With the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle of a game week, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley decided to give his players and coaches a day off. On the heels of the 43-14 loss, Haley isn’t sure it was the best idea.
“As a result of this game,” Haley said, “I’d have to say I would have done it potentially differently. But at the same time, I felt pretty good about how the guys responded during the week. It didn’t translate to Sunday to us.”
Haley shuffled last week’s practice schedule, working on Tuesday, players’ usual off day, and instead giving them the day off Thursday so they could celebrate Thanksgiving away from Chiefs headquarters.
Any player that had already made out of town plans for Christmas might want to try and exchange their tickets because this team isn’t going anywhere. Also, after that craptacular performance, it’s safe to say next year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be a rather large affair at One Arrowhead Drive.
A month after being released by the Chargers, Chiefs wide receiver Chris Chambers returned to San Diego and caught 7 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
“I had the upper hand,” he said, “as far as knowing the tendencies of the guys and knowing what was going on out on the field.”
Haley said that Chambers was a rare bright spot for the Chiefs on Sunday. Turnovers doomed Kansas City, a team that is miles away from perfect but might be a few steps closer because of Chambers.
Chambers said he’s interested in returning to the Chiefs next year, if that’s what it comes down to. He said it seems like the team is building something promising, despite a sloppy game like the one that played out in Chambers’ old backyard.
But he admitted Sunday that wherever he plays next year, San Diego will still be home. That weather is a tough thing to leave. Then again, so is a new situation that seems to be beginning to feel more comfortable by the week.
“I didn’t want to leave that way,” he said. “To get waived in the middle of the season like that is kind of shocking for a lot of people, especially for my teammates. But it was bigger than them. They moved on, and I moved on.”
When the Chiefs first claimed Chambers I was unsure of what the point was with there being little chance of him sticking beyond this season. But now I’m not so sure. Obviously it was a good call in the short term with Dwayne Bowe being suspended, but as the season goes along I can absolutely see him coming back next year to be a part of what could be a big step for this franchise.
After the Denver Broncos traded Jay Cutler, there were many in the media that felt Kyle Orton wouldn’t lead his new team anywhere but down. But new coach Josh McDaniels saw the past two games just how important Orton is to the team’s success.
In the time Orton was sidelined with a badly sprained left ankle — the second half against Washington through much of the first half against San Diego — the Broncos were outscored 26-0.
Now that everyone has finally come around to agreeing with what Broncos coach Josh McDaniels felt following the team’s first preseason game at San Francisco — that there is not a quarterback controversy — nothing may be more important in the final stretch of the regular season than keeping Orton healthy.
“I probably feel about as good as everybody else does,” Orton said, referring to the post-Thanksgiving portion of a long season. “Nobody really feels good. It’s just a grind every week to try to get as healthy as you can and do it again.”
Before he got hurt, Orton had thrown for 193 yards and two touchdowns in leading the Broncos to a 17-14 halftime lead against Washington. Returning sooner than expected on his damaged ankle, Orton passed for 245 yards and a touchdown in a 26-6 win against the New York Giants on Thanksgiving that stopped the Broncos’ four-game losing streak.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Orton, who started 15 games last season for Chicago, and backup Chris Simms, whose start against San Diego was his first in more than three seasons, is how quickly the ball comes out of the hand.
In McDaniels’ quick-timing, fast-reading passing offense, the quarterback must make hurried decisions without feeling harried. This can only be semi-mastered through playing at game speed, which Simms hasn’t. Understandably, it takes Simms a tad longer than Orton to release the ball.
You never want to wish an injury on someone, but the Chiefs sure would benefit from a first quarter ankle sprain for Orton. Simms looked out of place on the field in his short time and say what you will about Orton (and I have) but all he does is win football games.
The Chiefs have history on their side at Arrowhead, but the defense has to make sure they get to Orton a whole lot more than they did Philip Rivers. If Rivers was on the ground twice all game, I’d be shocked. I can’t remember even seeing him get a shove after he let go of a pass. That has to change this week.