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Evaluating The Chiefs Defense Going Into Camp

For your consideration, here’s a look at the 2015 Chiefs defense position-by-position, where they stood on New Year’s Day and where they stand as the team enjoys a vacation before starting training camp in late July in St. Joseph. The rating system is based on the following:

- Not good enough.

- Improvement needed.

- Can win with them.

- Among best in division/conference.

The Chiefs defense is the strongest part of the roster going into the 2015 season. But there are big questions that remain to be answered with the unit’s best players like Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito.

Here’s how it all breaks down: …Read More!

Evaluating The Chiefs Offense Going Into Camp

Unless one happens to be wrapped up in the Tom Brady-Roger Goodell soap opera of deflated footballs and inflated egos, this is the quiet time in the world of pro football. It’s vacation time and after a few days off, players around the country will get back to work on their individual conditioning programs, to stay sharp for the end of July and the start of training camp.

For your consideration, here’s a look at the 2015 Chiefs offense position-by-position, where they stood on New Year’s Day, where they stand now and the direction the arrow is pointing, whether it’s an improvement, or it’s a step backward. Stars are based on the following:

- Not good enough.

- Improvement needed.

- Can win with them.

- Among best in division/conference.

…Read More!

Chiefs Add WR; Roster Now At 90 Players

The Chiefs players and coaches have scattered on vacation, but general manager John Dorsey and his personnel group continued to grind away on Friday, filling an open roster spot by signing wide receiver Jeret Smith.

At 5-9¼, 218 pounds, Smith played four seasons at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. In the 2014 season for the War Hawks he caught 54 passes for 1,143 yards and 14 touchdown catches. He also scored a touchdown rushing and has done some returning during his career at the Division II school. He finished his college career with 2,729 receiving yards.

Smith attended the Seattle Seahawks rookie mini-camp as a tryout player and then did the same at the Chiefs rookie mini-camp. He joined the Chiefs this week as a tryout player in their full-team mini-camp for two days.

A native of Abilene, Smith runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, and has a vertical jump of 36 inches and a standing broad jump of 10-1.

These are the numbers at each position on the Chiefs roster here at the end of the off-season program:

  • Quarterbacks – 4.
  • Running backs – 5.
  • Fullbacks – 2.
  • Wide receivers – 13.
  • Tight ends – 6.
  • Offensive line – 15.
  • Defensive line – 11.
  • Outside linebackers – 6.
  • Inside linebackers – 7.
  • Cornerbacks – 10.
  • Safeties – 7.
  • Special teams – 4.

Chiefs set 14 public practices For Camp In St. Joe

Beginning on Saturday, August 1, the Chiefs will hold 14 training camp practices that are open to the public at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

Two of those sessions will have a $5 admission charge (August 1 and August 8) otherwise there is no admission charge. Parking at MWSU is $5 at every practice.

Rookies and quarterbacks will hit campus on July 28, and they will practice on July 29, 30 and 31, but those sessions are closed to the public. The rest of the veterans will report on the afternoon of Friday, July 31.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Saturday, August 1: first open practice, starting at 3:30 p.m. $5 admission and a team autograph session.
  • Sunday, August 2: practice at 8:15 a.m., Alumni Day with a team autograph session.
  • Monday, August 3: practice at 8:15 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 4: practice at 8:15 a.m.
  • Wednesday, August 5: practice at 9:15 a.m.
  • Friday, August 7: Practice at 8:15 a.m.
  • Saturday, August 8: Practice at 8:15 a.m., plus family fun day $5 admission fee and team autograph session.
  • Sunday, August 9: Practice at 8:15 a.m.
  • Monday, August 10: Practice at 9:15 a.m.
  • Tuesday, August 11: Practice at 8:15 a.m.
  • Wednesday, August 12: Practice at 8:15 a.m., season ticket appreciation day with a team autograph session.
  • Monday, August 17: Practice at 8:15 a.m.
  • Monday, August 18: Practice at 8:15 a.m.
  • Wednesday, August 19: Practice at 9:15 a.m., Military Appreciation Day.
  • Thursday, August 20: Chiefs break camp; no practice.

Chiefs Roster/Injury Notes As Mini-Camp Is Completed

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs wrapped up their off-season work on Thursday with a shortened practice to close out their mini-camp.

Afterwards, they made several roster moves, signing cornerback Kenny Penny and releasing guard Melvin Meggs and cornerback De’Vante Bausby.

Penny spent the mini-camp working with the defense on a tryout basis. The 5-10, 186-pound Texas native came out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He was not selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, but signed with the Cleveland Browns. Penny was released earlier this month by the Browns.

In 42 games with the Runnin’ Rebels, Perry had 113 total tackles, one interception and 19 passes broken up.

Kansas City native Bausby, out of Pittsburg State University, underwent surgery on Thursday for his broken clavicle. He was released with an injury designation and is unlikely to be claimed. Bausby would then move to the Chiefs injured-reserve list.

Meggs was not a participant in mini-camp’s final practice. He was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of South Alabama.

Also absent from Thursday’s session was starting right cornerback Sean Smith. Head coach Andy Reid said he was excused for personal reasons.

Speaking after it was all wrapped up, Reid said there was no update on the status of safety Eric Berry in his fight against Hodgkin lymphoma. He said running back Cyrus Gray (knee) and tight end Demetrius Harris (foot) continued to improve in their rehab from injuries. Quarterback Tyler Bray (knee) was with the team during mini-camp as the team wanted to get an evaluation of his rehab.

Chiefs Set For Mini-Camp, Minus Justin Houston

The Chiefs players arrived at the team’s facility Monday evening for the start of the 2015 mandatory mini-camp.

Andy Reid will have his team on the field for three practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, before the players and football staff head off for vacation time before the start of training camp near the end of July.

Missing will be outside linebacker Justin Houston. The team’s franchise player designee, Houston is not required to attend because he’s not signed the tender offer he received from the Chiefs. Last year, Houston boycotted the mini-camp while under contract and faced fines totaling nearly $70,000. That will not be the case this year. There is no other incentive for the league’s leading sacker in 2014 to break away from his training in Georgia. Obviously, missing time last year did not hinder Houston’s performance during the 2014 season.

Also, there have been no indications that safety Eric Berry will be at mini-camp as he continues to work on his return from his Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis. However, it would not be a surprise if Berry makes an appearance to see his teammates and the coaching staff. It would be an emotional lift not only for Berry, but the team and organization. …Read More!

Progress Made on Chiefs OTA Injury Front

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was back on the field Thursday in the ninth OTA session for the Chiefs. Maclin missed the workout on Wednesday due to foot inflammation. His presence in the workout is an indication that the foot problem is nothing too serious.

Also back to full participation was inside linebacker Derrick Johnson. He’s been out since early in the month with knee inflammation. After several workouts where he took part only in position drills, Johnson handled the entire practice on Thursday.

Nose tackle Dontari Poe (back) did not practice and wide receiver Albert Wilson (hamstring) was limited in his participation.

Guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif did not practice on Thursday because of illness and outside linebacker Dee Ford was not present for the session due to personal reasons.

OTA #10 is scheduled for Friday. From there, the Chiefs will break for three days before the start of the team’s mini-camp next Tuesday.

Some tidbits that came from post-practice media access with selected players: …Read More!

Injury-Bug Continues To Bite Chiefs In OTAs

LB Josh Mauga chugs a Gatorade to compensate for the heat during Wednesday’s OTA (KC Chiefs photo.)

It’s June and there’s no reason for anyone in the red and gold universe to be looking for the panic button. But a series of injuries in the last few weeks has increased the fretting level around Arrowhead Stadium and it grew even larger on Wednesday as the Chiefs went through OTA session No. 8 at their facility in the Truman Sports Complex.

Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin did not practice because of a foot problem. Undrafted rookie cornerback and Kansas City native De’Vante Bausby suffered a broken clavicle on Tuesday and he’s done until training camp, at the earliest. Plus, Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and wide receiver Albert Wilson again were not full participants due to physical maladies.

There’s no indication of how serious these injuries might be, there’s no indication that any of the players with the possible exception of Bausby would miss training camp, the pre-season or the regular season. At this point in the league calendar the Chiefs are under no NFL rules about providing information on injuries. Unlike some teams however, they will acknowledge a player’s physical problems if they do not participate in the OTAs. There are always hopeful comments from head coach Andy Reid about the individual situations, but sometimes that’s wishful thinking and the head coach trying to establish keep a positive fame-of-mind. …Read More!

Final Week of OTAs Begins With Tuesday Workout

The Chiefs are allowed four more OTA sessions under the rules of the labor agreement between the NFL and its players. They ran through the seventh of 10 sessions on Tuesday at their facility in the Truman Sports Complex. The remaining three practices are set for Wednesday-Thursday-Friday.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Andy Reid made cancelled that last workout. For what a team can get done during these sessions in shorts and without pads, the Chiefs appear to be ahead of where they were last season at the same time. With three more practices next week in what is the team’s mini-camp but will look an awful lot like OTA practices, pulling off the reigns in June for one workout would not be a surprise.

(Left, that’s Frankie Hammond grabbing a pass in front of Marcus Cooper during Tuesday’s OTA session.)(K.C. Chiefs photo.)

Updating the injury situation, starting with the two biggest names – nose tackle Dontari Poe and inside linebacker Derrick Johnson. Poe has not been back on the practice field since he walked off a week ago with back spasms. Johnson went through individual position drills on Tuesday, but then was shut down by the Chiefs trainers and did not work in the team portion of practice due to swelling on his knee.

Joining Poe on the do not practice list was wide receiver Albert Wilson (hamstring). Undrafted rookie and K.C. product cornerback De’Vante Bausby suffered a left shoulder injury and left the field during Tuesday’s practice. Undrafted rookie Keshawn Hill returned to practice after missing a week due to a hamstring injury.

A few tidbits that came out of post-practice media sessions: …Read More!

OTA Question: How Deep Is Cornerback Depth?

Whether they get complete answers or not, there were four key questions attracting the attention of Andy Reid and John Dorsey this week when the Chiefs began on-field work in the OTAs and an upcoming mini-camp. The Chiefs passing game was addressed here, injuries here and the offensive line here.

  1. How much progress can Alex Smith make with his new cadre of receivers, topped by Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley?
  2. How far along physically are injured starters inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito? What about safety Tyvon Branch, signed in free agency that missed most of the 2014 season in Oakland? Will they see safety Eric Berry in the next three weeks?
  3. What combinations will they create along the offensive line, with old and new faces?
  4. With draft picks Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson out of action because of NFL rules, what kind of depth can the Chiefs develop at cornerback, where they always seem to need talented bodies?

It has become a fact of life in today’s NFL – a defense can never have too many good cornerbacks. During the 256-game regular season, the league’s 32 teams averaged 4,028 passing yards. Last season, 11 of the teams had a starting quarterback that threw for more than 4,000 yards and the top half of the league’s passers threw for 3,398 yards or more.

(Right) rookie CB Justin Cox breaks up a throw to WR/RB De’Anthony Thomas during OTA work (KC Chiefs photo.)

…Read More!

Chiefs Secondary Leads The Way in First Week OTAs

From the Truman Sports Complex

The ebb and flow of NFL practices constantly shifts the advantage from offense to defense and back again, and again, and . . .

As the Chiefs wrapped up their first week of OTA practices on Thursday afternoon, it was Andy Reid’s defense that led the way. Specifically, it was the secondary that kept making plays and taking the football away from the Chiefs pass offense.

“The work has been good out here,” Reid said of the three workouts in the 10 off-season sessions he’s allowed to hold. “It’s been all positive. The guys are challenging each other. Offense makes a few plays, defensive plays and that’s how you like it.”

Cornerback Sean Smith had two interceptions, with cornerback Deji Olatoye and safeties Kelcie McCray and Daniel Sanderson hauling in passes in the middle of the field that were tipped by teammates.

“You need the turnovers on the defensive side,” said Reid. “You obviously don’t want them on the offensive side, but we’re getting good work in there where both sides are being effective. I like it. I like the way they’re challenging each other within the rules of you can’t tackle and you can’t play bump, so they’re doing a good job.” …Read More!

OTA Question: Who Will Start On The Offensive Line?

(KC Chiefs photo.)

The Chiefs will wrap up their first week of OTA sessions on Thursday with their third practice of the week. They are trying to answer a handful of off-season questions about their roster and units during the OTAs. Andy Reid and John Dorsey are focused on every move and play, especially four key areas where they will focus on personnel and how they are utilized. Those questions are:

  1. How much progress can Alex Smith make with his new cadre of receivers, topped by Jeremy Maclin and Chris Conley?
  2. How far along physically are injured starters inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito? What about safety Tyvon Branch, signed in free agency that missed most of the 2014 season in Oakland? Will they see safety Eric Berry in the next three weeks?
  3. What combinations will they create along the offensive line, with old and new faces?
  4. With draft picks Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson out of action because of NFL rules, what kind of depth can the Chiefs develop at cornerback, where they always seem to need talented bodies?

We covered the passing game and the status of injured players earlier this week. Today’s epistle tackles the offensive line. …Read More!

13 Practices/24 Days-The Heart of Chiefs Off-Season

Starting Tuesday is the most important part of the Chiefs off-season program – 13 OTA and mini-camp practices over the next 24 days.

These sessions are not exactly football – there are no pads and no tackling. Physical contact, especially along the line of scrimmage, is prohibited by the league’s labor agreement with the players.

But, these practices are as close to actual football as teams are allowed by that same contract. That doesn’t mean there’s not information to be gleaned from the work. In the case of all 32 teams it’s another step in evaluating where they sit with the 90-man roster. That starts with the 22 starters on offense and defense and then the next 22 backups and special teams performers.

Whether they get complete answers or not, there are four key questions that attract the attention of Andy Reid and John Dorsey. In no certain order they are: …Read More!

Chiefs make post-minicamp roster moves

The Chiefs released three players and signed four others after going through the personnel evaluations after the team’s three rookie mini-camp practices.

Gone are fullback/tight end Manasseh Garner from the University of Pittsburgh, tight end Earnest Pettway from Villanova University and offensive tackle Charles Sweeton out of the University of Tennessee-Martin.

The four players that were added to the roster were top-heavy in offensive linemen. They signed: …Read More!

Rookie Mini-Camp Brought Results For Andy

From the Truman Sports Complex

The Chiefs wrapped up Rookie Camp Andy ’15 on Monday afternoon with their third practice with 68 players on the field for another session in helmets and shorts.

“It’s been a good couple days that we’ve had a chance to spend with the rookies and some of the other guys that have been with other teams,” said head coach Andy Reid. “I liked what I saw. We looked a little bit bigger and faster and they picked it up well.”

They also rolled through the camp without major injury. First-year offensive tackle Curtis Feigt was the only player missing due to injury. The Chiefs released him Monday with what was termed a non-football injury. Feigt was bothered by a hip problem.

“The guys worked hard; I’ve got to give them credit for the effort that they put out here and they did stay healthy,” said Reid. “I’m sure they’re sore, but they stayed healthy and worked hard and my hat’s off to them.”

Veterans will return to action at the team’s facility on Tuesday as they work through their final week of Phase II of the off-season program. The team’s on-field OTA sessions for the entire roster begin next Tuesday, May 26th.

CB Justin Cox (45) and WR Chris Conley (17) battle during Monday’s mini-camp. (K.C. Chiefs photo)

…Read More!

Conley Working The Mental Side In Rookie Camp


K.C. Chiefs photo

Receivers coach David Culley speaks with his receivers during practice at the Chiefs rookie mini-camp

From the Truman Sports Complex

Visually, Chiefs third-round draft choice Chris Conley is an impressive young man. The wide receiver out of the University of Georgia looks like an NFL pass catcher, at least the current incarnation of the position. He stands 6-3, weighs 205 pounds and much of that weight is chiseled into muscle.

Conley can run fast, jump high and battle for every ball thrown in his area. He’s shown that several times during the Chiefs weekend rookie mini-camp where he’s been the best of what appeared to be a nice group of young wide receivers. Conley, along with seventh-round draft choice Da’Ron Brown, undrafted college free agent Kenny Cook and tryout player Mark Roberts all made notable catches.

