Let me start this by saying that I love what Romeo Crennel is doing and that I think he has the Kansas City Chiefs moving in the right direction. Also I know Crennel was playing shorthanded and that many of the pieces that were missing against the Atlanta Falcons today are guys who the Chiefs will be relying on to make big plays this season. Having said all that, man the Chiefs looked miserable on defense today.
The Chiefs weren’t just bad, they were Dick Vermeil era bad. I half expected to see Eric Warfield and William Bartee jog out on the field to start the second half. The sad thing is, their pass coverage wouldn’t have much worse than what we were subjected to for the full sixty minutes of the opening day contest.
I know the NFL has developed into a passing league where the top wide receivers are free to jog around the field making plays, but Julio Jones must have wondered if there was a defense going up against him for most of the game as he roamed free in the Chiefs secondary.
The strangest thing about the defensive performance was that the Chiefs established their primary goal early and shut down the run. Michael Turner is a very effective runner on his day, but the Chiefs defensive line was able to get on top of the Falcons offensive line and stopped Turner cold on numerous occasions. With the defensive line superiority the linebackers SHOULD have been free to drop into passing lanes and prevent the in routes that the Falcons cut the Chiefs open with, but it just didn’t happen.
Outside of a big play on Tony Gonzalez early in the first quarter Eric Berry was quiet throughout and Derrick Johnson looked to still be slowed by the ankle injury which had kept him out of practice most of the week. Justin Houston had one nice sack on 1st-and-goal right at the end of the first half, but outside of that there was just no pressure on Matt Ryan all day long.
Most were aware Tamba Hali was going to be missed to some degree, but I don’t think the extent of his absence from the team was expected to be quite so stark. When a quarterback of the quality of Ryan is able to drop back at leisure then Jones can put up a line which includes 108 recieving yards and two touchdowns.
The lack of play makers on defense has to be a big worry for the Chiefs moving forwards. Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey have been with the team long enough that a big jump in production would have to be considered unlikely at this point. Basically you know what you are going to get from them. Jovan Belcher is as unspectacular as they get and you would have to believe the Chiefs want a player to step up and take that position away from the former Maine Black Bear.
Why the Chiefs have so much cap room available when they have so few players capable of changing a game defensively should be a bigger point of contention for the Chiefs fanbase than it currently seems to be.
The offense showed (for a half at least) that the potential is there for that position group to win games in 2012. For that to happen though the defense has to do much more than not force a punt until there are less than four minutes to go in the game. The Chiefs can still be contenders for the AFC West this season, but it will take a vastly improved effort from what we were subjected to on the first afternoon of the season.