The 1st Half Best/Worst … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

Half the season is in the books for the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs.

They go into the second half schedule with a 4-4 record and they can still battle for first place in the AFC West since not a single team is ahead of them in the standings.

Todd Haley divides the 16-game into four quarters of four games each. They were 1-3 in the first quarter and then 3-1 in the second quarter. Ahead may be the two hardest quarters on the schedule, with teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Jets and Packers ahead, along with games against the Broncos twice and Raiders.

Haley called the first half “adventurous.” He was proven correct.

“I said in training camp that it would be a wild ride and it hasn’t disappointed,” Haley said.

Some players were up, some players were down and others were fairly consistent through the eight games in nine weeks. There are still other players that have been disappointments with their production.

Here is a look at both the best and the not so good of the first half.

THE BEST

OVERALL PERFORMANCE – ILB Derrick Johnson. Although he got caught in some mistakes last Sunday, Johnson has been outstanding over the first eight games. He’s produced tackles and did it against the run and pass. He also started putting together some big plays, with a sack and interception. The Chiefs have him down with 83 total tackles in eight games. That’s on a pace to have 166 total tackles on the season. That would rank as the best tackling performances in Chiefs history, or at least since 1977 when statistics began being kept on tackles. Right now the record is held by Mike Maslowski with 162 tackles in 2002.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER – WR Dwayne Bowe. There has been a real consistency to Bowe’s production through most of the first half of the season. After just two catches in the opener, he’s strung together 5, 4, 5, 7, 6, 4 and 6 catches in the other seven games. RB Jackie Battle’s emergence over the four most recent games made him a potential choice as well as QB Matt Cassel. But Bowe has found a way to get open, no matter how much attention he draws from opposing defenses.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER – CB Brandon Flowers. He’s picked off four passes on the season and defensed 15 other passes over the first eight games. Add a total of 48 tackles and Flowers has gotten the job done against the pass and run. OLB Tamba Hali and an improving NT Kelly Gregg received consideration here, as did the other Brandon on the corner, Brandon Carr. But Flowers has simply put himself in the middle of more big plays than anybody else on the defense and while he doesn’t win every one, his average is far better than most.

ROOKIE – OLB Justin Houston. There really isn’t much competition from the rookies on the Chiefs roster, so Houston essentially wins by default. He had seven consecutive games with a tackle until the Miami game, when he was shutout across the board. His move to the sub-defense against the pass was a good decision, because that’s where his strength lies – rushing the passer. It’s cost him some snaps because he’s out of the first base defense, with Andy Studebaker taking his place.

ASSISTANT COACH – Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. It took some time and they suffered a step backwards giving up 31 points to Miami last Sunday, but Crennel’s work revamping the defense without Eric Berry has really worked out well. Crennel is one of the league’s best defensive coordinators and he’s especially adept at asking players to do what they do best, and he doesn’t put them in a position where they are asked to do something that they physically or mentally can’t handle. It was the defense that keyed the four-game winning streak that got the Chiefs back into contender status.

PLAY – Fumble by San Diego QB Philip Rivers recovered by OLB Andy Studebaker. OK, it wasn’t a play that was started or planned by the Chiefs. But the gift they received from Rivers was accepted when Studebaker got down on the pile and somehow came up with the football. That stopped what was an obvious short field goal that would have given the Chargers the victory.

