The Chiefs and Broncos had almost identical offseasons, but have gone in drastically different directions. Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star talked to former Kansas City quarterback Rich Gannon about how one team got tangled in it’s change and the other won in spite of it.
As similar as both teams appeared to be entering the 2009 season, Gannon said there was a key difference in the level of personnel that each team inherited. The Chiefs have made it clear that their roster remains — and will remain — a work in progress until Kansas City finds what it calls the “right 53” players. General manager Scott Pioli made three in-season trades and has auditioned numerous players in an effort to get it right.
Gannon said the Broncos didn’t require such an overhaul. Instead, Gannon said, Denver could focus on fine-tuning a talented group. The Chiefs have a handful of reliable receivers and a patchwork offensive line. Denver possesses neither of those problems. The Chiefs have started three combinations at offensive line in six games, and such inconsistency remains among Kansas City’s wide receivers that Haley demoted receivers coach Dedric Ward last week. Denver remained consistent on its line from last year, and it possesses several reliable receivers, all of whom have helped ease quarterback Kyle Orton’s transition.
“You give Matt Cassel those three guys they have in Denver,” Gannon said, referring to the wide receivers, “and it’d be a lot different.”
I can guarantee you that if the Broncos had also gotten off to a slow start, there wouldn’t have been nearly as many fans riding Haley and Pioli so hard over the first quarter of the season. 1-5 stinks no matter the circumstances, but it goes down even harder when fans have to watch McDaniels running all over the field pumping his fist after a victory every week.
It’s become a regular part of the week. When the odds are released for the upcoming NFL games, the Chiefs are underdogs and that didn’t change this week. And almost all the early action on the game is going one way.
At least 8 games featured a team getting around 90 percent or more of the betting action in fact. Many of these were big road favorites. The San Diego Chargers were widely anticipated to bounce back from their home loss to Denver with a 5 point or better win in Kansas City. The Chiefs finally won a game last weekend.
This is a much tougher matchup than last week. The Redskins were a free falling team that was a home favorite against a Chiefs team dying for their first victory. To me it was an easy decision to take Kansas City.
This week you again have a free falling team, but they are a road favorite. On the surface it seems like a better play, but now that the Chiefs have their first victory, no one knows how they will react. I’ve seen as low as 4.5 and as much as 5.5. The only way I’d suggest you get anywhere near the game is if you can get 6 points. Otherwise, steer clear. Unless of course you want to be part of the 90% betting against the Chiefs.
When the Chiefs welcome the Chargers into Arrowhead Sunday, they will see a team that is quickly growing restless.
Players are quietly questioning Turner’s grip on the collective psyche, the discipline instilled and the ability to motivate. No one will admit they personally have tuned the coach out, but they say it’s a danger perilously close to happening with teammates.
LaDainian Tomlinson, left on the sideline on a third-and-goal in the first quarter Monday, is by no means the only irritated Charger.
Losing does that.
Winning will make it better, as it did in 2007. But while there were things to be excited about in 2007, there seem few tangibles to be optimistic about this season.
The Chargers have allowed their past two opponents to convert 61 percent of their third downs. On the season, their defense ranks last in the league getting people off the field on third down.
Their offense is hardly better. Tied for the fewest rushing yards per game, they have fallen to the middle of the pack overall (14th) and in third-down efficiency (15th).
That might be OK if their defense could stop teams.
They are allowing the sixth-most rushing yards and 10th-most yards, the latter of which represents an improvement of three spots after Monday’s game.
They are allowing the fifth-most points.
Before the season — and really just as recently as a few weeks ago — there was no way I thought the Chiefs could take out the Chargers. But now with San Diego not only scuffling but owning a lot of the same traits of the Redskins of last week (minus a solid defense), it’s not so crazy.
As Chiefs fans have seen, when a team finally quits on a coach, there’s no going back. Have the Chargers gotten to that point with Turner? It’s too early to tell for sure, but Sunday’s game will go a long way towards getting an answer.