Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City Chiefs

Failure to finish drives haunts Chiefs

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
DENVER -- The Kansas City Chiefs put together the drive of their dreams to open the second half of Sunday's game against the Denver Broncos. They stayed on the field for an even 10 minutes, giving the Chiefs an extended period where Peyton Manning and the potent Denver offense could do no harm.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs went on another march that was only an aspiration for them as recently as last week, one them that would take them as far as the Denver 2.

In better times, the Chiefs might have looked at those drives as the reason they shocked the NFL by pulling what seemed like an unobtainable upset.

Instead, those drives ended in failure. The Chiefs came away with no points either time and those letdowns were the biggest reason they lost to the Broncos 24-17.

The Chiefs should be a good red zone team. In Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Anthony Fasano and even Dwayne Bowe, they have enough receivers capable of winning the one-on-one battles in tight areas.

They did score touchdowns on their other two trips inside the Denver 5, both on runs by Knile Davis.

"We scored in the red zone," Davis said. "The defense wins sometimes, too."

The defense doesn't have to win its share, not if the offense does its job the right way. But the first of the two failed drives was a series of breakdowns after the Chiefs reached the Denver 4 with a first down.

The end of that drive featured an incomplete pass to Davis, a holding penalty on guard Zach Fulton, a sack of quarterback Alex Smith, an incomplete pass to Donnie Avery and then a 37-yard field goal try by rookie Cairo Santos that went wide to the right.

The decision to keep Santos, who was undrafted, over veteran incumbent Ryan Succop looks like a rotten one. Santos also missed a field goal attempt last week, though that one made no difference in a blowout loss.

This one did. The Chiefs aren't strong enough offensively to overcome the erratic nature of a rookie kicker.

The problem on the late drive was that the Chiefs, from the time they reached the Denver 9 on first down, went into the end zone just once, that coming from the Denver 2 on a fourth-down pass intended for Bowe.

Otherwise, they tried two Davis runs and a pass for Avery that was complete but short of the end zone.

That's where the play-calling could have been more imaginative.

The factor tying together their red-zone problems was the loss of running back Jamaal Charles. He left the game for good in the first quarter because of what the Chiefs called a sprained ankle.

The Chiefs scored 44 points against Indianapolis in the playoffs last year under similar circumstances. Charles also left their lineup that day in the first quarter and didn't return.

The difference is that last season the Chiefs were on a roll offensively by the end of the season. They were scoring points in bunches by then. This year's Chiefs are still trying to find themselves offensively, so the loss of Charles is greater now.

The Chiefs made big progress offensively from last week's debacle against Tennessee. It's easy now to see some hope for a season that seven days earlier looked lost.

But things would look so much better if they had been able to finish more drives on Sunday and steal a game away from their AFC West rivals.
DENVER -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs' 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos:

Santos to stay: Coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs would stay with struggling rookie kicker Cairo Santos. He missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt in the third quarter to end a 10-minute drive. Santos also missed an attempt in last week's game. The Chiefs released a steady veteran, Ryan Succop, to go with Santos, who wasn't drafted.

It was their turn: The Chiefs failed to get a point on two of their trips inside the Denver 5. But running back Knile Davis said after the Chiefs also scored twice in those situations, it was the Broncos' turn to win. "The defense wins sometimes, too," he said.

Missing Charles: Quarterback Alex Smith acknowledged the loss of running back Jamaal Charles hurt the Chiefs the most on those trips inside the Denver 5. "Everything is magnified down there," he said.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14

DENVER -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 24-17 loss to the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field:

What it means: As opposed to last week's loss to Tennessee, the Chiefs have no reason to be disheartened by this defeat. The Chiefs lost three starters for the season last week because of injuries and played most of this one without running Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry. Each left the game in the first half with an ankle injury and didn't return. The Chiefs still showed signs of life that were well-hidden last week, particularly on offense. At 0-2, the Chiefs have to find a way to regroup in time for next week's game at Miami.

Stock watch: Rookie kicker Cairo Santos had his second straight shaky game. He missed a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter that would have pulled the Chiefs to within a touchdown. Cornerback Marcus Cooper, a frequent victim of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning last season, was burned on a 48-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders on the game's first play from scrimmage to set up the Broncos' first touchdown. Knile Davis did a nice job of filling in for Charles in the running game but he's still a liability when he's in the game on passing plays.

More injuries: The Chiefs' lineup was patched together at many spots. Berry was replaced by Ron Parker, who spent most of training camp as a cornerback. Davis is far from the versatile back the Chiefs need in their offensive system. They already had to dig deep to fill their lineup on the offensive line and at inside linebacker. Depth was a concern heading into training camp and it's evident those worries were valid.

Game ball: Quarterback Alex Smith was under heavy pressure all day but played well enough to keep the Chiefs alive. His running ability was also a key in the first half when he had some runs that kept drives alive.

