knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage . . . Berry, Mauga and safety Husain Abdullah all had hits on Titans quarterback Jake Locker . . . wide receiver Donnie Avery was targeted on 13 of the 35 passes thrown by quarterback Alex Smith, or 37 percent of the attempts. Overall the wide guys had 17 targets, catching eight passes . . . tight ends Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce were targeted 11 times, catching six passes and running backs had five targets with five catches.

4 Keys For A Chiefs Victory / Recap

4

Keep hands off the Titans receivers

Should the NFL have its zebras calling the game as closely as happened during the pre-season will be shown in this first weekend of action. The Chiefs need to approach their season opener against the Titans with the notion that when in coverage, the officials are going to be watching them like a hawk scans a country meadow. Tennessee has weapons among their receivers. There’s a crafty 10-year veteran Nate Washington, along with speedy youngsters Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. As a rookie last year, Hunter had only 18 catches but he averaged 19.7 yards a reception. The Chiefs defense cannot afford to give them penalty yards and first downs with handsy coverage.

OUTCOME: the Chiefs actually pulled this off, with not a single coverage penalty against them. That should have led to a victory, but the 266 passing yards picked up by Titans quarterback Jake Locker may have been an indication the defense should have been more physical, penalty flags be dammned. PUSH.

3

Win the special teams competition

The kicking game this weekend is about more than just Ryan Succop going against his old team and its new kicker in rookie Cairo Santos. There are talented performers on both teams, especially among the returners. The Chiefs have Knile Davis, the Titans have veteran returner Leon Washington with eight career TDs on kickoffs and former Chiefs returner Dexter McCluster on punts where he has three career touchdowns. Santos should eliminate Washington by knocking his kickoffs out of the back of the end zone. Punter Dustin Colquitt needs to throw a few knuckleballs in McCluster’s direction. And, Santos must complete every opportunity that comes his way on field goals and kickoffs.

OUTCOME: the Chiefs did not win special teams. They didn’t get beat in the kicking game, but they didn’t win either and they could have used that type of boost. FAILED.

2

Take advantage of Jake Locker’s inexperience

Sunday will be Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker’s 19th NFL start, right in the wheelhouse where inexperience can rear its ugly head on decision making in the pocket. It always helps to get the quarterback on the ground when he’s trying to throw, but the Chiefs defense must make sure they keep Locker contained because he can run. This will require edge rushers Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and rookie Dee Ford to proceed with caution. What would help is pressure up the middle of the pocket from Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey, maybe even Derrick Johnson on the blitz. If the defense can make Locker nervous they increase their chances of winning the opener.

OUTCOME: K.C.’s defense completely failed in this area, as Locker was not bothered by anything Bob Sutton was able to do with his defensive schemes or talents. FAILED.

1

Consistent and productive play from the offensive line

The injuries, suspensions and shuffling made it impossible for the Chiefs No. 1 offensive line to develop any continuity through training camp and the four pre-season games. That’s not a good scenario to start the season, as the five-man group that fronts the offense must work in concert if Jamaal Charles is going to be productive and Alex Smith has the time he needs to throw the ball. Expect the Titans to lineup defensive tackle Jurrell Casey head-up across from rookie Zach Fulton. Casey is one of the league’s best performers among interior defensive linemen; his 10.5 sacks led all defensive tackles last season. He’ll certainly get some help from center Rodney Hudson, but Fulton must grow up quickly.

OUTCOME: This did not get done for the Chiefs offense. There were times when they were able to keep the pass rush off quarterback Alex Smith, but they were not consistent and the offense was certainly not productive. FAILED.

Officials Review: Zebras Did Not Bother Chiefs

From Arrowhead Stadium

One thing that can be said for NFL rookie referee Ronald Torbert and his crew that worked Sunday’s game between the Titans and Chiefs: they did not try to take over the game.

Torbert and his guys did that several times during pre-season action, calling 32 penalties in one game. They didn’t throw away their penalty flags, as they walked off 15 penalties for 135 yards. But only three of those were penalties against the Chiefs and none were for any penalties involving pass coverage on defense.

In fact, of the 24 flags that were thrown, two penalties were waved off and among the other 22, only one involved contact in pass coverage. That call came against safety Bernard Pollard and was declined by the Chiefs.

Tennessee got the worst of the officials with 15 flags thrown against them and 10 penalties walked off. The Titans offense was called for offensive holding four different times. Plus, they were hit with a personal foul for a facemask penalty, an unnecessary roughness call and a taunting penalty against cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. He got in the face of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce after an incompletion at the goal line.

Here’s the hanky report for the Chiefs against Tennessee:

#

Team

Player

Penalty

Yards

1.

Offense

D. Avery

False start

Minus-5

2.

Offense

A. Fasano

Pass interference

Declined

3.

Defense

A. Bailey

Illegal use of hands

Declined

4.

Punt return

D. Sorensen

Offsides

Minus-5

5.

Offense

R. Hudson

Holding

Offsetting

6.

Defense

J. Mauga

Roughing the Passer

Minus-15

7.

Offense

*

Illegal Formation

Declined

Offense-4, Defense-2, Special teams-1.

Alex Smith Can’t Get The Job Done Against Titans

From Arrowhead Stadium

Last season Alex Smith tied for the league lead in fewest interceptions thrown. It was the fifth game of the 2013 schedule before he threw three interceptions. It was 176 passing attempts without the other team catching a third ball.

Things were much different on Sunday for Smith and the Chiefs offense against Tennessee. To start the 2014 season, Smith threw the ball 35 times and with those attempts came three interceptions. They were the only turnovers in the Titans 26-10 victory over the Chiefs.

Just a week after signing a four-year contract extension for $68 million with $45 million in guaranteed money, Smith had a chance to put the seal of performance on the deal. Instead, Smith had one of the worst performances of his 17 starts since coming over from San Francisco in a trade last year.

The numbers said it all:

  • 19 completions out of 35 attempts.
  • A completion percentage of 54.3 percent.
  • His average yards per attempt was 5.8 yards.
  • His average yards per completion was 10.6 yards.
  • He threw 3 interceptions.
  • A NFL passer rating of 45.2.

That wasn’t the worst passer rating of Smith’s career – in his rookie season he actually finished a game with a 8.5 passer rating when he threw four interceptions in 23 attempts against Indianapolis.

But that didn’t matter on Sunday against Tennessee that made Smith’s life very difficult and unproductive.

“We failed to get any rhythm,” Smith said of the Chiefs offense and the passing game in particular. “We had some chunk plays there early but we failed to sustain a drive. We failed to get any sort of rhythm with the run and pass. Once it became a couple-score game, we were pretty one-dimensional and we still failed to get much going.”

Only a fourth quarter, five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Anthony Fasano kept the Chiefs offense from being shut out of the end zone. After going zero touchdowns in 16 possessions during the pre-season, the No. 1 offense went 10 more chances with the ball and couldn’t score six points. That’s 26 possessions with none and 13 possessions in the regular season with one TD.

The three interceptions were the most glaring examples of the offensive problems the Chiefs had all afternoon. The first one helped set up a late field goal in the first half for the Titans, as cornerback Coty Sensabaugh grabbed a long throw intended for wide receiver Donnie Avery. “It was a miscommunication between me and Donnie as far as where he was going and what I was thinking,” said Smith. “It cost us three points. Those are the little things that add up and all the sudden you look up and the scoreboard looks like that.”

The second interception came in the third quarter and again his target was Avery, who had gotten behind cornerback Jason McCourty. But Smith’s throw was short and the Titans defensive back was able to jump and snatch it away. “When I threw the ball I didn’t see the corner,” said Smith. “I was looking at the safety and I thought Donnie had him. I was just trying to get him a catchable ball.”

The final interception came on the Chiefs last offensive play, as another throw to Avery was tipped in the air and into the hands of safety Michael Griffin.

“He was trying to make something happen and things didn’t work,” said head coach Andy Reid. “Those were opportunities to take shots and they had them covered.”

It was not the way Smith saw his first start after signing the big contract.

“It’s not fun playing football like that,” Smith said. “It’s not fun losing and certainly losing like that.”

Succop Enjoys His K.C. Return; Tough Start For Cairo

 From Arrowhead Stadium

In the span of consecutive Sundays, Ryan Succop experienced a high and low of holding the job of NFL kicker.

On Saturday, August 31st Succop got the first phone call of his football life that said he wasn’t getting the job. After five seasons the Chiefs released him and decided to start the season with undrafted rookie Cairo Santos as their kicker.

Within days, Succop got the chance to get back into the NFL, signing with the Tennessee Titans. Guess who his new team opened the season with – his old team.

That made Sunday, September 7th a special game-day for Succop even before he made all four of his field goal attempts (from 36, 31, 46 and 47 yards), both of his PAT kicks and drilled four touchbacks out of seven kickoffs for the Titans.

Tennessee beat his former Chiefs 26-10 and Succop had a central role in the victory.

“It was an awesome day,” said Succop afterwards, standing for the first time in Arrowhead’s visitors locker room. “This was a special game. It’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. You never know how things are going to go on opening day and to get off to a start like this in Arrowhead, it was special.”

Sunday was a memorable day for Santos as well, but for different reasons. The Brazil-born rookie got his first real taste of regular season NFL action and it was sour. He made his first field goal attempt, as his 35-yard kick clanged off the right upright and bounced through for three points. Later, his 48-yard attempt hit the outside of the left upright and bounced away for his first NFL miss.

Santos said his missed FG could be traced to his inexperience in understanding the swirling winds of Arrowhead.

“I gave the wind too much credit,” Santos said. “I thought the wind was going to be stronger on my 48-yarder; it (ball) stayed pretty much where I was aiming. You just have to get used to Arrowhead and I’ll definitely make some improvements and have a great game next week.”

On kickoffs, Santos had two touchbacks on his three kicks. The only kickoff returned against him landed five yards deep in the end zone, and the Chiefs nearly came up with the ball as returner Leon Washington fumbled. The Titans recovered.

“His kickoffs were decent, so that was good,” said head coach Andy Reid.

Succop had much more work to do on kickoffs, putting foot to ball seven times, with four of those going out the back of the end zone. Two others went deep into the end zone and were brought out by Chiefs returner Knile Davis. He finished off the first half with a dribbler down the middle of the field to chew up the remaining time in the period.

It was a special feeling for the Titans and the decision to bring Succop aboard on a one-year contract.

“The kickoffs, four-for-four on field goals, big field goals; I’m really excited for him because I know how it is when you come back to a team you’ve played for before. Ryan was kicking the ball right down the middle.”

Returning to Arrowhead was a joy for Succop.

“I had a great five years in Kansas City,” said Succop, the final player selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. “The fans here are fantastic. The organization is great. There’s not one bit of bitterness on my end.”

Santos was happy to see again the man he kicked against for the last few months.

“He’s a fantastic kicker and he had a fantastic game,” Santos said. “I’m extremely happy for him. He’s a great guy.”

Across The Board Failure For Chiefs in Opener, 26-10

From Arrowhead Stadium

Last Sunday, the Chiefs and their quarterback Alex Smith agreed on a contract extension that guarantees him $45 million over the next three seasons.

In Sunday’s regular-season opener against Tennessee, Smith was not the money quarterback. On a picture perfect late summer day it was Titans quarterback Jake Locker that was the star. He was on the money with his throws, hitting a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions in leading his team to a 26-10 victory over the Chiefs.

As good as the Chiefs start was last season beating Jacksonville 28-2, the 2014 opener was bad. None of the qualities Andy Reid’s team showed last year with key offensive plays, a takeaway defense and big-play special teams were visible.

“You’re certainly not going to win doing the opposite of that,’ said Smith, who turned in one of his worst passing performances of his 17 games as the Chiefs starter, capped by throwing three interceptions. “Those things that I think we did last year to win, we didn’t do them today. We didn’t execute in a lot of phases, especially on offense.”

Offensive execution is what Locker got done with the Titans. He was making his first start since a foot injury ended his 2013 season after nine games. He was calm in the pocket, accurate with his throws and Locker kept plays alive with his legs. The Titans’ 2011 first-round draft choice threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes and adding 14 yards on six carries scrambling away from pass-rush pressure. He gave up three rushing yards on two kneel-downs to end the game.

“It’s a nice way to start the season, but there’s a lot of work to do,” said Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. “We left a lot of things on the field. It wasn’t as good as we can play. It’s just one game, but the outcome was as good as we wanted.”

Not only did the Chiefs lose their opener at home, they also lost defensive leader, Pro Bowl inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, potentially for the season. Late in the first half, Kansas City’s leading tackler crumbled to the turf without being touched and was taken off the field on a motorized cart. The early diagnosis was an injury to Johnson’s right Achilles tendon.

Adding to the Chiefs’ physical pain was another Achilles tendon injury suffered in the third quarter by starting defensive end Mike DeVito that also appears to be a season-ender.

“We are going to evaluate them overnight and see,” head coach Andy Reid said of the injuries. “They ruptured their Achilles tendon. Normally they are (season ending injuries) but we’ll see what happens.”

Tennessee finished the game with 405 yards in total offense as they were able to throw the ball with Locker and run the ball with Shonn Greene and Dexter McCluster. Those two running backs had 100 of the team’s 162 rushing yards.

The Titans defense intercepted Smith three times and never allowed running back Jamaal Charles any room to run, holding him to 19 yards on seven carries and a total of 34 yards on only 11 touches.

“We failed to get him the ball, absolutely,” Smith said of Charles. “Our biggest playmaker, we need to get him involved more.”

It was a quiet scoreboard until Kansas City grabbed the game’s first lead early in the second quarter with a 35-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cairo Santos.

Locker got hot in the middle of the period and led the Titans on an 11-play, 62-yard drive that ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker. The Tennessee quarterback was 6 of 7 passing in the possession, including an earlier pass to Walker for 17 yards and a 16-yard completion to wide receiver Nate Washington.

“We didn’t get into the rhythm we wanted to as early as we wanted to,” said Locker. “We found it in the second quarter and we were able to put some points on the board. I was really proud of how the guys responded after the slow start. It gave us something to build on.”

Back-to-back Kansas City mistakes gave the Titans a chance to add a 36-yard field goal from Ryan Succop just before the end of the first half. On a Tennessee punt, Chiefs returner Frankie Hammond caught the ball at the Kansas City 2-yard line and immediately went out of bounds. In terrible field position, the Chiefs went to the air on first down and Smith’s long pass intended for wide receiver Donnie Avery was intercepted by Titans cornerback Jason McCourty.

With possession at the Kansas City 42-yard line, Locker moved his offense 24 yards in four plays, setting up the Succop field goal and a 10-3 halftime lead.

Tennessee opened the second half with a long scoring drive, going 80 yards on nine plays before Locker and wide receiver Kendall Wright connected on a six-yard scoring pass. Succop’s PAT gave the Titans a 17-3 lead. Before the game was over, Succop added field goals of 31, 46 and 47 yards.

The Chiefs tacked on a late touchdown on a 10-play, 80-yard drive with a five-yard pass from Smith to tight end Anthony Fasano.

But Smith threw a pair of interceptions in the second half and other than the 80 yards on the touchdown drive, the Chiefs offense produced only 26 net yards on their five other possessions.

“It’s not fun playing football like that,” said Smith. “It’s not fun losing like that. We’ve got a lot of football ahead of us and we’ve got a big one coming up (in Denver). There’s no time to sulk.”

Chiefs-Titans Pre-Game From Arrowhead

From Arrowhead Stadium

11:30 a.m. – The Chiefs are leaving the field after completing their warm-up drills and headed for the locker room. Check back Sunday afternoon and evening for our post-game coverage. Enjoy the game.

11:20 a.m. – Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is standing at midfield in conversation with Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. They coached together all the way back in 2000 with the New York Jets.

11:15 a.m. – The officiating crew for today’s game is led by referee Ronald Torbert working his first regular-season game in the lead position. Torbert is one of three new referees this year, serving as replacements for three veterans that retired after the 2013 season. In four pre-season outings, Torbert and his crew have been active in throwing their penalty flags.

11:10 a.m. – WRs Frankie Hammond and Albert Wilson were the only returners out early for the Chiefs, as they caught punts and kickoffs from Dustin Colquitt and Cairo Santos. As he hit kickoffs, Santos appeared to be going for hang time more than distance; his kicks were landing within one-yard of the goal line.

11:05 a.m. – Traffic into the Truman Sports Complex has been heavy for the last hour, although the backup on I-70 at the Blue Ridge Cutoff has lessened a bit. The Chiefs say the game is sold out, but there are plenty of tickets available but it looks like the opener is destined for a crowd somewhere close to 75,000.

10:55 a.m. – If watching at home or in Arrowhead, remember the number changes for the Chiefs: #12 WR Albert Wilson, #22 RB Joe McKnight, #24 S Kelcie McCray, #68 OT Ryan Harris, #75 LG Mike McGlynn and #84 TE Demetrius Harris. McGlynn is scheduled to be in the starting lineup on the left side.

10:50 a.m. – In selecting his game-day group of 46, head coach Andy Reid has six rookies active, with G Zach Fulton and K Cairo Santos as the only starters. OLB Dee Ford, CB Phillip Gaines, S Daniel Sorensen and WR Albert Wilson round out the guys getting the chance to dress in their first taste of NFL regular-season football.

10:45 a.m. – Just 75 minutes or so to kickoff of the Chiefs-Titans and just about the only players on the field are the kickers, holders and snappers. A few others doing individual stretching routines, but the rest of the rosters don’t appear to be in any hurry to get warmed up.

10:38 a.m. – The inactive status of CB Marcus Cooper is a surprise. He suffered an ankle injury on Wednesday but was able to work in practice on Friday. Ron Parker steps into the starting role. Plus, Cooper had duties in the kicking game that must be replaced. Otherwise, there were no surprises among the seven inactive players named by head coach Andy Reid.

10:34 a.m. – The inactive players for the Titans today against the Chiefs: QB Zach Mettenberger, WR T.J. Graham, WR Kris Durham, LB Akeem Ayers, OT Byron Stingily, DL Mike Martin and DL DaQuan Jones.

10:32 a.m. – The inactive players for the Chiefs in today’s game: QB Aaron Murray, RB De’Anthony Thomas, S Kurt Coleman CB Marcus Cooper, C Eric Kush, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and DE Damion Square.

10:30 a.m. – Good morning and welcome to the 2014 NFL regular season. We should have the Chiefs inactive players here in just moments. Stay tuned for info throughout the morning.