The Georgia native is the leader of that group and while he’s done nice things on the field, Conley has worked hardest in the meeting room and at the hotel every night, absorbing the extensive offensive playbook of Andy Reid.

“Initially when you look at it and the totality of it, it can be overwhelming,” Conley said of the Reid playbook. “It’s similar to some of the stuff we ran in college; we ran a pro-style offense.

“(But) you have to really slow things down and kind of marinate different concepts for a couple days.” …Read More!

Chiefs Open Mini-Camp With 67 Bodies

From the Truman Sports Complex

Andy Reid opened the Chiefs 2015 Rookie Mini-Camp on Saturday with 67 guys running around in shorts. Just how many “players” are actually in that group remains to be seen.

There were all nine draft choices, 13 undrafted free agents, five street free agents and 40 tryout players working inside and outside at the Chiefs facility.

“This is just the first install day, putting the training wheels on,” said first-round draft choice Marcus Peters. “It’s just getting us ready to go out and practice.”

The biggest part of the three-day camp for the players are the playbooks dropped on them for Reid’s offense and defense. This is the basics of how the Chiefs do things, but it’s vital for all involved that the young players pick up the vibe as quickly as possible.

“Initially, when you look at the totality of it, it can be overwhelming,” third-round draft choice Chris Conley said of the Chiefs offensive playbook. “It’s something you have to break down into smaller pieces. Once you do that, you can start to look at concepts, you start to look at personnel groupings, and the way you want them.”

The team roster listed 69 players on a pre-camp roster, but two were not on the field. First-year offensive tackle Curtis Feigt did not practice because of a hip problem. Tryout offensive tackle Kelvin Palmer is expected to be on the field Sunday. These are the players on the Chiefs roster. Each one is designated as (DC) draft choice, (CFA) undrafted college free agent, (FA) first-year street free agents and (T) tryout players: …Read More!

Chiefs Wrap-Up Contracts With All Draft Picks

The Chiefs now have all nine of their draft choices under contract.

The team announced late Friday afternoon that first-round cornerback Marcus Peters, third-round wide receiver Chris Conley and third-round cornerback Steven Nelson signed contracts. That wraps up the entire 2015 NFL Draft class for the Chiefs.

In other roster moves on Friday, the Chiefs released tight end Brandon Barden and defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo.

They also signed undrafted college free agent defensive tackle Charles Tuaau out of Texas A&M-Commerce. Tuaau is 6-3½, 328 pounds and is a native of Hawaii. He played junior college ball at Riverside Community College in California and then spent two years at the school that was formerly known as East Texas State University. Tuaau played in 23 games, with 86 total tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 17 sacks. In two years at Riverside C.C., he had 93 total tackles, 35 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. He was timed in 5.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, with 24 repetitions in the bench press at 225 pounds, a 24.5-inch vertical jump.

The Chiefs have now signed 21 rookies to their roster.

A Busy Weekend Ahead At The Sports Complex

The Truman Sports Complex neighbors will be very active this weekend with the Royals hosting the New York Yankees, and the Chiefs staging their rookie mini-camp at the team’s facility.

The draft choices, college free agents and tryout players will check in on Friday and then have three days of practices and meetings, ending on Monday afternoon. They’ll return eight days later for the first OTA session in the off-season program.

All nine draft choices should take part in some portion of the mini-camp. So far the Chiefs have announced 11 undrafted rookie free agents that have been signed. There will likely be another 20 to 25 players participating on a tryout basis.

Draft choices

With graduation ceremonies going on this weekend around the country there could be a practice or two missed by draft choices. Otherwise all nine are expected on the field. Here they are with the uniform numbers they’ve been assigned. On defense it will be cornerbacks Marcus Peters (22) and Steven Nelson (20), linebackers Ramik Wilson (53) and D.J. Alexander (57) and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches (99). Offensively, it’s center Mitch Morse (61), wide receivers Chris Conley (17) and Da’Ron Brown (4) and tight end James O’Shaughnessy (80). …Read More!

Chiefs Sign 10 Undrafted Rookie Free Agents

Although the Chiefs have not announced the signing of undrafted rookie free agents, the NFL’s personnel report for Monday listed 10 players signed by the Chiefs.

The biggest name among those 10 was Mississippi State University cornerback Justin Cox. Before he was kicked off the team back on November 21st when he was arrested and charged with domestic violence. He played both safety and cornerback during his college career at East Mississippi Community College and Miss. State.

Also part of the group is defensive lineman David Irving, who was kicked off the Iowa State University football team last April after he was arrested in two different incidents including a domestic violence case. He’s quite a physical specimen, standing just a tick under 6-8, weighing 273 pounds and he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.84 seconds with a 38-inch vertical jump. …Read More!

Chiefs Get 6 of 9 Draft Choices Signed

With a rookie mini-camp ahead this coming weekend, the Chiefs have joined the rest of the NFL in getting the 256 selections in the 2015 NFL Draft signed to contracts.

Signing their deals were second-round choice center Mitch Morse, fourth-round selection linebacker Ramik Wilson, fifth-round pick linebacker D.J. Alexander, fifth-round tight end James O’Shaughnessy, sixth-round choice defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches and seventh-rounder selection wide receiver Da’Ron Brown.

The Chiefs still have to finalize three deals: first-round cornerback Marcus Peters, third-round wide receiver Chris Conley and third-round cornerback Steven Nelson. Those three can participate in the rookie mini-camp if they sign an injury waiver.

Roster Review/Draft Preview – Receivers/Backs

The leading receivers returning to the Chiefs from 2014 are WR Albert Wilson (L) & TE Travis Kelce (R)

The roster and payroll are major factors in all NFL Draft decisions. To better understand where the Chiefs may direct their attention in this week’s 2015 selection meeting, it’s good to know what type of talent is already in house, and its expiration dates.

One need not be Vince Lombardi to understand the Chiefs must select receivers in the 2015 NFL Draft. As the clock ticks toward the start of this year’s selection meeting, the analysis is quick: they need to draft not one wide receiver, but two. They need to draft a tight end. If there are any picks left over, they need to draft another wide receiver.

The Chiefs do not have an apparent need at quarterback and running back. They need to walk out of the backs department at the NFL mega-store and concentrate on the receivers department. It does not have to be their first choice, but they need a catcher by the end of draft business on Friday and another on Saturday. …Read More!

Roster Review/Draft Preview – Offensive Line

Tackle Eric Fisher (L) & guard Zach Fulton (R) are the only returning starters on the Chiefs offensive line

The roster and payroll are major factors in all NFL Draft decisions. To better understand where the Chiefs may direct their attention in this week’s 2015 selection meeting, it’s good to know what type of talent is already in house, and its expiration dates.

Here’s a look at the offensive line, broken down into four groups – tackles, guard-tackles, guards and centers.

We have included the performance grades for the 2014 season from Pro Football Focus, one of several websites that attempt to judge the play of individual NFL players. While I don’t agree with all of their rankings, they seem to have a good feel overall when compared to information gained from those actually evaluating personnel for NFL teams.

Here are the in-house blockers going into the draft: …Read More!

Roster Review/Draft Preview: Linebackers

Justin Houston inside (L) & Josh Mauga outside (R) top the Chiefs LB depth chart

The roster and the payroll are major factors in draft decisions. To better understand where the Chiefs may direct their attention in this week’s NFL Draft, it’s good to know what type of talent is already in house, and its expiration dates.

Coming up next will be a look at the defensive line and other position groups leading up to Thursday’s first-round.

We have included the performance grades for the 2014 season from Pro Football Focus, one of several websites that attempt to judge the play of individual NFL players. While I don’t agree with all of their rankings, they seem to have a good feel overall when compared to information gained from those actually evaluating personnel for NFL teams. …Read More!

Roster Review/Draft Preview: Secondary

Best athlete available – no matter how often those that make the decisions in the NFL Draft talk about the BAA, they do not discount the roster they currently own and where the weaknesses may be in that group.

It’s not surprising when the BAA tends to play at a WPG – weakest position group. There isn’t any decision-maker in the NFL so secure that he can just stand up to the draft bar and order up say offensive tackles for five straight drafts. OK, maybe Bill Belichick can do that, but nobody else in the league has that kind of juice. John Dorsey, Andy Reid and their scouting and coaching staffs pulled together their evaluations and created a draftable board that likely is ranked in BAA order. However, there is seldom that big of a difference in the No. 5 ranked player and the guy that’s ranked No. 15.

Translation: the BAA approach covers a lot of the waterfront in the NFL Draft, and it’s easier for a general manager or coach to make that their public declaration for draft strategy. They would rather not reveal their actual approach and they do not want to get into the business of expounding on their team’s weaknesses.

The roster and the payroll are major factors in draft decisions. To better understand where the Chiefs may be targeting in this week’s NFL Draft, it’s good to know what type of talent is already in house, and its expiration dates.

Starting with the secondary, over the next three days we’ll analyze the position groups leading up to Thursday’s first-round. …Read More!

The 5 Worst Draft Choices in Chiefs History

The Kansas City Chiefs have had their share of draft duds over the years. Every team in the NFL has players chosen in the annual selection meeting for college talent that fail miserably to make an impression on pro football in any way, shape or form. There are teams that have more early draft disasters in their history than the Chiefs. Just gaze for a time at the Detroit Lions, the new Cleveland Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals and the St. Louis Rams.

There is no hiding from the draft day disasters that have been part of Chiefs history since the days of the Dallas Texans. There were plenty of selections that were considered for this top, or low five. Some of those draft busts were selected by the same people that drafted some of the best players in Chiefs history.

Nobody hits 100 percent in the NFL Draft, and these next five players are examples of that. Here are the Chiefs worst five draft choices going into this week’s 2015 NFL Draft. …Read More!

The 5 Best Draft Choices in Chiefs History

In preparing to write the book Tales from the Chiefs Sideline there were only so many words allotted to the project.

Translation: I had more words than the publisher wanted. One segment that I sliced from the manuscript is this post, and another that will go up on the site late Sunday: the best and worst draft choices in Chiefs history.

Selecting just five best and worst picks was not as easy as it may sound. The team has plenty of both in its 55-year history of adding players through the AFL, AFL-NFL and NFL Drafts. There were so many possibilities, but only five at the top and the same number at the bottom made this story.

This is strictly this man’s opinion after serious research and conversation with personnel types involved in drafting these players and others that watched from afar. There is not an NFL team without skeletons in its draft closet. We’ll get to those in the next installment. Now, here are the top five, ranked in order from best to the fifth best.

Let the arguments and discussion begin. Enjoy. …Read More!

Yes, The NFL Is Getting Busy Too

On the sports calendar it’s time for the Final Four championship game, the season opener for baseball and the first major golf tournament of the year, The Masters.

And, don’t forget football.

Three NFL teams will began their off-season programs on Monday, and two more will start on Tuesday as the league attention begins to turn more to what will happen on the field, rather than on the payroll.

Monday saw Atlanta, Buffalo and the New York Jets kick off their strength and conditioning programs. Tuesday they’ll be joined by Oakland and San Francisco.

Next Monday, Chicago and Denver will start. Those seven are the teams with new head coaches, so they get extra time to begin preparing for the 2015 season.

The rest of the NFL’s 25 teams including the Chiefs will start two weeks from now on April 20th. …Read More!

A Handful Of Free Agent News from ChiefsLand

The NFL personnel wire on Thursday reported the Chiefs re-signed linebacker Dezman Moses.

The team did not provide a tender offer to Moses last week when free agency began. That allowed Moses to become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team in the league without the Chiefs receiving compensation. Obviously, there were not any teams knocking down the door to sign Moses, who spent all of last season on the K.C. injured-reserve list.

It’s a one-year deal for Moses.

Chiefs find an infusion for their salary cap

The Chiefs were close to having only $100,000 under the salary cap on Tuesday after a week of action in free agency.

Two days later, the Chiefs were listed with $2,845,675 under the cap according to the NFL Players Association salary cap tracker on Thursday evening. More than likely that reflects the re-do of guard Ben Grubbs contract after the trade with New Orleans that brought him to the Chiefs. The NFLPA says the Chiefs now have 77 players under contract. Only the top 51 paychecks are accounted for under the salary cap right now. …Read More!

Dorsey Discusses Chiefs Offensive Line Moves

There has been a pause in the rollicking action for the Chiefs in 2015 free agency and on Wednesday, general manager John Dorsey took a moment to speak with the media about what the club has achieved to this point the off-season.

“I think we’ve done a nice job,” Dorsey said. “I think we’ve improved as a team. That’s all you can ask for.”

A lot of the questions were about the Chiefs offensive line situation, specifically the interior positions of center and the guards. Last year’s starting center Rodney Hudson is gone, signed as a free agent by Oakland. Last week, the Chiefs traded for left guard Ben Grubbs and signed right guard Paul Fanaika as an unrestricted free agent.

Dorsey said it’s far too early to create a depth chart for the group in the upcoming season. …Read More!

Chiefs Add Veteran Guard In Trade With Saints

Ben Grubbs, a two-time Pro Bowl guard with 133 games of NFL experience, joined the Chiefs on Thursday in a trade with the New Orleans Saints.

The Chiefs gave up their fifth-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft to pick up Grubbs, who has been a starter since his rookie season of 2007 with the Baltimore Ravens. The 6-3, 310-pound blocker was a first-round choice at pick No. 29 out of Auburn University.

Grubbs signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Saints in 2012, inking a 5-year, $36 million contract. The 2015 season will be the fourth year of that deal and he’s due to receiver a base salary of $6.5 million with a $100,000 workout bonus. He’ll count $6.6 million on the Chiefs salary cap.

In the last three years in New Orleans, Grubbs has not missed a game and in fact was on the Saints injury report for just one week in those seasons. The only games he’s missed were in 2011 with the Ravens, when he was knocked out because of a toe injury. In those 122 games, Grubbs has been penalized 23 times, 11 for holding and 10 on false starts. Last year with New Orleans, he allowed just one sack of quarterback Drew Brees.

Born in Georgia, raised in Alabama, he was recruited to Auburn as a linebacker but eventually grew into the role on the offensive line.

Chiefs Roster & Salary Cap Door Continues To Spin

Tamba Hali (l) is staying, Jeremy Maclin (c) is coming and Rodney Hudson (r) is leaving

The action was fast and furious on the second floor of Chiefs headquarters at the Truman Sports Complex on Monday as the team and the rest of the league heads for the start of the new NFL year on Tuesday afternoon.

The moves were many, and there are probably some that haven’t been completed or finished, but here’s what has broken:

  • Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is coming over from the Eagles on a 5-year, $55 million contract.
  • Center Rodney Hudson is leaving, agreeing to terms with Oakland on a 5-year, $44.5 million deal that’s heavily loaded in the next few years to take advantage of the large salary cap room carried by the Raiders.
  • Outside linebacker Tamba Hali has taken a $3 million salary haircut and restructured his contract, creating $7 million in cap room for the Chiefs this year.
  • Defensive end Mike DeVito also took a pay cut and signed a new deal that provided the Chiefs another $1.2 million in cap space for 2015.
  • Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and his status for 2015 remains unknown.
  • Safety Tyvon Branch formerly of the Raiders was scheduled to be in town on Monday to meet with the Chiefs. Branch was released by the Raiders last week and can be signed at any time.

Thoughts on these moves at this time: …Read More!

Chiefs Welcome Back Gary Green With HOF Honors

Gary Green Now & Then, as a high school head coach in San Antonio (L) and as a cornerback for the Chiefs (R).

As the participants at the NFL 101 Awards press conference walked to the dais Saturday afternoon, there was one face that I did not recognize. De’Anthony Thomas was there, introduced as the winner of the Mack Lee Hill Award as the team’s best rookie performer in the 2014 season. Sitting next to Thomas was Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt and then there was this mystery man.

Hunt introduced the third person as the 2015 inductee to the Chiefs Hall of Fame – former cornerback Gary Green.

But the person in front of the room at the Westin Crown Center Hotel did not look like the Gary Green I remembered, last seen with the Chiefs at the end of the 1983 season when he knew his time with the franchise was short. It wasn’t until he opened his mouth and began to speak about the honor of being named the 45th member of the team’s HoF that his identity was confirmed. He has less hair, maybe carrying just a few more pounds, but he still has the same high-pitched voice, the same smile and still shows that glint in his eyes that made him a locker room favorite for seven years with the Chiefs.