What's next: The Chiefs head to Miami for a game against the 1-1 Dolphins at 4:25 p.m. ET next week.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The bad injury news continues to pile up for the Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Andy Reid said offensive lineman Jeff Allen would need elbow surgery and is not likely to return this season.

Also, rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Broncos in Denver because of an injured hamstring.

 Allen started at right tackle in the season-opener against Tennessee. He started training camp as the left guard but switched positions when right tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended for the season’s first four games because of a violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Allen’s spot at right tackle on Sunday will be filled by veteran Ryan Harris, who signed with the Chiefs on the eve of training camp. The starter in Allen’s original spot at left guard, Mike McGlynn, joined the Chiefs in late August after being released by Washington.

If Allen misses the remainder of the regular season, he would be the third starter lost for the year from the Tennessee game. Linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito each ruptured an Achilles tendon.

Prediction: Broncos will beat Chiefs

September, 12, 2014
Sep 12
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs haven’t beaten Peyton Manning in four tries since he joined the Broncos. A 17-9 loss at Arrowhead Stadium in 2012 is as close as they have come. That was when they were coached by Romeo Crennel.

More instructive are the two games last season when the Chiefs were coached by Andy Reid. The Chiefs failed to frustrate Manning either time. They had a 21-7 lead during one of the games and things were looking good. Then Manning and the Broncos stepped it up and the Chiefs couldn’t keep up. The Chiefs will have to either slow Manning or outscore him.

Judging from last week’s game against Tennessee, they are in no shape to do either.

My prediction: Broncos 37, Chiefs 20.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Numbers aren’t the best way to measure the impact Derrick Johnson had on the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense or the problem they will have in replacing him for the rest of the season. Johnson, an inside linebacker, ruptured his Achilles tendon in last week’s opener and after having surgery is out for the season.

 Johnson’s gift is his down to down presence. He was as consistent a player as any coach could ask for against both the run and the pass. Johnson was one of the NFL’s best players at his position, and if he had caught more of the game-changing interceptions that he’s dropped -- Johnson’s hands are legendary bad -- more people would know about his skills.

But we’ll try to quantify just how much the Chiefs will miss Johnson. The Tennessee Titans rushed for 26 yards on 10 carries for a 2.6-yard per carry average in last week’s game against the Chiefs before Johnson left the game late in the second quarter.

After his departure, the Titans averaged 4.9 yards per carry with 136 yards on 28 carries.

That’s not a scientific measurement, for sure. It’s a tiny sample size that is also influenced by other factors. Shortly after Johnson left the game, the Chiefs lost another one of their best run defenders, Mike DeVito, also for the season with an identical injury.

But it helps illustrate what the Chiefs are facing here. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is well aware of what Johnson meant to the Chiefs.

“A lot of times when you have a guy like [Johnson] who has exceptional speed for his position, it isn’t just the plays you make but the plays you prevent,’’ Sutton said. “Sometimes those are runs that went for five [yards] or passes that went for 10, but he’s there and that stops a play from going. That’s the one advantage of speed in relationship to your position.

“So you miss that. You miss his experience.’’

The Chiefs will replace him with James-Michael Johnson, who was claimed off waivers last season from the Cleveland Browns.

Derrick Johnson has been extremely durable. He’s missed just seven games since joining the Chiefs in 2005 and one of those was the final regular-season contest last year when the Chiefs rested Johnson and a few other starters.

The last time Johnson missed a game because of injury was 2009.

So playing without Johnson will be an event for the Chiefs on Sunday in Denver against the Broncos. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning has already noticed.

“I played against him for a long time going back to my days in Indianapolis,’’ Manning said. “Special player, and I just hate to see it. I was watching the TV game, and I just hate to see that kind of injury. But obviously anytime you lose a quality player, everybody else has to step up, and I know the Chiefs will do that. But I hate to see what happened to Derrick -- he’s such a great football player -- in the first game of the season.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After losing their season-opener in a rather convincing manner, the Kansas City Chiefs are in a position where they could use a lift from the return of their most accomplished wide receiver.

 Dwayne Bowe isn’t waiting until Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos to try to provide that lift. He indicated that process started earlier in the week, shortly after his return for a one-game NFL suspension for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy.

“Just be myself,’’ Bowe said when asked what he wanted to accomplish this week. “Come in jovial, come in picking guys up and letting them know it’s one game at a time, one play at a time. Just play with energy, just play with passion, just play your game. That’s what I’m preaching to everyone in the locker room, and that’s what we’ve got to bring if we’re going to beat the Denver Broncos.’’

That’s all good, but what the Chiefs really need from Bowe is to play on Sunday as he did earlier in his career. One reason the Chiefs floundered on offense against the Tennessee Titans is that their wide receivers caught just eight passes, which is tied for last in the league with the New York Giants.