THE BAD

OVERALL PERFORMANCE – S Donald Washington. Part of that disappointing 2009 NFL Draft class, Washington was a fourth-round choice with first-round athletic ability. He fell on draft boards because of problems off the field at Ohio State and a team suspension by the Buckeyes. In his first two seasons, he produced little. This season, he was a game-day inactive for the opener. He’s played in the other seven games, even getting two starts at strong safety for an injured Jon McGraw. He’s been credited with 22 total tackles and a forced fumble on defense. The Chiefs don’t publicize statistics on blown coverages and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Washington would lead the team. One spot where he should be a big contributor with his athletic skills is on special teams, but at mid-season he has just one tackle in the kicking game.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER – WR Jerheme Urban. At this point, it’s hard to understand why Urban remains on the Chiefs roster at mid-season. The veteran receiver hasn’t been active since the second game of the season. He’s played in two games and caught one pass for six yards. Remember that he actually started the season opener in a three-receiver set with Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston. Unless he is battling an injury that has not been disclosed, Urban’s contributions to the 2011 Chiefs are hard to see. It’s doubtful he’s hurt, given the fact that he practices every day and week.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER – DE Wallace Gilberry. Coming into training camp, there was much talk of Gilberry’s added weight and strength and the fact he added muscle and kept up his speed had everyone excited about the season. In the pre-season, Gilberry dinged his knee, but he’s soldiered through, not missing a regular season game. But he’s also produced next to nothing in his role as a pass rushing defensive end in the team’s sub-defense against the pass. He has one sack and forced a fumble, and he had one other tackle. At a point where the defense badly needs help on the pass rush, he’s not stepped up. Maybe the knee isn’t allowing him to make that jump. No matter the reason, he hasn’t produced much for the defense.

ROOKIE – DE Allen Bailey. No other member of the Chiefs 2011 NFL Draft class has gotten as many snaps as Bailey. He’s been part of the sub-defense in passing situations all year. Playing a lot, in eight games, and he has 3 total tackles, 1 QB pressure and 2 passes knocked down.

ASSISTANT COACH/POSITION GROUP – Bernie Parmalee and the tight ends. It’s hard to blame an assistant coach for poor play when his best player is out for the season and the three TEs still around are all No. 3 players at the position. That the Chiefs have rolled through half a season only adding journeyman Anthony Becht at the position hasn’t given Parmalee or the position much of a chance to do anything. Combined, the tight ends have caught 17 passes for 127 yards and a TD. Essentially, it has become a blocking position, and the lack of a reliable and productive receiver at tight end is hurting the offense.

PLAY – The 35-yard touchdown pass from Miami QB Matt Moore to TE Anthony Fasano that gave the Dolphins a 14-3 lead on the way to a 31-3 victory. A great audible at the line of scrimmage by Moore completely caught the Chiefs defense by surprise. The execution on the play was outstanding and Fasano ended up crossing the face of the Chiefs defense without anybody laying a hand on him, or possibly even seeing him. He was wide open on the left side for the score, getting behind ILB Derrick Johnson.


13 Responses to “The 1st Half Best/Worst … Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 9, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    DJ was caught off guard on that play to Fasano for sure, but the traffic in the middle of the field was essentially a pick and it would have been pretty difficult to recover from that. That play did suck, but I wish Cassel had done the same to their Defense if the Oline had given him a chance.

    I think we’re stuck with Washington for now and it doesn’t make me terribly happy. Perhaps he can improve. He’s got some speed and height so there’s something in the box… Crennel just needs to figure out how to tap into it.


  • November 9, 2011  - Tim says:

    We should be in the market this coming offseason to really overhaul the Safety position outside of Berry & Lewis. That position is KILLING US. I disagree on Bailey at this point. Its far to early to tell about a guy who plays a position that by all accounts takes a few years to grow into.


  • November 9, 2011  - Nathan says:

    One of the most frustrating things about the Chiefs regardless of who their coach or GM is is their propensity to have a game like last Sunday’s.
    Enrique mentioned that loss to the Chargers back in 2000. I can remember other games where the Chiefs, on a nice winning streak, met up with another team who was either winless or was well below .500 and got taken to the woodshed.
    Bottom line, winning teams keep losing team losing.
    Maybe one of these days we’ll have a winning team in KC.


  • November 9, 2011  - el cid says:

    One of my concerns is the last draft. Baldwin is a winner, even after two games. Hate to remind you guys but the first draft missed, the second a few hits, and we seem to returned to 3 guys again. The Chiefs, for some accepted reason (not by me), has to build thru the draft. Well folks, at the midway point of this season, the draft is looking weaker and weaker.

    Nathan, enjoyed your comments but your last sentence, my answer would be “no we do not”. In the NFL, parity is all about teams being able to win on any given week. That also means there must be losers. Why not the Chiefs?


