When the Kansas City Chiefs travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, they should see plenty of the Wildcat offense if last week’s game against New Orleans is any indication.
Nine plays in all, including at least one snap in each of their first four possessions. And, they did that without Michael Vick who was still serving his NFL suspension. But when the Chiefs arrive in the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday, Eagles coach Andy Reid will be able to add Vick to the mix as well.
“You know they are going to use him,” Chiefs ILB Derrick Johnson said on Monday, as the Chiefs came back to work to lick their wounds from Sunday’s 13-10 loss to the Raiders. “They aren’t going to have him and not do something with him. We’ll have to expect the unexpected.”
The coaching staff is way ahead of that curve. The Chiefs have practiced against the Wildcat over the last month, even though neither Baltimore nor Oakland used the offense. It’s popular with some teams like Miami, as the Dolphins used the scheme a bunch of times Monday night against Indianapolis.
And it appears very popular with the Eagles based on what they did on Sunday. They probably would have used it more often if they had not fallen behind the explosive Saints in the second half.
Ever since the Dolphins popularized the Wildcat last season, the Chiefs have yet to face much of it, but that clearly will change Sunday. And the wild card — pun intended — is Vick. It’s one thing to have Westbrook and Jackson running with the ball behind the line with the small possibility that they throw the ball. When Vick is taking the snap he has the potential to throw throw the ball 50 yards down the field, something you never have to worry about with most Wildcat quarterbacks.
After seeing the Kansas City defense fall over themselves try to track down Joe Flacco in Week 1, I shudder to think what it will be like with Vick running all over the field.
Former Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez returned to Kansas City last night for the first time since he was traded to the Atlanta Falcons. But it wasn’t on the football field, instead it was to support the Shadow Buddies Foundation.
“I’m here to see Tony,” he says.
Gonzalez is playing the first of his 13 NFL seasons away from Kansas City, but this is still very much his town. With the Royals finishing a disappointing summer and the Chiefs on their way to a horrific autumn, he still just might be the most popular athlete in Kansas City.
Maybe that eases the annoyance of the 3 1/2 -hour delay at the airport in Atlanta, his new NFL home, where he’s caught 12 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns for the 2-0 Falcons.
It’s not lost on anyone that all those numbers would lead the 0-2 Chiefs, which sure doesn’t hurt the way people react when they finally see him roll up that escalator, back in downtown Kansas City for the fund-raiser on Monday night.
“Tony!” they yell.
“Hey, Randy,” he says to a familiar face.
He holds his daughter and shakes some hands and when the reporters approach, he smiles.
“You’re not going to ask me about the Chiefs, are you?” he says, and everyone laughs.
This is the first time he’s been back since being traded to the Falcons. The losing wore on him, something he never tried much to hide. It’s different in Atlanta now, and he doesn’t mind saying so.
“That whole winning environment is really great,” he says. “I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Good to see you’re still supporting charities in Kansas City, Tony. But please stop turning the knife with the “winning environment” stuff. Ugh.
Eagles coach Andy Reid believes that running back Brian Westbrook’s issue is regaining his sharpness after a layoff, not diminished capability, reports Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News.
In two games, the Eagles’ once-electric running back has carried 26 times for 116 yards, a respectable but unremarkable 4.5-yard average. Westbrook, who caught more passes than any other NFL running back from 2004-2008, has just six catches so far this season, for 22 yards. He has looked more or less OK. He hasn’t taken anyone’s breath away.
Of course, the Birds have more attractive receiving options now than they had in 2007, when Westbrook set a team record by hauling in 90 passes. DeSean Jackson alone changes that equation. It might be reasonable to ask whether Jackson has become Westbrook – the bottled-lightning guy for this offense – with Westbrook, at 30, more in the role of the late-career Duce Staley.
Perhaps more ominous than the possibility that Westbrook can’t quite find the extra gear that made him so special is the sprained ankle he suffered in the second half of Sunday’s 48-22 loss to the Saints.
Reid said yesterday that Westbrook “has a little bit of swelling in it. It’s the same ankle that he had surgery on. We’ll just see how he does here in the next couple of days.”
Reid said Westbrook will not get an MRI on the ankle, which needed surgery for removal of bone fragments in June, after Westbrook experienced lingering discomfort from last season. Even if this turns out not to be a serious setback, fans have to wonder – Westbrook was held out of the entire preseason to keep him healthy, he left the opener early because it was a blowout win and Reid wanted to be careful with him, yet less than 20 touches into the next game, Westbrook was hobbled.
After the Saints game, Westbrook told the media he was hoping to play this weekend. With DeSean Jackson also nursing an injury (groin), it should make it a whole lot easier for the Kansas City defense to take care of Michael Vick. And if they both miss the game along with Donovan McNabb I would even say the Chiefs could steal a win in Philly.