Kansas City Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson will not be able to continue his impressive start to the season Sunday. After practice he ruled himself out for the game in Philadelphia.
“Bad timing,” he said.
Indeed. As the Chiefs prepare to face the Eagles’ high-scoring and multi-dimensional offense, which is almost definitely to include the wildcat formation, Kansas City needs as many playmakers on defense as possible. Demorrio Williams is expected to start alongside Corey Mays at the other inside position. Johnson had famously run with the third-team defense the past three weeks after a hamstring injury slowed him during the preseason.
Johnson said he thought he would only miss this week’s contest and could return next week. He did not practice Thursday and said he expected to travel with the team to Philadelphia.
This is a huge blow to the Chiefs defense. With Michael Vick presumably trying to turn the corner all afternoon long, the linebackers are going to have their hands full trying to keep up with the speedy quarterback. For all the progress Tamba Hali and Corey Mays have made, I don’t trust them closing in on a guy like Vick I would Johnson.
Marty Mornhinweg, the Eagles offensive coordinator, says he doesn’t follow any of the national debate about the validity of the wildcat. But whatever you do, don’t call it a gimmick.
“There are no gimmicks anymore,” he said, adding that defenses in the NFL now have to prepare for different formations and sets as a matter of routine. He says the Eagles’ philosophy under coach Andy Reid has always been to have four to six special plays in the game plan every week and that the wildcat is just an extension of that.
“If you can pop an extra touchdown or field goal out of one of those special plays, that gives you a big boost.”
With that, the Michael Vick experiment begins for real.
It’s amazing how polarizing the wildcat is among fans and media alike. If you’ve watched any of ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage, you have heard Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski argue over the validity of the formation. I am solidly in Gruden’s corner with the idea that the wildcat absolutely can succeed for the long term in the NFL if you have the right personnel.
It’s nothing more than a change of pace when you use your running backs or wide receivers as the person taking the snaps. But players like Michael Vick, Pat White and eventually Tim Tebow have the perfect set of tools to make it a full time offense.
It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that the Chiefs are nearly double digit underdogs in Philadelphia this weekend. But should you take the points? The folks at the Philadelphia Daily News think you should.
Chiefs (+9) over EAGLES
What me worry? Hell, yeah! Donovan with the ribs. Westbrook with the ankle. And now, DeSean with the groin. With the Eagles version of the old Cowboy triplets (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin) all in various states of disrepair, it’s impossible to look at the hometown heroes. Not at plus-9. We do know that Kansas City ain’t New Orleans, and Matt Cassel ain’t Drew Brees, but the Chiefs usually handle the underdog role very well, covering 11 of the last 17.
Then there’s some research we did on the bye-week stats. The Birds are off next week, and here are some very interesting numbers: In games before the bye week, the Eagles are only 3-7 straight up and only 2-7-1 against the spread. Want better? Got it. Underdogs have covered 12 of the last 14, with one push, in Philly the last 15 years.
As usual, I’ll announce my pick on this week’s “The Red & Gold Report” podcast, but from points perspective 9 are a lot to give with so many injuries. When you are making your decision, try to weigh how embarrassed the Eagles defense was last week against how much it will hurt their offense to possibly without McNabb, Jackson and Westbrook.