  • November 9, 2011  - RW says:

    Odd thoughts while wondering whatever happened to Hank Stram’s moving pocket:

    If the OC has to have his calls filtered down through the QB coach and probably be approved by the head coach before being sent in to the QB, how much time is lost in the ‘translation’ process, time that could be better used by the QB to get to the line, call out adusted protection schemes and get a better read on the defense? I don’t get all this micro-managing.

    I have an old sales-marketing axiom to lay at the feet of Hunt/Pioli: ‘Don’t save money in the wrong places’. Top talent is not cheap and upgrades in talent are obviously needed to get the Chiefs among the top tier teams in the league.


  • November 9, 2011  - aPauled says:

    While top talent is not cheap, top $$ does not guarantee ROI. The NFL is flush with examples of guys that tail off once the big contract is signed…notably today Albert Haynesworth. I like the idea of doing homework and going after the B-level, hungry FA. Guys like Breaston, McClain, Gregg, Lilja and Gaither. Assume that we will be more attractive to that crowd if we can rise to a consistent playoff contender.

    Parmalee unfairly gets the stick as the The Bad Asst (as noted). Hang that one on Pioli for his draft choices and not supplementing with a B-level FA. How about tagging Muir for the inconsistent O-line play? Seems like he has workable pieces and replacing B-Rich with Gaither seems overdue.

    Is McGraw on pace to be back for Denver? Washington could get Tebow his first 300 yard passing game with his play at safety…that was coincidently exploited by Orton and the Donks last year. I think Washington also affects the blitz packages as we can’t leave him back there alone…if he’s on the field why not use that athleticism and bliz Washington?


  • November 9, 2011  - el cid says:

    Not sure I get it. Gregg has played but does he look hungry to you? Gaither finally played sunday, have a hungry look in his eye? Have no idea why the Chiefs chose to keep McClain under wraps, especially with our losses in the RB position. I have no problem with B-level FAs but they need to produce to be an example of “doing your homework”. Give a pass to Lilja, a bit of a wash as we have no other G and Breaston was a good acquision. But based on you names, the Chiefs are not good picking FAs who can play the game.

    When the season started and even thru the first 3 games, no one was wanting McGraw even on the roster, now he is a cannot miss compared to the 3rd year draft pick, Washington. Guess you should be careful what you wish for, you might get a Washington.


  • November 9, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    I think the next time we play Miami at arrowhead I am selling my season tickets. Hell, I’ll give them away. Forget last Sunday. Horrible. But before that, couple years ago, last home game of the year. Pulled into parking lot around 8:30. Temp was 5 degrees with wind gusting to 40. First two beers froze before I could drink them. Beer inside the stadium froze. Going back to the car temp was up to 9. Wind was blowing 40 mph. Long walk and we lost by 3 points. Don’t want to see the Dolphins again.


  • November 9, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    You can go back and look at my comments, I like McGraw and have liked him for a while. If it hadn’t cost so damn much for a Jersey with his name on it (special order) I’d have one already. Sure he’s not flash and he’s getting older and slower, but he’s been around and a consistent player for a while now. He’s no Berry, but he’s solid.


  • November 9, 2011  - el cid says:

    Probably a fan club of one. Next we will have a list of guys who just love McGraw.


  • November 9, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    At least I’m in good company with myself. :/


  • November 9, 2011  - aPauled says:

    McGraw drew the ire of fans when he was plugged into a D designed for Eric Berry playing SS. McGraw is and never was an Eric Berry. Once RAC changed things up with less emphasis on SS McGraw has been a decent player…and even at his age light years ahead of Donald Washington.

    On the B-FAs, Gregg had 4 tackles against the Dolphins…pretty good stat for a NT. He seemed to start slow along with the rest of the Chiefs but has probably been our best D-lineman in 2011. Gaither is recovering from an injury, but he was a top 10 LT just a few years ago. Well worth the look as he may anchor our line for a few years if things fall right. To the point, you hit on some and miss on some B-FAs (as well as A-FAs) but Pioli has done well here IMO. His misses have primarly been by omission…not bringing in another QB, TE, SS, OL, etc.


  • November 9, 2011  - Chuck says:

    When I look at our remaining schedule I think we probably finish at either 7-9 or 6-10. No Andrew Luck for us unfortunately.




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