“Being a playmaker, you want to make plays whenever the ball is being thrown,’’ said Bowe, who watched the game on TV at his home in Kansas City. “It was hard watching. I’ve seen myself making some of the plays that [weren’t] made. If they happen again, I’ll be out there to make those plays.

“I wish I could have been out there to help my team, but things happen and you move forward and you learn from them and you try to let it not happen again.’’

History says Charles will have big game

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Since becoming the Kansas City Chiefs’ featured back midway through the 2009 season, Jamaal Charles has had six games with fewer than 10 carries. One, of course, happened last week against Tennessee when he finished with seven carries for 19 yards.

 If history is any guide, Charles has a good chance of having a big game this Sunday against the Broncos in Denver.

In 2012, Charles had just six carries in a September loss to the Buffalo Bills. Next came a 233-yard, one-touchdown game against the New Orleans Saints. But later that season, he followed a five-carry game against Oakland with just 39 yards against San Diego.

However, in December of that same year, Charles rushed for 226 yards and a touchdown against Indianapolis a week after carrying nine times against the Raiders.

Then, last season, Charles followed an eight-carry game against the Raiders with 106 yards and a touchdown against the Colts.

Charles had just two carries in a 2011 game against the Lions in Detroit, but he tore his ACL on the second of those carries, and his season was finished.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Andy Reid said the other day it was “negligence on my part’’ that running back Jamaal Charles didn’t get the ball more for the Kansas City Chiefs in their Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

I’ll have to disagree with Reid here. While he’s the head coach and de facto offensive coordinator, he certainly controls how much or little Charles gets the ball. But given the many negative factors in that game -- poor blocking, the Chiefs got hopelessly behind and they didn’t have the ball for a ton of plays -- it probably would have been more negligent for Reid to use his star player liberally in what was destined to be a losing cause.

The real negligence on the part of the Chiefs came during the offseason when they didn’t go after a receiver capable of helping. The four skill players in addition to Charles who were in the game for at least a third of the plays Sunday were a journeyman wide receiver (Donnie Avery), a receiver playing his first NFL game (Frankie Hammond Jr.), a tight end whose career high in catches is 41 (Anthony Fasano) and another receiver who was hurt for most of the preseason and is nobody’s idea of a prolific pass-catcher (Junior Hemingway).

In that light, was it really a surprise, in retrospect, that the Chiefs were mostly futile on offense?

The Chiefs were obviously counting, at least initially, on Dwayne Bowe and De'Anthony Thomas playing against the Titans. Bowe will play this Sunday against the Broncos in Denver while Thomas should return from a hamstring injury in the foreseeable future.

Will they help? Maybe. But let’s remember that Bowe will soon turn 30 and is coming off his worst full season. Thomas holds promise, but let’s not forget that at the same point in his career many people thought Dexter McCluster would be a great offensive player for the Chiefs.

I’ll give the Chiefs credit for at least trying to sign Emmanuel Sanders when he was a free agent, but they’re also due some blame for not finishing the deal. By the way, anyone who saw Sanders’ debut last week for the Broncos knows how good he would look in a Chiefs uniform right now.

As for Avery, Hammond, Fasano and Hemingway, they’re all fine role players and worth having around. The Chiefs can and in some cases have succeeded with those guys in their lineup.

They just need to be surrounded by more than Charles. Maybe Bowe and Thomas will make that difference. But if the Chiefs are counting on it, they’re just guilty of even more negligence.
ESPN.com Kansas City Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher talks about Peyton Manning's 11-1 record vs. Kansas City.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There’s no shame in losing to Peyton Manning. He’s won almost 70 percent of his regular-season games since arriving in the NFL, so he’s hurt a lot of opponents for a lot of years.

But the Kansas City Chiefs' history against Manning is particularly sad. Manning is 11-1 against Kansas City all-time, counting a pair of playoffs games, including one in which the Chiefs never forced Manning’s Indianapolis Colts to punt.

Manning has undefeated records against the Cincinnati Bengals (8-0) and Cleveland Browns (6-0). Otherwise, his winning percentage is better against the Chiefs than any team he’s started against more than three times.

Funny thing is, the Chiefs have actually defended him well a couple times. He was something less than average against the Chiefs in regular season games in 2007 and 2010, but the Colts still managed to win those games.

Statistically, his best game against the Chiefs was the one in which he lost. He threw for 472 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-35 Chiefs victory in 2004.

The Chiefs have had no luck against Manning in the four games since he joined the Denver Broncos. The closest margin in those games was 17-9 in 2012 at Arrowhead Stadium, and Manning still managed to throw a pair of touchdown passes.

The Chiefs had him down 21-7 at Arrowhead last season before Manning and the Broncos got hot. The Chiefs couldn’t keep up.