Season Opens With Question Marks For Chiefs

A year ago as the Chiefs prepared for the regular-season opener against Jacksonville, new head coach Andy Reid was asked what he expected to see from his team. Given it was the first game of the Reid Era, the coach said he wasn’t sure how the game would play out.

The second season of the Reid Era kicks off Sunday when the Tennessee Titans visit Arrowhead Stadium for a noon kickoff. Television coverage is on CBS.

So what does Reid expect to see this time?

“I know I’ll see great effort,” Reid said. “This crew here, they play hard and they are tough kids.”

But that try-hard stuff does not fill out the entire picture of the 2014 Chiefs. As many question marks as the Chiefs carried into the Jacksonville game last year, there are as many, maybe more for this year’s opener. …Read More!

Different Faces In The Spotlight Against Tennessee

The spotlight always falls on players like Jamaal Charles and Tamba Hali. They are uniform numbers with career resumes that football fans know.

But as the Chiefs open the regular season on Sunday against Tennessee at Arrowhead Stadium there are a handful of other faces that will be wearing red that will feel some of the heat from attention spotlight. They are not as well-known as Alex Smith and Eric Berry, but for this Sunday they are very important actors in the drama of the 2014.

They are Jeff Allen, Donnie Avery and Anthony Fasano on offense, and Mike DeVito and Josh Mauga on defense. A lot of what happens on Sunday against the Titans will run through those five. …Read More!

NFL Officials: Rookie Ref Leads Crew For KC-TEN

Kicker Cairo Santos will not be the only rookie on the field Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in a pressure position.

Meet Ronald Torbert (right), the lead dog on the NFL officiating crew for the game between Chiefs and Titans. In just his fifth season working in the NFL as an official, this will be Torbert’s first regular-season game as a referee.

He was promoted coming into the season from his previous post as a side judge. Two veteran referees retired after the 2014 season, and Torbert was named to replace one of them.

Good or bad for the Chiefs and Titans? That’s impossible to predict but this crew’s work in the pre-season provides an indication – they like to throw the yellow hankies.

Boy, do they like to throw the penalty flags:

  • Philadelphia @ Chicago – 23 penalties walked off for 192 yards.
  • Tennessee @ New Orleans – 32 penalties for 293 yards.
  • Jacksonville @ Detroit – 27 penalties for 232 yards.
  • Denver @ Dallas – 16 penalties for 120 yards. …Read More!

4 Keys To Victory For Chiefs vs. Tennessee

4

Keep hands off the Titans receivers

Should the NFL has its zebras calling the game as closely as happened during the pre-season will be shown in this first weekend of action. The Chiefs need to approach their season opener against the Titans with the idea that when in coverage, the officials are going to be watching them like a hawk scans a country meadow. Tennessee has weapons among their receivers. There’s a crafty 10-year veteran Nate Washington, along with speedy youngsters Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. As a rookie last year, Hunter only had 18 catches but he averaged 19.7 yards a reception. The Chiefs defense cannot afford to give them penalty yards and first downs. …Read More!

Chiefs Friday Practice Report – DAT is Doubtful

From the Truman Sports Complex

Whether he’s listed as questionable or doubtful on the Chiefs injury report to the league on Friday, it sounds like explosive rookie De’Anthony Thomas will not play against Tennessee due to a hamstring injury.

“De’Anthony ran on the treadmill today and he’s making progress,” said head coach Andy Reid. “It would be a stretch for the game; we’ll just see how he does.”

Thomas went down on the last play of Wednesday’s practice and missed on-field work Thursday and Friday. The profile that Reid set last year was that players normally had to get two practices in during the week to be active for the game. If there’s no chance of further injury, there’s Thomas might be able to play and be limited to punt returns.

Everyone else on the active roster was participating in Friday’s session, including cornerback Marcus Cooper (ankle) and center Eric Kush (shoulder). Cooper missed practice on Thursday and Kush missed Wednesday. If they did not aggravate the injuries they should be available for the Titans.

“Our guys have had a great week of preparation,” Reid said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to play.”

Here’s the injury report for both clubs that they turned into the league office: …Read More!

Rookie Kickers Have Spotty Record In NFL

So just how much of a gamble have John Dorsey and Andy Reid taken going with a rookie kicker in Cairo Santos instead of veteran Ryan Succop for the 2014 season?

Recent history tells us that true rookie kickers have produced seasons that put them among the best in the league. They have also stumbled in seasons that ranked them among the NFL’s least productive kickers.

One of the major questions with the 2014 Chiefs will be just where Santos falls in that spectrum.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub understands that handling a rookie kicker is a different animal from a veteran foot.

“You’re going to manage him a little bit differently,” Toub said. “You kind of got to get his feet wet and get him going and hopefully you have a couple short field goals first and then you go. It doesn’t always work out that way but you hope that that’s the case. It’s definitely in mind, for sure.”

There have been 22 true rookie kickers in the league since the 2000 season. Their success rate was 79.9 percent.

The Chiefs need better than that; in today’s NFL, 80 percent is a mediocre average. Last year only eight of 32 kickers had a season average of less than 80 percent. The league average for field goal kickers was 86.5 percent. There were 11 kickers that finished with a 90 percent or greater success rate. …Read More!

Answer Bob – Volume #3

Randall Webb asked – Bob, what’s your take on the way Reid and Dorsey have overhauled the Chiefs roster? They have really gone young this season. The only major contributors now that may have played their best football are Derrick Johnson and to a lesser extent Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith. Are they going to have the cap room to keep Houston, Berry, and Poe? Next year’s draft with the extra (compensatory) picks will be a key. What needs to happen to make this team a real contender?

Bob says – The Chiefs roster to start the season is just about the same age as it was last year, but there’s no question it’s a young group, one of the youngest in the NFL. I don’t think having one of the youngest or one of the oldest teams in the league is the best way to go. It’s hardly anything to strive for on either end. Rather than being the youngest or oldest, how about being the best team?

With the top 55 players on the roster (including Dwayne Bowe and Donald Stephenson from the suspended list), there are only 14 players left that Dorsey and Reid inherited when they arrived at Arrowhead in January 2013. The only non-starter in that number is wide receiver Junior Hemingway (a Pioli draft choice from 2012.) To repeat two clichés, it’s the NFL – Not for Long League – and the only constant in the NFL is change. That number will continue to dwindle.

Tamba Hali will be in roster danger after this season unless his contract is redone and there’s a drop in the cap charge. Enough room to keep Houston, Berry and Poe? Not unless the salary cap continues to increase by 10 percent each year. Houston is next with his deal done after the 2014 season. Then Hali, Berry and Poe will come up after the 2015 season. I find it hard to believe they will be able to keep all four on the roster for the 2016 season.

As for contender status, to reach that year after year they cannot strike out in the NFL Draft. That’s how they want to build the team, so they must maximize their opportunities with selections that contribute quickly and with impact. Right now, the track record is so-so. They can’t afford so-so. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report/DAT Pulls Hammy/September 4

From the Truman Sports Complex

Practice on Wednesday was winding down for the Chiefs when two plays late in the workout caused problems.

On one, starting cornerback Marcus Cooper suffered a sprained ankle. On the other, rookie running back/wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas pulled a hamstring.

Both players did not practice Thursday afternoon as the Chiefs put in their second session in preparation for Sunday’s regular-season opener against Tennessee.

Head coach Andy Reid indicated that Cooper’s injury was not serious and that he should be available to play against the Titans. He wasn’t so positive about DAT’s hammy and whether the explosive runner will be available Sunday afternoon. …Read More!

Answer Bob – Volume #2

Montanachief asked – Bob, can you explain how the Chiefs are so tight against the salary cap? Before Reid and Dorsey showed up the Chiefs were not even close to the cap. The only big contract handed out was Bowe. Can you also give your opinion on Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff play? Didn’t see him play a lot and never really read much about him from the preseason games.

Bob says – the Pioli regime pushed down the road a lot of salary-cap dollars in deals signed by Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Tyson Jackson and even Jamaal Charles. Before the new labor agreement in 2011 pushed more money to veterans and less to draft choices, Chiefs had top-five selections in Jackson and Berry, so that was going to mean a hit to the cap. Also remember that the Chiefs and all teams not only have a roof on how much they can pay, they now have a cellar as well. They have to spend money; they can’t go low like the Chiefs did in 2008-09-10. Again, I would not have given Bowe the dollars he got; I would have used that money to retain Albert.

…Read More!

Answer Bob – Volume #1

The questions arrived and now here’s the first batch of answers from the latest chapter of Ask Bob. I can only hope my replies are close to as good as the queries I received in the last few days. This is the first of three posts with my answers. Enjoy.

———————————————————-

RW asked – Bob, how would you assess the overall talent level on the team as of today vs. the team at cut-down day 2013?

Bob said – I would say it’s a push. They are stronger at linebacker, running back and tight end. They are marginally improved on the defensive line. The talent level of the offensive line and secondary went backwards. Quarterback and wide receiver don’t appear to be much different. The Chiefs talked about how much the competition for roster spots increased this year, but I’m not sure that I see where that happened. Who pushed Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery at wide receiver? Did anyone push any of the three starters on the defensive line? There really wasn’t quality talent pushing the starters for playing time or spots in the starting lineup. So, I would say it’s not that much better, and in the words of the late Chuck Noll that I’ve never forgotten in the NFL a team is either getting better or getting worse, they don’t stay the same. …Read More!

Succop Signs With Titans; Chiefs Fill Practice Squad

There’s always something going on in the world of NFL personnel at this time of the year and that was certainly true on Monday. It was Labor Day, and the pro football world was working and working hard.

Succop signs in Tennessee – After five seasons as the Chiefs kicker, Ryan Succop was released on Saturday. On Monday, he signed a one-year contract with the Titans. And, where does his new team begin its 2014 season? At Arrowhead Stadium, with the Chiefs hosting Succop and his new teammates.

The Titans cut ties with their nine-year veteran kicker Rob Bironas in the spring. In training camp and the pre-season, rookie Travis Coons beat out first-year kicker Maikon Bonani for the job, only to hold it for just three days.

One influence on Tennessee’s interest was the Titans assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman. He spent three years as the kicking game coach with the Chiefs (2009-11) and campaigned for the club to select Succop in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Chiefs release Kyle Williams – The injury-prone wide receiver went to the injured-reserve list after he suffered a shoulder sprain in the pre-season game against Green Bay last Thursday.

…Read More!

Position-By-Position On Chiefs Roster 2.0/Defense

The defense now has 24 players on the Chiefs roster as of Sunday, along with three special teamers. Here’s how the defenders and kicking game breaks down:

Defensive Line (6)

  • Starters Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Mike DeVito. Backups
    – Jaye Howard, Damion Square, Vance Walker.
  • Age – Bailey/25, DeVito/30, Howard/26 in December, Poe/24, Square/25, Walker/27.
  • Contract status/salary-cap number – Bailey/last season on contract/$808,986; DeVito/2nd of 3 years/$4,900,000; Howard/2nd of 3 years/$570,000; Poe/3rd of 4 years/$3,087,274; Square/2nd of 3 years/$495,000; Walker/1st of 3 years/$1,750,000.
  • Cap total$11,611,260/9 percent of Chiefs 2014 cap.
  • Status – Right now besides putting together a new deal for outside linebacker Justin Houston, general manager John Dorsey must have Poe at the top of the to-do list for a new contract. He’s got this year and next on his rookie deal. They need to lock him up for extended years. All the money invested at linebacker makes it tough to sign big-dollar players on the D-Line. Although he’s played good football in his limited role t the Chiefs defense, DeVito’s cap number is too high and he’s unlikely to see the third-year of his deal without an adjustment.

…Read More!

Chiefs Claim D-Lineman; Create Practice Squad

The personnel work continued for the Chiefs on Sunday, as they tinkered with their 53-man roster and started putting together a 10-man practice squad.

Here’s what the team announced:

  • Claimed defensive lineman Damion Square (right) off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • To make room for Square, the Chiefs released tight end Richard Gordon.
  • Officially signed eight players with a ninth reportedly signed to the practice squad.
  1. Fullback Jordan Campbell.
  2. Linebacker Jerry Franklin (not official).
  3. C Ben Gottschalk.
  4. Guard Ricky Henry.
  5. Inside linebacker Nico Johnson.
  6. Defensive end Kona Schwenke.
  7. Wide receiver Darryl Surgent.
  8. RB Charcandrick West.
  9. Wide receiver Fred Williams.
  10. .

…Read More!

Postion-By-Position On Chiefs Roster 1.0/Offense

Here’s how the 27 players on offense came together for the initial Chiefs roster of the 2014 season:

Quarterback (3)

  • Starter Alex Smith. Backups – Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray.
  • Injured reserve (1)Tyler Bray.
  • Age – Smith/30, Daniel/28 in October, Murray/24 in November.
  • Contract status/salary-cap number – Smith/last season on contract/$8 million; Daniel/2nd of 3 years/$3.4 million; Murray/1st of 4 years/$465,606.
  • Cap total$11,865,606/9.1 percent of Chiefs 2014 cap.
  • Status – It’s probably the most stable position on the Chiefs roster in this first week of the 2014 season. With the exception of Murray, we have seen the position in action. The difference between this group and last year at this time is that Daniel had a chance to start a game and perform, as he did in the 2013 regular season finale against San Diego. That’s one more start than he previously had in his career.

…Read More!

Chiefs Go With Rookie Kicker, 4 TEs, 6 RBs

There were some surprises in the first-round of decisions for the Chiefs in establishing their initial 53-man roster for the 2014 season.

Call it the Chiefs Roster 1.0. There will be changes, as the Chiefs pick through the waiver wire and more than likely send middle linebacker Joe Mays to the injured-reserve list/designated for return due to his wrist injury/surgery.

But there were some major decisions made by general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid that were announced Saturday at the NFL 3 p.m. deadline:

– Rookie Cairo Santos won the kicking competition over veteran Ryan Succop. The kickers had nearly identical pre-season performances. So the decision came down to something else, more than likely the salary cap and the $2.7 million number Succop carried over the rookie minimum salary for Santos of $420,000. Although Succop will account for “dead” money under the cap, his release opens up approximately $1 million for the Chiefs.

– The No. 3 quarterback competition saw rookie Aaron Murray get the job over Tyler Bray, who was sent to the injured-reserve list after ankle/knee injuries he suffered in the pre-season finale in Green Bay. Bray’s timely injuries have allowed the Chiefs to keep both young quarterbacks. …Read More!

Pre-Season Comes To An End With A Chiefs Defeat


From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

Andy Reid wasn’t in the mood to make any predictions about how his team will perform in the 2014 NFL season.

But he was of the mind that he was thrilled the pre-season was over after the Chiefs fell 34-14 to the Packers.

“I am not much on predictions,” Reid said. “We are going to work hard and take it one play at a time and crank it. We look forward to getting the season started.”

Thursday night’s performance by the Chiefs was something to quickly forget, especially the 14 penalties for 131 yards walked off. That’s the second game in August where they had 131 yards in penalties.

Here’s our coverage from Green Bay:

Little Action In Kicking Duel Makes Decision Tougher

From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

There has been a feel of golf all summer in the competition to win the kicker’s job with the Chiefs.

From the start of the first kicking sessions that went down at training camp, Ryan Succop (6) and Cairo Santos (5) have been locked in match play. Most golf tournaments played in this country are medal play where the winner is decided by the man that tours the course in the fewest number of shots. It’s really a competition between man and course.

Match play is something we see in international competitions like the Ryder Cup matches that will go down a month from now in Scotland. That’s when two players go head-to-head without concern of any other golfer on the course. One golfer may actually play at a lower score and lose the match because he did not win or tie enough of the 18 holes to top his opponent.

Succop and Santos have been locked in match-play kicking since the first day in St. Joseph and it continued on through Thursday night in Green Bay.

The only problem was there were very few opportunities for either man in the 34-14 loss to the Packers; a kicker was needed just five times in the game for three kickoffs and two PAT kicks.

Succop made his PAT and then sailed a kickoff five yards deep into the end zone that was returned 27 yards, giving Green Bay a drive start at their 22-yard line.

Santos made his PAT and kicked off twice. His first opened the second half and it dribbled to the one-yard line where it was returned 19 yards to the Packers 20-yard line. The rookie’s second kickoff went a yard deep in the end zone, but it was returned for 62 yards and gave Green Bay a drive start at the Chiefs 39-yard line.

So what did Reid see against the Packers that would help him make a decision on who will be his kicker?

“The kid (Santos) had one bad kickoff and I didn’t like that,” Reid said. “But he came back on the next one and did a nice job.”

After four pre-season games, these guys have posted performances that leave them tied when it comes to on-field performance:

  • Succop – 4-for-4 on PAT kicks, made fields goals of 25, 27 and 54 without a miss, and kicked off seven times, with five touchbacks and two returns of 27 and 52 yards.
  • Santos – 5-for-5 on PAT kicks, made field goals of 21, 28 and 44 yards without a miss, and kicked off 11 times, with three touchbacks, an onside kick and seven kickoffs returned, including the 62-yard return Thursday night.

This will not be an easy decision for Reid and general manager John Dorsey. Both players have the talent to kick in the league. Santos would come cheaper under the salary cap, but Succop has the experience. But, Succop’s performance over the last five seasons might be as good as he’ll ever be, while Santos appears to have more room to grow as a kicker.

A Night To Remember & Forget For Rookie Cornerback


From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

The duality of playing cornerback in the NFL is such that Chiefs rookie Phillip Gaines faces a very important intersection at the start of his pro football career.

How he handles the events of Thursday night will go a long way in deciding how long that career may last.

Against the Green Bay Packers, Gaines had about as bad a game as possible playing the cornerback position. The Chiefs third-round draft choice was beaten for touchdowns and he was called for penalties. It happened over and over again. Green Bay quarterbacks had four touchdown passes and it only seemed like every one of them was thrown to the receiver Gaines was attempting to cover.

A 22-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter from Matt Flynn to wide receiver Davante Adams . . . Gaines blew the coverage, allowing the receiver to run wide open in the middle of the defense. A 33-yard scoring toss from quarterback Scott Tolzien to wide receiver Jeff Janis in the second quarter . . . Gaines couldn’t get up with the speedy receiver. A third-down defensive stop is wiped out when . . . Gaines is called for defensive holding
and four plays later, the Packers score a touchdown. Janis runs deep again . . . and Gaines gets called for a defensive pass interference penalty for 39 yards. Two plays later the Packers score another touchdown.

