Wednesday, September 29, 2010
How I See It: AFC West Stock Watch
By Bill Williamson
1. San Diego Chargers special teams: The Chargers could easily be 3-0, but their special-teams coverage units are killing them. San Diego has given up three return touchdowns in three games -- two touchdown returns for scores in a seven-point loss to Seattle in Week 3 and a punt-return score for a touchdown in a seven-point loss to the Chiefs in Week 1. The Chargers dearly miss special teams ace Kassim Osgood, who is now in Jacksonville.
2. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders kicker: This offseason, Janikowski signed a contract that made him the richest kicker in NFL history. He had only three misses last season before Oakland gave him gold. This season, Oakland has to be wondering what is going on. Janikowski has missed five of 13 field goal attempts. Most important, he missed a 32-yard chip shot at the end of Sunday’s 24-23 loss at Arizona. Janikowski has been streaky in his career. He is definitely trending the wrong way.
3. Denver Broncos’ red zone offense: The Broncos took themselves out of contention in Sunday’s 27-13 loss to Indianapolis with porous play in the red zone. Denver had a first-and-goal situation at the Colts’ 1 and couldn’t punch the ball in. In the fourth quarter, Denver failed on fourth down and three from the Colts’ 12. This team needs to find some weapons in the red zone or it will not make strides.
Matt Cassel has quarterbacked the Chiefs to a 3-0 start.
1. Matt Cassel, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback: Many Chiefs’ fans were calling for Cassel’s head despite a 2-0 start. Cassel was struggling and many in Kansas City wanted the Chiefs to trade for Kevin Kolb. Perhaps a strong effort by Cassel in a rout of San Francisco in Week 3 will quiet the critics. Cassel threw the ball very well and ended up with thee touchdown passes. The Chiefs are hot and now, so is their quarterback.
2. Tamba Hali, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker: The knock against the Chiefs in the past two seasons since Jared Allen was traded was that they had no pass rush. And there was evidence of that. In 2008, Kansas City set an NFL record for the fewest sacks in a season with 10. However, the Chiefs are playing inspired defense. Hali is leading the way. He had three sacks against the 49ers. Hali has long hurried the quarterback well. Now, he’s getting to the quarterback and bringing him down.
3. Marcus McNeill, San Diego Chargers left tackle: McNeill ended his holdout and reported to the team Saturday. He will start playing in Week 6 at St. Louis. McNeill made a poor decision by staying away and it cost him nearly $3 million. But now that he is back where he belongs, don’t be surprised if the Chargers ultimately give McNeill the long-term deal he desires.