AFC West: Peyton hHllis
September, 9, 2012
By Bill Williamson | ESPN.com
A look at the Chiefs' disappointing 40-24 loss in the season opener:
What it means: This outcome was not surprising at all. Teams won't win many games when missing four defensive starters. I picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West and I’m not concerned about them after this game. Defensive starters Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers, Kendrick Lewis and Anthony Toribio were out and linebackers Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher were banged up going into the game. That is too much missing talent against a strong offense like Atlanta’s. Yes, the Chiefs are 0-1. But I expect this team to come together quickly.
Bad second half for offense: Despite the defensive issues, the Chiefs were in this game at halftime, trailing 20-17. The offense was clicking in the first half. Yet, the wheels fell off in the second half. Kansas City missed a field goal, quarterback Matt Cassel fumbled and then he was picked off twice. This coincided with the Falcons’ offense continuing to score at a high level. The Chiefs just couldn’t keep up.
Nice homecoming for Gonzo: Former Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez -- one of the best and beloved Chiefs of all time -- scored a touchdown in his first trip back to Kansas City since being traded to the Falcons in 2009.
Nice day for Charles: In his first game back after tearing the ACL in his knee in September 2011, Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles had 87 yards on 16 carries. He looked good, and I expect the Chiefs to continue to increase his workload. All told, the Chiefs had 152 yards rushing on 33 carries. Free-agent pickup Peyton Hillis had just 16 yards on seven carries. I would think Hillis’ workload (and success) will increase.
McCluster looks good: Third-year player Dexter McCluster, who went from receiver to running back and then back to receiver this year, performed well. He had six catches for 82 yards. He was targeted 10 times. It is clear the Chiefs want to work McCluster into a major role. Meanwhile, 2011 first-round pick Jon Baldwin didn’t register a catch.
What’s next: The Chiefs play at Buffalo, which got hammered by the Jets on Sunday. Kansas City safety Eric Berry tore his ACL in Week 1 last season when he was blocked by the Bills' Steve Johnson. Many people, Berry included, wondered if Johnson’s block was too low. Johnson denied any wrongdoing.