Two touchdowns allowed and four penalties in coverage – it was the type of game every cornerback in the game knows is possible, especially in this age where the league is determined to make life as difficult as possible for defensive backs in coverage. And, it’s the type of game that Gaines needs to forget and forget quickly.

“That’s the biggest thing: how do you respond to things,” Gaines said in the Chiefs locker room after the game. “I just have to come out and keep grinding and keep working.”

As important as it will be to Gaines future to put his performance away, he must watch the tape and analyze his weaknesses and what he did to draw so much attention from the Packers and the officials. Green Bay’s offense with backup quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Scott Tolzien, along with the Packers offensive coaching staff, identified Gaines very quickly as a defender they could exploit in the passing game.

“You have to watch the tape and figure out how you can play better,” Gaines said. “There’s always going to be things that you can get better at, and I’m happy this happened early, so I can focus on the things I need to work on.”

The penalty situation was one of the biggest negatives to Gaines’ play against the Packers. He was called twice for illegal contact, once for defensive holding and the big one, that 39-yard pass interference penalty.

“That’s something you have to work through as a DB and you have to adhere to the refs rules; they are in control,” he said. “You have to find a way to make plays on the ball.”

For most of the game, Gaines was playing in the slot-cornerback position, the so-called nickel back. On 90 percent of the Green Bay offensive snaps, they had three wide receivers on the field. With the team’s No. 1 slot corner Chris Owens not playing in the game the duties there fell to Gaines. While it was not a completely new position, it was a role where he had not had an abundance of snaps.

“That’s a new position for him that he’s learning,” said head coach Andy Reid. “He’ll be alright. He’s a smart kid. He’s a tough kid. Sometimes you get some bumps and bruises as you are learning to play the NFL game. That’s what happened tonight.”

Reid and the defensive coaching staff will be watching closely to see how Gaines handles his bad night. That will be an indication of whether he has the mental toughness to play defensive back in the NFL.

“As a secondary player you have to have a short memory, you have to learn from your mistakes, forget about it and bring it the next play,” Reid said. “You are going to have nights like that when things don’t go the way you want them to go. You’ve got to rally through that.”

Penalty Flags Fly, Most Of Them At Chiefs


From Lambeau Field, Green Bay

It was a night where the guys in the striped shirt decided they were going to take charge of the game.

Referee Terry McAulay and his on-field crew of six officials couldn’t keep their hands out of their pocket as they fished for their penalty flags. In all they threw the flags on 25 penalties, walked off 23 for a total of 212 yards.

But they seemed to have a special eye for the Chiefs, and particularly Andy Reid’s defense. In all, there were eight flags thrown against the defense with seven accepted. The offense had six penalties and special teams finished with one.

The Chiefs head coach is loath to talk about officials in any way, something that 15 years as an NFL coach has taught him well. But there’s no question he was miffed at the number of times the Chiefs had productive plays wiped out by penalties.

“With 14 penalties that’s way too much,” Reid said. “You can cut that in half and that’s way too many. It’s just ridiculous . . . I can’t tell that I agreed with all of them.”

Overall, the penalties cost them yards in field position in each quarter. Plus flags wiped out a sack for the Chiefs defense and a touchdown for the Chiefs offense. Late in the game, the Chiefs had a fourth-and-two play, that became fourth-and-12 with a penalty and then fourth-and-22 with another flag. The offense did not convert that opportunity.

The one flag that irked Reid the most was a personal foul unnecessary roughness call against safety Kelcie McCray. Green Bay running back LaDairus Perkins broke the Chiefs containment on the right side of the defense and was walking a tight rope on the sidelines trying to stay inbounds. As his momentum was about to take him across the white stripe, McCray made sure his run was done with a nice hit.

The flag was immediate, and so was the increase in Reid’s blood pressure. At the next timeout, Reid spent the entire time talking to a huddle of three officials that included McAulay.

“I wouldn’t say I fully agreed with that one,” was Reid’s cryptic reply.

The Chiefs player that was targeted by the Green Bay offense and it seems the officials as well was rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines. He was penalized four times for a total of 54 yards, 39 of those yards coming on a pass interference flag

In all, the officials threw five flags against the K.C. defense on plays involving pass coverage, with three illegal contact calls, one defensive holding and the pass interference call against Gaines. It’s a continuation of what has been a flag happy pre-season by the league zebras as they are committed to cutting down on the downfield contact between defenders and receivers.

The Chiefs finished the four-game August schedule with 36 penalties for 327 yards, or an average of nine flags and 81.7 yards per game. Last year in the regular season they averaged 6.3 penalties and 48.4 yards per game.

There’s no doubt in Reid’s mind that no matter his thoughts on some of the calls Thursday night, his team needs to cut down on the infractions and that must happen soon.

“We just can’t have it and expect to win,” Reid said.

Here are the penalties called against the Chiefs:

# Squad Player Penalty Cost
1. Defense D. Ford Offside 5 yards
2. Defense D. Ford Illegal hands declined
3. Defense P. Gaines Illegal contact 5 yards
4. Offense D. Stephenson Holding 8 yards
5. Defense D. Sorensen Illegal contact 5 yards
6. Kick return F. Zombo Holding 8 yards
7. Offense R. Harris False start 5 yards
8. Defense P. Gaines Holding 5 yards
9. Defense P. Gaines Illegal contact 5 yards
10. Offense D. Stephenson Illegal hands 10 yards
11. Defense P. Gaines Pass interference 39 yards
12. Defense K. McCray Un. Roughness 11 yards
13. Offense J. McKnight Illegal touch 5 yards
14. Offense E. Kush Illegal hands 10 yards
15. Offense D. Harris Pass interference 10 yards

Chiefs Sign Guard That Andy Knows

On Wednesday morning the Chiefs announced the signing of veteran guard Mike McGlynn.

To make room for him, they released rookie free-agent center Ben Gottschalk.

The 6-4, 325-pound NFL journeyman spent training camp and the pre-season with the Washington Redskins. He was released on Tuesday in the team’s cut to reach the NFL roster limit of 75.

The Chiefs will be the fifth team that McGlynn has played for in his career. He entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice by Andy Reid with Philadelphia in 2008. He went on to become the Eagles starting center in the 2010 season.

McGlynn later played for Cincinnati (2011) and Indianapolis (2012-13) where he started the past two seasons as the Colts right guard. He was in the starting lineup for Indy’s come-from-behind victory over the Chiefs back in January in a first-round game in the AFC playoffs.

With his signing the 29-year old McGlynn becomes the oldest offensive lineman on the Chiefs roster. He’s three days older than tackle Ryan Harris.

The Ohio native played tackle at the University of Pittsburgh where he started 43 of the 47 games he played over four seasons (2004-07), with most of those starts at right tackle.

Starters Will Watch Chiefs Play Packers

Andy Reid confirmed Tuesday that his starters will not play against the Packers when the Chiefs visit Green Bay on Thursday night.

Essentially that means quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles and most of the starting linemen on offense will not play. Same for nose tackle Dontari Poe, linebackers Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston on defense.

Just after last Saturday night’s game, Reid said some of his starters might play against Green Bay, but he did not confirm that on Tuesday. There’s a chance that left guard candidates Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry may play, but it sounds like the rest of the starting offensive line will watch.

Reid said that Chase Daniel will start at quarterback and likely play through the first quarter. Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray will then work the final three quarters.

…Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – 8/25

From the Truman Sports Complex

On what felt like the hottest, most humid and sultry afternoon of the summer, the Chiefs practiced football Monday afternoon.

Andy Reid had his team scheduled for a nearly three-hour practice session in the heat of the early afternoon. But he eventually ended practice early, much to the pleasure of his players, as they worked for a bit over two hours.

After a dozen personnel moves earlier in the day, there were 78 players on the roster and 71 of them started practice. One did not finish, as wide receiver Mark Harrison was taken off the field on a cart. There was no word from the Chiefs after practice on what Harrison’s problem was, but he may have been overcome by the heat and humidity.

Returning to the practice field was safety Eric Berry, who took part in the entire practice on that sore heel of his for the first time since August 11. Also back on the field was middle linebacker Josh Mauga, who has practices with a groin strain. …Read More!

Offense Finally Produces With Bray At QB


From Arrowhead Stadium

It was an important game for Tyler Bray on Saturday night against the Minnesota Vikings. This was going to be his best opportunity to show where he might fall on the quarterback ladder for the Chiefs in the 2014 season. Is he going to stay as the No. 3 behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniel? Might he be No. 4 and falling behind rookie Aaron Murray? Could he be traded somewhere else as the rosters shrink with NFL cut-down dates coming over the next week? Could he end up being released? Might Bray be claimed by another team on the waiver wire?

On this big evening, things did not start well for Bray. In his first three possessions leading the Chiefs offense they went three plays and out, three plays and out and three plays and out. In those nine plays, Bray did not complete any of his four passes, throwing an interception and being sacked.

“Just bad throws; you really can’t pinpoint sometimes why the throws aren’t happening,” Bray said. “It could go back to footwork. Maybe I was standing up a little too tall in the pocket and not getting a throwing base.”

A fourth possession finally saw some production, as the Chiefs kept the ball for eight plays and Bray was two of four throwing the ball, but it was just for nine yards.

Finally on a fifth chance, Bray got the Chiefs offense rolling. They went 80 yards in nine plays and Bray was seven-of-seven in the drive for 76 yards and ending with a one-yard touchdown throw to rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson.

“We were running the ball great and that always helps,” Bray said. “I finally wasn’t throwing over the receivers heads; that might help too. We just started clicking. We were executing well and we were moving the ball down the field.”

By that fifth possession, the offensive line in front of Bray had changed. When he got his first opportunities after Smith left in the third quarter, Bray had the No. 1 offensive line in front of him. That went nowhere. When the backups came in, that’s when the offense clicked on that final possession.

“We’re still trying to mesh,” Bray said. “We’re moving a lot of guys around on the O-Line so they’re still trying to click. Once they do, we’re going to have a great offense.”

But will Tyler Bray be part of the equation, even if all he does is serve as the club’s scout team quarterback?

“I believe I’m going to play in this league and when that happens I don’t know, but I’m not sitting around worried about what might happen,” Bray said. “I just have to go out every day and get better.”

Here are the numbers for all four Chiefs quarterbacks after three pre-season games:

Player

Att.

Cmp.

%

Yds.

A/A

TD

INT

LG

Sacked

Rating

Tyler Bray

17

11

64.7

122

7.2

1

1

30

4-17

81.0

Chase Daniel

14

11

78.6

161

11.5

1

1

69

3-7

108.6

Aaron Murray

10

5

50.0

81

8.1

1

1

43

1-0

71.3

Alex Smith

51

31

60.8

286

5.6

0

2

21

6-43

59.8

O-Line Remains Work In Progress, Without Progress


From Arrowhead Stadium

In two weeks the Chiefs will face prime-time in the NFL when they open the regular season against the Tennessee Titans. Their offensive line at this time can accurately be called “The Not-Ready for Prime-Time Players.”

At a point where the group of blockers should be developing some consistency and continuity, the starting offensive line is struggling. With personnel changes invoked by head coach Andy Reid for Saturday night’s game against Minnesota, the No. 1 blockers contributed to another poor offensive performance in a 30-12 defeat.

The Chiefs starting offense did not score a touchdown in eight possessions. They turned the ball over twice on interceptions thrown by quarterback Alex Smith. Pass protection was spotty at best, as Smith was sacked three times and took off running on three other plays. The running game without Jamaal Charles was almost invisible, producing just 31 yards on 12 carries by the running backs, with the longest run just eight yards.

It was ugly and it all started upfront.

“Offensively it clearly wasn’t good enough,” said Reid. “Whether it was protection or blocking we’ve got to executive better.”

Friday’s announcement that right tackle Donald Stephenson will serve a four-game NFL suspension starting with the opener had Reid making changes, some that he showed in practice during the week before the game. Left guard Jeff Allen was moved to right tackle, and taking his spot at left guard were Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry, who alternated from possession to possession.

New faces in new places produced old results.

“I need to get the guys who are going to play at the beginning of the season ready to go,” Reid said of why Stephenson did not play against Minnesota. “I wanted to make sure guys get in there and have a chance to work. We have a new right tackle and left guard and they needed the work so I left them in there a little longer so they could get a little bit of that.

“They’re good players and we’ll continue to work and get ourselves ready.”

Reid and his staff may think they are good players, but the new faces struggled to show that against the Vikings, especially Linkenbach and Henry inside. “There were issues,” Reid admitted. “I probably need to look at the tape before I say too much here, but obviously it wasn’t good enough. The quarterback got hit too many times. You can’t do that.”

Pass protection was spotty. With Smith in the game there were 30 passing plays called by Reid. Smith threw 24 passes, was sacked three times, ran on three other plays and was hit after releasing the ball on three plays. That’s contact on nine of the 30 passing calls. At times, Smith was running for his football life as pressure poured in, especially in the middle of the blocking unit where Linkenbach and Henry had their problems. It was also easily the worst performance in practice or games that rookie Zach Fulton has shown at right guard.

With a few exceptions, center Rodney Hudson was solid. At right tackle, Allen actually played better there than he had been playing at left guard. Much maligned left tackle Eric Fisher actually played a pretty good game, with his biggest problems coming on plays where the Vikings did some stunts against the left side of the Chiefs offensive line thanks to the lack of continuity with Fisher, Linkenbach and Henry.

“You can’t just produce the type of teamwork you need up front in just a few days of practice,” said Allen. “But the only way to do that is to play, so I’m sure every one of us learned a lot in this game.”

Reid certainly hopes so because right now, that No. 1 group features what appears to be his five best blockers.

“If they’re guys that we end up keeping then they’re guys that have that much more experience under they belts,” Reid said.

Chiefs Fail To Show Improvement In Loss To Vikings


From Arrowhead Stadium

In the NFL pre-season, coaches seek improvement from one week to the next. The games are not so much about who wins and who loses, but whether individual players and segments of the team are getting better with every game opportunity.

As the Chiefs sit two weeks away from their 2014 regular season opener there is darn little for Andy Reid and his coaching staff to identify as improved production. Certainly, there was no evidence in their 30-12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on a sultry Saturday evening at Arrowhead Stadium.

Offense, defense and the kicking game all contributed to an ugly night for the Chiefs. They were not able to score a touchdown until there were just 25 seconds to play in the game. They turned the ball over three times and allowed five sacks. Despite providing a safety and forcing a pair of turnovers from Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel; the K.C. defense allowed three touchdowns and gave up five offensive plays of 20-plus yards. Even the special teams failed, allowing a 75-yard punt return in the second half that set up one of the Minnesota touchdowns.

“I’ve got to make sure that I put the guys in a better position to do things,” said head coach Andy Reid. “Then when given the opportunity we’ve got to make sure we execute . . . they got the best of us today.”

Most concerning to the Chiefs has to be the No. 1 offense. Yes, they played without running back Jamaal Charles, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and right tackle Donald Stephenson. But that does not explain the mistakes and problems they had throughout the game. Quarterback Alex Smith threw a pair of red zone interceptions that snuffed out touchdown opportunities.

“Tonight was disappointing because we treated it like a game-week,” said Smith. “There was more game-planning and preparation. We got down there twice and to walk away with no points because of the turnovers hurts.”

The starting offense under Smith’s direction has 16 possessions in three pre-season games and they’ve not produced a touchdown. The Chiefs had one Smith pass caught in the end zone, but that was an interception by Minnesota cornerback Captain Munnerlyn in the first quarter. On the evening, Smith posted a passer rating of 40.3 thanks to those interceptions and a paltry average of 5.8 yards per attempt.

“Throwing the ball, we just had no rhythm,” said Reid “Offensively it clearly wasn’t good enough.”

Much to the chagrin of Chiefs fans, former K.C. starter Cassel was the best quarterback on the field. He finished with a 78.6 passer rating completing 52.9 percent of his throws with an interception. But he also averaged 8.9 yards per passing attempt and did throw a touchdown pass.

The Vikings offense put up a touchdown on their first opportunity with the ball. Returning to Arrowhead for the first time since he was released in the winter of 2013, he led a five-play, 97-yard drive that was built on a pair of long completions. Cassel first connecting on a pass to running back Matt Asiata for 31 yards and then when wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson got behind Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen, he connected on a 53-yard touchdown play with a perfect throw. It was just five minutes into the game and Minnesota held the lead, 7-0. They would not surrender the advantage at any point in the night.

After Munnerlyn’s end-zone interception and his return of 14 yards, the Chiefs defense produced two points, as defensive end Jaye Howard was on Cassel in the end zone and knocked the ball out of his hands. The ball went out of the back of the end zone and the Chiefs had a deuce.

Regaining possession after the post-safety free kick from the Vikings, Smith drove the offense inside the Minnesota 11-yard line. But a third-down throw to tight end Travis Kelce was intercepted by linebacker Chad Greenway. The defense was able to hold Minnesota in check and the Chiefs offense got the ball back. That’s when the No. 1 group put together their only scoring drive of the game, holding the ball for 14 plays, while moving 77 yards in 7 minutes, 43 seconds but still they had to settle for a 21-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cairo Santos.

At this point the Chiefs trailed 7-5 and were very much in the game when cornerback Ron Parker intercepted a Cassel pass deep in Kansas City territory. But the teams finished the half trading possessions, with Minnesota grabbing three more points on a 41-yard field goal by Blair Walsh with 67 seconds left in the second quarter that set the intermission score at 10-5.

Walsh added another field goal, this one from 32 yards about 10 minutes into the third quarter, pushing Minnesota’s lead to 13-5. That’s when matters got away from the Chiefs

When Smith left the game and was replaced by Tyler Bray. The second-year quarterback’s first pass was intercepted by Vikings cornerback Shaun Prater on what appeared to be a miscommunication between Bray and wide receiver Kyle Williams.

With rookie Teddy Bridgewater making his first on field appearance of the night, it was just three plays before Minnesota had a touchdown. Bridgewater found tight end Allen Reisner open in the right side of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown play, with Chiefs safety Jerron McMillian trailing in coverage. The PAT kick gave the Vikings a 20-5 edge.

A few moments later, they pumped up that lead to 22 points on another touchdown pass from Bridgewater to Reisner, this one for five yards. That one-play, five-yard drive was set up on a pretty 75-yard punt return by Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. He caught the ball at the Minnesota 20-yard line and was not brought down until running back Knile Davis made a hustling rolling block that knocked him out at the Chiefs five-yard line. The Vikes scored on the next play.