Gary Green was back with the Chiefs. Now, that’s an unexpected headline. …Read More!

Teammates Honor Houston & DAT For Play In 2014

The annual NFL 101 Awards Banquet honors some of the best performances by players and coaches in the league from the 2014 season. That’s why Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, Pittsburgh’s duo of wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt and Arizona head coach Bruce Arians were in the house Saturday night at the Westin Crown Center Hotel.

It’s also the night the Chiefs announce their honors from last season: the Derrick Thomas Award as the team’s most valuable player went to outside linebacker Justin Houston, while the Mack Lee Hill Award for best rookie performance went to running back/receiver/returner De’Anthony Thomas.

Saturday night, Thomas was in the house for the event, but Houston was not. His absence is hardly a surprise given his current situation. Houston and everyone else in the NFL waits to see if the Chiefs tag the linebacker with the franchise player designation. They have until Monday to do that. For Houston, it would have been a long night of being asked what’s happening with his contract; reportedly he had a prior commitment. His original four-year contract with the team will officially end in 10 days when the new league year begins. …Read More!

Super Bowl Weekend Leftovers: It Takes a Team

It will go down as one of the most watched, most bet on and most exciting Super Bowl games in the 49 that have been played. The New England Patriots 28-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks was in doubt until the final 30 seconds, and the game was filled with performances by known stars and unknown contributors.

For the last stanza of the 2014 season, the NFL couldn’t have produced a better sign off considering the type of year it was for the league.

Random thoughts:

It Takes A Team

Football is a game that cannot be dominated by a single player. Tom Brady was named the Super Bowl 49 MVP and while that selection can be debated, there’s no question he was a big part of the Patriots victory. But he had so much help.

Let us remember this – Tom Brady was the 199th player selected in the 2000 NFL Draft. He was a 6th-round draft choice. The winning touchdown pass was thrown by Brady to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who came into the league without being selected in the NFL Draft. He finished the game with nine catches for 109 yards and that touchdown. New England’s touchdown before the throw to Edelman went to wide receiver Danny Amendola, another receiver that came into the NFL was an undrafted rookie free agent.

The winning interception was pulled off by cornerback Malcolm Butler, also not selected in the NFL Draft last year. In fact, he wasn’t even signed immediately after the draft. He was invited as an unsigned player to the Patriots rookie mini-camp and ended up being signed after his performance over that weekend.

There are talented football players everywhere, not just in the opening rounds of the NFL Draft. Give New England credit – they not only identify and find those players, but they develop them. That’s the two pronged attack that has allowed them to overcome the problems facing today’s NFL teams with free agency and the salary cap. They find and develop. …Read More!

Why The Seahawks Are Super, Chiefs Are On Vacation

The Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks were west division winners in 2010. In Kansas City, they finished 10-6 in the second year of what was a dysfunctional marriage between general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley.

The Pacific Northwest the Seahawks were just 7-9, but that was good enough to make the playoffs ahead of St. Louis as the Rams also finished at 7-9. That was the first year of what has become a storybook football marriage between general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll.

The Chiefs have not played a game since December 28th. The Seahawks are in action Sunday in Super Bowl 49 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Seattle is looking for back-to-back titles after winning a year ago in a dominating victory over Denver.

Four seasons ago, the Chiefs and Hawks appeared to be on equal footing. As the 2014 season comes to an end with the Patriots and Seahawks kicking off right around 5:30 p.m. CST the question must be asked:

What happened? …Read More!

Timing Is Right – Shields Makes The Hall of Fame

Will Shields became the 11th member of the Kansas City Chiefs to gain election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

That news came down from Phoenix where the Hall’s selection committee voted in a class of eight that will be inducted in August in ceremonies in Canton, Ohio.

Joining Shields will be linebacker Junior Seau, running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end/linebacker Charles Haley, wide receiver Tim Brown, senior candidate Mick Tingelhoff and contributors Ron Wolf and Bill Polian.

Shields made the Hall in his fourth season of eligibility. The Chiefs third-round selection in the 1993 NFL Draft did not start the first game of his rookie season, but he finished the game and did not miss a start for the rest of his career.

He’s the first Chiefs offensive lineman to be selected for the Hall and only the second offensive player. He joins team founder Lamar Hunt, former head coach Hank Stram, quarterback Len Dawson, kicker Jan Stenerud and defensive stars Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Derrick Thomas, Emmitt Thomas, Curley Culp and Buck Buchanan.

The other members of the Hall of Fame class of 2015 are: …Read More!

Chiefs QB Suffers Serious Knee Injury

The Chiefs announced on Tuesday that quarterback Tyler Bray suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Apparently, that’s one of the reasons they signed Terrelle Pryor as a reserve/futures free agent.

There were no details on how Bray suffered the injury.

“Anytime one of your players suffers a significant injury like Tyler’s it is disappointing, and we hurt for the player,” Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey said in a team released statement. “With Tyler’s injury having a longer recovery time, we’ve signed quarterback Terrelle Pryor to a reserve/futures contract. As we’ve said before, we are always looking to add talented players to our roster, and Terrelle was among the top players on our ready list at that position with his athleticism and experience. We believe having him in our quarterback room and working with our offensive coaches will enhance his growth.”

Bray signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2013 out of the University of Tennessee. He spent the 2013 on the active roster as the No. 3 quarterback and did not take a regular season snap. Then, last season he spent on the injured-reserve list after he supposedly suffered an ankle injury in the final pre-season game. Bray spent the season with the team, including going to all practices even though he could not physically participate.

Almost all of the reserve/futures free agents like Pryor have already been established over the last three weeks. There are 19 in all:

  • Quarterback – Terrelle Pryor, 6-4, 233, Ohio State.
  • Fullback – Spencer Ware, 5-10, 229, LSU. 
  • Tight end – Brandon Barden, 6-4, 253, Vanderbilt; Adam Schiltz, 6-4, 256, Emporia State.
  • Wide receiver – Armon Binns, 6-3, 211, Cincinnati; Corbin Louks, 6-0, 200, Nevada; Da’Rick Rogers, 6-3, 215, Tennessee Tech; Fred Williams, 6-0, 190, St. Cloud State.
  • Offensive linemen – Curtis Feigt (T), 6-6, 310, West Virginia; Ricky Henry (G), 6-4, 310, Nebraska; Jarrod Pughsley (G), 6-4, 310, Akron; Derek Sherrod (T), 6-6, 321, Mississippi State.
  • Defensive tackle – Hebron Fangup, 6-0, 324, Brigham Young; Jerel Worthy, 6-2, 308, Michigan State.        
  • Linebacker – Jo Jo Dickson, 6-1, 245, Idaho.
  • Cornerback – Aaron Hester, 6-1, 207, UCLA; Deji Olatoye, 6-1, 194, North Carolina A&T.
  • Long snapper – Brandon Hartson, 6-2, 238, Houston; Jorgen Hus, 6-1, 232, Regina.

Belichick Leads List of 101 Banquet Honorees

The 45th 101 Awards and Banquet goes down on February 28 and on Tuesday the honorees were named during a press conference at the Truman Medical Center.

In voting by a committee of 101 media members around the country New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was named AFC Coach of the Year for the fourth time. Belichick has his team in a sixth Super Bowl coming up on February 1 in Arizona. The NFC Coach of the Year was Bruce Arians from Arizona, who earned the honor for the second time in his brief career as a head coach. He was honored in 2012 when as interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts he helped guide the team to the playoffs in the absence of head coach Chuck Pagano who was being treated for leukemia.

The coaches were the only honorees that have stood in front of the Kansas City audience before to accept the nationally recognized distinction. The five players are all 101 rookies: …Read More!

Super Bowl 49 Match Is Set, With A Chiefs Slant

In two weeks Super Bowl 49 will be played in the Arizona desert between two teams that the Chiefs beat in 2014.

The Seattle Seahawks made an improbable comeback and beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in overtime to win the NFC Championship Game and go to their second straight Super Bowl. The Chiefs beat the Hawks 24-20 back in the middle of November.

The New England Patriots smashed the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 to win the AFC Championship Game, gaining their sixth trip to the final game in the last 14 years. Back at the end of September, the Chiefs beat the Patriots 41-14, supposedly ending the New England dynasty.

A full-season body of work has the NFL’s two best teams meeting in Arizona, and even though the Chiefs found a way to win both of those games, they had no business even dreaming they could have been part of the 49th Super get-together. They beat the Seahawks and Patriots, but they are not in the same league as those teams. They lack the killer or winning instinct those teams possess.

Want an example? After losing to the Chiefs, the Patriots went 12-2, and one of those defeats was the meaningless regular-season finale. The Seahawks are unbeaten, 8-0 since falling at Arrowhead. These teams understand when it was time to slam their foot on the accelerator.

The Chiefs were 7-5 after the New England victory and 2-4 to close out the season in the games after beating Seattle. Andy Rei d’s team administered 25 percent of the defeats suffered in 2014 by the Patriots and Seahawks (2 of 8). But on this championship Sunday, the Hunt Family franchise was three weeks into its post-season vacation.

Action in Sunday’s games played out in opposite fashion for the winners. New England dominated and never trailed in busting up the Colts, while Seattle was down 16-0 at half-time and down nine points at the start of the fourth quarter. The Seahawks found a way to not only push the game into overtime, but win it.

Thoughts on what we saw in the championship game action: …Read More!

DAT Earns All-League Rookie Honors

The Chiefs running back/receiver/returner De’Anthony Thomas was named to the Pro Football Writers Association All-NFL rookie team that was announced on Tuesday.

The rookie out of the University of Oregon ran for 113 yards, caught passes for 156 yards, returned punts for 405 yards and kickoffs for 428 yards. That was 1,102 all-purpose yards on 85 touches or 12.9 yards per play. He was a fourth-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Chiefs.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham was named the league’s rookie of the year and offensive rookie of the year. St. Louis defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named defensive rookie of the year.

The Rams led all clubs with three selections – Donald, cornerback E.J. Gaines and running back Tre Mason. Six teams – Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders each had two players on the squad. In all, 19 clubs are represented among the honored 27 players. …Read More!

More Honors For Justin Houston

There’s more recognition of the outstanding season of Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston as he was named to the All-NFL team by the Pro Football Writers of America.

The voting was conducted by the PFWA among writers and broadcasters that belong to the organization. Houston’s selection for the first team came thanks to his league leading and Chiefs record setting 22 sacks.

PRWA also releases All-AFC and All-NFC teams, and rookie punt returner De’Anthony Thomas was honored on the All-AFC team. Houston appeared on that team as well for the second consecutive season.

The Dallas Cowboys placed a league-high four players – wide receiver Dez Bryant, center Travis Frederick, running back DeMarco Murray and tackle Tyron Smith – on the 2014 All-NFL team. The New England Patriots were second with three All-NFL selections, and five clubs – the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks – each had two players on the All-NFL team. In all, 17 clubs are represented among the 27 players honored by the PFWA. …Read More!

Former Chiefs All Over The Divisional Playoffs

Brandon Carr (L), Andy Studebaker (C) and Tony Moeaki (R) are former Chiefs in the playoffs

There are eight teams playing on Saturday and Sunday in the NFL divisional round games. Just about every one of those clubs has a player or coach that once worked for the Chiefs. Here are the familiar names you may see in the weekend’s four games:

Baltimore

  • Tight end Phillip Supernaw played two games for the Chiefs in 2014 (Seattle and at Oakland), catching one pass for three yards. He started the victory over the Seahawks. After three weeks with the Chiefs, he was released on December 1 and was signed almost immediately by the Ravens, where he’d previously been on the practice squad.

Carolina

  • Defensive tackle Kyle Love signed with the Panthers on December 15 and will see increased playing time against the Seahawks after Carolina lost defensive tackle Star Lotulelei to a broken foot after last weekend’s victory over Arizona. Love spent training camp and the pre-season with the Chiefs, signing with the club in May and he was released on August 30.

Dallas

  • Cornerback Brandon Carr had an inconsistent season with the Cowboys, but came on strong at the end of the schedule and that will need to continue against the Packers on Sunday. A 16-game starter, Carr finished without an interception, while giving up six touchdown passes. He also had 63 total tackles. Carr was the fifth-round choice of the Chiefs in the 2008 NFL Draft.

…Read More!

Chiefs Notes: Terrelle Pryor Signed After Workout

After watching him in a workout Wednesday, the Chiefs signed former Raiders-Seahawks quarterback Terrelle Pryor as a reserve/futures free agent.

But did they sign him to play quarterback? More than once during his college career at Ohio State University and his time with Oakland and Seattle, folks thought he might be a better fit at wide receiver, maybe even running back.

The 25-year old Pryor is 6-6, 240 pounds and has been clocked running the 40-yard dash in anywhere from 4.32 to 4.5 seconds. He entered the NFL as a third round choice in the 2011 NFL Supplemental Draft. In three seasons with the Raiders, he played in 15 games with 10 starts. He completed 170 of 302 passes for 1,953 yards, nine touchdown throws and 12 interceptions. He also ran 93 times for 627 yards and three touchdowns.

A product of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, Pryor started against the Chiefs in the 2013 season at Arrowhead Stadium, where he threw three interceptions and was sacked nine times in a 24-7 loss. He was traded to Seattle in 2014, but was released by the Seahawks on the final cutdown to reach the 53-man roster limit. …Read More!

Answer Bob #3 – January 7

Last batch of questions and answers and again, thanks so much. I hope the answers are as good as the questions.

——————————————–


Branden Albert (L), Jon Asamoah (C) & Geoff Schwartz (R) all left Chiefs in free agency

Montanachief says – Hi Bob, great articles all year. Many thanks. My questions are about the offensive line. First, did Dorsey and Reid underestimate the loss of three linemen (Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz and Branden Albert)? Albert was a given because of money and Eric Fisher, but the other two seem like an oversight. How about Andy Heck (offensive line coach); is he up to the job? Why didn’t they give Eric Kush a chance at guard? There’s a lot of talk about Alex Smith’s ability to throw deep, but to me the major problem with going deep was the guard play. There was never a pocket to set up in and throw deep. Not to say that Smith doesn’t have some blame also. Thanks.

Bob says – Montana, good comments and questions all. I don’t think Dorsey & Reid underestimated the loss of Asamoah-Schwartz-Albert – I think they overestimated the talent they pulled together to replace them. I don’t see how Jeff Linkenbach’s signing as a free agent helped the team at all. Donald Stephenson’s four-game suspension really hurt the situation and it was obvious from how little he played once he returned. Losing Jeff Allen really hurt because he actually showed he was a better right tackle than he was left guard. Fisher improved as the season went on, but he wasn’t anything close to Albert playing at his best. Linkenbach, Mike McGlynn and rookie Zach Fulton did not come close to matching the effort of Schwartz in the ’13 season. When a guy gets signed off the street a few days before the final pre-season game and ends up being a starter, that tells us something was wrong with the evaluations and decisions on the offensive line. I think Andy Heck is not the problem at tackle; there maybe somebody better out there to handle the duties, but Heck is not a negative. I think the lack of playing time in any fashion for Kush tells us that the coaches did not see enough improvement in his training camp and pre-season performances to warrant a chance there. …Read More!

Answer Bob #1 – January 5

As always there were plenty of questions, comments and ideas to think about with your reactions to Ask Bob. Here’s the first batch of answers with several more to follow. Thank you for your interest and support.

el cid says: I am concerned about John Dorsey. His past drafts seem directed at replacing players who are at the end of their contracts and the Chiefs do not seem interested in keeping them. Then, later picks are to fill some needs; not my idea of the way to rebuild a team, but whatever. What do you expect from him? Will he fill in missing pieces on the roster or just draft so veterans can walk away? I am not a Dorsey fan but since he is here, what direction will he go? On another site, overrun with every player but Smith is an all-star and we’ll win the Super Bowl next year, the every-year types are now saying 2016 will be the year when Dorsey has enough to make a SB run. Of course, I am nuts but by 2016 Dorsey should be looking for another job if he cannot put something closer to a finished product by then.

Bob says: el cid, I understand where you are coming from with your feelings about the direction of the franchise. If the NFL Draft is going to be about filling in for players that no longer fit under the salary cap, then this organization is just going to tread water . . . Eric Fisher for Branden Albert, Dee Ford for Tamba Hali, Phillip Gaines for Brandon Flowers. …Read More!

