Kansas City was rightfully the underdog in a Week Four battle, which pit the winless Chiefs against the undefeated New York Giants. A win being unlikely, Chiefs fans watched in hopes of identifying some positives.
Looking for the good in the Chiefs' season is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but with somewhat of a fourth quarter comeback there are glimmers of potential. Grading commences:
Pass Offense: C
A small improvement from last week as the team at least went over 100 yards. This game was the second in a row that quarterback Matt Cassel threw two touchdowns with no picks. However, Cassel also endured five sacks.
The offensive line held well in the fourth quarter and Cassel needs to find trust in having protection as he appeared to anticipate the swarm closing in on him, a familiar theme through the first three weeks.
This grade would be higher if it weren’t for drops by wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and the sub 50 completion percentage.
Running Attack: D+
While the passing game has touchdowns to redeem their underperformance the same is not true for the run game.
There are things to like as running back Larry Johnson is running hard and appears to have an improved attitude. Johnson showed an enthusiasm for shorter, but hard fought gains that may help invigorate this team.
However, the yards per carry has got to get above three yards for LJ; Kansas City did average a respectable 4.2 yard gain per rush.
It appeared the only way Kansas City could get a first down through the first three quarters was to pop a reasonable gain of seven or eight yards. It just needs to happen more.
Run Defense: D+
With the thunder and lightning combo of the bruising Brandon Jacobs and the lithe Ahmad Bradshaw, the New York Giants pose an elite threat on the ground.
Kansas City tacklers appeared to be dragged by Jacobs, and Bradshaw got a little snippy, with a hand check to Mike Vrabel and kicking at defenders as they let him up, on his way to 64 yards on only 12 carries.
Ultimately, KC could not stop anyone with consistency as the three man rush of the 3-4 got little penetration and the linebackers filling the running lanes were either run over by Jacobs, or run by Bradshaw.
Pass Defense: D
No picks and no sacks last week, Kansas City reversed this trend in Week Four. Both starting corner backs, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr, repeatedly made impressive plays by establishing position on short, inside routes and playing the deep ball with textbook form.
However, holes deeper in the secondary hurt Kansas City. Whether the safeties got caught in run support, were victimized by Eli’s dissection of zone coverage, or whether they were just late is arguable, but it appears to be a combination.
Mike Brown did have an electrifying sack from his safety spot, so defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast isn’t afraid to have his deep guys crash the line of scrimmage.
Tamba Hali tallied his second sack of the year while also getting a fumble. He possesses extraordinary ability to lean on the edge rush, but it would be nice to see a wider repertoire of approaches as he can be driven out wide by good blocking. Yet Hali’s transition to outside linebacker is one of the few bright spots for Chiefs fans.
Despite these positives, Manning burned Kansas City for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns. The three man rush of the 3-4 appears insufficient.
Special Teams: C-
Ryan Succop, the last pick of this year’s draft, better known as Mr. Irrelevant, has made himself relevant quickly. Showing a strong leg on kickoff duties and with a strong percentage of makes in the preseason and through four weeks, KC has found a franchise kicker…if there is such a thing (see David Akers?).
Punter Dustin Colquit showed his usual strong form, but a fumble by kick returner Jamaal Charles on the opening kickoff put a damper on the day and the grade of the special teams.
Play of the Game:
On a 3rd-and-11, New York brought the house crashing down in a heavy blitz. The attempt to deny both Cassel time to throw and the receivers an opportunity to get downfield was countered by a quick throw to Dwayne Bowe for just over 11 yards and a first down.
A simple, unglamorous play, but what Kansas City needs to do more of to counter the pressure teams are applying defensively.