That was two touchdowns for Minnesota in the span of 104 seconds, set up by a pair of errors from the Chiefs with the interception and failure to cover the punt.

The rest of the game was a mish-mash of back and forth as neither team got much going in the fourth quarter as they used all those players on the fringe of making the regular-season roster. The Chiefs offense finally produced a touchdown on a nine-play, 87-yard drive with Bray connecting on a one-yard touchdown pass with wide receiver Albert Wilson. The PAT kick from Santos set the final score at 30-12.

Time is not on the Chiefs side as they get ready for the final week of the pre-season. They have a short window to get healthy and prepare just a little for a Thursday night game in Green Bay. The next day, the roster will be slashed to 53 and the focus will turn to the Tennessee Titans.

Chiefs Trade Guard For Safety

It wasn’t a deal close to last year’s pre-season trade that sent a disappointing first-round draft choice (Jon Baldwin) for another team’s disappoint first-round pick (A.J. Jenkins).

But on Thursday, the Chiefs traded a player that wasn’t going to make their team, for another player that wasn’t going to make his team.

They shipped guard Rishaw Johnson to Tampa Bay and in return received safety Kelcie McCray.

The 6-1, 205-pounds McCray played in 15 games last season with Miami (4) and Tampa Bay (11). He entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Dolphins, but spent that first year on the injured-reserve list after surgery on a broken foot. He was released early last October and the Buccaneers claimed him off the waiver wire. In 15 NFL games he has seven tackles and a fumble recovery.

He’s 25 years old and comes out of Arkansas State University where he was a three-year starter at safety for the Red Wolves. Over his career, McCray started 37 of the 49 games he played, with 220 total tackles, 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles and three recovered fumbles. He grew up in Columbus, Georgia.

Johnson began the off-season program as the starting right guard, but by the end of the team’s June mini-camp, he lost that status to rookie Zach Fulton. In training camp his slot on the depth chart fell to the third team.

 

Chiefs Position Analysis – Wide Receiver

Over the next few days we’ll look at each position on the Chiefs current 90-man roster and speculate on how John Dorsey and Andy Reid will cut that number to 75 by next Tuesday, and then 53 by next Friday.


Wide receivers

Last season – the Chiefs carried six wide receivers on their first-week roster. Dwayne Bowe, Junior Hemingway and Dexter McCluster were holdovers from the 2012 team. Donnie Avery was added as an unrestricted free agent. A.J. Jenkins came in a trade with San Francisco for receiver Jon Baldwin and Chad Hall was claimed from the waiver wire from the Niners. Undrafted rookie Frankie Hammond was signed to the practice squad and spent all 17 weeks on the developmental team. On November 13, the Chiefs claimed Kyle Williams off the waiver wire from the 49ers, while parting ways with Hall. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – 8/20

From the Truman Sports Complex

Andy Reid juggled his team’s schedule for Wednesday practice, moving up the two-hour, 15-minute workout two hours to escape the hottest part of the day.

It was still a hot and humid workout, as the coaching staff put the team through what would be the schedule for a Thursday practice during the regular season. The pace was quick, although not as fast as Reid wanted at times as he could be heard exhorting his players to pick up the pace.

Blitz, short yardage and goal line segments took up most of the practice, as Reid and his staff put together the most extensive game plan of the pre-season for Saturday’s meeting with Minnesota. It’s also a good chance they worked on some situational stuff for the regular-season opener against Tennessee.

“We changed up practice a bit so we could beat the hit,” said Reid. “It was good work.”

There were 11 players that did not participate, and a handful of others that left during the practice, all because of injury. Leading that group was running back Jamaal Charles with his bruised foot suffered almost a week ago as he moved out of the team’s dorm at Missouri Western State University.

“Jamaal is making progress and we’ll just see how he does here in the next several days,” said Reid. …Read More!

It’s Time For Patience With Eric Fisher

John Alt (l) and Eric Fisher

It’s far too early to construct any type of conclusion to the Eric Fisher story. That hasn’t stopped some fans and media types from pulling the chain and flushing the future of last year’s NFL’s No. 1 draft choice. Declaring Fisher one of the great draft busts in Chiefs and possibly NFL history is very premature and to bring that into focus there are two words Chiefs fans need to remember:

John Alt.

In the history of the Chiefs franchise there have been two outstanding left tackles. Jim Tyrer was the first, selected in the third round of the 1961 AFL Draft by the Texans after an All-America career at Ohio State University. Tyrer started 180 games for the Texans/Chiefs and was a full-time starter for 12 seasons. He earned AFL All-Star and Pro Bowl honors nine times. Tyrer entered the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1977.

The other left tackle of note was Alt, a first-round selection (No. 15) in the 1984 NFL Draft out of the University of Iowa. He played 13 seasons with the Chiefs, appearing in 179 games with 149 starts. Alt made two Pro Bowls (1992-93) and was the 2002 inductee to the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

That Alt would go to the Pro Bowl and be honored as one of the team’s greatest players would have seemed laughable after his rookie season, or his second, third and fourth seasons. By the time the 1988 season was about to start, he was considered a bust outside the Chiefs facility. In four seasons, he played 44 of 64 games, starting just 16 times. Injuries kept him off the field, especially a back problem that seemed to flare up at least once a season. …Read More!

Chiefs Practice Report – August 19

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs rolled through a two-hour, 30-minute practice on Tuesday, in the first of what will be close to 60 practices in the 2014 NFL season.

Andy Reid’s team remains in training camp mode, as they worked in full pads under a hot afternoon sun with not a breath of wind and high humidity.

(Note: now that the public cannot view Chiefs practices, the media is more restricted on what it’s allowed to report. That will continue through the end of the season.)

Not visible on the field during the early practice was running back Jamaal Charles, as he tries to recover from the bruised foot suffered moving out of the dorms at Missouri Western State University last week.

Also missing was wide receiver Dwayne Bowe; he came out of the game last Sunday night against Carolina with a quadriceps injury. Safety Eric Berry (heel) did not take part in practice. Middle linebacker Joe Mays (wrist) was also a non-participant.

Rounding out the injured list and off the practice field were offensive tackle Ryan McKee (knee), defensive lineman Jermelle Cudjo (quadriceps), linebacker Josh Martin (quadriceps) and wide receiver Junior Hemingway (hip). …Read More!

Notes: Kicking Battle Continues

From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

Ryan Succop made sure that his homecoming to North Carolina had something special for all the friends and relatives there were in Bank of America Stadium on Sunday night.

In doing so, he added another chip to his bank when it comes to keeping his job as the Chiefs kicker.

Succop nailed a 54-yard field goal in the first half. The kick tied his career-long for any game (preseason, regular season or postseason.) His previous 54-yard FG came against Minnesota on October 2, 2011 in a game played at Arrowhead Stadium. On that afternoon he made all five of his attempts.

He later added a 25-yard field goal. Rookie Cairo Santos hit his only attempt from 44 yards in the second quarter.

On kickoffs, Succop sent two kicks out of the end zone completely for touchbacks, and then hit one for a bit of hang-time to the Carolina three-yard line. Santos drilled one kick seven yards deep in the end zone, and another one he placed at the Carolina three-yard line.

Defense

The Chiefs finished the game with four sacks of Carolina quarterbacks. Cornerback Chris Owens, safety Husain Abdullah and middle linebacker Joe Mays each had one take down of the passer, with the other sack shared between outside linebacker Dee Ford and defensive end Vance Walker . . . Inside linebacker Nico Johnson finished the game as the Chiefs leading tackler with six . . . Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson knocked down a throw by Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and almost picked up an interception.

Special teams

Punter Dustin Colquitt kicked five times, for a 39-yard average, with three punts inside the 20-yard line . . . the Chiefs allowed nothing on punt returns, as Carolina had just one return for a single yard . . . on kickoff returns, wide receiver Frankie Hammond got to show his stuff as he had two returns for a 28-yard average. That does not include his 51-yard return that was wiped out by a penalty . . . Punt returner De’Anthony Thomas had two returns for 27 yards.

Rivera clamping down on outbursts

At two different points in the first half, Carolina cornerback Josh Norman displayed some behavior that eventually saw him pulled out of the action by Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. The first was when he launched himself at a sliding Alex Smith when the Chiefs quarterback was flushed out of the pocket. Norman got up and wagged his finger at Smith, in effect indicating he shouldn’t try that again. Then, Norman and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe got into a little dust up. That brought Panthers veteran linebacker Thomas Davis running across the field to confront not Bowe, but his teammate Norman.

That was enough for Rivera, who has been telling his players all through training camp that they need to be more disciplined. His post-game comments on the situation were interesting.

“There’s a point where you have to draw a line and a guy has to understand that if you do this and continue to do this, then I’m going do something,” Rivera said. “We want guys to understand that we have to maintain our composure on the field. That’s why we lost in the playoffs (to San Francisco). It started with me; I made the mistake of getting caught up in that emotion. We have to learn how to control that. We’ve got to do things the right way and we’ve got to be able to handle it. We are going to play smart football.”

Odds & Ends

According to the NFL’s official Gamebook for Sunday night’s contest there were seven Chiefs players dressed that did not play: wide receivers Deon Anthony, Fred Williams and Jerrell Jackson, offensive linemen Ben Gottschalk and J’Marcus Webb, tight end Adam Schiltz and quarterback Tyler Bray.

The Chiefs won the opening coin toss as new daddy fullback Anthony Sherman called for tails. When it came up, the Chiefs deferred until the second half. Representing the Chiefs at midfield for the toss were Sherman, long snapper Thomas Gafford, center Rodney Hudson, linebacker Joe Mays and nose tackle Dontari Poe.

Chiefs Play Poorly In 28-16 Loss To Carolina


From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

This was not a performance that will engender a lot of confidence in the improvement of the 2014 Chiefs.

It was Carolina 28, Chiefs 16 in Sunday night pre-season action where Andy Reid’s team sputtered and stuttered before a national television audience with mistakes, penalties and a continued lack of point production from the offense.

The killer was the 13 penalties walked off against them for 131 yards and that’s a direct link to losing any NFL contest. The turn in field position caused by the penalties was devastating to any chance the Chiefs had of winning.

“The tale of this thing was the 13 penalties we had,” said Reid. “Offensively we took big plays away from ourselves. That’s not the way you function and be a successful team in the National Football League. We’ve got to do better there.”

Only once did the Chiefs dent the end zone, and that came in the third quarter when rookie quarterback Aaron Murray threw his first pass in the NFL – it was a 43-yard touchdown toss to tight end Travis Kelce.

Essentially that’s it when it comes to highlights for the Chiefs. Everything else was lowlights, especially the 13 penalties.

“It’s ridiculous, you can’t do that,” said Reid. “Even if you are counting by fives (five-yard penalties), 13 is too many.”

The first quarter was all about the Chiefs defense. The No. 1 unit limited Carolina’s first offense to just one yard on nine plays. Cam Newton struggled to throw the ball, as the Chiefs staff used a variety of pass rushes to get after the Panthers starting quarterback who was playing for the first time since off-season ankle surgery.

Sandwiched between a pair of three plays for six-yard possessions by Carolina, the Chiefs put together a scoring drive, moving 44 yards in eight plays and overcoming an offensive holding call against right guard Zach Fulton. They settled for a 54-yard field goal from Ryan Succop, kicking in his home area for the first time in his career. The kick matched the longest FG of his career, pre-season, regular season or post-season.

The defense got after Newton again on the Panthers third possession, as safety Husain Abdullah went flying up from safety and knocked the quarterback down.

Smith then led the offense in another possession where their momentum was slowed by a penalty, this time a 10-yard offensive pass interference call against tight end Anthony Fasano. The Chiefs settled for a 44-yard field goal from rookie Cairo Santos and they held a 6-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

“I think every drive you can point to a penalty or a sack that caused us to fail,” said Smith. “They are a good defense. It was a great challenge for us.”

From that point, the Panthers took over the game on offense and defense, with help from the guys in the striped shirts. After just one yard on nine plays, Newton came out and led the offense to a 4-play, 66-yard drive for a touchdown. Running back Jonathan Stewart scored on a two-yard run, but the biggest play for Carolina was a 32-yard pass interference call against cornerback Ron Parker. The PAT was good and the home team had a 7-6 lead.

They added another touchdown on their next possession, as Newton hit a pair of big passes for 24 yards to rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and 25 yards to wide receiver Jason Avant. On Avant’s catch, Chiefs cornerback Sean Smith was called for an illegal contact penalty that was declined by Carolina.

The Panthers wrapped up the possession with a three-yard scoring run by Stewart, who went up the middle and was untouched as he cruised into the end zone. The PAT kick gave Carolina a 14-6 lead that they carried into the half-time locker room.

The Chiefs opened the second half with the No. 2 offense and quarterback Chase Daniel moved them 73 yards on 11 plays and inside the scoring zone, before they had to settle for another field goal. This one was 25 yards by Succop, making the score 14-9.

They went up 16-14 on the Murray to Kelce touchdown throw. But Carolina came right back with 70-yard, seven-play drive, as backup quarterback Derek Anderson connected with wide receiver Brenton Bersin on a 16-yard touchdown play.

Murray recorded his first NFL interception as linebacker A.J. Klein stepped in front of pass for tight end Demetrius Harris and he returned it to the Chiefs eight-yard line. Five plays later, with the help of another defensive penalty, Carolina running back Fozzy Whitaker scored on a one-yard touchdown run, making the score 28-16 with just seconds to go in the third quarter.

That was also the final score.

“I expect us to learn from our mistakes,” said Reid. “I expect to see progress, that’s what pre-season games are for. We have to do a better job executing.”

Chiefs No. 1 Offense Remains Missing In Action


From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

Going back to the start of the off-season program, the Chiefs offense talked about having one goal heading into the 2014 season. They were not going to start over, or remake their attack. They wanted to pick up where they left off in the last January’s game in the playoffs when they scored five touchdowns.

As the eighth month of the year heads into its final fortnight those scores against Indianapolis remain the only touchdowns the Chiefs offense has registered in the 2014 calendar year.

“We sustained some drives for long periods but you have to be able to finish those off,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “Against a team like that in the regular season, those two field goals don’t do a tone for you and can hurt you. You never know when you are going to get back down there. It was self-inflicted so many times, whether it was a penalty or a sack or something.”

In the pre-season opener against Cincinnati, the No. 1 offense had three possessions that produced only a field goal. Sunday night against Carolina, they had five possessions in the first half that produced two more field goals.

The numbers for the Smith-led group in this pre-season are not good:

  • 8 possessions.
  • 46 plays.
  • 189 yards.
  • 4.1 yards per offensive play.
  • 3 sacks allowed.
  • 1 turnover.
  • 11 first downs.
  • 4 of 11 on third down.

The running game has been very inefficient, and yes Jamaal Charles was not part of Sunday night’s game because of a bruised foot. In two games, the No. 1 offense has 15 carries for 67 yards.

What hurts the evaluation more than anything is the fact that they’ve had marginal prospects to actually score a touchdown. On eight possessions, only once have they been inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. They penetrated to the Cincinnati nine-yard line in a possession that led to a Ryan Succop field goal. They also advanced to the 20 once, but produced only another field goal, this one from rookie Cairo Santos.

Those eight possessions produced nine points.

Against Carolina, the mistakes were plentiful for the offense, but they all seemed to come from the No. 1 offensive line. Protection for Smith was shoddy, including a blown blitz pickup block from Knile Davis that allowed Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly to take the quarterback down on a third-and-nine play. On the next possession, left tackle Eric Fisher was flagged for holding and then left guard Jeff Allen couldn’t handle defensive tackle Star Lotulelei who took Smith down for a nine-yard loss.

“We have a young offensive line and they have to learn,” said Andy Reid. “We’re going to feed them the things they need to get better. We’re not hiding that part of it. We know that they are going to get better with practice.”

Smith started getting the ball out of his hands faster, but that didn’t work either, as one possession ended with two passes that produced minus-four and minus-two yards.

There’s really only one game remaining for the No. 1 offense and that’s this coming Saturday night against Minnesota at Arrowhead Stadium. It makes the coming week an important time for the Chiefs to get their offensive house in order.

“Soon I look for us to take another step,” said Smith. “I felt like we did take a step tonight you know. I’d like to take another one.”

There Was A Bright Spot Sunday Night – Travis Kelce


From Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte

Now, if only Alex Smith can hook up with Travis Kelce – maybe that would jump start the Chiefs offense.

For the second week in a row, Kelce grabbed a touchdown pass. It turned out to be the Chiefs only touchdown in their 28-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The play was almost a copy of his touchdown against Cincinnati in the pre-season opener. This time he went for 43 yards on a pass from rookie quarterback Aaron Murray.

Kelce showed speed and power as he broke through the middle of the field and banged his way into the end zone.

“It was a great play call, perfect for the coverage,” said Murray of his first professional TD pass. “Kelce did a great job of pretty much blowing by the linebackers, and then a great job afterwards of getting in the end zone.”

There were three more catches for Kelce, who finished with four for 63 yards, more than any other Chiefs receiver. He averaged 15.8 yards per catch.

“He adds another element at the tight end position,” Smith said of Kelce. “I think we can really stretch some defenses and can do some things with the ball in his hands. It was exciting for me to see.”

Combined with his performance against the Bengals, including the 69-yard touchdown lay on a pass from Chase Daniel, Kelce is the team’s leading pre-season receiver, catching six passes for 136 yards for a healthy 22.7-yard average per catch.

“He just keeps coming with it,” said head coach Andy Reid. “Now, there’s more than just the route running. You have to be able to run block and detail all your work there. You sure have to give him credit for the effort . . . he sure has a nice skill level.”

Succop Returns Home For the First Time

Ryan Succop is very familiar with Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

He knows the concession stands, where the restrooms are and can easily pinpoint the nearest exit to get back to the parking lot.

Sunday night Succop will get his first chance to visit the bowels of the stadium that is the home of the Carolina Panthers, as the Chiefs hit the building to play pre-season game No. 2.

It’s the first time in his six years in the NFL that Succop has gone “back home” to kick. He grew up in Hickory, North Carolina, about an hour north of Charlotte. His family had season tickets for the Panthers almost from the expansion team’s first season in 1995. Other kids latched on the stars of those early Carolina teams like quarterback Kerry Collins, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad and linebacker Sam Mills.

Succop (right) and Cairo Santos (5) will continue their fight for the Chiefs kicking job.

