Around The Web: Running Chiefs, Quarterback Curse, Recovering Rams

Even before the Kansas City Chiefs lost Matt Cassel to a leg injury Saturday night, they knew in order to win the offense would have to do a better job of running the ball.

The Chiefs planned to hammer away at the Seahawks with their running game, and for a time that’s what they did, even JamaalCharlesRunafter Cassel was replaced by Tyler Thigpen.  Sixteen of Kansas City’s first 18 plays were runs, and at one point the Chiefs tried 12 straight runs.

The Chiefs later brought that into balance with Thigpen passes, but they were successful with the run.  Jamaal Charles rushed for 54 yards and Larry Johnson 36 in the first half.

“Running the football is something we’re going to have to be able to do,” Haley said.  “If there was a positive early, I felt we were moving the ball on the ground a little bit.  We got sidetracked.  We can’t let that happen for whatever reason.  I shouldn’t say for whatever reason.  I should say whatever the circumstances in a game that’s close like that.  We must have been blocking them a little bit.  Charles made a couple of real nice runs.  Larry had a couple of aggressive runs, which were positive.  We were coming off the ball.  I saw some receivers blocking pretty well on the perimeter, which gave us a chance to turn them into bigger gainers.”

Johnson averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in the first two games with most of that yardage coming on an 18-yard gain two weeks ago against Minnesota.  But against Seattle, he had his best game of the preseason.

Overshadowed by the injuries to Cassel, Brandon Flowers and Devard Darling was the Chiefs finally putting together a string of solid plays on the ground.

Johnson looked more like the old LJ than we have seen in some time and Charles was breaking tackles along while showcasing the speed we all know he has.  We are going to have to see more of this until Cassel gets back if the Chiefs are going to have any chance over the next few weeks.

Do the Chiefs have a quarterback curse?  Bob Gretz makes an awfully compelling case this morning.

For awhile, it seemed the QB injury curse was something that followed Herm Edwards around, leading to speculation that it was some sort of cosmic football karma for all the torment he put passers through during his career as an NFL cornerback.

But after Saturday night, we know that the origin is not Herm; he can’t be blamed for Matt Cassel going down and out this summer.

It seems to be whatever man is wearing the red jersey with the Chiefs No. 1 offense is destined for pain.  Not just emotional or mental strain, but physical pain.  Cassel joins a group that includes Trent Green, Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle that all became familiar with the training room and operating theater.

Remarkably, Green’s achievement of starting 82 consecutive games for the Chiefs from 2001 through the opening game of the 2006 season has grown in stature, achieving an almost ironman status considering what has come since then.

Green was knocked out by Cincinnati DE Robert Geathers in that ‘06 opener.  Huard replaced Green in ‘06, and was the starting quarterback to open the ‘07 season.  But he eventually was bruised and battered and Croyle stepped into the job.  Croyle went two starts before he was injured and Huard had to provide a one-week relief start.DamonHuard

Then came the quarterback nightmare of the ‘08 season.  In the first three games, the Chiefs had three different starters in Croyle, Huard and Tyler Thigpen.  Huard came back for a game, then Croyle returned for a game, then they were both went to the injured reserve list and Thigpen finished out the season.

Acquired through a trade with New England, Cassel signs a franchise-quarterback type contract and takes all the first-team offensive snaps from the first day of off-season practices through Saturday’s game against the Seahawks.  Then boom, the curse strikes again.

Even the most anti-Thigpen Chiefs fans have to give him credit simply for surviving last season.  We all witnessed the rotating QB spot after Green went down against Cincinnati, but I don’t think you realize just how bad things have been until you see it all spelled out in front of you.

I know we were assuming Todd Haley would be able to improve the offensive line simply with a new scheme, but the early returns shouldn’t make anyone feel confident.  The media — and plenty of fans — love to kill the “Arrowspread” but it may be the only way to keep this offense moving until better linemen arrive.  At the very least we need to see more shotgun formations to buy Cassel/Croyle/Thigpen/Gutierrez/Wildcat more time.

The injury bug waited until the third week of the preseason to bite the Kansas City Chiefs.  The St. Louis Rams — the Chiefs opponent Thursday night — had to deal with injuries early on in training camp and are just now starting to get healthy.

As the regular season approaches, the St. Louis Rams are getting progressively healthier.  It appears that they came out of Thursday night’s game at Cincinnati with no major injuries, and several players who have been out for a while are getting close to a full return.

Wide receiver Time Carter (groin) and running back Kenneth Darby (knee) played in the 24-21 victory over the Bengals despite not practicing all week.  Wideout Donnie Avery (foot), defensive tackle Adam Carriker (ankle), guard Jacob Bell (concussion) and defensive end Leonard Little (knee) are expected to practice this week and could play Thursday night.

Also, coach Steve Spagnuolo reported that quarterback Marc Bulger (finger) will throw some this week, although he might not take snaps.  Bulger probably will sit out Thursday.

So that means the big “showdown” Thursday night in St. Louis could be Brodie Croyle vs. Kyle Boller.  Talk about must see TV!

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