The defense of the Kansas City Chiefs had trouble stopping the passing attack of the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, but on Sunday in Buffalo, the defense also couldn’t stop the run. C.J. Spiller burned the Chiefs for 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Chiefs fell behind quickly and never recovered. By the end of the half, the score was 21-0, putting Matt Cassel in a bind.
Like Week 1, Cassel wasn’t effective trying to mount a comeback with his team down by two or more scores. He also didn’t get much help from his supporting cast —i.e. Peyton Hillis fumbling at the 1-yard line to negate what could have been Kansas City’s first touchdown.
If the defense doesn’t get better over the next few weeks, Kansas City could quickly lose control of their season. Cassel hasn’t shown that he is able to bring the Chiefs back once they are down, but he’s done enough put his team in position to win if the defense can keep the score down.
Without four of their defensive starters, it was somewhat understandable that the Chiefs would struggle in Week 1, but that number was reduced to just two in Week 2. In the NFL, being 100 percent healthy is never guaranteed, and the Chiefs need to figure out how to stop opposing offenses with a few of their reserves playing key roles.
The Chiefs travel to New Orleans in Week 3 and will face a Saints team still looking for its first win. A loss for either team would be a disaster because they both sit at 0-2. The Saints’ offense hasn’t been as prolific as it was last season, but they should still be a big test for Kansas City.
If there is any good news for Kansas City, it’s that the Chiefs did produce on the ground with limited carries. Hillis, Shaun Draughn and Jamaal Charles combined for 125 yards on 22 carries, a 5.7 yards-per-carry average. If the defense can get things together in future weeks, the running game should be able to set things up for Cassel.
It’s hard to judge Kansas City’s entire offense when they are playing from behind, because it’s an offense built around the legs of Charles. With the Chiefs playing from behind, Cassel has to take more chances and that usually results in more turnovers.
It will be very difficult for the Chiefs to win passing the ball 40-plus times with Cassel as the quarterback, so correcting the defense is vital to their success. If the Chiefs can fix their defensive issues, Cassel can manage the game and set up safer passes by playing off a solid running game.
One thing is clear: Kansas City can’t continue to perform like they have through three weeks on offense or defense if they want to crawl back into the AFC West race. The San Diego Chargers are now 2-0 and the Denver Broncos look like a playoff team with Peyton Manning.