Not Succop. His favorite member of the Panthers was kicker John Kasay, who ended up spending 15 seasons with Carolina among the 20 seasons and 301 games that he kicked in the NFL.

“We had seats down in the lower level, we had seats in the upper deck, we had seats all over the place,” Succop was remembering the other day after the end of the Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph. “John Kasay was my guy. He was a really good kicker, very consistent; just solid.

“I’m really excited about being able to kick there. I think I’ve kicked in every stadium in the league except Bank of America.” …Read More!

Chiefs Young O-Line – Good Or Bad For 2014?

Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Zach Fulton, Donald Stephenson – the Chiefs baby blockers

Andy Reid, John Dorsey, Alex Smith – the big three on the football end of the Chiefs franchise have said it more than once, even twice. They say it all the time.

It goes like this: “Blah, blah, blah . . . we have a young offensive line, one of the youngest in the league . . . blah, blah, blah.”

Based on the depth charts of the 32 NFL teams in the second week of the 2014 pre-season, the Chiefs have the youngest starting offensive line in the league. Whether judged by experience or age, they are pro football’s baby blockers, averaging 2.6 years of experience and 23.8 years of age going into the opening game of the regular season against Tennessee. That group includes rookie right guard Zach Fulton; right now he’s one of 10 rookies that teams list as starters. None of the other nine are draft choices selected lower than the fourth round. The Chiefs picked Fulton in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Carolina, Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Seattle – all have a majority of young blockers in the starting lineup, but none as young as the Chiefs. Third-year right tackle Donald Stephenson is the oldest player in the K.C. starting offensive line; he’s currently 25 years old and will turn 26 at the end of September. The oldest starter on the 31 other teams is at least 27 years old and there are 23 teams with a starter or starters that are 30 years or older. Among those other teams with young lines there are Super Bowl victories in recent seasons, including last year’s championship run by the Seahawks.

So this abundance of youth on the all-important line of scrimmage, is that a good thing for the 2014 Chiefs offense?

“It means I’ve got guys with fresh legs, they are hungry to learn and get better,” said offensive line coach Andy Heck. “It also means they’ve got to grow up fast.

“There are no excuses in this league. We have to get out there and do our thing and do it well.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #19 – 8/12


Travis Kelce (left) and Sean Smith battle for the ball in Wednesday’s practice

KCChiefs photo

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The momentum of practices during NFL training camps ebb and flow like the daily tide washing through the harbor. One day it’s the defense that leads the way; the next day it’s the offense. Some coaches hope for that up and down because it can indicate strength on both sides of the ball. Of course, it can also mean that neither the offense nor defense is consistent or strong enough to be consistently competitive.

Throughout this year’s camp at Missouri Western State University, the back and forth has been very consistent. One practice the defense dominates, making it difficult for the running backs to find an opening or the quarterbacks to have a safe pocket to throw from. In the next practice suddenly the offense is breaking out with big plays, leaving defenders grasping at air as they run to the end zone.

“It’s a daily deal,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “There’s no question that you have a feeling of who won the day. That’s the goal, that’s the competitiveness we have in this locker room. It’s fun; it’s just daily competition going back and forth with one another. It’s great work for us.”

Wednesday morning it was the Chiefs defense that led the way. …Read More!

Riding The Roster Wave As The Clock Ticks


WR Weston Dressler (L) is trending down; DL Jaye Howard (R) is trending up

From St. Joseph, Missouri

There are 90 players currently on the Chiefs roster. There are 53 slots available for the regular season.

The math is not good for 41 percent of the men that have been sweating in the summer heat.

All of those players arrived at Missouri Western State University facing long odds when it came to making the final roster. Some improved their chances thanks to their play in St. Joe. Others have written their ticket out of town by not being able to consistently produce on the practice field. Here’s one man’s opinion on three players that have improved their chances, followed by three that have put their continued employment in jeopardy. This is based on what’s been seen so far, and with the understanding that a lot can change in the next 18 days. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #18 – 8/12


K.C. Chiefs photo

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It’s one of the oldest practice drills in the sport, and even in this age where throwing the football gets all the headlines, this exercise is still done by every one of the 32 NFL teams. Some do it every day.

The 9-on-7 drill features the offense with players at every position but the wide receivers. The defense traditionally has brought the front seven on the field, defensive line and linebackers. They line up across from each other, and the offense calls running plays and the defense works to stop the run game. It’s the hard and dirty work of practice, a very physical drill where players work on fundamentals, but also on their toughness.

The Chiefs have done the drill every day they’ve been in training camp at Missouri Western State University. They will do it on Wednesday and Thursday of each practice week before regular season games. Even though Andy Reid loves the passing game, he knows where games are won and lost: the line of scrimmage.

“You really get to see fundamentals big time on how you are going to stop the run,” said Reid. “Are the hands tight? Are both guys fighting for position? How’s the balance, how’s the leverage, how high are you? If you are willing to play, do you have enough counter-action in there where it holds the linebackers somewhat honest?

“And, it’s just about the overall toughness and competition against each other that I think is important.” …Read More!

The Best Players On K.C. Defense Are Linebackers


Coaches are working at getting LBs like Dee Ford (55) and James-Michael Johnson (52) into defensive schemes

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It’s a coda frequently voiced by football coaches of all eras and stripes. They chant, “We want to get our best players on the field.”

That apparently is what Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is up to with some of the packages he has the defense working on in training camp practices at Missouri Western State University.

The Chiefs base defense is the 3-4-4 – three down linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs. Last season, the Chiefs most often used a sub defense that was a 2-3-6, with defensive backs replacing a lineman and a linebacker.

The roster is different in 2014, and Sutton appears to be working to get as many linebackers on the field as possible in some of his sub-packages. How about a 1-5-5, and what if those five linebackers included four defenders that normally play on the edge? That’s what the Chiefs have shown in the last few practices with Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Josh Martin and rookie Dee Ford in the huddle, along with inside linebacker Derrick Johnson.

“We call it the dog front,” Hali said of the defense that’s heavy on pass rushing linebackers. “Just a bunch of dogs going after (the quarterback) and barking.

“He’s just using the pieces like its chess, putting all his beset players out there and allowing them to do what they do best. We have five, six guys that can rush the passer.”

Sutton is operating from the idea of getting his most talented players on the field. Part of that goes in finding out the strengths of each player. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #17 – 8/11


On Monday Tamba Hali was busy in practice and afterwards with the fans at training camp

From St. Joseph, Missouri

His voice could be heard several times during the Chiefs practice on Monday morning, even though he was standing at the far end of the Missouri Western State University field, far from where the fans and media were watching.

It’s not the first time that Tamba Hali has been vocal during this training camp. As one of the most tenured players on the Chiefs roster, Hali has stepped forward to add his voice to the leadership by example he’s provided the defense for years.

“These are the grind days,” Hali said after the Monday practice. “At this time in camp, a lot of guys can shut it down . . . we’re talking and screaming and yelling their names, telling them to make plays just to keep their energy up. It gets them going.

“Every day I hear from the guys who say you got me through practice just by doing that.”

The entire roster has been on the field for 14 practices now, 12 of them in full pads, including Monday morning. The Chiefs have three more practices in St. Joe before they take everything back to their facility at the Truman Sports Complex just before they head to Charlotte to play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

This week qualifies as the so-called “dog days” of camp, where practices all start to blend together, body parts ache, and the dorm room walls start to close in. As a nine-year veteran, Hali has been there many times. He’s doing what he can to help his teammates through the fog. …Read More!

Henry Moving Up The Depth Chart


From St. Joseph, Missouri

More and more, journeyman guard Ricky Henry is getting important chances to practice with the No. 1 offensive line in training camp at Missouri Western State University.

In Sunday’s morning full pads workout, Henry first spelled Zach Fulton at right guard, and then went to left guard in place of the established starter there in Jeff Allen.

When he thinks of Henry, head coach Andy Reid doesn’t conjure up images of previous blockers that played for his teams.

“He looks like Larry the Cable Guy and plays like Larry the Cable Guy,” Reid said after practice. “He’s kind of a dirt bag type of guy. He gets in there and he’s rough and tough and scrappy and all of that.” …Read More!

Kickers Duel Remains Even; Succop Has A Sore Groin

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The competition between returning kicker Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos continued Saturday. But only Santos took part.

Succop was held out of practice because of what head coach Andy Reid said was “a little bit of inflammation in his groin.” He received treatment Saturday morning and did not show up on the field until the last 15 minutes of practice.

That gave Santos the chance to do all the kicking and he took advantage of the opportunity, going nine of 10 on field goal attempts from that ranged from 33 to 54 yards.

So where does the fight stand at kicker after one round game?

“It’s even right now,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “Succop might’ve shown a little bit stronger leg on the kickoffs. What we were trying to do with the kickoffs was to kick high hang times and just get those guys (Bengals) to return it. We wanted to test our kickoff coverage unit. He was hitting the ball so well, and he was hitting it sweet and the thing was really taking off.”

Sorting Out the Offensive Line Play


The play of the Chiefs offensive line was a subject of much concern as Andy Reid’s team went to training camp last month. With three new starters, including the always important left tackle spot and a very young group trying to fill the holes on the No. 1 unit. The preseason schedule promised to be very important for the integration of the offensive and thus the good health of running back Jamaal Charles and quarterback Alex Smith.

An opening game 41-39 victory over Cincinnati gave Reid and his staff a mixed bag to evaluate on Friday as the team returned to training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

The No. 1 group saw action in the first quarter for just 10 plays that produced only 28 yards with one first down courtesy of a Bengals penalty. They could not convert a pair of third-and-two plays and Smith was sacked once, losing the ball on a fumble when he was hit by defensive end Robert Geathers. Left tackle Eric Fisher had the blocking assignment for Geathers.

But Reid was quick to provide some cover for last year’s NFL No. 1 overall draft choice.

“We should have dropped deeper on that play,” Reid said. “It was a three-step drop play and you can’t hold it forever. You have to secure the ball as a quarterback; you have to hang onto it and go somewhere else . . . I really don’t blame Eric on that particularly play.”

In fact, Reid liked how aggressively Fisher played in his first game after offseason surgery on his shoulder and a sports hernia. It’s limited the practice time for Fisher, especially in pass protection drills. …Read More!

Notes: Kicking Competition Remains Hot

From Arrowhead Stadium

The kicking game continues to be one of the most interesting and intense competitions in the Chiefs pre-season. Thursday night’s opening game against Cincinnati did little to help make a decision.

Veteran Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos (right) have been matching each other kick-for-kick in training camp practices. They did the same against the Bengals:

  • Succop kicked a 27-yard field goal and made all three of his PAT kicks.
  • Santos had a 28-yard FG and made two PAT kicks.

The only difference between the two was on kickoffs and that turned out to be a question of coaching. Succop kicked off four times, three were touchbacks and the fourth landed four yards deep and was brought out. Santos kicked off four times, with one touchback, another kick into the end zone, one to the goal line and his first came down at the 4-yard line.

“We were trying to get where guys were returning the ball,” said head coach Andy Reid. “I mean this sounds crazy, but this is the pre-season so we were trying to get where we could get some returns so we could work on that part of it.

“They just traded kicks back and forth and I thought both of them kicked it well. I joke about that. It’s like watching the World Cup . . . it seems to end in a tie every day.”

More from the special teams

Punter Dustin Colquitt only kicked twice, but one of those was a 71-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Bengals seven-yard line . . . rookie Albert Wilson had a 65-yard kickoff return, and overall the Chiefs had five returns for an average of 30.8 yards . . . there were three punt returns for 97 yards, and De’Anthony Thomas’ 80-yard return . . . the kickoff coverage unit gave up an average of 28.3 yards on four returns.

From the defense

The Chiefs had a pair of sacks, one from inside linebacker Joe Mays and the other from defensive end Jaye Howard . . . they had five quarterback hurries, two from first-round draft choice Dee Ford . . . inside linebacker James-Michael Johnson was credited with eight tackles to lead the K.C. defense.

The Injury Report

Coming out of the game, Reid said there were two injuries: wide receiver Albert Wilson has an ankle sprain and defensive lineman Kona Schwenke a shoulder strain.

He also updated the status of defensive end Mike DeVito. “He actually broke a finger in his (left) hand,” Reid said. “It should be OK. We should be able to splint it up and he should be able to work here in the next couple days. For this game, it wasn’t going to work.”

There were nine other players that did not play in the game because of their continuing injuries and medical conditions: wide receiver A.J. Jenkins (hamstring), wide receiver Mark Harrison (hamstring), running back Joe McKnight (knee), wide receiver Junior Hemingway (hamstring), strong safety Eric Berry (heel), safety Sanders Commings (ankle surgery), outside linebacker Dezman Moses (elbow), defensive end Mike Catapano (illness) and defensive tackle Kyle Love (ankle).

The zebras need pre-season too

There were 16 penalties walked off by referee Clete Blakeman and his crew, with seven of those against the Chiefs. The officials threw 11 flags for violations by the Chiefs with three declined and one offsetting.

As expected, the new emphasis on keeping defenders from contacting and restricting wide receivers beyond the five-yard zone at the line of scrimmage made for a busy night against the Chiefs defense. All six flags thrown against Reid’s defense were for holding, illegal use of hands and illegal contact. Cornerbacks Ron Parker and DeMarcus Van Dyke were hit twice each for calls, as were cornerback Sean Smith and defensive end Jaye Howard, who was called for holding a running back trying to get free on a planned screen pass.

“We knew coming in that they were going to make those calls and it’s good for our defense, the corners to see that, to see what they can get away with and see what they can’t,” said Reid. “You get it all figured out in the pre-season as they see the points of emphasis this year.”

The Little Man Says Hello To Arrowhead


From Arrowhead Stadium

There are still moments when De’Anthony Thomas comes out of the offensive huddle and lines up in the wrong place.

But even in the wrong place, he’s still fast.

Sometimes Thomas does not quite run pass routes the way Andy Reid wants them done in his offense.

But even if he’s not quite on top of the routes, he’s still fast.

And, he’s tough little man. Thursday night in the pre-season opener Thomas introduced himself to the Chiefs Nation with an 80-yard punt return touchdown that helped turn the momentum of the game in favor of the Chiefs. It set up what was finally a 41-39 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

He scored even though the moment he caught the punt, he was hit by Bengals cover man Dre Kirkpatrick.

“I don’t really remember that,” said Thomas of Kirkpatrick running into him. “I was concentrating on making sure I secured the ball and then I just started running.”

One of the advantages of being 5-9, 170 pounds is a low-center of gravity that can absorb contact, but not get knocked over because he stands lower to the ground. Once he bounced off Kirkpatrick, no other Cincinnati player touched him as he ran past and through everyone for the score.

“It was a pretty amazing play right at the catch,” said Reid. “Then, he’s pretty fast. If he gets out there, there are not going to be a whole lot of guys that can catch him. He can scoot pretty good.”

During training camp in St. Joseph, Thomas has left observers with impressions of what he can do on the football field. He’s still just a rookie and sometimes the load of information that’s required in the Reid offense forces him to slow down. But once the ball is in his hands, whether as runner, receiver or returner, it’s a big play waiting to happen.

“He does it every day,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “He kind of only knows one speed. We all kind of joke about that. Even in a walkthrough he’s moving at 100 miles per hour. He’s the type of player that whenever he touches the ball, everyone’s holding their breath.

“I know I was screaming ‘fair catch’ on the sidelines. Then it was like ‘Oh, OK’.”

There were 56 seconds to play in the first quarter and the Chiefs trailed 10-3. After giving up a pair of first downs, the defense finally slowed the Cincinnati offense. With a fourth-and-16 situation at its 37-yard line, Kevin Huber’s punt hung in the air as Thomas circled under it at the 20-yard line.

From that moment came a return to remember. On the night, Thomas had the 80-yard punt return, a 35-yard kickoff return and three yards on a running play. He was not targeted in the passing game. That’s three touches, 118 yards and a touchdown.

“This is one game, the first game and there are a lot more games to play,” Thomas said. “I’m just trying to contribute on special teams and the offense.”

Chiefs Ride Point-Explosion To An Opening Victory


From Arrowhead Stadium

Not since the most legendary pre-season in franchise history have the Chiefs been part of game that twirled the scoreboard knobs as often as what happened Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Chiefs 41, Bengals 39, as Andy Reid’s team won its pre-season opener.

Those 80 points were the most scored in an exhibition game involving the Chiefs since August 23, 1967. That night at Municipal Stadium the Chicago Bears fell to Hank Stram’s defending AFL champions in a game that totaled 90 points – a 66-24 Kansas City victory.

After two weeks in St. Joseph, the Chiefs returned to Kansas City ready to work against some new faces. It was not a perfect effort and there will be a lot of instruction in the tape rooms and on the practice field next week involving some of the mistakes made against the Bengals. But they overcame those with an explosion of points that featured touchdowns from all three phases, including a big introduction to Arrowhead for rookie De’Anthony Thomas. His 80-yard punt-return touchdown late in the first quarter electrified the crowd.

“We had some good plays, offensively, defensively and special teams from young guys that will contribute this year and help us out,” said head coach Andy Reid. “That was a positive . . . there are a lot of good things and there are some things we need some work on. That’s why we’re doing the pre-season.”

Reid’s defense added a pair of touchdowns on interception returns by cornerback Sean Smith and safety Malcolm Bronson. The offense had two touchdowns as well, including a 69-yard catch and run by tight end Travis Kelce where he showed speed even his teammates had not seen before Thursday night.

Alex Smith and the starting lineup had just a quarter of play and they were not very impressive, putting up no touchdowns and only 28 yards on 10 plays. Failing to convert a pair of third-and-two situations pushed them off the field. Before connecting with Kelce for the long touchdown play, No. 2 quarterback Chase Daniel threw an interception that was returned by Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for a touchdown.

“This is certainly a teaching tool for everybody,” said Smith. “No matter where you are on the depth chart, certainly we’ll look at this and we have a lot to improve on. Couldn’t convert on the third-and-one, couldn’t convert on third-and-two. You put yourself in good situations and as an offense that’s what you want to be. You have to be able to execute there.”

The touchdown returns helped the defense make up for the 376 offensive yards they allowed Cincinnati, including 180 rushing yards at 5.6 yards per carry. The Bengals No. 1 units were on the field and off so fast, they hardly worked up a sweat. Starting quarterback Andy Dalton was in for eight plays before exiting. One reason for his short stay was a No. 1 offense line that was missing three starters.

