The Chiefs played a strong first half against a Patriots team that's still one of the best in the NFL. The first four drives for the Patriots resulted in only 33 yards.
The Chiefs took chances and were unable to make the most of the opportunities they had. The Chiefs were able to move the ball in between the 20s all day long but failed to convert touchdowns in the red zone at every opportunity. It's not inconceivable that the Chiefs could have been up on the Patriots 14-0 in the first quarter.
There were strong performances and poor ones. It all comes down to inconsistency, because this is not a team lacking a ton of talent, it's one lacking an ability to finish.
After a good looking preseason, a lot of diehard Chiefs fans were happy to get a closer look at Tyler Palko. It's not that I don't like Matt Cassel, in fact, I think he's greatly underappreciated, especially in his own city. There's a lot worse starting in other cities.
The best way to put it is that Tyler Palko looked like a professional quarterback. Not a good one. Not a bad one. Just a professional; he looked like he had the right to be on the field. He had some good throws, especially early in the game, and he didn't look out of place. He did throw three interceptions, but only one of them was a really bad pick that he forced and admitted that he had gotten "greedy."
The first two interceptions were both on tipped balls—one thrown too far behind a receiver and the other a pass he led too much. That's a timing issue, and it should improve.
The bright lights were on a 28-year-old quarterback making his first NFL start, and he responded better than most could have expected. I don't see him as the next Kurt Warner, but I think he could very well be a solid quarterback.
The Chiefs have always known first hand the value of do-it-all tight ends, especially ones that are so good at finding the end zone.
Moeaki comes from the same draft class as Gronkowski and is very similar in ability. Moeaki serves as a strong run blocker and is good in pass protection. He quickly became one of Cassel's favorite targets, especially on third down.
Gronk burned the Chiefs for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He was a first-hand example of how much a headache a two-way tight end can be. The Chiefs miss Moeaki in every facet of the game. The Chiefs tight ends, Jake O'Connell and Leonard Pope, simply aren't cutting it.
The Chiefs had a lot to be excited about with McCluster last year. He looked like lightning in a bottle and paid instead dividends with a kickoff return for a touchdown against the Chargers in the first week of the season.
McCluster generally struggled the first half of the season. Though he carried the ball well for a couple of games, he often gained chunks of only three or four yards on check downs and failed to make defenders miss.
That's changed in the last couple of weeks. McCluster has looked more shifty and demonstrated his god-given ability to bounce past defenders for extra yards. He's been a third-down machine.
He may not have ripped off a 20 or 30-yard run lately, but he's proving he can be the player the Chiefs imagined when they took him in the second round.
Amon Gordon played a lot of snaps this week in place of injured defensive end/tackle Glenn Dorsey. He made the most of them. He registered a sack, a quarterback hit, a tackle for a loss and five total tackles(four of them solo). That's a lot of production the Chiefs have been missing from Dorsey, who after a very strong 2010 has seemingly disappeared.
Houston has been steadily getting better after a terrible beginning to his season. He was such a liability in coverage, the Chiefs couldn't afford to keep him on the field, but he's improving in that area. More importantly, his ability to get to the quarterback and speed that forces runners to go back inside are helping the team tremendously.
He may not have picked up a sack against the Patriots, but you would often find him in the backfield with Tamba Hali, forcing Tom Brady to get the ball out quickly.
Allen Bailey saw little time in the game but made his presence known by recovering the fumble that pass-rushing specialist Wallace Gilberry forced. He's a talented player who has a nose for the ball.
This was overall an excellent day for the Chiefs defensive front. They did a good job of getting to Brady and stuffed Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis the majority of the day. The Chiefs defense allowed only 20 points to the Patriots for the majority of the game (discounting the seven they got in mop-up time while running down the clock).
It's a sad day when the Chiefs miss Jon McGraw
Kendrick Lewis is a solid option for the Chiefs at safety. He has up days, and he has down days, but he's mostly a solid player and an occasional playmaker. He's not the problem.
The reason the Chiefs went out and drafted Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis in the same year was because of their glaring needs at safety. Since superstar Eric Berry has been gone, the Chiefs have had their secondary exposed over and over again, especially against tight ends like Rob Gronkowski.
Gronkowski is a difficult matchup for any linebacker or safety. However, Donald Washington has been doing a dreadful job of replacing Jon McGraw, who wasn't exactly good in the first place.
He gets burned repeatedly, and the Chiefs secondary cannot stop top offenses with just Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers.