Kansas City Chiefs: The Power Shift May Have Come Sooner Than Expected

Mike SettleContributor ISeptember 28, 2010

Romeo Crennel has been the difference maker for Kansas City this year
Romeo Crennel has been the difference maker for Kansas City this yearJamie Squire/Getty Images

With Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster, Brandon Flowers, and Tamba Hali at the helm, this Chiefs team has the talent to take over the AFC West.

Now they also have the proper coaching to maintain that power, and build a foundation for long-term success.

The 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs just came away from their best performance of the season, as they blasted the San Francisco 49ers 31-10. It was, by far, the most complete game this team has played since the beatdown in Denver last year.

While it seemed that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has had a difficult time getting on rhythm with the offense, everything clicked together last Sunday. QB Matt Cassel displayed arguably his best performance as a Chief by throwing three touchdowns, to just one interception.

Running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones were each marvelous in their own way. Charles continued to build upon his 6.4 YPC average, as he picked up 97 yards on just 12 carries. Meanwhile, Thomas Jones turned in his best performance as a Chief by hitting 5.0 YPC for this first time this year, and proved that he can still get it done at age 32.

But with the recent surge by the offense, the one thing that could take them not only to a winning record, but possibly to the top of the AFC West, is the sustained endowment of the Chiefs defense.

Through these first three games, the Chiefs rank sixth in rushing yards allowed, as they have improved in that department in each week, shutting down Ryan Mathews, Jerome Harrison, and Frank Gore, respectively. 

Some may have criticized the Chiefs for not adding anyone to the front seven during the offseason. At this point, the addition of defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been the biggest enhancement to the defense.

Crennel is a mastermind of the 3-4 defense, and has transformed this defense from incompetent in 2009 to a powerhouse in 2010.

The play of the defense will determine exactly how far the Chiefs are willing to go in 2010. They are flying to the ball and making plays, such as Brandon Flowers' tip-drill interception from Alex Smith, or the bull rush of nosetackle Ron Edwards, to the quickness of Tamba Hali around the corner to make a sack.

At the safety position, the Chiefs are starting two rookies. Although first-round pick Eric Berry may have made a couple mistakes in the first two games, coordinator Crennel coached up Berry this past week.

It was evident, as Berry didn't allow anything to get past him this time, and he didn't fall for the playaction as he has in the past.

On the other hand, fifth-round pick Kendrick Lewis has been superb in all areas so far, particularly in pass defense. He seems to fit well playing a center field-type position of free safety.

The resurrection of former first-round pick linebacker Derrick Johnson may be the most evident of them all.

Johnson has been widely criticized for his inconsistent play over the last five years. This year, he may have finally put it all together, at this point leading the team in tackles with a total of 24.

The San Diego Chargers have been the powerhouse of the AFC West for the past four years, not allowing anyone else to even have a say in the matter. They have the talent, and the fortitude, to hang with anybody, but what they are missing is coaching ability, and leadership.

The entire division is sitting at 1-2 at this point besides the Chiefs, and that's a good thing for Kansas City, who could easily fall to 3-2 over the next two games after their bye week. They have to face a strong Indianapolis Colts team, followed by the Houston Texans on the road.

It will be the true test, and measuring stick, of exactly how good these Chiefs' are.

The best part is, even if the Chiefs drop the next two games, they will still be in first place, and have a very easy schedule ahead. They take on Jacksonville and Buffalo in the following weeks to hopefully boost their record to a terrific 5-2.

With all the lackluster play coming from the rest of the AFC West, the Chiefs could very well be on their way to the top of the division, and they have the coaching to help keep them there.