It was a 53-yard completion from Dalton to wide receiver A.J. Green that set up the first score of the game, a 30-yard field goal by Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent. On the next Chiefs possession, defensive end Robert Geathers hit Smith from behind forcing a fumble and it was recovered by teammate Carlos Dunlap at the Chiefs 16-yard line. Geathers beat left tackle Eric Fisher on the pass rush.

With Dalton already out of the game, backup Jason Campbell moved the offense in three plays for a touchdown, hitting wide receiver Brandon Tate on a nine-yard touchdown pass. Tate beat cornerback Ron Parker off the line of scrimmage for the score. The PAT kick gave Cincinnati a 10-0 lead.

The Chiefs needed a spark and they got one from rookie Albert Wilson. He took the ensuing kickoff and rang up a 65-yard return and with 15 yards added on a personal foul penalty against the Bengals that gave Smith and the offense a drive start at the Cincinnati 25-yard line. But five plays later forward movement stalled and Ryan Succop kicked a 27-yard field goal and the Chiefs trailed by seven points.

The defense forced a Bengals punt and that brought a second explosion from the K.C. special teams. Thomas caught the 43-yard punt at the Chiefs 20-yard line, was hit immediately by Kirkpatrick and then took off like a shot. Nobody else touched him as he roared 80 yards for a touchdown. The PAT kick tied the scoreboard at 10-10 with 38 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

And, before the period ended, the Chiefs led 17-10 when Smith intercepted a Campbell pass intended for wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and returned it 36 yards for a pick-six touchdown. The first quarter fell away with the Chiefs holding a 17-10 lead.

The second quarter was just as fast and furious as the first. The Bengals tied the score when Kirkpatrick grabbed an overthrown Daniel pass and returned it 40 yards for Cincinnati’s own pick-six. That tied it up at 17-17.

Rookie Cairo Santos hit a 28-yard field goal and again the Chiefs held the lead. But the Bengals put together a nine-play, 81-yard drive that finished up with Campbell connecting on an 26-yard touchdown pass with wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher. The PAT kick gave Cincinnati a 24-20 lead with just under two minutes to play in the half.

It was a lead that did not last long. Daniel got a first down for the offense, but with 30 seconds to play, faced a 2nd-and-10 play at his own 31-yard line. With good protection, Daniel found Kelce open across the middle and the second-year tight end out ran the Cincinnati defense, scoring on a 69-yard touchdown play that gave the Chiefs a 27-24 lead that they did not relinquish over the rest of the night.

The defense made sure of that early in the second half when Bronson grabbed a Campbell pass and returned it 51 yards for the second Chiefs defensive touchdown of the night and a 34-24 lead.

A fumble by quarterback Tyler Bray as he was being sacked was recovered by the Bengals and early in the fourth quarter they added another touchdown on a nine-yard throw from third quarterback Matt Scott to wide receiver James Wright. The Chiefs offense tacked on another score, with running back Cyrus Gray scoring on a two-yard run.

That proved to be a big score, as the Bengals had eight more points coming, as Scott hit wide receiver Conner Vernon for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Scott then ran for two points and the Chiefs lead was cut to two points, 41-39.

With less than a minute to go, the Chiefs went to the victory formation after recovering an on-side kick and what was left of the Arrowhead crowd went home happy to enjoy such an unexpected evening of points and a victory.

Chiefs Kickoff Pre-Season Against The Bengals

The last time the Chiefs walked off the field of competition was early January and they limped to the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium stunned by what had just happened.

A 28-point lead over Indianapolis with 28 minutes to play melted away from the heat coming off the right arm of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. The 2013 season was over in a 45-44 loss.

The 2014 season begins Thursday night when the Chiefs hosting the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m. There are plenty of good seats available.

Nothing is forgotten quite as quickly as the NFL pre-season. Who can remember the outcome when the Andy Reid Era opened a year ago in New Orleans with a game against the Saints? The Chiefs lost 17-13.

Almost six months later, the Chiefs scored 44 points and still lost, in a game that had far more meaning then that first outing in New Orleans. The table has a much different setting in August 2014 than it did a year ago. The skills of Reid and his coaching staff showed themselves last season. Same with some of the players on the Chiefs roster.

Points of attention for Chiefs vs. Bengals

But that January afternoon in Indianapolis was evidence enough that there was still a lot of work that needed to be done before the Chiefs can be considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender. That makes every opportunity they have to step on the field of play important in the big scheme of things.

Even if it’s the first game of the pre-season. …Read More!

Points of Attention For Chiefs vs. Bengals

1

Pass protection for all four quarterbacks

The Chiefs offensive line, first, second and third teams, remain far from well-oiled blocking machines. The starters have been inconsistent, and the backups, even those with NFL experience are not challenging the No. 1 guys for playing time. Center Rodney Hudson and rookie guard Zach Fulton have been camp’s best performers – everyone else in the mix must be much more consistent. That starts against Cincinnati.

2

Covering cornerbacks

The Chiefs secondary remains a position group in flux and every pre-season game will provide an opportunity for evaluation of the talent. Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker, Sean Smith, Chris Owens, Phillip Gaines, DeMarcus Van Dyke and others all have flashed at various times during training camp. Consistency has been lacking. The first guys that show the coaching staff they can be counted on will probably get the starting jobs.

3

Bray & Murray, or is it Murray and Bray?

If Reid slices up the quarterback snaps the way it’s gone during practice, Tyler Bray will get the third quarter and Andy Murray the fourth. Neither one will get snaps with offensive first teamers, so it’s any guess as to how this will play out against the Bengals. There are decisions that must be made at the position and Bray and Murray need every opportunity to show they desire a roster spot.

4

The most competitive position on the team: kicker.

Special teams coordinator Dave Toub did not reveal how he plans to split the kicking work load for this game, but for the first time in several years, watching the kickers closely will be important in the pre-season. Rookie Cairo Santos has matched veteran Ryan Succop kick for kick, not only on field goals but kickoffs. Plus, Santos seems to have about five to 10 yards more on every kick. All that has come on practice fields with a few hundred people watching and nobody trying to block the kick. That changes for Santos Thursday night.

5.

Adjusting to rules changes

Contact between defenders and receivers is going to be watched very closely by the officials this season and that will be a point of emphasis even in the games where the outcome matters not. It’s a big factor for the Chiefs because they like to play so much press, man-to-man coverage. They like to get their hands on receivers, and in practice they are prone to holding on too long. Can they stop that habit in the games?

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Kicker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru K) –Broncos 85, Chiefs 94, Chargers 95, Raiders 96.

Kicker

1. Matt Prater, Denver

5-10, 195 pounds, born 8/10/1984, 8th NFL season, entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’07 by the Falcons out of the University of Central Florida. He kicked two games in Atlanta, before he was released and signed later that season by the Broncos where he’s kicked since. In 100 games, Prater has made 142 of 174 FG attempts, 81.6 percent.

Prater benefits from the high altitude of Denver and that’s especially noticeable on his kickoffs, as he finished with 81 touchbacks last season with his kickoffs going an average of 71 yards. That’s an impressive tool for the Broncos each week. Last year, he made 25 of 26 attempts, 96.2 percent the best FG average in the league. His only miss was from 52 yards and he established a new NFL record for longest FG when he hit from 64 yards against Tennessee. …Read More!

Crowded Field At Wide Receiver Needs Clarity


Rookies Albert Wilson (8) and De’Anthony Thomas (1) have been making big impressions among the receivers in training camp

The meeting room the wide receivers use at Missouri Western State University has been crowded since the first day of training camp. Very crowded.

As the Chiefs get ready to kick off the 2014 pre-season on Thursday night they have 13 wide receivers on their 90-man roster. No other team in the AFC has as many pass catchers. Seven of those 13 are rookies or first-year players; only Pittsburgh and Jacksonville can match that number when it comes to inexperienced receivers.

Will Andy Reid and his offensive coaching staff have enough plays in practice and four pre-season games to accurately evaluate which five or six receivers will be on the 53-man roster for the regular-season opener?

Reid says the players will sort themselves out before the first weekend in September.

“Yes, as time goes on they will,” said Reid. “You’re seeing it right now. One day it’s one, and then another one shows up. That’s how it works and then you go with who we feel are the best players.

“Just keep playing them. We give them as many reps as we can. Everybody is going to play once we get to the first pre-season game. We’ll evaluate them and play the best guys.” …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Punter

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru P) – Broncos 84, Chiefs & Chargers 91, Raiders 94.

Punter

1. Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs

6-3, 210 pounds, born 5/6/1982, 10th NFL season, selected in 3rd-round (#99) of the ’05 NFL Draft by the Chiefs out of the University of Tennessee. Colquitt has punted in 142 regular season games, kicking 744 times for an average of 44.9 yards. He’s had five punts blocked and has a career high punt of 81 yards.

Few punters in the NFL are as versatile as Colquitt, who is equally at home bombing a punt for distance and hang-time, as he is kicking the ball out of bounds in the directional game. He’s been very consistent over the last three seasons, averaging 45.9, 46.8 and 46 yards per punt. In the ’13 regular season he punted 87 times, with 38 of those punts returned by the opponent for an average of just 6.5 yards. Colquitt had one kick blocked and 35 punts inside the 20-yard line with a 40-yard net average. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #14 – 8/4

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Another rookie was the star of the day for the Chiefs practice Monday morning at Missouri Western State University.

Safety Daniel Sorensen seemed to be everywhere as he worked with the Chiefs defense, most of that time with the No. 2 unit, but sometimes finding snaps with the No. 1 guys.

It’s a continuation of what the 6-2, 208-pound product of Brigham Young University has been doing since he was signed after the NFL Draft back in May.

“He did have a good day today,” said head coach Andy Reid. “He had a lot of (pass) break ups and a pick or two. He’s playing good football.”

(Photo right: that’s Sorensen (49) grabbing his first interception of the day covering tight end Demetrius Harris (47).

Reid has always professed his interest in Sorensen, since he’s from his alma mater. But the Utah native has shown throughout camp that he’s able to adapt and learn very quickly in coordinator Bob Sutton’s defensive scheme.

“He’s making progress as we go,” Reid said of Sorensen. “The thing you see with the young guys, the rookies, is you start putting days together. It’s not just one practice, its two, then three practices.” …Read More!

Bengals Do Lengthy Deal With QB Andy Dalton


From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Cincinnati Bengals have agreed to terms with quarterback Andy Dalton on a contract extension. It’s a six-year, $96 million package with the chance for that total payout to jump even higher if Dalton and the Bengals have post-season success.

The agreement leaves one starting quarterback in the league with a first name that starts with A looking for a contract extension or new deal: the Chiefs Alex Smith.

It was the first question Smith was asked when he met with the media horde after Monday morning’s practice.

“To be honest, I had no idea they were even talking or that was happening,” said Smith. “I found out walking off the field, just to give me a heads up because I’d probably get asked it. Other than that, I’ve got nothing for you.”

The deal between the Bengals and Dalton will bring the young quarterback $18 million this year in salary and bonuses and $25 million over the first two years. Almost every penny of that is guaranteed. It’s an average of $16 million per, but would rise to $19 million per year with escalators involving Dalton’s playing time and the team’s success in the playoffs.

Dalton is in his fourth season, and this is the last year of his original rookie contract with the Bengals. The 30-year old Smith is in his 10th season of play. This year is also the last year of a contract he signed while with the 49ers. …Read More!

Chiefs Cut Two, Add One

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs cut two players on Sunday that never reached the practice field in training camp and added a defensive lineman.

Rookie cornerback David Van Dyke was released after he finally passed the team’s physical. Van Dyke has been on the sidelines since June when he suffered a

James Baker, a rookie running back was released from the reserve/did not report list. Baker took part in all the off-season work, but did not return for training camp.

The newest face on the Chiefs roster is defensive tackle Jairus Campbell out of Bowling Green University in Ohio. At 6-4, 310 pounds, Campbell was not selected in the 2014 NFL Draft but signed on May 11th with the Baltimore Ravens. He was subsequently released. The 23-year old Ohio native played in 41 games in college, with 82 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, along with a pair of forced fumbles.

Campbell missed most of the 2012 season with a severe Lisfranc injury that required surgery and screws implanted in his left foot.

The Chiefs were in need of bodies on the defensive line as they had only seven on the practice field on Sunday, as defensive tackles Jermelle Cudjo (hamstring) and Kyle Love (ankle) joined Mike Catapano (illness) out of action. The only available defensive tackles were Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard.

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #13 – 8/3

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a soggy Sunday morning at Missouri Western State University, as thunderstorms forced the Chiefs to move practice inside, there first full pads, indoor workout of this training camp.

And the change in venue didn’t alter what was on the practice plan for the team’s 13th practice. “No, this was going to be our style today,” said offensive coordinator Doug Peterson of what went down during the two-hour and 30-minute session.

But the new wrinkle came from defensive coordinator Bob Sutton. He unveiled a new scheme during Sunday’s practice, a 1-5-5; that was one defensive lineman, nose tackle Dontari Poe and five – that’s right five – linebackers. On Sunday, that group was starters Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston, and they were joined by outside linebackers Dee Ford and Josh Martin.

Certainly, that’s a lot of pass rush firepower, as those six players upfront are the best on the Chiefs roster at putting pressure on the quarterback.

“That’s a lot more speed out there at one time,” said Houston. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.” …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Free Safety

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru FS) –Broncos 77, Chargers 81, Raiders 85, Chiefs 87.

Free Safety

1. Eric Weddle, San Diego

5-11, 200 pounds, born 1/4/1985, 8th NFL season, selected in the 2nd-round (#37) by the Chargers in the ’07 NFL Draft out of the University of Utah. Weddle has played 108 games in San Diego, starting 93 times. He has 18 career interceptions and three that he returned for TDs. He has six sacks, five recovered fumbles including one he ran back 86 yards for a TD. He’s been credited with 658 total tackles.

Weddle is coming off the second Pro Bowl season of his career. He has established himself as the heart of the Chargers defense and very definitely the leader of the group. Last year he did not miss a defensive snap in the 18 games played in the regular and post-seasons. That was 1,017 plays where he contributed two interceptions, one sack and 103 total tackles. Weddle was targeted 57 times by opposing passers, as they completed 40 for an average of 9.4 yards. He did not give up a touchdown pass. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #12 – 8/2

From St. Joseph, Missouri

He’s the smallest player on the roster, as long as rookie kicker Cairo Santos isn’t included. Running back/ wide receiver/ returner De’Anthony Thomas is 5-9, 170 pounds.

But he gets bigger and bigger in the Chiefs plans as each training camp practice rolls on at Missouri Western State University.

Thomas was the star of Saturday morning’s practice, showing off his speed in many different ways, whether it was taking a pitch from the quarterback on an option-type play and breaking the edge of the defense, or going up the middle of the offensive line and wiggling past the linebackers, or getting a step on coverage from defensive backs and hauling in passes.

He even broke up an interception in the end zone, when free safety Husain Abdullah had the throw in his hands, but Thomas was able to reach in and got the ball out and on the ground.

The fifth-round draft choice from the University of Oregon has drawn the respect of his defensive teammates. …Read More!

Gregory Trying To Catch Up With Chiefs Defense

From St. Joseph, Missouri

On Wednesday, Steve Gregory was at home in Syracuse, New York, enjoying time with his five-week old daughter Aviana.

On Thursday he was on a plane to Kansas City.

On Friday, he was on the field for practice at Missouri Western State University. Gregory was scrambling to digest and sort through the defensive playbook he was handed by defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.

“He’s been in a lot of different systems,” Sutton said of Gregory. “The biggest transition will be his terminology. What he might’ve been used to calling apples, we call oranges, so that’s going to be his first transition. He’s probably familiar with everything that we’ve done. He’s got to work on terminology and getting his feet under him.

“I know his background and I know it’s a good one. He’ll be fine.” …Read More!

Another Kicking Duel Highlights Friday Practice

From St. Joseph, Missouri

A good one-on-one duel in the sporting world requires several elements. First, the participants must have similar standards of talent. Second, there’s a lot of back and forth, with the competitive edge constantly in flux.

And third, there has to be something on the line, some sort of prize desired by the parties involved in the duel.

Well folks, we have a real competition going on for the job of kicker for the 2014 Chiefs. Veteran Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos were both kicking on Friday morning at practice. At one point while the rest of the team was on the west field, the kickers were on the east field going through 12 field goal attempts each.

After Monday’s practice, they were pretty even, but Succop gained a slight edge from the kicking that went on in Wednesday’s workout. Friday it was Santos that stepped forward and pushed the competition back to even.

“It’s a real battle,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub. “The pre-season games are going to tell us a lot.”

In more than a week of training camp, Santos has proven that he has the stronger leg of the two kickers; every one of his field goal attempts was a good 10 yards longer at the finish than Succop. …Read More!

Injuries Force Chiefs To Add Veteran Safety

The injury bug that has bitten the Chiefs secondary in training camp practices forced the team back to the street to find an acceptable body to jump in at safety.

Nine-year NFL veteran Steve Gregory was signed on Thursday, after Eric Berry suffered an ankle injury and Sanders Commings underwent surgery on his ankle.

Gregory, 5-10½, 185 pounds has played in 111 games with 54 starts for San Diego and New England. He spent the last two seasons with the Patriots, appearing in 26 games with 23 starts. The New York native entered the NFL with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Syracuse University in 2006.

Over his career, Gregory has 357 total tackles, three sacks, seven interceptions with a touchdown return and two forced fumbles. He played eight games against the Chiefs, picking up 33 total tackles, one sack and one interception. He was released on February 28th by the Patriots in what was largely a salary-cap cut.

To create room for Gregory the Chiefs released rookie inside linebacker Ben Johnson.

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Third Cornerback

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru 3CB) –Broncos 73, Chargers 80, Raiders 83, Chiefs 84.

Third Cornerback

1. Chris Harris, Denver

5-10, 190 pounds, born 6/18/1989, 3rd-NFL season, signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in ’11 out of the University of Kansas. In three seasons, he’s played in 47 games with 31 starts at both left and right cornerback. Harris has seven interceptions, including two that he returned for TDs, along with 203 total tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Harris has just begun to be able to practice as he’s recovering from ACL surgery from back in February; he was injured in Denver’s first game in the post-season against San Diego. He’s been cleared for light practice work and says he’ll be cleared to play by the end of the Broncos pre-season schedule. The question is whether he’ll return to the starting lineup, where he opened 16 of the 17 games he played last year at either left cornerback or slot corner. He did start one game at right cornerback. Overall, he saw 1,086 defensive snaps, was targeted by opposing passers 92 times, and they completed 52 for an average of 10.9 yards a completion. He allowed only one touchdown pass, grabbed three interceptions and posted 65 total tackles. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #10 – 7/31


KC Chiefs photo

Darryl Surgent (#14) is about to make the best catch of Thursday’s practice.