Ranking The 2014 Chiefs/No. 1 thru 53 – Part #3

Here are the final player rankings for the 2014 Chiefs. One proviso on these last 13 ratings – there isn’t a lot of difference between No. 41 and No. 51. In some cases there just hasn’t been enough playing time to make precision evaluations.

But then these rankings are fodder for discussion, not contracts for the 2015 season.

Donnie Avery (L), Marcus Cooper (C) and Donald Stephenson (R) have become non-factors

No. 41 through 53


41.
WR Junior Hemingway – It was a season where Hemingway was always battling injuries, starting in training camp. He eventually played in 14 games and even started twice as he joined the group trying to fill the void across from Dwayne Bowe. He ended up with 12 catches for 108 yards, with four receptions for 50 yards in the San Francisco game. In the last five games, he had four offensive snaps.

42. S Kelcie McCray – Picked up in a training camp trade with Tampa Bay, McCray saw only in the neighborhood of 50 defensive snaps during the season. But he was very active on special teams, serving as a four-squad contributor and he was among the better players in the kicking game.

…Read More!

Ranking The 2014 Chiefs/No. 1 thru 53 – Part #2

Here are our rankings of the Chiefs 2014 roster from positions No. 21 through No. 40.

Remember, this is fodder for discussion and the ratings are mine, not from the Chiefs or another NFL team. I’m sure the folks at Arrowhead feel differently about some of their players than I do. That’s the nature of football.

Enjoy our rankings of No. 21 through 40.

Dee Ford (L), Ron Parker (C) and Chris Owens (R)

No. 21 through 40

21 CB Chris Owens – Through the first part of the season, Owens was one of the most productive players on the Chiefs defense. Working as the nickel back and handling the slot receivers, he did a nice job in coverage and when he did give up a catch, there were seldom yards after the catch. But in the last month of the season, after he missed time because of a knee injury, Owens play dropped considerably. In the loss to Pittsburgh and the victory over San Diego, Owens was a liability. It was not a good finish and took some of the luster off what had been a good season.

22. ILB Joe Mays – Due to the wrist ligament injury he suffered in the middle of August, Mays was not able to wear his shoulder pads and get on the field until Game No. 9 and over the second half of the season he saw fewer than 125 defensive snaps. When he did get a chance to play, he was effective in playing the run and was not a liability in limited plays where he had to drop in pass coverage. Availability was Mays’ downfall. He will be 30 years old and an 8-year veteran in 2015 and it’s hard to see where he would fit in. …Read More!

Ranking The 2014 Chiefs/No. 1 thru 53 – Part #1

We’ve kept our notes from 16 games. We’ve gone back and checked a few tapes over the holidays. We burned up the phone lines and cell towers with communication to sources among the NFL coaches and personnel types.

The goal was simple in theory, but complex in follow through – line up the 2014 Chiefs from best player to worst, from No. 1 through No. 50-plus. Assigning positions on the list proved more difficult than in past seasons because there really were not that many Chiefs that had exceptional seasons. Plus, some of the best players on the roster were not playing; they were on the injured-reserve list.

But with guidance from the pros that do this for a living, we’ve come up with our list. We’ll start today with players 1 through 20, and then bring the rest of the roster in future posts over the next few days. Remember, this is fodder for discussion and the ratings are mine, not from the Chiefs or another team. I’m sure the folks at Arrowhead feel differently about some of their players than myself and others do.

That’s the nature of football. Enjoy our rankings of No. 1 through 20.

No. 1 through 10

  1. OLB Justin Houston – It’s easy to focus in on Houston’s skills as a pass rusher because there are 22 examples of how good he is at taking the quarterback to the ground. But the rest of the league sees even more. “He really does play his position, rather than going after the quarterback on every play,” said one personnel man. But Houston is the league’s best pass rusher and he had a visible effect on the quarterback (sack, hit, pressure) on over 75 plays during the season. …Read More!

Report Card: No A’s, But Chiefs Get Passing Grades


From Arrowhead Stadium

PASSING OFFENSE: C – Backup quarterback Chase Daniel ran the show for the injured Alex Smith (lacerated spleen) but the Chiefs still came out throwing the ball with good results against San Diego. Daniel completed his first nine passes, finding five different receivers. But come the second half, Daniel lost his passing mojo, hitting only 30 percent of his attempts. He finished with a completion percentage of 59.3 percent for an average of 5.8 yards per attempt. He was sacked four times and took off running on two other plays, as the pass protection overall was poor.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C – The Chiefs really did not build a strong running game in their victory, rushing for 111 yards on 26 carries, or 4.3 yards per carry. Jamaal Charles was hampered by a hamstring problem and had just 54 yards rushing, while Knile Davis contributed 23 yards. Rookie De’Anthony Thomas had only one chance, getting 18 yards and the longest run of the game for the Chiefs.

PASS DEFENSE: B – The Chiefs gave up nearly 300 passing yards, but they were able to batter San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers with seven sacks, two interceptions and a fumble. Rivers completed 58.8 percent of his throws and averaged 8.6 yards per attempt, but he lost 42 yards on those sacks, four of them from outside linebacker Justin Houston.

RUSH DEFENSE: C – In the first half, the Chargers really got their running game going behind rookie Branden Oliver. When they got behind on the scoreboard, San Diego pretty much forgot the ground game in the second half. Oliver averaged 5.1 yards per carry, including a touchdown run. Overall, the Chiefs did not do a good job in stopping the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B – The Chiefs kicking game produced 12 points as kicker Cairo Santos wound up his rookie season by hitting four of five field goal attempts. De’Anthony Thomas had a big day returning punts, averaging 17.3 yards on four returns, including a 41-yarder. The Chiefs allowed next to nothing on returns and punter Dustin Colquitt had a 48.6-yard net average.

COACHING: B – Without starting quarterback Alex Smith, the offensive staff put together a game plan that worked in the first half for Daniel. Defensively, coordinator Bob Sutton’s group gave up the yards, but not the touchdowns, making fourth down stops in consecutive San Diego possessions in the fourth quarter to go with forcing three turnovers and seven sacks.

Houston Makes A Place In Chiefs, NFL Record Books


From Arrowhead Stadium

The quarterback sack has been an official statistic in the NFL since 1982. In those 33 seasons since only one man finished a 16-game schedule with more quarterback takedowns than Justin Houston.

With his four-sack performance against San Diego on Sunday, Houston finished the season with 22 sacks; he was just a half-sack behind the league record of 22.5 set by New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan in 2001. Only Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets (1984) and Jared Allen with Minnesota (2011) were able to reach 22 sacks.

Houston became the 10th player in those 33 seasons to reach 20 sacks. His performance was also enough to set a new franchise record, topping the 20 sacks that Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas picked up in the 1990 season.

To make for a sack hat-trick for Houston, he finished the season as the NFL’s leading sacker and the winner of the Deacon Jones Award, finishing ahead of Houston’s J.J. Watt who finished with 20.5 sacks. The Jones Award was instituted last year with the death of Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones who is credited with creating the term “sack.”

While his teammates and the Chargers were singing his praises, Houston felt only disappointment as the team failed to make the playoffs.

“That’s what you base your season off of,” Houston said. “You play to win a championship. We fell short and it hurt.

“Individual records it will mean something when I’m done playing, but it’s a team game. There’s nothing more important than putting that ring on your finger. That’s what I play this game for. I guess in the next couple weeks it will hit me, but right now I’m still disappointed that we are not playing next week.”

The football stars aligned for Houston and the Chiefs pass rush with the San Diego offensive line a patchwork affair. The Chargers started their fifth center of the season and undrafted rookie Jeremiah Sirles opened at right guard, his first NFL start. In the first half, left tackle D.J. Fluker went down and left the game until the second half. With Philip Rivers barely a threat to leave the pocket at this stage of his career, he was a sitting duck.

“I think that some guys just have a knack,” Rivers said of Houston as a pass rusher. “He’s good against the run too. Some guys just have a knack for how to do it. He has that. He’s a big, strong, powerful guy that can beat you around the corner and beat you inside. I think the combination of he and number 91 (Tamba Hali) is a pretty awesome combination.”

Houston’s first sack of Rivers came midway through the second quarter, when he went down for minus-6 yards on a 2nd-and-20 play. On the Chargers next possession, Houston picked up sack No. 2, also a minus-6 yards play on a 3rd-and-8 situation. Early in the third quarter, Houston sacked Rivers and hacked the ball out of his hand with a recovery of the fumble by teammate Joe Mays. The fourth sack came with less than two minutes to play, for minus 9 yards.

Hali was probably the most impressed person by the record-setting performance from Houston, because few know better how tough it is rushing the passer in the NFL.

“A lot of guys have come in and tried to break that record, even myself, and didn’t get close,” Hali said. “What he did, it’s remarkable. It’s hard to get there . . . for you to get 10 sacks in this league is hard. More than 20 sacks on the year, did you look it up? How many guys have gotten 20-plus? That’s a little number right there.”

Here are the 10 players that have had 20 sacks or more 11 times in an NFL season:

# Pass rusher Team

Season

Sacks

1.

Michael Strahan N.Y. Giants

2001

22.5

2.

Mark Gastineau N.Y. Jets

1984

22

Jared Allen Minnesota

2011

22

Justin Houston Chiefs

2014

22

5.

Reggie White Philadelphia

1987

21

Chris Doleman Minnesota

1989

21

7.

Lawrence Taylor N.Y. Giants

1986

20.5

J. J. Watt Houston

2012

20.5

J.J. Watt Houston

2014

20.5

10.

Derrick Thomas Chiefs

1990

20

DeMarcus Ware Dallas

2008

20

Houston has 33 sacks in the last two seasons and 48.5 sacks in his career. His four sacks was the second best game of his career after the 4.5 sacks he had of Michael Vick in last September’s visit to Philadelphia to play the Eagles.

“That man’s feet are ridiculous,” said cornerback Sean Smith. “You have to chip him, you can’t leave him one-on-one or he’s going to kill the tackle.”

Quarterback Chase Daniel was glad he didn’t have to get away from Houston.

“The guys a freak,” said Daniel. “They’re trying to chip him out there, trying to double-team him and he played with a vengeance today. Justin is one of our leaders if not the leader of this football tea. Not only by his play on the football field but by his words in the locker room. He’s a very special person and he’s an even better person than he is a player, there’s no doubt about that. To have him on our team, we’re very lucky.”

Any discussion of Houston’s season must include his future. He’s finishing the four-year contract that he signed as a rookie, third-round draft choice. He’s a potential free agent come the spring unless the Chiefs can (1.) work out a long-term contract with him or (2.) applying the franchise player tag so he can’t leave.

Houston says that situation has not been part of his radar screen.

“I haven’t even thought about that,” Houston said.

Whether he has or hasn’t, Justin Houston will soon be a very rich man in dollars. He’s already a rich man in sacks.

Pre-Game From Arrowhead – Chiefs & Chargers


From Arrowhead Stadium

11:30 a.m. – It will be scoreboard watching day for the Chiefs. First, they must handle their business and beat the Chargers. Then, they need Cleveland to beat the Ravens in Baltimore and Jacksonville to beat the Texans in Houston. No matter what happens, we’ll have all the info and details later this afternoon, into the evening and the morning. Enjoy the game!

11:25 a.m. – Veteran referee Pete Morelli heads up the officiating crew for this game. Until last week, Morelli’s group was one of the least active flag throwers in the league, averaging 13.6 penalties called per game. But they had the New York Giants-St. Louis Rams game last Sunday and that encounter included a big fight and numerous penalties for bad conduct. In all, they walked off 21 penalties for 225 yards, one of the biggest penalty games of the season. The last time Morelli worked a Chiefs game was the 2013 season opener in Jacksonville, when his crew walked off a combined eight penalties for 50 yards.

11:20 a.m. – The National Weather Service forecast for Sunday calls for sunny skies, with a light and variable wind that will eventually come out of the south-southwest. High temperature this afternoon expected to be in the high 30s. It should be 32 or 33 degrees at kickoff.

11:15 a.m. – The Chargers will have a rookie starting at right guard, as University of Nebraska product Jeremiah Sirles gets his first start. He replaces Johnnie Troutman, who went down last weekend against San Francisco with a knee injury.

11:10 a.m. – Justin Houston sits at 18 sacks on the season, seeking two more to become the 10th player to reach the 20-sack mark since the quarterback takedown became a recognized statistic in the early 1980s. Two more sacks would also tie him for the Chiefs franchise record with Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas; he had 20 sacks in 1990. The other pass rushers that have topped the 20-sack mark are Michael Strahan (22.5), Jared Allen and Mark Gastineau (22), Chris Doleman and Reggie White (21), Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt (20.5), Thomas and DeMarcus Ware (20).

11:05 a.m. – Jamaal Charles comes into the game needing just 21 rushing yards to pass the 1,000-yard mark for the fifth time in his career. It would also give him three consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus rushing yards. That would match the performance of Priest Holmes, who had 1,000-yard seasons in 2001-02-03.

11 a.m. – San Diego will have its fifth different starting center this season when Trevor Robinson opens this game on the snap. Robinson was signed during the season off the Cincinnati practice squad. He’s replacing Chris Watt, a rookie who suffered an ankle injury last weekend against San Francisco. Nick Hardwick, Rich Ohrnberger and Doug Legursky also started for the Chargers at center, but all three are on the injured-reserve list.

10:55 a.m. – Kicking at the west goal posts Cairo Santos was short and to the right on a 53-yard FG attempt in warm-ups. He came back and hit from 53 yards on a second attempt. He was good from 43, 49 and then 43 yards again. Chargers kicker Nick Novak hit from 53 yards kicking east. With both of these guys apparently good from 53 that would make the 45-yard line the point of progress for a field goal of that length.

10:50 a.m. – Kicking towards the east goal posts with a light wind, Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos in his pre-game warm-up was 5-for-5 on kicks outside the 40-yard line. He made a pair of 43 yarders, a 49-yard kick and a pair of 53-yard field goals. One of those was a line drive that may have been in danger of being blocked. He had a yard or two to spare on those longer kicks.

10:45 a.m. – The Chargers made a roster move on Saturday, placing punter Mike Scifres on the injured-reserve list and promoting offensive lineman Jeff Baca from the practice squad. Scifres suffered a broken collarbone several weeks ago when New England blocked his punt and then knocked him down and out. Baca provides some needed depth with Chris Watt being out of action.

10:40 a.m. – Reaction to inactive players for both teams: Chiefs – How deep in the doghouse is cornerback Marcus Cooper? The Chiefs are going with only three corners today with Phillip Gaines also out. That seemed like Cooper’s ticket to game-day active. Wide receiver Donnie Avery a healthy scratch again; his days with the team would appear numbered based on his inability to get on the field. Chargers – The Bolts are really hurting on offense, without wide receiver Keenan Allen, running back Ryan Mathews and center Chris Watt. They are good defensively with only backup players as inactive for today’s game.

10:35 a.m. – The inactive players for the Chargers against the Chiefs today are running back Ryan Mathews, wide receiver Keenan Allen, center Chris Watt, cornerback Greg Ducre, defensive tackle Damion Square, nose tackle Ryan Carrethers, outside linebacker Cordarro Law.

10:31 a.m. – The inactive players for the Chiefs against the Chargers today are quarterback Alex Smith, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Phillip Gaines, cornerback Marcus Cooper, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, defensive end Nick Williams.

10:30 a.m. CST – Good morning from the Truman Sports Complex, where the sun is shining on what right now appears to be a very sparse crowd in the parking lots with kickoff 90 minutes away. We’ll update you on the news, notes and analysis of today’s game against the Chargers. Coming up in a few minutes, will be the game-day inactive players. Stay tuned.

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Chargers

In the final week of the 2014 NFL season the matchup between the Chiefs and San Diego Chargers appears to be pretty lopsided. That’s despite the fact the Chiefs own an early season victory over the Chargers in San Diego.

But with the Chargers needing only a victory to make the playoffs and the Chiefs needing a winning effort and then help from others, San Diego has the edge.

