The Kansas City Chiefs laid a big ol’ ostrich egg on national TV Monday night, getting thoroughly outclassed by the Green Bay Packers, 38-28. As bad as this game was, it still didn’t hurt as much as the last nationally televised game the week before when Denver scooped up a Jamaal Charles fumble and scored the winning points at Arrowhead with just a few seconds left on the clock. But don’t get me wrong, Monday night’s loss still blew.
In a quirky little schedule thing, all four AFC West teams played on the road with mixed results. Denver won again, this time 24-12 in Detroit, Oakland beat the Browns 27-20, and the Chargers looked even worse than the Chiefs in their 31-14 loss to the Vikings.
Right now, Chiefs fans are angry, upset, despondent and convinced that the team will never win another game EVER as long as Andy Reid is coach and Alex Smith is quarterback. Your Chiefs Examiner will try to make your day a little brighter by letting you know that it’s never as bad as it seems after a loss. So … what did we learn about the Chiefs after Week 3? Here’s my take:
1. Chiefs are not ready for prime time … yet. Admit it, part of the frustration you’re feeling is because the Chiefs picked two stand-alone nationally televised games to suck. It’s embarrassing to have to go into work or school and hear how bad your beloved team is from Bronco fans, Packer fans (although most of them are super-classy like Chiefs fans) and even Raider fans who can gloat that their team has a better record than yours.
The stunning part about Monday’s loss was how badly Reid and his coaching staff got their pants pulled down by Mike McCarthy and the Packers staff. Reid took 100% of the blame in the post-game press conference, which is good because he wears the dunce cap this week.
2. The offensive line needs time to get in sync. Let’s be honest – Jeff Allen needs to get back quickly because Laurent Duvernay-Tardif isn’t a starting right guard yet. This one gets put on both Reid and General Manager John Dorsey, who put the reins of the team in the hands of a good, but not exceptional, quarterback who is now so shell-shocked by getting hit every time he drops back to pass that he cannot hold the ball more than three seconds without getting rid of it.
With Alex Smith at QB, the offensive line needs to be exceptional in order for the passing game to work, or for running lanes to open up for Jamaal Charles. This line as it is put together right now has to improve dramatically just to become average. There has been far too much flux in the line so far in 2015 and they won’t get better until they play together for a while.
3. The schedule really does get much easier after this Sunday. When the 2015 schedule came out, pretty much everyone who looked at it thought the Chiefs might easily go 1-3 in the first four games. If things broke right, the thought was 2-2 would be about as much as anyone could ask for. Giving a game away to the Broncos is bad, but not as bad as last year’s loss to Tennessee. Remember that the team was 1-2 last year as well and turned it around to be in the playoff chase with a much worse offense than they have now.
The record of the Chiefs first four opponents this year is currently 10-2 with Denver, Green Bay and Cincinnati all sitting at 3-0. The next four opponents the Chiefs face after the Bengals is currently 4-8 (Chicago, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Detroit). Chicago and Pittsburgh have lost their starting QBs and Minnesota has a second-year player behind center. Let’s see where the Chiefs are after eight games before calling for everyone to get fired. Patience, people … patience.
4. Sean Smith’s return will help. The suspension of Sean Smith has allowed two Hall of Fame-worthy quarterbacks to zero in on an overmatched Chiefs cornerback time and time again. Peyton Manning played with Jamell Fleming like a cat plays with a mouse, and Aaron Rodgers picked on Marcus Cooper – not the first time a quarterback has found Cooper on the field. Unfortunately, Phillip Gaines sprained a knee during Monday’s game and the extent of the injury isn’t known yet. If Gaines isn’t out too long, the Chiefs secondary will be greatly improved.
5. This team will definitely improve their third-down conversion rate because it can’t get much worse than it is now. I’m not giving you the third down conversion percentage the offense has this year because it might be the most depressing part of the season so far. Ok … Ok, they’re 5-for-30 on the year. Dead last in the NFL at 17%. By contrast, New England is converting 60% of their third down tries. This is the one area where even Alex Smith supporters like your Chiefs Examiner want to scream at the TV when it’s 3rd-and-8 and no ball ever travels in the air over five yards. C’mon Alex … take some chances, man!
Ok, enough about the Chiefs! Here’s what we learned this weekend about the rest of the AFC West:
DENVER: The Broncos did what they do in beating the Lions 24-12 in Detroit Sunday. Peyton Manning took snaps from center in the “pistol” formation – a modified version of the shotgun with a running back behind him – and threw for 345 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos defense shut down the Lions running game and caused three turnovers, letting Denver improve its record to 3-0. To be honest, Denver could easily go 6-0 without much trouble before they hit the hardest part of their schedule. It looks like Peyton has one more division title in him before he finally hangs it up to go sell Papa John’s pizzas.
SAN DIEGO: With apologies to Jay-Z, the Chargers got 99 problems and their defense may be #1. They fell behind Detroit 21-2 in Week 1 before Philip Rivers saved their bacon with a furious comeback. The defense got torched by Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton in a Week 2 loss to Cincinnati, and it looked overmatched by Adrian Peterson (126 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns) Sunday, losing to Minnesota 31-14. They get a break (maybe) next week when the woeful Cleveland Browns fly out to the Golden Coast to play in San Diego. The Browns are licking their wounds from a surprise beat-down at home by ….
OAKLAND: I’ve been telling my Raiders friends that I hated the hiring of Jack Del Rio as head coach because I think he is vastly underrated and will get the team back to respectability sooner rather than later. Del Rio and his Raiders ran all over Cleveland Sunday and held off a late rally to pick up a 27-20 road win – their first since November, 2013. Latavius Murray rushed for 139 yards and rookie Amari Cooper had 134 yards receiving to lead the way for the win. I still have doubts that Oakland will stay in the playoff hunt, but this is definitely an improved team and they will have a say in the AFC West before it’s over.