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Andy Reid had his Chiefs offense working in the red zone during a three-hour practice on Thursday morning at Missouri Western State University.

“I thought there were some good things on both sides,” Reid said after practice. “It kind of traded back and forth. We did all ones vs. ones, twos vs. twos, threes vs. threes. Overall there were some good things and there are some things we need to work on for both sides.”

Last season, the Chiefs finished No. 8 in the league in scoring touchdowns during possessions in the red zone/inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. They had 57 chances and scored 33 touchdowns, or 57.9 percent of the time.

However, they finished No. 31 in the league in total scoring off red zone possessions. Along with 33 touchdowns came 13 field goals, of 46 of the 57 opportunities or 80.7 percent. That was better than only the Jacksonville offense.

The 11 trips inside the 20 produced included two fumbles lost, two interceptions, a missed field goal (34 yards), three times they lost possession on downs and there were three times when the half or game ended. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Cornerback

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RCB) –Broncos 72, Chargers 76, Raiders 80, Chiefs 82.

Right Cornerback

1. Carlos Rogers, Oakland

6-0, 192 pounds, born 7/2/1981, 10th-NFL season, 1st-season with the Raiders, who signed him as a street free agent from the 49ers. Rogers was selected in the 1st-round (#9) of the ’05 NFL Draft by the Redskins out of Auburn University. He played six seasons with Washington and the last three with San Francisco, where he signed as a free agent in ’11. He’s played 126 games with 116 starts, collecting 17 interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns, 445 total tackles, one sack and four forced fumbles.

Rogers has played both left and right cornerback, and earned Pro Bowl honors in ’11 on the left side in his first season with the Niners. Last year he played in 17 regular and post-season games, starting all but the NFC title game against Seattle. He had 1,091 defensive snaps and opponents targeted him 98 times, completing 59 passes for an average gain of 12.3 yards. He allowed three touchdown passes, while he grabbed a pair of interceptions and 50 total tackles. …Read More!

Camp Notes: Physical Play Continues To Increase


KC Chiefs photo

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Andy Reid is old school when it comes to what he wants to see from his players during training camp.

That’s why contrary to the recent trend in the league where head coaches eliminate contact in camp, Reid encourages physical play. He does not call for full-speed, game-like intensity. But he wants players running into each other because football is a collision sport and how better to prepare for banging bodies than to do it on the practice field.

More than a few Chiefs fans held their breath Wednesday morning when All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles went down under a pile of bodies on a running play. The early part of that play is pictured above.

“It’s a physical game and we’ve got to get Jamaal ready to play and he’s got to understand that he’s going to get hit in a lot of these live periods,” said offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. “We don’t keep him in there very long. As coaches we’re smart about that. You’ve got to get them ready to go because this first pre-season game he’s going to get hit.” …Read More!

Tyler Bray Is Showing His Improvement

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The best quarterback on the field was not the starter, the No. 1 backup or the draft choice. It was the second-year undrafted free agent that had a very nice performance on Wednesday morning at Missouri Western State University.

Tyler Bray had his best practice of his week on campus, and that’s saying something because he’s had good sessions before.

But Bray did the little things on Wednesday, things that he couldn’t have fathomed doing last year in his rookie season out of the University of Tennessee.

“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Bray said in comparison to last year’s camp. “You’ve just got to feel it. You have to know your reads and know where everyone’s coming from.”

There is some much nuance to playing the quarterback position at its highest level of competition. Eventually, a quarterback learns the important pieces of his profession, or he ends up selling insurance. There’s never been any doubt about Bray’s physical tools, especially his arm which is the strongest of the four quarterbacks on the roster.

Case in point: the Chiefs were working a lot of goal-line offense in Wednesday’s practice. The action was about as full speed as it can be without all-out hitting like a game. Bray and some backups on offense were facing the Chiefs No. 1 defense. On the play, Bray faked a handoff to the running back and then moved to his left. Defenders had problem locating the ball, because Bray had it on his hip and away from defensive eyes. He pulled it off his hip at the last instant and flipped the ball to tight end Richard Gordon, who was wide open. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #9 – 7/30


From St. Joseph, Missouri

After their day off, the Chiefs got back to practice on Wednesday morning. They also got back some of their injured players.

Right tackle Donald Stephenson, center Eric Kush and safety Sanders Commings joined their teammates in full pads after missing previous practices because of various ankle and foot injuries.

Stephenson had his left ankle rolled up on in Saturday’s practice and missed the workouts on Sunday and Monday. But that does not mean he wasn’t sweating.

“I know my team needs me, so I did double treatment to get back on the field,” Stephenson said. “I got back faster than I thought I would and I’m proud of it.”

Sadly, Commings first practice time of camp was cut short because of a right ankle injury he suffered on the field. He has missed the first five practices because a foot problem he suffered in the days before reporting to Missouri Western State University. It was last year in the second day of camp that he suffered a broken collarbone that kept him out of all but two games during his rookie season.

The practice featured goal line and short yardage offense and defense, along with field goal and kickoff work. The offense, particularly the No. 1 unit, had more apparent busted plays and assignment problems than in any practice so far. Several of quarterback Alex Smith’s passes were thrown to areas downfield where there were no receivers. One was thrown downfield to the right side where running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Frankie Hammond were running deep routes. Smith’s throw landed between the two receivers, who did not seem to know the ball was coming. …Read More!

Notes From A Day-Off At Camp Andy


From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs players have a day off on Tuesday, with no practice, no walkthrough, no lifting and conditioning.

The mini-vacation does not come because Andy Reid wanted to reward his players or was worried about their physical and mental health. In fact, the head coach had nothing to do with the off-day.

It comes courtesy of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement between owners and players. The contract reads that in camp the players must get a day of rest every five days of practice. The Chiefs worked on the field Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday, so they were due down time.

Of course it’s not really a day off for 90 percent of the roster. They will remain on campus at Missouri Western State University, where they will sleep, get treatment for bumps and bruises, maybe watch some practice tape and possibly get out and see a bit of St. Joe. I doubt they’ll be at the Pony Express Museum, but more likely they’ll be at the mall or shopping center, maybe at the grocery store, stocking the room for another week.

Here’s what makes training camp such an important physical-psychological laboratory. The flow of training camp naturally goes in an up-and-down motion. Decision makers like general managers and coaches make assessments every day on how the players handle themselves. The first-week All-Pro at training camp can disappear by the third-week of practice. A rookie that jumps to the front in the early sessions can end up at the back of the line long before decisions are made on roster spots. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Inside Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru ILB) –Broncos 64, Chargers 68, Raiders 73, Chiefs 75.

Inside Linebacker

1. Derrick Johnson, Chiefs

6-3, 240 pounds, born 11/22/1982, 10th NFL season, selected in the 1st-round (#15) of the ’05 NFL Draft by the Chiefs out of the University of Texas. Over his 137-game career, Johnson started 124 times, posting 981 total tackles, with 22.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and 19 forced fumbles.

Johnson had a solid season ’13, earning another trip to the Pro Bowl with his consistent play in all three areas: run defense, pass rush and pass coverage. He finished the season with four sacks and 19 other plays involving the quarterback. He had 107 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and two interceptions. In pass coverage he was targeted 59 times, giving up 41 completions for an average gain of 10.5 yards. But the great ability that Johnson showed last year was his availability. He played 16 of the 17 games, held out of the regular season finale in San Diego with the other veterans. During the regular season he had 1,105 defensive snaps, missing only 29 plays in the 15 regular-season games that he was on the field. …Read More!

The Most Competitive Position On K.C. Roster – Kicker

From St. Joseph, Missouri

They are only on the field and the focus of attention for a few minutes during a Chiefs training camp workout.

But after five practices kickers Ryan Succop and Cairo Santos are putting on the most competitive battle for a roster spot at Missouri Western State University. Each one has tried 17 field goals, ranging from 30 yards to just over 50 yarders. So far here’s how they breakdown:

  • Santos – he’s made 16 of 17, including all five that he kicked Monday morning.
  • Succop – he’s also made 16 of 17, including all five of his Monday kicks.

They have kicked field goals three different times in five practices; on Thursday, Saturday and Monday. Both were 6-for-6 on Thursday, 5-of-6 on Saturday and then 5-for-5.

“They are challenging each other,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “Both of them are good kickers. Today was a tie. I told them it was like the World Cup. We practiced for an hour and they were tied.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #8 – 7/28


Demetrius Harris is set to catch a pass in Monday’s Chiefs practice

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a defensive day on the practice fields at Missouri Western State University on Monday, as the full Chiefs squad worked together for the fifth consecutive day.

The difference between the Chiefs this year and last year at the same time could be seen in the offensive script for the practice. Last year, the team was feeling its way with Andy Reid’s offense. Now, the head coach and his staff are confident enough to begin early work on the two-minute drill just five practices into camp.

But the Chiefs offense ran into a few roadblocks that were thrown at them by the Chiefs defense. This was not a stifling effort from the defensive squad, but when it was time to make a play, that stood up and kept the offense out of the end zone. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Middle Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru MLB) –Broncos 60, Chargers 66, Raiders 70, Chiefs 74.

Middle Linebacker

1. Nick Roach, Oakland

6-1, 235 pounds, born 6/16/1985, 8th NFL season, 2nd-season with Raiders who signed him in ’13 as an unrestricted free agent from the Bears. Roach entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’07 with the Chargers out of Northwestern University. He was released by San Diego and was signed by the Bears where he spent six seasons. In seven seasons he’s played 96 games with 75 starts, registering 346 total tackles with nine sacks, an interception and eight forced fumbles.

In the ’13 season, Roach played every defensive snap the Raiders had, finishing with 1,105 plays. Although the Raiders struggled last year, his addition in the middle of their defense was an improvement. He started all 16 games, and finished up the season with a career high 5.5 sacks and 112 total tackles along with an interception and four forced fumbles. Roach was stronger in pass coverage and the pass rush than in stopping the run, especially in two games against the Broncos. …Read More!

Long-Shot Tackle Puts Coaching Career On-Hold

From St. Joseph, Missouri

After Sunday morning’s practice at Missouri Western State University backup offensive tackle Ryan McKee trudged up the hill to the players’ locker room.

A year ago, he would have turned not into the players’ quarters, but the coaching locker room. Last football season McKee was out of the NFL, but not out of the game. McKee was a graduate assistant coach working with the offensive line at the University of North Carolina.

Today, he’s a long shot, street free agent trying to earn an NFL roster spot with the Chiefs.

“I thought I was done as a player,” McKee said. “I’m enjoying the chance to try again.”

McKee earned more practice snaps on Sunday when starting right tackle Donald Stephenson went down with a left ankle injury. That forced adjustments on the right side, and left McKee as pretty much the only backup for starting left tackle Eric Fisher. Since last year’s No. 1 choice in the NFL Draft is on restricted snaps because of his surgically repaired shoulder, McKee had multiple chances in the pass protection/pass rush one-on-one drills.

And, he held up his end. Facing off against pass rushers like Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Mike Catapano and Allen Bailey, there were victories in pass protection and defeats; his ratio of good to bad plays was the same as every other blocker working on Sunday, especially the tackles.

“There a few things I know I’ll see on the tape that I’ll have to correct,” McKee said. “But going up against those guys will get your motor running.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #6 – 7/26


When camp gets physical, bodies tumble like WR Fred Williams and CB Kevin Rutland

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Real football practices are when players begin to perform against each other in one-on-one and unit-by-unit situations with little in the way of restrictions.

That was the highlight of the first padded practice of the 2014 training camp for the Chiefs. Andy Reid put his team through the two-hour, 30-minute session Saturday morning at Missouri Western State University under cloudy skies and very humid conditions.

It grew more humid when offense and defense started banging against each other in the first steps towards the development and growth of the ’14 Chiefs. It was a day the players looked forward too, understanding that they can’t play successful football unless they practice football.

“It felt good out there,” said second-year linebacker Nico Johnson. “It probably won’t feel so good tonight, but it was another step for us. It was football.”

Here is some of what we observed and heard at the practice:

– Injuries & participation: the Chiefs started with 85 players working with five players off the field just as they were on Thursday and Friday – tight end Sean McGrath (retired), running back Joe McKnight (knee), guard Rokevious Watkins (back), cornerback David Van Dyke (hamstring) and safety Sanders Commings (foot).

During practice, inside linebacker Joe Mays eventually went to the sidelines due to a knee injury he brought with him to camp. Safety Eric Berry suffered a dislocated finger and wide receiver Junior Hemingway had a spasm in one of his hamstrings.

Left tackle Eric Fisher’s snaps were limited and he did not take part in the one-on-one session against the Chiefs pass rushers. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Outside Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LOLB) –Broncos 54, Chargers 59, Raiders 66, Chiefs 71.

Left (Strong) Outside Linebacker

1. Justin Houston, Chiefs

6-3, 258 pounds, born 1/12/1989, 4th NFL season, selected in the 3rd-round (#70) by the Chiefs in the ’11 NFL Draft out of Georgia. In 43 games with 37 starts, Houston has 26.5 sacks and 180 total tackles. He also has an interception and a forced fumble.

At some point here in the next six to nine months, Houston is going to score big on a new contract, especially if he continues to perform as he did last year when healthy. He missed five games with an elbow injury that stopped what was one of the best defensive seasons in the league. He had 724 defensive snaps, producing 11 sacks and 61 total plays on the quarterback, with 34 total tackles. The only place he struggled was in coverage, giving up seven completions on seven targets against him, but only allowing 52 total yards. He has the size, strength and speed to be a 10 to 15-sack defender for the next five to seven years. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #5 – 7/25

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs got one step closer to actually having a real football practice as they got through a two-hour-plus session Friday morning at Missouri Western State University.

That’s to say it was another training camp practice without full pads, so there was little in the way of physical contact. Such are the labor rules these days that the veterans get three days to acclimate to football before they use their shoulder pads and go about actually practicing in the same manner the game is played.

The defense hasn’t had a chance to show much due to the lack of physical play. The offensive line is still punching at air and practice dummies, not defensive linemen. The running game hasn’t had the opportunity to really show its stuff as the offensive line can only steer the defenders, not hit them. All that will come to an end on Saturday, when the pads go on and the practices look more like football.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be improvement and goals accomplished in the building of the 2014 Chiefs. Here is what we saw and heard under mostly cloudy skies, with occasional bursts of sunshine that sent the temperature and humidity soaring: …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #4 – 7/24

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a busy Thursday for the Chiefs players as they had a conditioning session in the morning and then practice on the field and in the heat here at Missouri Western State University in the afternoon.

Since the NFL rules did not allow them to wear full pads, Andy Reid had them in helmets and shorts, and they did not have a normal training camp practice. Reid scheduled one of his 10-10-10 practices, where the No. 1 offense went against the No. 2 defense for 10 plays, followed by the No. 1 defense facing the No. 2 offense for 10 plays, and back and forth as they ran through quite a few rotations.

The pace was fast and there was very little down time during the practice that ran for almost two hours. Here are some of the items and moments that stood out:

– The starting offense lined up with Rishaw Johnson at right guard. The rest of the unit was as expected with receivers Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery along with Junior Hemingway, tight end Anthony Fasano, running back Jamaal Charles, fullback Anthony Sherman, quarterback Alex Smith and the offensive line from left to right tackle of Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Johnson and Donald Stephenson.

– The No. 1 defense lined up just as it finished the off-season work, with Sean Smith on the sideline and Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker at the cornerback spots; Cooper right, Parker left. At safety it was Eric Berry and Husain Abdullah, with outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, inside linebackers Joe Mays and Derrick Johnson, defensive ends Mike DeVito and Allen Bailey, along with nose tackle Dontari Poe. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Defensive End

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RDE) –Broncos 52, Chargers 55, Raiders 63, Chiefs 70.

Right Defensive End

1. Justin Tuck, Oakland

6-5, 268 pounds, born 3/29/1983, 10th NFL season, 1st-season with the Raiders who signed him in March as a free agent. He entered the NFL as a 3rd-round (#74) selection by the Giants in the ’05 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame University. In 127 games with the Giants, Tuck had 60.5 sacks, along with two interceptions, 18 forced fumbles and 453 total tackles.

The Giants had a bad season last year, but it wasn’t because Tuck went in the tank. He was strong across the board against the run and pass, and had only one or two games that were judged with a negative grade. He played all 16 games, started 15 and had 896 defensive snaps. He had 12 sacks, 12 hits on the passer and 44 quarterback hurries. That’s 68 plays affecting the quarterback. Tuck also had 44 tackles. He did turn 31 earlier this year, but over the last six season he had only one year (’11) where he missed more than one game. He’s been durable and available and he figures to be a huge addition for the Raiders defense. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #3 – 7/23

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The rookies and selected veterans participating in practice the last three days at Missouri Western State University worked hard Wednesday morning, even though everybody on campus was more interested in the team’s arriving veterans, and maybe a few that were not arriving, i.e. Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston.

There were 32 players on the field, as veteran quarterbacks Alex Smith and Chase Daniel were excused from the work. Another four players were on the sideline due to injury, including third-round draft choice Phillip Gaines. He went down late in Tuesday’s practice with a hamstring injury.

Without the top two quarterbacks, that gave all the snaps to Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray and it’s safe to say that neither gained much of an advantage of the other in the passing work.  Andy Reid had his offense working a lot in the red zone, and both Bray and Murray connected on scoring plays, and missed on others.

Reid was very vocal at times in the practice, especially with some of the younger players. The word “details” kept being repeated over and over again. The player who heard it most was rookie running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas and tight end Demetrius Harris. Reid had one-on-one conversations with both on their footwork in short pass routes. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy was vocal with Thomas when he cut short a pass route. …Read More!

Busy Chiefs Sign Offensive Tackle, Linebacker

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Among the new faces on campus at Missouri Western State University on Wednesday were a couple of new names for the Chiefs roster.

They have signed offensive tackle Ryan Harris and inside linebacker Josh Mauga. No word yet on what moves will be made to create room on the 90-man pre-season roster. Before the veterans officially arrived, the Chiefs were at 90 players.