There’s no reason to believe things will be different in the rivalry when the Chiefs and Broncos meet on Sunday in Denver. To beat Manning, the Chiefs will either have to slow him down or outscore him.

Judging from last week’s game against Tennessee, the Chiefs don’t look capable of doing either.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs are in at No. 25 in this week's ESPN NFL Power Rankings.

That's higher than I would have anticipated given that they were barely competitive in Sunday's season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium. I would have expected the Chiefs a few spots lower, ahead of the Rams, Raiders, Browns, Jaguars and perhaps the Cowboys. Dallas was also the loser in a one-sided game at home, though its opponent (San Francisco) was better than that of the Chiefs'.

The Chiefs are indeed ranked ahead of those five teams and also Washington and the New York Giants. The Bucs, like the Chiefs, suffered through a disappointing home loss. Washington and New York lost on the road and they deserve to lose one at home before they drop below the Chiefs.

I still believe the Chiefs are better than the 25th best NFL team, but I could be proven wrong as the season progresses.

The Titans are only 19th in the rankings. Sunday's opponents, the Denver Broncos, are second behind the Seattle Seahawks.

Ford can still be an asset to Chiefs

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Ask and you shall receive. Shortly after I suggested the Kansas City Chiefs need to get more from their first-round draft pick, coach Andy Reid said linebacker Dee Ford would get more work.

“Dee Ford probably didn’t have enough snaps,’’ Reid said. “We’ve got to work him into the rotation and do a better job there, which we’ll do.’’

Ford played just three snaps on defense in Sunday’s 26-10 season-opening loss to the Tennessee Titans. Ford also was in for two plays on special teams.

Pass rush is hardly the Chiefs’ biggest problem right now. They sacked Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker four times on Sunday.

But the Chiefs are desperate for playmakers. They need someone who can make a game-turning play before their season spirals out of control.

Ford is capable of making that happen. The Chiefs don’t have to take Tamba Hali or Justin Houston out of their lineup to put Ford in.

Ford didn’t play more against the Titans because he looked lost in the preseason against the run and in pass coverage.

That’s OK. He’s converting to outside linebacker from defensive end in college. The Chiefs expected a transition period for him, particularly in coverage.

“He’s getting better in the run game,’’ Reid said. “Right now, his strength is the pass game, but he’s getting better. There are some things you can do rotationally there where he gets in and has an opportunity to play.’’

Te Chiefs were eager to use a 255-pounder who’s a good athlete on special teams. But Ford has been deficient in that area, too.

“That’s not necessarily his strongest point,’’ Reid said.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have signed veteran defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson, according to Pro Football Talk. The addition fills the void left by the season-ending injury to defensive end Mike DeVito. DeVito ruptured his Achilles tendon in Sunday's loss to Tennessee and was to have surgery.

Jaye Howard and Vance Walker will share DeVito's spot in the base defense. Howard is an interesting prospect. He joined the Chiefs last season off waivers from Seattle but played little.

He played a lot in the preseason because a hand injury kept DeVito from playing and Howard handled it well.

"Howard is an explosive player," coach Andy Reid said. "His big thing was just making sure that was something that took place on every play. Consistency was the factor, he's shown us that he can do that throughout his time here. He had a good preseason with us and now will have an opportunity to get in there and play a little bit more."

Walker was signed from Oakland during the offseason as a free agent but played just one snap against the Titans.

Either way, the Chiefs will miss DeVito. He was an underrated player, strong against the run and improving as a pass-rusher.

Vickerson, 31, has played nine seasons for Miami, Tennessee and Denver with 43 starts.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Given the differing results from the teams in their respective season-openers, you can probably guess where I’m headed with my prediction for this week’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos.

Though my choice for winner of that game seems obvious, I’ll refrain from going there just now. But here is a prediction I won’t hesitate to make: Jamaal Charles will get the ball more than the 11 times he did in Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Think about that for a second. The Chiefs played without Dwayne Bowe, their most accomplished wide receiver, and rookie De'Anthony Thomas, their fastest player.

And they got the ball to their best offensive player seven times on handoffs and another four times on passes.

"They took away a lot of what we had designed for him," coach Andy Reid said.

Charles wasn’t effective when he was getting the ball. He had just 19 yards rushing and 15 receiving. The game also got away from the Chiefs fairly early. The Chiefs had the ball for only 22 minutes and ran just 56 plays, compared to 75 for the Titans.

"In the second half (when) things got away a little bit, you become a little bit one-dimensional," quarterback Alex Smith said.

The Chiefs abandoned their game plan in the second half in an effort to catch up. That happens from time to time. Opposing defenses also can occasionally succeed in eliminating the Charles' impact. He’s had games before where his effect on the outcome has been minimal.

Those games can’t happen often for the Chiefs, who are floundering on offense. It can’t happen on Sunday in Denver, or a season that started miserably for the Chiefs will get even worse.