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

What You Need To Know About The Chargers

Record – The Chargers are 9-6 on the season, going 5-3 in the first half of the schedule and 4-3 since. They’ve had a five-game winning streak and a three-game winning streak along the way. San Diego’s hopes for the playoffs stayed alive when they came back from being down 21-0 to beat San Francisco 38-35 in overtime last Saturday night. They had just lost back-to-back home games to New England (by 9 points) and Denver (by 12). They are 4-3 on the road.

Season story – Last Saturday night the season appeared to be all but over for the Chargers when San Francisco jumped to a 21-0 lead and then held a 28-7 lead at half-time. But behind quarterback Philip Rivers’ four touchdown passes, San Diego outscored the 49ers 28-7 in the second half and then got the game winning field goal in overtime. The 21-point deficit the team overcame tied the greatest comeback in team history and the Chargers became the first team in the NFL since 1970 to give up more than 355 yards rushing and still win the game. It was a night that showed all the ups and downs of the whole season for San Diego. They’ve had more than their share of injuries with six major contributors on the injured-reserve list. Center has been a revolving door with four different players starting there: Nick Hardwick, Rich Ohrnberger, Doug Legursky and rookie Chris Watt, who currently holds the position. The other three are on injured-reserve. In the San Francisco victory they lost right guard Johnnie Troutman who had started all 15 games. He will be replaced by undrafted rookie Jeremiah Sirles from the University of Nebraska.

…Read More!

Notes & Quotes: Bowe Plays Full Game

From Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe missed all three days of practice this week with the Chiefs because of the flu.

Come Sunday against the Steelers, he was full go and took his regular turn with the Chiefs offense. Bowe caught six passes for 57 yards.

“My job is to play, so I played,” Bowe said after the game. “It was a rough week but they got me ready to play today and I felt good out there. There were a couple times when I had to come out to catch my breath.

“But players play. That’s what I do.”

Notable Quotables

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin on the Chiefs running on fourth down late in the first half: “I was not surprised. Coach Reid is an aggressive guy. He doesn’t live in his fears. He’s always been that guy. It was nothing special in terms of stopping it to be honest with you, just played good sound football a guys did a nice job of being strong at the point of attack.”

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on performance of rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson: “I don’t think anybody in our locker room is surprised, especially on the offensive side of the ball. We all saw this coming from day one. I remember in the off-season being excited about him.”

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: “The way the defense stepped up today, they knew the pressure was on them facing the Chiefs offense. We knew potentially how hard it was going to be for us because we knew how good the Chiefs defense was. That’s a team win.”

Numbers report

Outside linebacker Justin Houston picked up his 18th sack of the season and with one week of the season left, he holds the league lead in taking down quarterbacks. The Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt is right behind him with 17.5 sacks. Houston now has 44.5 career sacks, tying him for sixth all-time in franchise history with defensive end Eric Hicks (1998-06) . . . Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown now has 122 catches on the season and he now has a streak of 31 games where he’s caught at least five passes for 50 yards; that’s an NFL record . . . running back Le’Veon Bell now has 3,374 yards from scrimmage in his first two seasons with the Steelers. No back in franchise history has produced more, as Bell topped the previous mark set by Jerome Bettis of 3,328 yards in 1996-97.

Personnel report

The inactive players for the Chiefs against the Steelers were quarterback Aaron Murray, wide receiver Donnie Avery, cornerback Marcus Cooper, running back Charcandrick West, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and defensive end Nick Williams. All were coach’s decisions.

When the game was over, everybody played for the Chiefs save backup quarterback Chase Daniel and cornerback Phillip Gaines, who was dressed to participate but left the field with an illness before the game started.

Wide receiver Albert Wilson opened with the No. 1 offense, opposite Bowe. The Chiefs defense opened the game with a four-man front and that put Kevin Vickerson into the starting lineup.

The inactive players for the Steelers were quarterback Landry Jones, wide receiver Justin Brown, safety Troy Polamalu, cornerback Ike Taylor, defensive end Clifton Geathers, guard Chris Hubbard and tight end Matt Spaeth. Everybody in black and gold played except backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

For the Steelers, Brice McCain started at right cornerback for Taylor and Will Allen opened at strong safety for Polamalu.

Keys To a Chiefs Victory Over Steelers/Recap

From Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Based on the keys to winning, the Chiefs should have grabbed a victory over the Steelers on Sunday. They accomplished two of the four goals and tied the other two. It was a good performance, but not good enough to beat Pittsburgh.

    

Four

Make sure the field goal chain is solid

There’s a difference of 67 points between what the Steelers have scored this year and what the Chiefs have put on the board. That’s a mere difference of just less than five points per game. On the road, a team must cash in on every scoring opportunity presented to them. When the Chiefs have to settle for a field goal, they must have Cairo Santos knocked it between the pipes. And, as we found out this week, the snap from Thomas Gafford needs to be true each time. Dustin Colquitt handles the snaps without much problem. Santos showed against the Raiders that he does not handle well a wayward snap. Eventually, he’ll need to be successful no matter what happens before his foot meets the ball.

OUTCOME – This is one thing the Chiefs got done against the Steelers. From Thomas Gafford to Dustin Colquitt to Cairo Santos these guys all got it done correctly four times. Those were the only points the Chiefs scored, so give them credit for MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Three

Get off to a quick start; don’t fall behind

The Chiefs do not play well from behind. They do not have the tools to be able to play the come-from-behind game. Andy Reid’s offense is best when it’s balanced, where the defense has doubts about whether run or pass is coming next. The only way that works is to not fall behind, forcing Reid and Alex Smith to throw the ball in hopes of making up the difference on the scoreboard. When they are the first team to put a touchdown on the scoreboard they are 5-1, losing only the San Francisco game. Get a lead and stay ahead.

OUTCOME – The Chiefs actually led this game 6-3; heaven knows how things would have turned had they been able to put a touchdown on the board on those early possessions. It wasn’t until the Pittsburgh touchdown after the Jamaal Charles fumble that they were behind and hamstrung in what they could do. We’ll call this one a PUSH.

Two

Limit big plays for the Steelers offense

Pittsburgh has eight offensive plays of 50 yards or more, and 45 plays of 25-plus yards. They are a big-play offense. Running back Le’Veon Bell has an 81-yard run. Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant has a 94-yard touchdown catch. They have eight receivers with a long reception on the season of 25 yards or more. They can score on any play. Through 14 games, the Chiefs defense has given up only one play of 50-plus yards and 24 of 25-plus yards. They will need to have that type of standard against Pittsburgh. First, they can’t allow Bell to get on the edge and crack them for big yards. Second, they can’t allow Ben Roethlisberger to throw over the top of them, especially to Bryant; with his speed he presents a tough coverage matchup because the Chiefs do not had a cover man that can match his speed.

OUTCOME – The Chiefs defense deserves credit, because they gave the big-play offense of the Steelers just one play of more than 20 yards, and that came in the first Pittsburgh possession on a 44-yard completion from Ben Roethlisberger to Martavis Bryant. Otherwise, the Steelers had only three other plays that went for more than 15 yards. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

One

The Chiefs offense needs to stay on the field

The Steelers lead all NFL offenses in time of possession after 14 games, holding the ball on average 33 minutes, 11 seconds per game. Pittsburgh has lost five games, and in four of those defeats they lost the time of possession battle. On the season, the Chiefs have averaged 30 minutes with the ball on offense. In five of their six losses they failed to hold the ball more than their opponent, posting an average possession time of 25:46. Make no mistake – the Steelers are not the NFL’s No. 1 offense just because they hold the ball so long. They beat Indianapolis 51-34 and held the ball just 20:17. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes in that game. The Chiefs defense is going to spend a lot of time chasing the Pittsburgh offense. When they get a break, Alex Smith and the offense needs to stay on the field convert third downs, move the ball and score touchdowns.

OUTCOME – The Chiefs finished the game with a time of possession advantage of 67 seconds. But when it mattered in the second half, the defense could not keep the Steelers off the field. Pittsburgh had a 2-minute, 20-second possession advantage. It sure doesn’t seem like much, but it was what the Steelers needed to keep control of the game. We have to call this one a PUSH as well.

Chiefs Lose Control Of Their Fate In 20-12 Defeat


From Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Their future in the AFC playoffs rested in their own hands as the Chiefs took the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon. While they did not fall flat on their faces, they kicked away their immediate destiny.

The Steelers grabbed a 20-12 victory, assuring Pittsburgh a spot in the conference playoffs for the first time in three years. They have a chance to win the AFC North division title in their regular season finale against Cincinnati next Sunday at Heinz Field.

For the Chiefs and their dreams of the post-season, the picture is no longer easily defined. Falling to 8-7, Andy Reid’s team has put itself in a position where they must beat San Diego and then get help from others. It’s a situation that left the Chiefs head coach reaching for something, anything that seemed like a positive.

“We can learn from this,” Reid said. “We’re going to do that. We’re going to make sure we can become a better football team from that. That’s where we are at right now. That’s what we’ll do and whatever happens happens.”

What did not happen for the Chiefs on this Sunday was a consistent offensive performance when it counted most. They had seven possessions and on six of them they pushed the ball inside the Steelers 30-yard line. Four times they drove the ball inside the Pittsburgh 20 and twice they were inside the home team’s 10-yard line.

All that brought them was four field goals from Cairo Santos.

“We would get in the red zone and have a negative play or sack and then you’re fighting uphill after that,” said quarterback Alex Smith, who threw for his highest yardage total of the season with 311 yards. “They are a good team and they had a good plan for us down there.”

Overall, the Chiefs outgained the Steelers 327 to 282, but it was Pittsburgh that got the ball in the end zone. Running back Le’Veon Bell scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, and then quarterback Ben Roethlisberger connected with wide receiver Antonio Brown for a 3-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter. Kicker Shaun Suisham added a pair of 23-yard field goals and the Steelers are now sitting at 10-5 on the season.

“Our defense had to play tough in the red area to keep the playing field level,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “I thought they responded to that challenge.”

The Pittsburgh defense sacked Smith six times and hit him on numerous other passing attempts, as there were very few possessions where the Chiefs quarterback had the chance to throw without pass rushers in his face. It was a big performance from veteran outside linebacker James Harrison, who came out of retirement earlier in the season and was credited with 1.5 sacks against the Chiefs and numerous other big plays.

“He was a significant factor,” said Tomlin. “James was healthy today and we were going to let James play.”

Both teams put field goals on the scoreboard with their opening possessions, as Pittsburgh drove 80 yards on 11 plays before Suisham’s first 23-yard field goal and the Chiefs went 65 yards on 14 plays before Santos hit from 35 yards.

Early in the second quarter, the Chiefs had one of those possessions where they drove into the Pittsburgh red zone. Facing a 4th-and-5 play at the Steelers 12-yard line, Reid called for a fake field goal, as holder Dustin Colquitt flipped the ball to tight end Travis Kelce who picked up six yards for a first down.

But three plays later, Smith was sacked by linebacker Jason Worilds and Santos made the 25-yard field goal to give the Chiefs a momentary 6-3 lead.

Roethlisberger came right out and drove his offense 80 yards on 11 plays, before Bell scored on a 1-yard run off right tackle. It appeared the Chiefs had snuffed the Steelers chances for a touchdown when Big Ben threw back-to-back incompletions in the end zone. But on the second throw, safety Ron Parker was called for defensive holding, giving Pittsburgh a 1st-and-goal play at the Kansas City 1-yard line. Bell scored on the next play.

The Chiefs grabbed the ball on offense and moved down the field again, with Smith hitting rookie wide receiver Albert Wilson for 33 yards on the biggest play of the possession. They stood at 1st-and-10 at the Steelers 21-yard line at the two-minute warning for the first half. Three plays later, they thought they had a first down, as a catch by running back De’Anthony Thomas was marked down at the 10-yard line. But the replay booth called for a second look and they ruled DAT was out of bounds at the 11-yard line with 27 seconds to play before intermission.

Facing a 4th-and-inches Reid decided to go for a first down rather than kick another field goal. But the Pittsburgh defense rose up and stopped running back Jamaal Charles for no gain. That allowed the Steelers to carry the 10-6 lead into the locker room.

On the second possession of the third quarter, the Chiefs were at the Pittsburgh 28-yard line when Smith connected with Charles, but he fumbled the ball on a hit by defensive end Stephon Tuitt and it was recovered by linebacker Vince Williams. Roethlisberger then took the Steelers offense 75 yards on 10 plays and reached the end zone on the scoring pass to Brown. The PAT kick pushed the score to 17-6.

The rest of the game was more back and forth as the Chiefs defense kept Pittsburgh out of the end zone, but the Kansas City offense could not dent the goal line. Another Santos field goal set the score at 20-12 with 1-minute, 37 seconds to play, but the Chiefs couldn’t convert an onside kick and the game was over.

Their hopes for the playoffs may also be over; a lot must happen for them to punch a ticket to the post-season. First of all, they must beat San Diego. Then, they need Baltimore and Houston to lose their games to Cleveland and Jacksonville.

“It certainly changes things from how it was, but we have a lot of character inside our locker room and I don’t think it will impact our preparation on how we got about this week,” said Smith. “(But) it definitely changes things.”

Chiefs Face Must Win Sunday Against The Steelers


From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The confluence of an unusual combination of football stories will go down Sunday afternoon at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Chiefs at Heinz Field in a game that has major post-season implications for both teams. The Steelers make the playoffs with a victory and set up a possible showdown on the final Sunday of the regular season with Cincinnati for the AFC North title.

The Chiefs must beat the Steelers to keep alive their hopes of slipping into one of the two wildcard spots in the AFC bracket. If they match a Pittsburgh victory with one against San Diego next Sunday, they are in.

Kickoff is set for just after 12 noon with television coverage on CBS-TV.

The unusual factors are these, in no certain order of importance – 1.) The most experienced post-season team in this game is not the Steelers. It’s the Chiefs. 2.) The Steelers defense is not very good, but its offense under coordinator and former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley is very good. 3.) Playing in Pittsburgh has never been very good news for the Chiefs, with one noteworthy exception. 4.) The Chiefs haven’t won a game like this in 20 years.

Let’s break them down: …Read More!

Officials: Chiefs See Rookie Referee Again

Ronald Torbert was one of three rookie referees that began the season in the NFL. Torbert and his crew got their scheduled started handling the Titans-Chiefs game in the opener.

That did not work out well for the Chiefs, as they somehow allowed Tennessee to walk out of Arrowhead Stadium with a victory. The officials did not have much to do with that outcome, as they walked off 12 penalties against the Titans and only three against the Chiefs. Those 15 penalties was just below the crew’s average on the season – in 13 games they are averaging 16.4 penalties called per game.

According to statistics compiled by ESPN, Torbert’s group has thrown more penalty flags for offensive holding than any other NFL crew, 47 in those 13 games, or more than four per game. The Chiefs offense has been called for 17 holding penalties in 14 games, led by rookie right guard Zach Fulton and tight end Anthony Fasano with three each. Center Rodney Hudson, left guard Mike McGlynn and left tackle Eric Fisher have each been called twice. The other holding calls went against right tackle Ryan Harris, tackle Donald Stephenson, guard Jeff Linkenbach, running back Knile Davis and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. …Read More!

4 Keys To Winning For Chiefs Vs. Steelers

   

Four

Make sure the field goal chain is solid

There’s a difference of 67 points between what the Steelers have scored this year and what the Chiefs have put on the board. That’s a mere difference of just less than five points per game. On the road, a team must cash in on every scoring opportunity presented to them. When the Chiefs have to settle for a field goal, they must have Cairo Santos knocked it between the pipes. And, as we found out this week, the snap from Thomas Gafford needs to be true each time. Dustin Colquitt handles the snaps without much problem. Santos showed against the Raiders that he does not handle well a wayward snap. Eventually, he’ll need to be successful no matter what happens before his foot meets the ball.

…Read More!

Chiefs Make An Interesting Practice Squad Addition

Generally, the moves on the practice squad by an NFL team are worthy of attention, but seldom noteworthy.

Not so with a move the Chiefs made on Wednesday.

They pulled to players off the squad, releasing tight end Adam Schiltz and placing wide receiver Armon Binns on the practice squad/injured list.

Filling those two spots, the Chiefs signed wide receiver Corbin Louks of the University of Nevada and long snapper Charley Hughlett from the University of Central Florida. …Read More!

