Falcons vs. Chiefs: 8 Things We Learned from Kansas City's 40-24 Loss
The Chiefs showed a lot of good and bad signs in this game. Let's go over the game and talk about what we learned from the Chiefs after Sunday's loss.
1. Matt Cassel Is Not Consistent
Since being traded to the Chiefs, Matt Cassel's career in Kansas City has been a roller coaster.
Consistency has been a problem for Cassel and Chiefs fans have easily witnessed the two sides of Cassel. It is hard to predict which Cassel will show up on game day.
Today, Cassel looked like an elite quarterback in the first half. In the second half, Cassel was responsible for all three Chiefs turnovers. The Chiefs have been built to where they can only go as far as Cassel takes them. Cassel's second-half performance set the team back as they were almost shutout in the second half.
2. Jamaal Charles Is as Good as Before
Chiefs fans forgot what it was like to see Jamaal Charles take the field because it had been so long.
He carried the ball 16 times for 87 yards and dashed 46 yards, showing that he is still the same running back prior to his injury. The Chiefs may need to lean on him a little bit more this season after a tough loss to open the season.
His speed and elusiveness is going to be more important if Kansas City's passing game does not improve.
3. Dexter McCluster Showed He Can Be a Key Player
Dexter McCluster was Cassel’s top target in the preseason, and it had carried over to the regular season.
McCluster has not been Kansas City’s top option on offense in the past two years. He learned in his first two years the dos and don’ts and is showing that he can be a key player for an offense.
It is uncertain how he’ll be utilized the rest of the season, but McCluster probably feels better about himself now than he did going into the season when he was uncertain about his role.
Cassel, when in trouble, will seek McCluster to help move the chains and get close to the end zone.
4. Dontari Poe Can Make It in the NFL
Dontari Poe had a better NFL debut than many had outlined. Poe, who was taken in the 11th pick of the 2012 NFL draft, showed some of his strengths in his first game as a professional player.
Poe came up with one tackle for a loss and another tackle to go along with his day. Although it was one play, he had a better game than Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson did during their debuts.
Crennel has to be pleased with the effort from Poe and surely expects him to make strides as the season goes on.
5. Ryan Succop Needs to Make His Kicks
Ryan Succop started off the season on a slow note with 1-of-4r kicks made. After making 21 straight field goals, Succop struggled at the end of the season with only 2-of-5 kicks made.
Succop missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt, hitting the crossbar when he could have helped the Chiefs tie the game in the third quarter at 20.
The Chiefs are not happy with the fact that he has made only 1-of-3 field goals since signing him to a new deal.
6. Cassel Needs to Get More of His Receivers Involved
Cassel completed 21-of-33 passes but did not fully take advantage of the pass-catchers on his team.
He found McCluster six times, but Dwayne Bowe, Peyton Hillis and Tony Moeaki were found three times while Kevin Boss, Steve Breaston and Shaun Draughn caught two passes. Jon Baldwin was nowhere to be found in this game and was never thrown to.
Cassel’s slot receiver was his top target. The protection is there for Cassel. But it is hard to figure out why Baldwin was never incorporated into Sunday’s game or why McCluster was more recognized than Bowe.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll will want to work on that with Cassel and his offense this week as they prepare for the Buffalo Bills in Week 2.
7. Justin Houston Can Be a Big Part of the Defense
With the absence of Pro Bowler Tamba Hali, Justin Houston managed to step up and make some plays that Hali would usually make.
Houston came away with one sack and two quarterback hits against Matt Ryan, trying to do his best to make Ryan's job more difficult. By the time Hali returns, both Houston and Hali will be a force against opposing quarterbacks this season.
8. The Chiefs Defense Needs Tamba Hali, Brandon Flowers and Kendrick Lewis Back
Although injuries are a big part of the game, the Chiefs are in desperate need of getting back Hali, Brandon Flowers and Kendrick Lewis back on defense.
The Chiefs defense allowed Ryan to throw for 299 yards and three touchdowns on the day. The Falcons picked up 17 of their 21 first downs through the air as the defense failed to come up with any takeaways.
If the Chiefs can get their starters back soon, they could look better than they did Sunday against the Falcons and not give up as many points.