The Chiefs running game continues to struggle with Larry Johnson and his 2.4 ypc the poster boy for those struggles. Though Todd Haley has said the problem isn’t just with Johnson, Adam Teicher looks as the possible options for Kansas City.
One option for the Chiefs is to give more playing time to Jamaal Charles. But the Chiefs so far at least have mainly resisted the idea of using Charles as anything but a third-down or change-of-pace back. He’s been handed the ball just 15 times in five games.
The Chiefs will get another option beginning next week when Kolby Smith becomes eligible to return to practice and the active roster. Largely forgotten outside of Chiefs headquarters since he tore ligaments in his right knee halfway through last season, Smith could eventually get a look at least as a part-time back.
“I feel good,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of once you get back on the field going through contact to see how the knee feels then. That’s when we’ll decide whether I’m ready to go or not. Whenever they say I can play, I’ll be out there. I want to make sure I’m right before I come back.”
Smith took over as the Chiefs’ featured back for several games in 2007 after injuries knocked out both Johnson and Holmes. He had a 150-yard, two touchdown game that season against Oakland.
For now, at least, the Chiefs are committed to making their running game work with Johnson. It clearly hasn’t so far, but Haley said that is far from being only Johnson’s fault.
The offensive line is absolutely a part of the problem, I’m not cracking any code with that line of thinking. But at the same time I just just haven’t seen any sort of power from LJ this season. He has shown some flashes catching the ball, something that has been a problem for him throughout his career. If you can get him more involved catching the ball down the field, maybe being able to work in space will bring back some of his confidence.
When the Kansas City defense takes the field Sunday, they won’t have to worry about dealing with one of the Redskins best offensive linemen.
Coach Jim Zorn said Monday the six-time Pro Bowl offensive left tackle has been playing with stenosis, a narrowing of the spine. The condition was aggravated by a collision with Carolina defensive end Tyler Brayton on the second play of Sunday’s 20-17 loss. Samuels was helped off the field and didn’t return.
“He got popped; he got some tingling,” Zorn said. “He will not be available to play next week just to quiet this thing down.”
With Samuels out, Zorn said he likely will move right tackle Stephon Heyer to the left side, with Mike Williams sliding from right guard into his natural right tackle spot. Either Will Montgomery or Chad Rinehart, who started Weeks 3 and 4 after Randy Thomas was lost for the season with a torn right triceps, will man right guard.
Nothing but good news for the Chiefs pass rush. It’s tough enough to be without your best lineman, but then to shuffle three or four guys around to patch the line together could make for a long day in the Redskins backfield. Tamba Hali has had a few great games rushing off the edge and Glenn Dorsey had one of his better games last week. If those two can carry their momentum into Sunday’s game the defense could rack up a nice sack total.
With the Redskins scuffling, there have been rumors in Washington and across the NFL about the future of Jim Zorn. No matter what happens, the team knows they have to change the way they’ve been performing.
“Things ain’t working,” cornerback Carlos Rogers said. “When things don’t work, there comes about change. Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s bad. They say players panic. Coaches panic, too, when things happen. It’s the beginning of the season. We got a long way to go. We’ve got a lot of things we need to iron out. It’s a lot of problems. It’s from personnel to coaches to whatever it is. Until we address those issues and turn them around, we’re going to be the same, going up and down. It starts not only with the players and the coaches. It starts with the ownership. They bring everybody in, and they’ve got last say-so of everything, so that’s where it starts, I guess.”
Five weeks into the season, the Redskins find themselves with deep-rooted, complex problems entering Sunday’s home game against winless Kansas City. It is up to Zorn to find the solutions. Several players have publicly endorsed the second-year head coach — “We’re behind Coach Zorn 110 percent,” Cartwright said Monday — even as reports surface that team owner Daniel Snyder is planning for Zorn’s replacement.
The Redskins have denied such activity. But with a slew of Super Bowl-winning coaches — Mike Shanahan, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher among them — currently unemployed and willing to coach again, Zorn must deal with speculation that increases after each loss.
There were a couple of time during the Dallas game that I wondered if the Cowboys were about to completely implode. Unfortunately Mike Brown was a step late getting to Mile Austin twice and they never fell to pieces. The Redskins look like they are also primed to have their fuse lit.
Can the Chiefs finish the job this time? Early on in the week I am feeling pretty confident that they will.