Kansas City Chiefs: 5 Things They Must Fix to Avoid 0-16 Season
Andrew Luck! Andrew Luck!
It's about that time of the year for Chiefs fans. I know I can't resist the prospect of blowing an entire season for a franchise-changing quarterback. However, that's just not the way things work. You don't really want to be like the Lions, do you?
Unfortunately, the Chiefs may very well look like the Lions and could post an 0-16 season, which will make the team the laughing stock of the league. There has to be change, and it has to be immediate. The Chiefs aren't an 0-16 team talent-wise, but they sure seem to be trying to prove everyone wrong.
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To put it simply: Matt Cassel is no longer the solution, he's the problem.
After a terrific 2010 season where he threw 27 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, he has now thrown only three touchdowns in three games and had five interceptions and two fumbles. He has only thrown for 428 yards in three games.
Cassel is a good quarterback, if surrounded with the talent at the skill positions and on the offensive line. This was the case in New England, and there is some talent on the Chiefs' offense, but not enough to touch the talent that surrounded Cassel in New England.
Quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn has to get Cassel's head screwed on right. Until he can play at the level he did last year, this team will suffer accordingly.
Find a Safety to Play Opposite of Kendrick Lewis
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The loss of safety Eric Berry is crushing. He looks to be the league's next Troy Polamalu, a true playmaker and game-changer.
But injuries happen, and teams must move on. The problem is that the Chiefs have to move on with Jon McGraw and Sabby Piscitelli, two safeties who are mediocre on their very best days.
According to profootballfocus.com, a site that grades every player on every play, McGraw is the 72nd ranked safety (out of 87) in the league. Piscitelli won't be outdone, however, he currently ranks as the worst safety in the entire league.
Simply put, something must be done. Darren Sharper is still available, and old though he may be, the Chiefs should consider taking a look at him.
Eliminate the Turnovers
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To be honest, I don't think the Chiefs are nearly as bad of a team as everyone thinks.
However, if they can't limit their turnovers like they did last year, they probably will be the worst team in the league. The Chiefs didn't have any turnovers against the Chargers in Week 3, allowing them to stay in the game with a strong defensive effort.
As the Chiefs drove down the field in the last two minutes of the game, making a large completion to Leonard Pope, the Chiefs were within range of a long field goal. Cassel then dropped back, looked down the field and threw a pick right into Eric Weddle's gut on what was supposed to be a simple screen pass to Dexter McCluster.
The Chiefs were a successful team last year because they took care of the ball, were strong on defense and could run the ball on any team in the league. If they expect to climb out of an 0-3 start and into respectability, they need to start cracking down on the fumbles and interceptions.
Get the Ball to Your Playmakers
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The Chiefs have two very nice receivers in Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe. Thomas Jones looks done, but Dexter McCluster has been a spark plug for this offense since Week 1.
If the Chiefs expect to make improvements, they need to make a concerted effort to get the ball in the hands of these three playmakers. The loss of Jamaal Charles is a brutal one, but this is not an offense that lacks weapons. Checking the ball down to Leonard Pope every other down or throwing 15 passes a game to the flat is not going to win you games.
The Chiefs' best offensive performance came against the Chargers this past week. It's no coincidence that this was because Cassel handed the ball of to Dexter McCluster nine times and found Dwayne Bowe as often as possible in the second half. This is still an offense capable of putting up points.
Take Advantage of the Next 2 Games
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The Chiefs have been cursed with what will most likely be the most difficult schedule of any team in the 2010 season.
However, for the next two weeks they are blessed. Kansas City will host Minnesota and then travel to Indy. Both teams are also 0-3, and both games are ones the Chiefs are easily capable of winning.
As nice of a commodity as Andrew Luck would be, the Chiefs have an obligation to try and win every game they can, and there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to enter Week 6 with a 2-3 record.
It would also be a much-needed morale boost. The Chiefs' schedule only goes down from there, with five straight games that include New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, the New York Jets and Green Bay. The Chiefs need to start their bounce back immediately, before it's too late.