DAT Grabs AFC Special Teams Player Of Week

Chiefs punt returner De’Anthony Thomas was still scoring on Wednesday from his 81-yard punt return touchdown against the Raiders on Sunday.

The rookie running back/wide receiver was named the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance in the Chiefs 31-13 victory.

Along with the touchdown return, Thomas had the second best punt-return game in club history, with eight returns for 156 yards, a 19.5-yard average. On the season, he’s returned 28 punts for a 11.7-yard average. He currently ranks fourth in the league in punt returns behind Philadelphia’s Darren Sproles (13.7-yard average), New England’s Julian Edelman (12.3) and Cincinnati’s Aaron Jones (12.0).

What You Need To Know About the Pittsburgh Steelers

Le’Veon Bell is the midst of a very productive 2014 season with over 2,000 offensive yards

Record – The Steelers are 9-5 on the season, winners of their last two and three of their last four games. In the last two weeks they beat the Bengals in Cincinnati 42-21 and then last Sunday they knocked off the Falcons in Atlanta 27-20. In their last home game, they were beaten by the New Orleans Saints, and they’ve lost two home games this season. Pittsburgh is tied with Baltimore, just a half-game behind Cincinnati in the AFC North.

Season story – The Steelers had a tough start to the 2014 season, going 3-3 over the first six weeks, including losing to Tampa Bay at home and to the Browns in Cleveland. Pittsburgh has always been about defense, but this year that side of the ball has struggled, giving up 339 points and 37 touchdowns in 14 games. Injuries created inconsistency on the defense that’s a veteran group with nine of the 11 starters having five seasons in the league or more. Outside linebacker James Harrison returned to the team after “retiring” following a season in Cincinnati. Defensive end Cameron Heyward leads the team with five sacks and cornerback William Gay has three interceptions, all returned for Pittsburgh touchdowns. The Steelers offense has been explosive at times, putting up 51 points against Indianapolis, 43 versus division rival Baltimore and 42 against Cincinnati. They have weapons for both the run and pass to compliment quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has already thrown for 4,415 yards. They like to run the ball and do so with Le’Veon Bell getting almost all the carries. Bell is also a gifted receiver, catching 76 passes on the season. Roethlisberger has four other very productive receivers he can throw to, led by wide receivers Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and rookie Martavis Bryant, along with veteran tight end Heath Miller. …Read More!

Field Goals, Snap Judgments & Stats/Post-Oakland

Ironic that Cairo Santos handled all the cold weather games the Chiefs have seen in the last month, the windy conditions and even moisture, without a problem. But get one of those rare December days at Arrowhead Stadium where it’s 60 degrees, and all the sudden the rookie kicker has problems.

Santos had hit 14 straight field goals until he missed from 44 yards on Sunday against Oakland. Before the day was over, he missed another one from 47 yards. In between he made a field goal from 41 yards.

Andy Reid says the problem may not be Santos, but the entire field goal chain of snapper Thomas Gafford and holder Dustin Colquitt.

“We’ve got to get that snap, hold, kick, that whole thing working a little smoother than what it is right now,” Reid said on Monday. “We were off just a tad and we have to get that thing back on track.”

Santos is now 17 of 21 on the season, 81 percent. He’s 5 of 8 (62.5%) between the 40 and 49-yard line. In today’s NFL, those are pedestrian results.

“As the snapper and holder you want to make sure you keep the kicker in rhythm and not allow that to be altered at all,” said Reid. “Then that kicker knows that not everyone is going to be perfect and he’s got to still strike the ball if it gets off rhythm a bit.”

The next game will provide a real test for Santos – Heinz Field in Pittsburgh is not kind to visiting kickers on field goals, especially those kicked in the open end of the field that looks out over the rivers. It’s always windy at that south end of the stadium. …Read More!

Notes, Quotes: Injuries, Link Gets Start & A Fake Punt?


From Arrowhead Stadium

The Chiefs had quite a few bumps and bruises coming out of Sunday’s game, although it did not appear that anything was in the category of serious.

Inside linebacker Josh Mauga left the game with an oblique strain (stomach). Head coach Andy Reid said they’ll have to evaluate him over the next several days as to his status for this coming Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.

Cornerback Sean Smith left the game because of cramps.

Defensive end Jaye Howard had a shoulder sprain but he went back in the game after being examined.

Outside linebacker Justin Houston briefly left the game in the second half after he was poked in the eye.

There were a lot of questions after the game about the condition of Jamaal Charles. He left the game in the third quarter after taking a big hit from Raiders safety Brandian Ross. Examined by the team’s medical staff, he was cleared to return to play. He went back in for one more snap, before Reid pulled him from the game.

“Yeah, I feel good,” Charles said after the game, where he talked more about his sore ankle than any possible concussion. “I just think I need to get off it and ice it and heal it and get it back right because it’s still tender.”

Link gets his first start with Chiefs

Offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach opened the game at left guard and took every snap in making his first start with the Chiefs. Mike McGlynn started at the spot for the 13 previous games, but nagging injuries and a drop in his play had the coaching staff making a change.

“You practice every week here as the starter,” Linkenbach said. “Everybody does so you are always prepared. Coach gave me a call and said ‘you’re going to go’ so I was ready to go and get a win.”

So how did he play?

“There are always a couple of plays you’d like to do over,” said Linkenbach. “One was a draw play where everyone was just a hair off. There is always room for improvement.”

Was it a fake punt, or not?

Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt looked like he was about to throw a pass in the second quarter.

Colquitt took the snap from Thomas Gafford and immediately set up like he was looking for somewhere to throw the ball in a fake punt. He then pulled the ball down and was still able to get off a punt that went 31 yards and bounced out of bounds at the Raiders 6-yard line.

So what happened? Was it a fake that broke down?

“I can’t answer that,” Colquitt said.

Head coach Andy Reid didn’t exactly shed any light on the subject when he was asked.

“He was just faking the fake,” Reid said.

What? No matter, Colquitt did not have a big yardage day punting the ball, averaging 39.9 yards on seven punts. His net average was 36.9 yards, due mostly to a touchback. But he did put five balls inside the 20-yard line and got off a 62-yard punt in his first kick of the game that immediately turned the field position.

Tough day for rookie kicker

Cairo Santos had a rough day, missing two of his three field goal tries. He was good from 41 yards, but missed wide left from 44 and 47 yards. It ended a streak of 14 consecutive field goals for the rookie kicker.

Santos had a good day on his kickoffs, hitting five of his six into the end zone. Three never game back out. The other two were returned to the 18 and 24-yard lines. His first kickoff landed at the Raiders 3-yard line and was returned to the Oakland 27.

What they had to say

Raiders safety Charles Woodson: “I think we failed to rise to the occasion this week. We had a great team victory last week (over San Francisco). Today we didn’t rise to the occasion. I give credit to Kansas City regardless of what we did. When you get beat in all phases of the game, that’s kind of what happens.”

Chiefs outside linebacker Frank Zombo on his recovery of a fumbled snap by Raiders QB Derek Carr: “I just walked back to the sideline and everyone’s laughing and telling me I’m living right. I’m in there for one play and I come up with a fumble recovery. I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck: “We were in the game, it was 10-6, 3rd-and-9 and they made a play. On the next drive, they made another play. That’s how it goes in this game. You can’t relax. You can’t let up at all. It’s such a fine line between wins and losses in a game. If we could have four plays back in the third quarter, it’s a totally different game. But it’s not. We have to find a way to play more consistent football and we didn’t do that today.”

Chiefs safety Ron Parker on the Chiefs defense holding the Raiders to five conversions on 18 third down plays: “A good defense can find a way to get off the field on third down. We were challenged all week in practice just to get off the field on third down because the last time we played Oakland we kind of struggled getting off on third down.”

Personnel report

The inactive players for the Chiefs against the Raiders were quarterback Aaron Murray (coach’s decision), wide receiver Donnie Avery (coach’s decision), cornerback Phillip Gaines (concussion), center Eric Kush (coach’s decision), guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (coach’s decision), tight end Richard Gordon (coach’s decision) and defensive Allen Bailey (concussion.)

Jeff Linkenbach started at left guard for the first time this season, replacing Mike McGlynn who opened the first 13 games at the position. McGlynn was the only Chiefs player that was active that did not play. At left cornerback, Jamell Fleming started for Gaines. The Chiefs opened in the nickel, so Kurt Coleman gets credit for a start as well. Joe Mays picked up his second straight start at inside linebacker. Also, Vance Walker got the start at right defensive end, replacing Bailey.

The inactive players for the Raiders against the Chiefs were quarterback Matt McGloin (coach’s decision), tight end Brian Leonhardt (concussion), wide receiver Denarius Moore (knee/ankle), linebacker Sio Moore (hip), offensive tackle Menelik Watson (foot), guard Tony Bergstrom (coach’s decision) and defensive tackle Stacy McGee (coach’s decision.)

The Raiders made several roster moves on Saturday, promoting safety Ras-I Dowling and linebacker Bojay Filimoeatu from the practice squad. They placed safety Larry Asante on the injured-reserve list because of a shoulder injury. Both Dowling and Filimoeatu were active and played against the Chiefs.

Notes on notes

The Chiefs have allowed only two rushing touchdowns this season. The NFL record for fewest rush TDs allowed in a season is two, set by four different teams: 1934 Detroit Lions, 1944 New York Giants, 1968 Dallas Cowboys and the 1971 Minnesota Vikings. All four of those teams played 14 games or less . . . in the last three games, the Chiefs defense has not allowed an opponent to complete more than 50 percent of his passes. Oakland’s Derek Carr hit on 48 percent . . . De’Anthony Thomas’ 81-yard TD was the 12th longest punt return score in club history . . . with his sack, Justin Houston passed former Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen on the club’s sack list. Houston has 43.5 sacks, while Allen had 43 during his time with the Chiefs . . . WR Dwayne Bowe caught three passes for 69 yards and passed the 7,000-yard mark for his career. Bowe now has 7,068 yards, ranking third in club history behind Tony Gonzalez and Otis Taylor. He’s only the third Chiefs receiver to top the 7,000-yard mark. Bowe did it in 116 games, fewer than Taylor (122) and Gonzalez (129.)

Keys To A Chiefs Victory Over Raiders/Recap

Four

Jump on Raiders early and make the crowd a factor

The Raiders beat the Chiefs in a game where emotions were high in Oakland with a national TV game and a division rival in house. They picked up the victory. A week later, they went to St. Louis with no emotional element and got blasted 52-0 by the Rams. Now last week, the Raiders got excited about another game, beating their Bay Area rival San Francisco 49ers by 11 points. What does all that tell you? The Raiders are up and down when it comes to emotions of the day. Despite losing 52-0, Oakland has kept the games close when they’ve been on the road. In the previous five games where they traveled, they lost by an average of seven points. That includes losing by seven points in New England and San Diego and by six points in Seattle. The question is will there be any reason for the Raiders to be emotional on this Sunday. The Chiefs need to quickly douse any fire that begins to burn on the Oakland sideline. Jump on them early and bring the crowd into the game. It’s the Raiders, they’ll make mistakes.

OUTCOME: With De’Anthony Thomas’ 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, that’s just what the Chiefs did on Sunday. They got ahead of the Raiders and stayed there, finishing them off in the third quarter with three touchdowns. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Three

Make the Raiders rookie quarterback look like a rookie

Derek Carr has not been a game-winner for the Raiders, but he’s also not lost games with typical rookie quarterback mistakes. He’s been helped by pass protection that has allowed only 16 of him in 489 passing plays, or once every 30.6 times he drops back to pass. Alex Smith would be leading the NFL passing stats with protection that good. The Chiefs defense must find a way to dent that rush, and force Carr into positions where he’s uncomfortable. He’s been coached to stay in the pocket, so if the Chiefs can plaster coverage on receivers down the field, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dontari Poe should be able to find him.

OUTCOME: Carr completed only 48 percent of his 56 passes; there’s no way the Raiders are going to win a game with a rookie quarterback throwing 56 times. He deserves credit for not throwing any balls to the Chiefs, but Bob Sutton’s defensive game plan threw different personnel groups at Carr and the Raiders offense struggled. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Two

Score multiple touchdowns on offense

Only three times in 13 games have the Chiefs been able to score more than 24 points. They have not done so in the last seven games. The Raiders on the other hand are just two weeks removed from allowing 52 points to St. Louis; in six of 13 games Oakland has given up 30 points or more. But twice in the last four games they’ve allowed just 13 points in losing to San Diego and beating San Francisco last week. A year ago, the Chiefs beat the Raiders in Oakland by scoring 56 points. The Chiefs have averaged just 19.2 points per game in their last six outings, where they posted a 3-3 record. They need to start making the scoreboard sing.

OUTCOME: Three touchdowns is not exactly an offensive explosion, unless the team is the Chiefs of the last month. With three offensive scores in the third quarter, the Chiefs were able to build the lead and assure the outcome early. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

One

Stop the Oakland run game before it gets started

The Raiders running game has not really bothered any other opponent this year save the Chiefs. In the first game between the teams a month ago, Oakland racked up 179 rushing yards, only the third time in 13 games that they were able to top the 100-yard mark. In the two games since beating the Chiefs, the Raiders have run for a combined 146 yards. This is a spot where the Chiefs defense needs to stand up and dominate the line of scrimmage. They got cracked for a 90-yard run by Latavius Murray; in this game, they need to keep the entire Raiders run game under 90 yards.

OUTCOME: The Chiefs defense was not so good against the Oakland run game in the first half. That’s when the Raiders wanted to run the ball and Latavius Murray got them for a 25-yard play and in the first two quarters, Oakland ran the ball better than the Chiefs. Ultimately, because of the big lead built in the third quarter, the Raiders went away from the run game. PUSH.

Chiefs Defense Comes Up Big Against Raiders

From Arrowhead Stadium

When the Chiefs and Raiders played back on November 20th in Oakland, the home team racked up 351 yards in offense, including 172 rushing yards in a 24-20 victory.

Things were quite different on Sunday at Arrowhead. Quite different:

  • The Raiders gained 280 yards on the afternoon, including just 78 rushing yards. They averaged 3.6 yards per play.
  • Oakland had 16 possessions, and 12 of those lasted less than two minutes on the game clock.
  • On eight of those possessions, they gained minus-6, minus-3, 0, 0, 2, 2, 3 and 4 yards.
  • Before they scored on their final possession, the Raiders reached Chiefs territory only three out of 15 possessions. One of those came on a fumble by Travis Kelce that gave Oakland the ball at the K.C. 15-yard line.

“I thought the guys played downhill, aggressive (football),” said head coach Andy Reid. “I was impressed by the fundamentals of squeezing gaps and when you see it you attack and hit it. I don’t think there was any hesitation there.”

Quarterback Derek Carr deserves kudos from throwing the ball 56 times, and not throwing an interception. He completed just 48 percent of his passes and averaged only 3.9 yards per attempt. Carr was sacked four times and hit a total of 11 times by the pass rush.

“That’s a good, young quarterback,” Reid said of Carr. “I thought Bob (Sutton) had a phenomenal game plan. You saw Carr versus teams that weren’t able to get pressure on him, and he gashed them. He’s got a big arm and very poised for a young guys. The design of Bob’s defense there, I though was point on.”

Sutton had his defense in several different looks throughout the day to keep the rookie quarterback and his offensive line guessing:

– Nickel (3-3-5) – Safety Kurt Coleman came on the field, with inside linebacker Joe Mays going off.

– Dime (2-3-6) – One of the defensive ends came off the field and cornerback Chris Owens came on the field.

– XLB (1-4-6) – The other defensive end comes off, leaving only Dontari Poe on the defensive line with outside linebacker Dee Ford joining Houston, Hali and Josh Mauga on the field.

– XLB-7 (0-4-7) – All the defensive linemen came off the field and outside linebacker Dee Ford and safety Kelcie McCray come into the game.

The majority of the defensive snaps had the Chiefs in the dime, as Owens grabbed the slot receiver in coverage and safeties Husain Abdullah and Ron Parker played close to the line of scrimmage, with Coleman playing deep.

When the Chiefs ended up building the big lead in the third quarter, the Raiders decided to throw the ball in a failed attempt to get back in the game. From the point they went down 31-6, Oakland ran just three times after that for eight yards.