The 29-year old Harris has been with Denver, Philadelphia, Denver again, and most recently with Houston.  In the last two seasons he played in all 32 games for the Texans, starting five times at both left and right tackle. Harris, 6-5, 302 pounds, came into the NFL as a third-round (#70) selection in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of Notre Dame University.

Harris played four seasons with Denver, appearing in 46 games and starting 34 at right tackle. He signed with the Eagles in 2011, but underwent back surgery before the season started and he was released. Denver signed him in the post-season as an injury replacement, waiving him in August 2012. That’s when he signed with Houston.

The 27-year old Mauga came into the league with the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Nevada. He played there for Chiefs consultant Chris Ault (Nevada head coach) and worked with Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with the Jets. The 6-1, 245-pound native of Hawaii has spent most of his career battling injuries, the most recent was a torn pectoral muscle that sent him to the injured-reserve list in New York after five games of the 2012 season. Mauga did not play in 2013.

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Defensive End

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LDE) – Broncos 47, Chargers 50, Raiders 58, Chiefs 65.

Left Defensive End

1. Malik Jackson, Denver

6-5, 293 pounds, born 1/11/1990, 3rd NFL season, selected in the 5th-round (#137) of the ’12 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of the University of Tennessee. In two seasons with Denver, Jackson has played 30 games with five starts. He has six career sacks and 65 tackles.

Jackson is a physically gifted California native who did two years at the University of Southern California before transferring to play his last two college seasons for the Volunteers in Tennessee. Going into the ’12 NFL Draft, he was timed at 4.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash while carrying 284 pounds. As a rookie, he had limited defensive snaps, but last year during the Broncos run to the Super Bowl, Jackson saw 601 defensive plays, with six sacks and 43 plays on the quarterback along with 31 total tackles. When starter Derek Wolfe went down with physical problems, Jackson stepped in and handled the position. He’ll likely get the first chance to stay there in ’14. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Defensive Tackle

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru DT) – Chargers 46, Broncos 46, Raiders 56, Chiefs 62.

Defensive Tackle

 1. Antonio Smith, Oakland

6-3, 274 pounds, born 10/21/1981, 11th NFL season, 1st season with Raiders who signed him to a 2-year contract back in March. He was selected in the 5th-round (#135) of the ’04 NFL Draft by the Cardinals out of Oklahoma State. Smith spent five seasons in Arizona, and then signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Texans in ’09. He spent five seasons in Houston. Overall, Smith has played in 140 games over 10 seasons, totaling 41.5 sacks and 282 total tackles. He also has a touchdown on a fumble return.

Most of Smith’s NFL career has been spent playing defensive end, but with today’s hybrid defensive schemes, he’s expected to play more of a defensive tackle position for the Raiders. Last year with the Texans, he started and played 15 games, with 770 offensive snaps. He was penalized five times, had five sacks, a forced fumble and 30 total tackles.

…Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #2 – 7/22

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The hottest day of the year – so far – greeted the Chiefs rookies and selected veterans for the second practice of training camp here at Missouri Western State University. It was hot, muggy, steamy, broiling . . . otherwise typical training camp weather for the Midwest.

Some would say Eric Fisher’s timing was poor. Last year’s No. 1 NFL draft choice was on the field Tuesday, upping the head count among offensive linemen to four. Fisher is coming off dual surgeries from the off-season, on his shoulder and for a sports hernia.

Hot weather or not, Fisher was very glad to be wearing his red No. 72 and wiping off little rivers of sweat that rolled off his head.

“I had the surgeries and I needed to get out here and get situated before the vets get here,” Fisher said after practice. “I’m glad to be here early. It felt good. It was back to football and that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #1 – 7/21

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs rookies and selected other veterans went through the first practice of training camp Monday morning at Missouri Western State University.

Only, somebody forgot to tell the wide receivers; there were 35 players on the field and 10 of those were receivers, and just about every one of them dropped multiple passes through the one-hour, 45-minute workout. Tight ends had the same problems.

Balls littering the field are never a good sign for a football team. But on July 21st and the first day of training camp, it’s something to note and move on from, just as long as the receivers bounce back.

“We have to shake off a couple of cobwebs,” said Kyle Williams. “A lot of balls on the ground and we have to clean that up.” …Read More!

First Wave of Chiefs Arrives In St. Joe

From St. Joseph, Missouri

In the first afternoon of the Chiefs second Camp Andy here on the Missouri Western State University campus, the head coach got right to the point when asked about goals for the 2014 training camp.

“We weren’t good enough last year,” Reid told the media horde outside the team’s home-away from-home, Scanlon Hall. “Doggone we made some strides but we weren’t good enough. The guys know that and they came into the off-season looking forward to getting better. The coaches, we didn’t do a good enough job there, so we went back and re-evaluated some things.

“Now we get to play. Now we get to see if we can’t be a better football team. That’s exciting; that’s what it is all about.”

Over the next three days quarterbacks, a handful of selected veterans and rookies will be on the practice field at Missouri Western each day. They will have walkthrough practices indoors on two of those days. None of those sessions are open to fans. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – O-Line #7

Half-dozen sources in the NFL helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We keep score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best as points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru OL#7) – Chargers 38, Broncos 41, Raiders 52, Chiefs 59.

Offensive line No. 7

1. Will Montgomery, Denver

6-3, 304 pounds, born 2/13/1983, 9th NFL season, 1st with the Broncos who signed him in ’14 as a street free agent from the Redskins. He entered the NFL as a 7th-round (#234) choice in the ’06 NFL Draft by the Panthers out of Virginia Tech University. He has played with Carolina, the N.Y. Jets and Washington. For the past three seasons, Montgomery has started all 16 games each year for the Redskins at center.

Montgomery was a quiet but potentially big addition for the Broncos. He was released by the Redskins in a salary cap-decision that saved the team $2 million under their limit. Should Denver have trouble inside at center or guard, Montgomery brings 90 games of experience into the situation, with starts at both guard positions and center. Last season, he had 1,172 offensive snaps in 16 starts for the ‘Skins. He was penalized 11 times, but allowed only two sacks and 22 total plays where his man bothered the passer. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – O-Line #6

A half-dozen league sources helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented division roster (on paper). The team with the fewest points will be considered the best as the points match where the rating. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru OL#6) – Chargers 38, Broncos 43, Raiders 52, Chiefs 57.

Offensive line No. 6

1. Jeff Linkenbach, Chiefs

6-6½, 303 pounds, born 6/9/1987, 5th NFL season, 1st-year with Chiefs who signed him as an ’14 unrestricted free agent from the Colts. Linkenbach entered the league as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’10 signed by Indianapolis out of the University of Cincinnati. Coming into the ’14 season, Linkenbach has played 60 games, with 33 starts at both tackles and guard spots.

The signing of Linkenbach achieved one of the foundation goals set by general manager John Dorsey – increase the competition at every position on the roster. Linkenbach gives the Chiefs that increased talent at four of the five offensive line positions, missing only at center. He has started five times at left tackle, 16 times at right tackle, five starts at left guard and seven at right guard. Last season with the Colts in their season that earned them a trip to the playoffs, Linkenbach played 12 games, starting five times (four at right guard, once at right tackle.) He missed several games because of a quad muscle pull. Overall, he saw 395 offensive snaps, with one penalty against him. He allowed two sacks. Evaluations of him ranked his pass blocking ahead of his run blocking. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Tackle

A half-dozen NFL front-office sources helped us with our evaluations of the personnel for the AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the division’s most talented roster (on paper). The team with the fewest points will have the best group, as the point’s match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RT) – Chargers 36, Broncos 40, Raiders 48, Chiefs 56.

Right Tackle

1. Chris Clark, Denver

6-5, 315 pounds, born 10/1/1985, 5th NFL season, signed by the Broncos in ’10 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Southern Mississippi University. In four seasons, he has played in 56 games with 20 starts, most of those coming in the ’13 season.

Clark and his performance stepping in at left tackle for injured starter Ryan Clady was one of the keys to the Broncos successful ’13 season and quarterback Peyton Manning’s record-setting play. Clark was penalized seven times in the regular season and allowed 7 sacks. That’s not a bad ratio given that he did not miss a snap starting from the third game through the Super Bowl. Overall, he played 1,303 snaps in the season. With Clady expected back at his left tackle spot, Denver’s blocking until becomes even better as Clark goes to right tackle and last year’s right tackle Orlando Franklin moves inside to left guard, it’s a formidable front for the Broncos. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Guard

We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations of the personnel for the four teams in the AFC West going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented division roster (on paper). Team with the fewest points will be considered the best as point total matches rating. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RG) – Chargers 29, Broncos 38, Raiders 44, Chiefs 49.

Right Guard

1. Louis Vasquez, Denver

6-4, 330 pounds, born 4/11/1987, 6th NFL season, 2nd-season with the Broncos who signed him in ’13 as an unrestricted free agent from the Chargers. He entered the NFL when he was selected in the 3rd-round (#78) of the ’09 NFL Draft by San Diego out of Texas Tech University. In five seasons he played/started 70 games.

There are NFL scouts that say Vasquez had the best season of any blocker in the league last season. Signed away from a division rival, he was plugged right into the starting lineup. In 20 games for Denver, he graded out by most scouts evaluation positive in 19 of those games. The one he missed was the Super Bowl when he was inconsistent against Seattle. But in those games, he was a machine, playing every snap except 15 plays in the Super Bowl. That was 1,443 snaps on offense and in the regular season he had just two penalties called against him. Vasquez did not allow a sack and his man got near quarterback Peyton Manning just 14 times in 16 regular season games. Consider that he pass blocked on 643 plays last year, the fact Vasquez did not allow a sack of Manning ranks among the season’s top efforts. Only Green Bay left guard Josh Sitton’s performance was close to Vasquez among all NFL blockers. …Read More!

Waiting For Smith & Houston Deals

At a time when the start of Chiefs training camp is so close one can taste it, the chatter has picked up considerably about the contract status of quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston.

And, it figures to get only louder in the next week as the first full-team practice of training camp is scheduled for next Thursday afternoon in St. Joseph. The players, the fans and the Chiefs want these contract extensions and/or new contracts done, signed and put into the fulfillment/payout box in the Hunt Family vault.

In the NFL more often than not the big-money deals need a deadline for completion. Right now, there is no deadline for either deal to be done between the players and Chiefs over the next six months. Both Smith and Houston are under contract for the 2014 season and there is not much either player can do to challenge that fact. They could stage a holdout, but that is not an option they should consider for several different reasons.

There’s been no indication that Smith will not show; he was active in all parts of the off-season program. On Wednesday, every media outlet except the Tool & Dye Times was reporting that Houston was “expected” to report next week for camp, but that he “wasn’t happy” about the lack of a new deal. There were no names attached to these “scoops” but it would be unusual at this point in the drama for Houston sources to start talking, even behind closed doors and only identified as “sources close to the situation.”

But it’s just common sense that Houston will show next Wednesday. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Guard

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LG) – Chargers 26, Broncos 37, Raiders 42, Chiefs 45.

Left Guard

1. Chad Rinehart, San Diego

6-5, 320 pounds, born 5/4/1985, 7th NFL season, 2nd-season with Chargers who signed him as an unrestricted free agent in ’13 from the Bills. He entered the NFL selected in 3rd-round (#96) of ’08 NFL Draft by the Redskins out of Northern Iowa. Rinehart spent two seasons with the Washington before he was released. He spent time on the practice squads of the Jets and Bills, and Buffalo promoted him to the active roster in December ’10.

The left guard position is not one of the strongest spots in the AFC West and Rinehart must be considered a shaky holder of the No. 1 ranking. Last season with San Diego, he played in 11 games, starting at both left and right guard. Reinhart missed time because of a foot injury and played 684 offensive snaps, committed two penalties and he allowed just one sack of quarterback Philip Rivers. Rinehart was much stronger in pass blocking than in the run game last year, although that didn’t seem to slow down running back Ryan Mathews; he ran for more than 1,000 yards. …Read More!

2014 Training Camps Start Opening On Wednesday

By the end of business on Wednesday, three NFL teams will have players in training camp.

Rookies for Baltimore, Buffalo and San Francisco will be in camp, the first wave of the 32 teams with rookies and veterans reporting for the start of the 2014 season. The last group to report will be the Detroit veterans that will show up on July 27th.

But there’s one team where the players may show up early – that’s the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Sean Payton is taking his club to the mountains of West Virginia for the first weeks of training. It will all go down at The Greenbrier Hotel (pictured above) in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The Saints veterans may show up early because the resort has five golf courses and Tom Watson is the golf professional emeritus. There’s so much more with 55 different activities including off-road driving, horse riding, falconry, a gun club, archery, paint ball, ice skating, fly fishing, a casino, a spa, shopping and 14 restaurants and bars. All of that is on 10,000 acres. It is posh.

And, it’s almost 900 miles away from the Big Easy and about 20 degrees cooler on a daily basis, with much lower humidity. That was the attraction for Payton in helping his players rebound each day from practice.

“Every year we evaluate all areas of our operations and look for ways to improve,” Payton said. “We all understand the importance of training camp – that’s to get the team ready for the regular season. As far as the time we will spend at The Greenbrier, it offers a tremendous opportunity to our team in a more moderate summer climate.”

The Chiefs rookies will not report to first-class resort. They’ll start arriving at Missouri Western State College on Sunday afternoon and have their first practice on Monday. The three rookie practices next week are closed to the public. The veterans report on Wednesday with the first public practice on Thursday.

Andy Reid and his campers are one of 13 NFL teams that do not hold training camp at their regular season facility. More and more teams have stopped transporting players to a remote setting where they stay in a dormitory or hotel. …Read More!

Time To Tell The Nation About Joe Delaney

Last week I spent over an hour talking on camera with the film crew that is putting together the ESPN 30-for-30 series program on former Chiefs running back Joe Delaney.

Based on the questions I was asked by the producers and the other people that were on the interview list this will be a strong feature that will expose the entire country to Delaney’s story. The questions ranged from his time growing up and living in Haughton, Louisiana, to college at Northwest Louisiana State University and then NFL with the Chiefs. The ending is still a sad one, as Delaney’s died in a construction pond in Monroe, Louisiana where 31 years ago (June 29th) he tried to save three boys that were in trouble. Delaney drowned; he did not know how to swim.

Turns out, the producers behind this project are long-time Chiefs fans, Grant Curtis and Jeremy Wheeler. They are natives to the area; Curtis grew up in Warrensburg, Missouri and was a huge Royals-Chiefs fan over the years. Wheeler is the son of former Chiefs executive Mitch Wheeler the chance to grow up around the team as a child.

Curtis has quite a resume as a producer. Most recently he was one of the executive producers of the 2013 film Oz the Great and Powerful and he served as producer for the three most recent Spiderman movies. He’s worked extensively with director Sam Raimi and has done dozens of documentaries over his career since graduating with from the Central Missouri State University.

This story is one he has wanted to tell for years. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Offensive Surprise

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru offensive surprise) – Chargers 25, Broncos 31, Raiders 38, Chiefs 42.

Offensive Surprise

1. Latavius Murray, Oakland

6-3, 230 pounds, born 1/18/1990, 2nd NFL season, selected in 6th-round (#181) of the ’13 NFL Draft by the Raiders out of Central Florida University.

Murray was placed on Oakland’s injured-reserve list on August 27th last season and did not play as a rookie because of a foot injury. At Central Florida, he played in 45 games, running for 2,424 yards on 453 carries and 37 touchdown catches. He also caught 50 passes for 524 yards and six touchdown runs. Murray was not invited to the ’13 NFL Combine, but he was impressive in his pro day, turning in a time of 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 1.48 seconds in the 10-yard split, with a 36 inch vertical jump and 22 repetitions on the bench press at 225 pounds. In the Raiders off-season work, Murray apparently nailed down the No. 3 RB spot on the Oakland roster. With his size and speed, he will contribute to the Raiders offense. …Read More!

Notes From The Chiefs – July 13

From the highways, byways and flyways of America

A thought or two about a thing or four . . .

A night of nostalgia in San Fran

I’ve been traveling a lot but my itinerary did not get me to the competition I most wanted to attend. No, not the World Cup. Don’t count me as a soccer hater, or soccer lover. All I know is football requires a helmet and a strange oblong ball.

No, the game I missed was Saturday evening in San Francisco at a soon to be demolished Candlestick Park. It was billed as the Legends of Candlestick and was the final event inside the stadium built in the early 1960s for the baseball Giants when they moved to the Bay Area from New York.

This flag-football event drew 25,000 fans and all proceeds were going to police and firemen charities in northern California. The leader of this event was former 49ers-Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana. But he wasn’t the only former player that wore red and gold taking part: quarterback Dave Krieg, quarterback Steve Bono, guard Will Shields, guard Dave Szott, safety Mark Collins and defensive tackle Dan Saleaumua.

Also part of the night was the Chiefs equipment manager Allen Wright. He was asked by Montana to join them and help with the locker room stuff. Montana always bonded with folks that worked behind the scenes and that happened in his two years in K.C. with Wright. That’s Wright posing above with Shields, Montana, Collins, Krieg and Szott.

The game was won by the 49ers alumni 45-40 with Montana connecting with former Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo for the winning score. Eddie D. wandered onto the field from the sidelines and was wide open. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Tight End #3

In this series of stories we analyze the four teams in the AFC West position-by-position. We used over a half-dozen sources for our evaluations, relying on pro personnel scouts around the league and a few coaches as well. As we go along, we’ll keep score and find out which of the four AFC West teams has the most talented roster (on paper); in this case the team with the fewest points will be considered the best. Points match where they are rated. For example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru TE#3) – Chargers 21, Broncos 28, Raiders 34, Chiefs 37.

Tight End #3

1. Virgil Green, Denver

6-3, 248 pounds, born 8/3/1988, 4th NFL season, selected in the 7th-round (#204) of the ’11 NFL Draft by the Broncos out of the University of Nevada-Reno. In three previous seasons with Denver, he played in 43 games, catching 17 passes for 132 yards. Last year, Green caught nine passes for 45 yards.

Even the third tight end catches passes in Peyton Manning’s offense. Green was on the field for 323 snaps and was targeted 11 times; catching nine and he dropped just one pass of the 11. His playing time will be directly tied to his ability to block, something he did last year as 272 of his 344 total offensive snaps (regular and post-season) were as a blocker for the run and pass. On a team with a lot of offensive threats, Green does not get much of a chance to make a name for himself, but he’s more than adequate as the third tight end. …Read More!

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