The ball was in Carr’s hands and until the Raiders final possession the Chiefs defense had the upper hand. But Carr hooked up with wide receiver Andre Holmes for a 33-yard pass play against cornerback Marcus Cooper that set up the Raiders only touchdown with 34 seconds to play.

“For all the guys that put in work pass rushing and trying to get to the quarterback, this is what we look forward to,” said outside linebacker Tamba Hali. “Guys like Donald (Dee) Ford. His name is Donald; and Josh Martin, Justin all of those guys they love rushing and that’s all we want. We want to get these quarterbacks in these types of situations so we can rush and see how good we can be from a rushing standpoint.”

But the big difference for the Chiefs defense remained stopping the run. Latavius Murray gashed them for 25 yards in the first half, but other than that, the Raiders found little room to move on the ground. They had 53 yards on the 16 other carries.

The Chiefs know they are going to have to stop the run of the Steelers and their feature back Le’Veon Bell.

“We have to continue to prove and build on confidence each week by stopping the run,” said Hali. “Going in there, we know this team runs the ball. They do play action off it, but we’ve got to go in there with the same mentality, to do whatever it takes to win the game.”

Wraps Are Slowly Coming Off DAT


From Arrowhead Stadium

With the small slices of speed that he displayed back five months ago in the pre-season, Chiefs fans have been waiting for an explosion from rookie De’Anthony Thomas.

It came on Sunday against the Raiders when Thomas got away from the Oakland punt coverage team and ran 81 yards for his first return touchdown in the NFL. He ran 81 yards untouched as his blocking was so good he caught the punt and simply had to take off running.

The problem for Oakland is Thomas runs fast and he showed that speed as he went flying up the left sideline and was not slowed at any point. Only punter Marquette King had a shot at him, but teammate Junior Hemingway was running escort for Thomas and there was no contact.

“I was like, ‘Oh, here he goes’,” said Hemingway. “I had to make sure to lead him home to the end zone. For him to get in there now, that’s big. I felt he needed that; we needed that as a team. It was big.”

It was big for Thomas, who ended up having the second best punt returning day in Chiefs history with his 156 yards on eight punt returns, a 19.5-yard average. Only Dexter McCluster (177 yards in 2013) had a better punt return game.

“The guys up front held those gunners down,” Thomas said. “It was all those guys. I didn’t have to do much except run. There were some very good blocks.”

One came from safety Kelcie Martin who took out the gunner on the right side of the Raiders punt team. Safety Daniel Sorensen had a nice block, but the big one came from fullback Anthony Sherman, who knocked a Raiders cover man out of the running lane and Thomas was gone. Hemingway and linebacker Josh Martin provided the escort to the end zone.

“We all felt like it was time for one; we finally got it,” Hemingway said, echoing the words of special teams coordinator Dave Toub who said during the past week that the punt return team was close to breaking something. “That puts it out there in the NFL that special teams, especially punt returner, we can make it happen. Everybody is going to be looking out, so that puts the whole league on alert.”

Thomas has had his moments when he’s been back returning punts, including a disaster minus 12-yard return in Oakland against the Raiders. He’s let balls bounce when he should have caught them. He’s caught balls when he should have let them go.

Through it all, Toub and Andy Reid stayed patient for reasons like what happened against the Raiders on Sunday.

“I’ve been learning,” Thomas said. “I’ve been learning the whole season. It’s to the point where I’m starting to get a feel of it. I’m just excited to be back there and have an opportunity to catch punts for this team and just set the tone. I want to go out there, make plays and get our team going.”

Coming into the game, the Raiders were quite aware of the return possibilities that the Chiefs present with Thomas and running back Knile Davis on kickoff returns. They prepped for coverage, but they were not able to stymie Thomas the entire game. His first punt return went for 22 yards, and then he hit the 81-yard touchdown.

“We knew that was the key to the game, was their return game,” said Oakland head coach Tony Sparano. “I said that was an advantage for them on paper and it was clearly an advantage today.”

Thomas had returns of 81, 22, 22, 13, 13, 5 and two returns with no yardage.

“We knew we had to have a great day on special teams today,” said Thomas. “I feel like we did real well. I feel like we can get a lot better.”

Help From All 3 Phases Breaks Chiefs Losing Streak


From Arrowhead Stadium

There’s a sure fire way to cure a losing streak – a winning performance in every phase of the game.

That’s what the Chiefs got on Sunday at Arrowhead, when they turned a close game at half-time into a 31-13 rout of the Oakland Raiders, ending their losing streak and keeping alive hopes of making the field for the AFC playoffs with their 8-6 record.

To do that, they’ll have to beat both Pittsburgh and San Diego in the final two weeks. For that to happen, they must have effort and production similar to what they had against the Raiders when they scored on offense and special teams, and the defense kept the Oakland offense bottled up and out of the end zone until the final minute of the game.

“We had too many penalties (11) but there was positive production out of all three phases,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “We haven’t been able to say that the last couple weeks.”

Early in the third quarter, the Chiefs held a 10-6 lead, but then scored three touchdowns in 4 minutes, 42 seconds of the game clock with quarterback Alex Smith throwing a pair of scoring passes, including a 70-yarder to running back Knile Davis. Meanwhile, the Chiefs defense stepped up and kept the Raiders bottled up in their own end of the field for most of the game.

“I applaud our guys effort, but you can’t do the things our guys did to keep (their) drives alive,” said Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano of his 2-12 team. “Field position was critical; we started in our end of the field quite a bit.”

Smith threw for 297 yards, completing passes to 10 different receivers, including the third-quarter scoring tosses of 20 yards to tight end Travis Kelce and 70 yards to Davis. The Chiefs normally quiet passing game had completions of 70, 48 and 37 yards as Smith took advantage of Oakland’s aggressive defense.

“If they’re going to challenge you like that, to sit and squat, you have to be able to show them you’ll do it,” Smith said of throwing downfield. “You have to be effective down there.”

Under intense pressure all afternoon, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw 56 passes, completing 27, but only two went for more than 20 yards and he was sacked four times.

“They were throwing the ball and we like that,” said outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who had one of the four sacks. “We know we can rush the passer. Where we have to be better is stopping the run, but even early they seemed to want to throw the ball. That was okay with us.”

The only touchdown of the first half came from the Chiefs special teams, as rookie returner De’Anthony Thomas caught a kick from Raiders punter Marquette King and ran 81 yards for a touchdown without a single Oakland player touching him. It was the first return touchdown of Thomas’ career and the second return score on special teams for the Chiefs this season.

“It just opened right up,” said Thomas. “That’s my guys blocking. They did a great job.”

A Cairo Santos’ field goal later gave the Chiefs a 10-0 lead, before the Raiders got on the board with the final play of the first half, when kicker Sebastian Janikowski connected on a 53-yard field goal that capped a 10-play, 45-yard drive by the Oakland offense that used just 59 seconds on the clock.

The Chiefs had a 10-3 lead at the intermission and there was some frustration with missed opportunities, especially on the offensive side.

“We were so close,” said Reid. “There were so many things in the first half that we were just a hair off.”

Early in the second half, Kelce fumbled the ball into the air where it was grabbed by Oakland defensive lineman C.J. Wilson and returned 21 yards to the Chiefs 15-yard line. Kansas City’s defense held, and Janikowski made a 33-yard field goal to pull the Raiders within four points.

But the Chiefs came right back and finally produced an offensive touchdown, traveling 70 yards on nine plays before Davis scored on a 3-yard run for the 17-6 lead. Kansas City was helped by two Oakland penalties, including a 15-yard roughing the passer call against defensive end Justin Tuck.

Kansas City pushed its lead to 24-6 after Carr fumbled a snap from center and Chiefs outside linebacker Frank Zombo recovered the ball. Two plays later, Smith connected with Kelce on a 20-yard touchdown pass and run where the big tight end broke two tackles to reach the end zone.

The Chiefs got the third touchdown on a five-yard pass from Smith to Davis that he carried another 65 yards for a score and a 31-6 Kansas City lead that they milked for the rest of the game.

“In the second half there were some clear situations where Oakland was beating Oakland,” said Sparano. “We had some penalties … we fumbled the center-quarterback exchange and then they hit us on a big play.”

The only Raiders touchdown came in the last minute of the game when Carr connected with wide receiver James Jones for a 1-yard scoring play.

Now, the Chiefs must get ready to head off to Pittsburgh for next Sunday’s game against the 9-5 Steelers. To remain a factor for the AFC playoffs, the Chiefs must perform at Heinz Field like they did against Oakland.

“This was not a statement game; there are no such things as non-statement wins — you either win in the NFL or you don’t,” said right tackle Ryan Harris. “Today, we won and we won with our backs against the wall. To accomplish what we set out to accomplish this year, we’re going to have to continue to do that.”

4 Keys To Winning For the Chiefs vs. Oakland

   

Four

Jump on Raiders early and make the crowd a factor

The Raiders beat the Chiefs in a game where emotions were high in Oakland with a national TV game and a division rival in house. They picked up the victory. A week later, they went to St. Louis with no emotional element and got blasted 52-0 by the Rams. Now last week, the Raiders got excited about another game, beating their Bay Area rival San Francisco 49ers by 11 points. What does all that tell you? The Raiders are up and down when it comes to emotions of the day. Despite losing 52-0, Oakland has kept the games close when they’ve been on the road. In the previous five games where they traveled, they lost by an average of seven points. That includes losing by seven points in New England and San Diego and by six points in Seattle. The question is will there be any reason for the Raiders to be emotional on this Sunday. The Chiefs need to quickly douse any fire that begins to burn on the Oakland sideline. Jump on them early and bring the crowd into the game. It’s the Raiders, they’ll make mistakes.

…Read More!

Officials Preview: Jerome Boger & Crew

It’s referee Jerome Boger and his crew for Sunday’s game between the Chiefs and Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

Whether that’s good or bad for either team remains to be seen, but Boger’s crew always seems to attract controversy. One reason may be how busy they are throwing the penalty flag.

So far in 13 games, they have thrown an average of 17.5 flags per game, and they’ve walked off 14 of those penalties for an average of 120 yards per game. All those numbers make them the third busiest crew in the league this season. …Read More!

Weak WRs Group Allows Avant To Rise To The Top

How weak and shallow is the Chiefs depth chart at wide receiver?

In the past two weeks, the team’s leading receiver has been Jason Avant, who was not even with the team when they started their current three-game losing streak back on a Thursday night in Oakland.

Two games, targeted 11 times, Avant has caught seven passes for 94 yards. Those are the type of numbers that good receivers in the NFL put up in one game. With the Chiefs, it’s the best two-game receiving performance by a wide receiver in those two games. In fact, it’s not even close; rookie Albert Wilson had four catches for 53 yards against Arizona and in two games Dwayne Bowe had four catches for 47 yards.

Avant has contributed more than just a handful of catches. Against the Cardinals, his blocks sprung Jamaal Charles for both of his touchdowns.

“They were both sprung by him,” said Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. “He knows it. He gets it. He understands his role and that’s key.”

His role is to provide contributions in both the pass and run games. Avant’s background with Andy Reid in Philadelphia prepared him for what would be asked of him as a blocker, so there was no transition there.

“That’s part of the role for receivers in this offense,” Avant said. “Everybody here does it.”

Few do it as well as Avant did last Sunday in Arizona. …Read More!

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Raiders

The first time these teams met, the Chiefs dominated the tale of the tape, lining up with an edge in 10 of 11 categories.

There’s been some re-evaluation since then, based on the Chiefs three-game losing streak and the Raiders victory against the Chiefs back on November 20th in Oakland. The Chiefs still have the edge on paper in seven of the 11 areas of discussion. The Raiders are tops in four categories and very close in two others.

Here’s this week’s tale of the tape: …Read More!

What You Need To Know About The Oakland Raiders

Raiders fullback Marcel Reece reached the end zone last Sunday in Oakland’s victory over San Francisco

Record – The Raiders are hot right now – for the Raiders. They’ve won two of their last three games, including that 24-20 victory over the Chiefs on Thursday night, November 20th in Oakland. They followed that with an embarrassing 52-0 loss to St. Louis, but bounced back with a 24-13 upset of San Francisco last Sunday. The victories now have the Raiders at 2-11 on the season, tied with Jacksonville, the New York Jets, Tampa Bay and Tennessee for the worst records in the league.

Season story – There was a common denominator in the two victories by the Raiders – emotion. They were playing in a national TV game against their long-time rival in the Chiefs when they earned victory No. 1. They beat their Bay Area neighbors last Sunday for a second winning performance. Emotion ebbs and flows with the Raiders and based on their record it’s apparent the feelings haven’t been flowing all season. Opening the season 0-10 cost head coach Dennis Allen his job after four games. He was replaced by Tony Sparano, the club’s offensive line coach. There’s been a lot of focus on young quarterback Derek Carr, who has had a solid rookie season with 17 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, while completing 60.5 percent of his throws. One major reason for that is good pass protection, as he’s been sacked 16 times, ranking No. 5 in the league for fewest sacks allowed. Defense has been solid, but unspectacular, producing only 28 big plays (takeaways & sacks.) They’ve lost three key players in their secondary to the injured-reserve list – safeties Tyvon Branch and Usama Young and cornerback Carlos Rogers. …Read More!

The Position Dragging Down the Chiefs: Wide Receiver

Frankie Hammond (85), Jason Avant (81) and Albert Wilson (12) haven’t been able to jump start the wide receiver position

It’s not true that the Chiefs are without a wide receiver on their roster with a touchdown catch this season.

Jason Avant caught a 14-yard touchdown pass back on September 14th against Detroit. Of course, he was a member of the Carolina Panthers at the time he pulled in that throw from quarterback Cam Newton in the Panthers 24-7 victory.

That no Chiefs wide receiver has carried the ball into the end zone has become that point of fact to illustrate the team’s troubles recently in losing three straight games and leaving themselves on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. It’s a story that Andy Reid and Alex Smith are tired of hearing about, yet it’s now 13 games without one of them making sure the scoring drought came to an end for their wide receivers.

Since late in the first quarter of the Chiefs victory over the Washington Redskins on December 8, 2013, Smith and Chase Daniel have thrown 488 passes without hooking up with a wide receiver for a touchdown. Now, that does not count the loss to Indianapolis in the first-round of the AFC playoffs back in early January. In that game, Smith connected with both Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery for touchdown passes in the first half.

So that’s 488 straight throws in the regular season that did not lead a Chiefs wide receiver to the end zone. Its uncharted territory in the league, but it’s hardly a surprise given the depth chart at the position. Even had one of the receivers actually reached the end zone this season, it would not wipe away the fact the Chiefs went into training camp, the pre-season and then the regular season without enough talent on the roster at the position. …Read More!

Chiefs Make Practice Squad Moves

It wouldn’t be another week of the NFL season without the Chiefs making changes on their practice squad.

Gone are guard Jarrod Pughsley and linebacker Ja’Gared Davis. In are offensive tackle Curtis Feigt and linebacker JoJo Dickson.

Pughsley and Feigt have been doing the practice squad pogo ride for the last month, back and forth on the practice squad. Generally this is used as a way of keeping another body tied up and compensated under the salary cap.

Davis was with the team for two weeks but was signed to the 53-man roster by Washington on Monday. Replacing him is Dickson, a 25-year old linebacker out of the University of Idaho who has spent time with Jacksonville, Cleveland, the New York Jets and Arizona. The 6-1, 245-pound native of Hawai’i originally signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2011.

He spent the 2014 pre-season with Arizona he played in three games with two tackles and a sack.

Column: Chiefs Pain Self-Inflicted In Arizona

In the 29 previous games where he’s been the head coach of the Chiefs, Andy Reid has seldom shown the media any sort of real unhappiness or anger. A smirk here, a mumble there, but Reid is a veteran at hiding his true feelings.

That changed a bit Sunday evening at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, after the Chiefs lost their third straight, falling 17-14 to the Cardinals.

Just about any coach in any sport at one time or another will say to their players – “if you want to win this game, we have to be better than the other team and . . . we have to be better than the officials.”

That might be something Reid says on Monday when the Chiefs gather to dissect the events and outcome of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. It was the subject of officiating that raised Reid’s blood pressure a bit in the desert dome.

“I can’t comment on the officials,” Reid said after the game when asked about two officiating decisions that wiped out a Chiefs touchdown and another possession in the fourth quarter when the offense was driving for what could have been the tying or winning points. “We all have to do our jobs and do it to the best of our ability.”

The questions continued about the offensive pass interference call against Anthony Fasano and the supposed fumble by Travis Kelce, but Reid couldn’t continue to try to talk around the matter.

“Go on to something besides the officials,” Reid said. “I don’t have anything good to say.”

Reid has not had to make many references to the NFL officials this season; for the most part they were quiet factors in the team’s first dozen games. It was not so much in Game No. 13. Referee Craig Wrolstad and his crew made decisions that will hover above the history of this single game for many seasons to come. They may have sunk what were already declining post-season chances for Reid’s team.

The reality of the situation is that the Chiefs problems against the Cardinals were not the doing of the zebras, no matter how shaky the striped shirts might have been at times Sunday afternoon. No, the biggest culprit for the loss is the man in the mirror. A third straight loss had more to do with what the Chiefs did not do, rather than what the officials took away from them. Bad decisions? The Chiefs had more of those than the officiating crew produced.

They had a 14-6 half-time lead and could not reach the end zone again. They did not score another point in the second half. Well, they did have a touchdown that the officials snuffed out on a shaky offensive pass interference call against Fasano; he caught what was signaled as a 19-yard touchdown, but the play became a 10-yard penalty.

That does not explain why Alex Smith threw an interception on the next play and the Cardinals turned that momentum into their only touchdown of the game. That score came on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Arizona quarterback Drew Stanton to wide receiver Jaron Brown where safety Ron Parker couldn’t get the job done on coverage and got no help from safety Kelcie McCray in the Chiefs dime defensive package.

This wasn’t Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas – this was journeyman Drew Stanton and unknown rookie Jaron Brown, a guy that had 19 catches in the season’s first 12 games.

It’s darn near impossible in the NFL to win on Sunday when you can’t score more than 14 points. There are those odd moments in a season where teams lock up in a defensive struggle. Among all the previous games played this season through this week’s schedule of games, there were four winning teams that scored 13 or 14 points: Seattle beat Carolina 13-9; St. Louis topped San Francisco 13-10; Arizona beat Detroit 14-6 and just last weekend, Cincinnati grabbed a 14-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

That was four times in 192 games, or 2 percent of the time.

Right now, the Chiefs offense can barely find the end zone. They’ve scored 50 points in the three games of their losing streak, and officiating interference or not, they are not going to be able to compete at the highest levels of the league scoring 14 points, or the 16.7-point average they have for the last three games.

Andy Reid’s offense appears to be out of synch. Offensive line play continues to deteriorate, as they allowed five sacks to the Cardinals. The run game produced the 63-yard run by Jamaal Charles but little else. Charles and other running backs had 12 carries for 37 yards in their other opportunities.

In the passing game, the attention continues to rightfully fall on tight end Travis Kelce, but the Chiefs two leading wide receivers against the Cardinals were Jason Avant (5 for 64 yards) and rookie Albert Wilson (4 for 53 yards). Where the heck were Dwayne Bowe (2 for 29) and Donnie Avery? Reportedly, Avery was dressed for the game and he was not part of any post-game injury accounting by the head coach. It appears he’s been forgotten.

For all the talk about getting De’Anthony Thomas more opportunities to use his explosive talents in the offense, he had just three touches that produced 11 yards. Knile Davis is not a factor of any kind in the offense (4 touches, 3 yards.)

The Chiefs defense allowed 17 points. That performance should have been enough for a victory, but it was not thanks to a struggling offense and some guys in striped shirts that made some questionable decisions.

Chiefs-Cardinals Pre-Game/Inactives – December 7

2:35 p.m. CST – Enjoy the game, we’ll have coverage afterwards of the Chiefs and Cardinals!

2:30 p.m. CST – Per kcchiefs.com, serving as team captains for the Chiefs today will be running back Jamaal Charles, fullback Anthony Sherman and outside linebacker Tamba Hali.

2:25 p.m. CST – If the outcome of this game remains in doubt until the fourth quarter, it will make for an interesting situation as to who has the advantage on past performances. The Chiefs lead the league in point-differential in the final quarter at plus-61, but the Cardinals are right behind at plus-59. Arizona has allowed only 40 points in the final 15 minutes, the lowest total in the league. The Chiefs have given up 41 points, ranked as the No. 2 fourth-quarter defense.

2:20 p.m. CST – Starting lineup changes due to inactive players for both teams. With the Chiefs, it’s likely to be Vance Walker stepping into the first snap role with Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard on the defensive line. Kevin Vickerson will see plenty of snaps as well. For the Cardinals, last year’s first-round draft choice Jonathan Cooper will open at left guard, with Ted Larsen moving over to right guard to fill Paul Fanaika’s spot. With starting running back Andre Ellington out of the action, Stephan Taylor is expected to start but rookie Marion Grice will see playing time and touches.

2:15 p.m. CST – In just less than two months now, Super Bowl XLIX will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, right where the Chiefs and Cardinals will play today. It will be the second Super Bowl at the building, as XLII was played on site between the New York Giants and New England Patriots at the end of the 2007 season. The $450 million stadium opened in 2006.

2:05 p.m. CST – The Cardinals shuffled their roster a bit on Friday, releasing running back Michael Bush and tight end Matthew Mulligan. In those roster spots they activated linebacker Matt Shaughnessy from the injured reserve/designated for return list. They also promoted running back Kerwynn Williams from practice squad.

2 p.m. CST – Add Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians to the big group on his team wearing No. 29 t-shirts during the warmup period. Well over a dozen players and now Arians sending their best thoughts to Eric Berry.

1:55 p.m. CST – The Cardinals have a 6-0 record at home so far this season, one of five teams in the league that has not lost at home. The others are Denver, New England, Green Bay and Philadelphia. With one more home victory, the Cardinals will rack up the franchise’s first seven-win home season since 1925 when the Chicago Cardinals won 11 games.

1:50 p.m. CST – Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is active and expected to play against the Chiefs after missing the last two games due to sprained MCL in his right knee. He remains the team’s leading receiver with 46 catches for 658 yards, but only two touchdown catches.

1:45 p.m. CST – Give it up to Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, showing his support for Chiefs safety Eric Berry in pre-game warmups.

1:40 p.m. CST – Reaction to inactive players for Chiefs-Cardinals: no surprises in the seven players watching the game for the Chiefs; it was a predictable group. No surprises with Arizona either, although they had a tough go without starting running back Andre Ellington, who could best be called a Jamaal Charles-lite. Ellington had 247 touches out of 733 snaps for the Cardinals offense, or 34 percent of the chances. In comparison, Charles has 27 percent of the offensive chances (192 touches in 719 snaps).

1:36 p.m. CST – The inactive players for the Cardinals against the Chiefs in today’s game are safety Tyrann Mathieu, running back Andre Ellington, defensive tackle Ed Stinson, right guard Paul Fanaika, DT Alameda Ta’amu, OL Anthony Steen, DE Kareem Martin.

1:33 p.m. CST – The inactive players for the Chiefs against the Cardinals in today’s game are quarterback Aaron Murray, cornerback Jamell Fleming, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Durvernay-Tardif, tight end Richard Gordon, wide receiver Junior Hemingway, defensive end Allen Bailey.

1:30 p.m. CST – It’s the Chiefs and Cardinals Sunday afternoon at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, just northwest of downtown Phoenix. We’ll bring you all the news from the desert, including the inactive players that are just minutes away from being announced.

Dee Ford’s Rookie Season Not 1st-Round Quality

As the first-round selection of the Chiefs in the 2014 NFL Draft much is expected from linebacker Dee Ford in what the team believes will be a productive career.

Those expectations have not borne initial fruit. With two Pro Bowlers ahead of him on the depth chart, nobody was expecting the Auburn University product to become an immediate starter. A quick contributor was a status of another matter. Given the amount of tinkering defensive coordinator Bob Sutton did in training camp and the pre-season with Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Ford on the field together, Ford figured to have a lot of plays in him for this rookie season.

It has not worked out that way, not even close. With 75 percent of the season past, Ford has been a ghost on the playing field for the Chiefs. Defensively, the Chiefs have faced 764 snaps from opposing offenses; Ford has been on the field for 50 of those, or just less than 7 percent of the plays.

Combined with 73 snaps from special teams, and Ford has been on the field for 123 plays. With the Chiefs having played close to 1,800 plays so far on offense, defense and in the kicking game, that’s 7 percent of the snaps. …Read More!

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals have a 9-3 record that’s two games better than the 7-5 Chiefs. But when you break down these two teams on paper, there’s not a lot of real difference between the two at important positions and coaching. The Chiefs have an offensive edge; the Cardinals have better defensive groups. It figures to make for an interesting Sunday afternoon at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale

Here’s how the teams break down on paper for this week’s tale of the tape: …Read More!

What You Need To Know About . . . Arizona Cardinals

Former Pitt State WR John Brown has been a big addition to Arizona’s offense in his rookie season.

Record – They are leading the NFC West at 9-3 after opening with three straight, then a loss followed by a six-game winning streak and now they’ve lost back-to-back games. In the last two games they were outscored 48-21 by Seattle and Atlanta. Their most recent victory came in the middle of November when they beat Detroit 14-6. They are 6-0 at home on the season and 2-1 against the AFC West.

Season story – A long string of injuries have made the season difficult for the Cardinals, but they have been able to achieve success despite losing key performers, including starting quarterback Carson Palmer who was lost in game against St. Louis with a torn ACL. In six Palmer starts, Arizona was 6-0 and he threw 11 touchdown passes against three interceptions. The other six starts belong to Drew Stanton, with a 3-3 record, six TD passes and five INTs. Defense has been the engine for the Birds season, allowing more than 20 points just twice and holding five teams to 14 points or less.

Standing in the league – the Cardinals are No. 23 in offensive yards per game, 31st in the run game and 13th in the passing game. They are No. 13 in yards allowed on defense, 6th against the run and 27th vs. the pass. They are plus-8 in the turnover ratio and among the most sure-handed teams, losing just 5 fumbles on the season. Arizona has allowed 224 points, tied with the Chiefs for fourth fewest in the league after 12 games. …Read More!

Chiefs-Broncos Sunday Night Pre-Game


From Arrowhead Stadium

7 p.m. – It’s just about 30 minutes away from kickoff for the Chiefs and Broncos. Our post-game coverage will begin in the hours immediately after the game and run through the night and into the morning – for as long as we can see the computer screen to type. Comeback for all the info and enjoy the game.

6:55 p.m. – For what it’s worth: neither starting quarterback is wearing a glove on his right hand during the warmup period. It will be interesting to see if that lasts into the game. It’s not wet, but it’s cold.

6:50 p.m. – Both teams are on the field for their warm-up periods but unlike most weeks, there is little in the way of fraternizing between the teams. Other than the punting Colquitt brothers, there has not been much in the way of the ‘Hi, how are you?’ greetings. That tells you something about the importance of the game. Update: Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio wandered over to share a few words with Reid.

6:45 p.m. – The Chiefs have not yet announced officially who will start at left cornerback with Ron Parker moving to safety, but expect rookie Phillip Gaines to get the call. With veteran cornerback Chris Owens active and ready to fill the slot position, Gaines will likely get the call to go head-to-head against Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders.

6:40 p.m. – A few minutes ago, the early arriving crowd in the stadium showered the field with boos, but there was not a single Broncos player on the grass. The catcalls were all directed at Denver general manager John Elway; he has to be the only league G.M. that gets that kind of reaction at Arrowhead or other stadiums of the AFC West.

6:35 p.m. – With starting left cornerback Aqib Talib out of action for the game because of a hamstring injury, rookie Bradley Roby is expected to move into the starting lineup for the Broncos defense. Expect Chris Harris to play the nickel back role, including lining up a great deal on Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Denver was able to cover Bowe effectively for the last several years by putting now retired Champ Bailey on him man-to-man.

6:30 p.m. – Connor Barth was signed in the last week to take over the Broncos kicking duties. He began his NFL career with the Chiefs in 2008, replacing Nick Novak at mid-season. He ended up kicking in one of the coldest games ever played at Arrowhead, making a 27-yard field goal in wind-chill conditions of minus-12 degrees in a December loss to Miami. The week before in wind-chill conditions of the mid 20s, he missed field goals of 34 and 50 yards against San Diego. In his pre-game warmup session, he was well short from 53 yards.

6:25 p.m. – In his pre-game kicking session, Cairo Santos had some inconsistency kicking towards the east goal posts, where he appeared to be dealing with a strong crosswind over his right shoulder. He made one of two kicks for 42 yards, good from 48 but from 52 yards he hit the crossbar. Kicking to the west goal posts, Santos was good from 42 and 49 yards, but was short on a 50-yarder.

6:20 p.m. – The National Weather Service forecast for this evening in Kansas City is partly cloudy skies with a low around 15 degrees. There’s a stiff north-northwest wind blowing around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. The flags on the west end of Arrowhead are blowing straight out, barely ruffling in the cold breeze. Current temperature is 29 degrees, with a predicted temperature of the lows 20s by half-time.

6:15 p.m. – The Chiefs will wear all-red uniforms for the Sunday night game, the third time they’ve done that in franchise history. The previous two, including the New England game earlier this season, all ended with Chiefs victories.

6:10 p.m. – T-shirt that the Chiefs players will wear under their uniforms during tonight’s game. That’s right guard Zach Fulton:

6:05 p.m. – Reaction to inactive player decisions: with the Chiefs no surprises among those seven players. Jamell Fleming practiced last week, but there must have been a setback or a belief from the coaching staff or trainers that he wasn’t ready to be a full-time player. With Denver, the Broncos chances hurt on offense without tight end Julius Thomas and on defense without starter left corner Aqib Talib. With Talib and cornerback Kayvon Webster both inactive for the game, Denver is limited on the corner.

6 p.m. – The inactive players for the Broncos in this game against the Chiefs are running back Montee Ball, running back Ronnie Hillman, cornerback Kayvon Webster, tight end Julius Thomas, cornerback Aqib Talib, offensive tackle Michael Schofield, offensive tackle Chris Clark.

5:55 p.m. – The inactive players for the Chiefs in this game against Broncos are quarterback Aaron Murray, cornerback Jamell Fleming, wide receiver Junior Hemingway, center Eric Kush, guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, defensive end Nick Williams, tight end Phillip Supernaw.

5:50 p.m. – Good evening from the Truman Sports Complex where the Chiefs host the Broncos in a huge game for the home team when it comes to remaining in some control of their post-season future. We will bring you items, tidbits and observations from the stadium, including the game-day inactive players that will be named here in just a few moments.

 

Tale of the Tape – Chiefs vs. Denver

The Chiefs and Broncos will play for the 110th time in their 55-season series built from their status as original members of the American Football League.

Denver has dominated the series in recent seasons, winning five in a row and six of the last seven. The Broncos swept the two games in 2012 and 2013 and after a seven-point victory in September they have a chance to make it three consecutive sweeps.

On paper, the Broncos have the edge in six of the 11 categories. Here’s the tale of the tape: …Read More!

A Flurry Of Special Teams Notes From Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

In the second half of last Thursday’s game against the Raiders, punter Dustin Colquitt appeared to suffer a right calf injury after getting away a kick into the rainy night at the Oakland Coliseum.

The team’s training staff worked on Colquitt on the sidelines and kicker Cairo Santos worked out with a few punts into a net behind the Chiefs bench. Luckily, for the rest of the game the Chiefs needed Colquitt only as a holder for Santos and not as a punter.

It turns out that Colquitt had already gotten in a gut-check evening before that last punt. He actually suffered the injury in the pre-game warm-up period and underwent treatment in the locker room just to get on the field to kick.

That’s just one of several special teams’ related bites that came out Wednesday from the Chiefs facility as they ratcheted up preparations for Sunday night’s game against Denver.

Coordinator Dave Toub said that rookie De’Anthony Thomas would remain as the team’s primary punt returner, despite obvious struggles against the Raiders, including a return for minus-12 yards. Also, Toub spoke of the diminished kickoffs over the last month from Santos. …Read More!

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!

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