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Bye Week Grades
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On October 23, 2007 @ 10:30 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
The Kansas City Chiefs have made it to the bye week in the 2007 season and have done better than most “experts” said they would. The Chiefs stand alone at the top of the AFC West with a 4-3 record with San Diego and Denver both a half game back at 3-3. The Oakland Raiders are, well, where they usually are, bringing up the rear at 2-4. The Chiefs handled the Raiders for the 9th straight time this past Sunday beating them 12-10. The nine straight wins are the most consecutive victories over the Raiders in team history.
The Chiefs are not playing like a Super Bowl team at the moment, but seem to be finding more ways to pull out wins week in and week out. When you step back and take a look at the team in sections, it is a little easier to give each part of the team a grade for the first seven weeks of the season.
Damon Huard has been what Damon Huard is, average. Damon has led this team into each game as a player who simply knows how to manage the game. If a person is expecting Huard to win a game for the Chiefs that might end up being a long wait. Damon Huard is a smart player who knows what to do and knows his limitations, and he does not try to do things that he is just not able to do. Damon has not been great, and he has not been horrible, he has been average, and that is what head coach Herm Edwards asks of him.
Larry Johnson is finally starting to run like the man that has produced back to back 1,700 yard seasons. This past Sunday LJ went over 100 yards for the second straight game and is now back in the top ten in rushing yards in the NFL. Larry still has the problem of learning how to block EVERY play he is asked to, but when he does seem to set his mind to blocking, he shows he can do it. Larry also scored for the second straight game with a powerful and hard fought one yard run. The return of Priest Holmes to the Chiefs will hopefully light a fire under Larry, because everyone knows that if Priest shows that he is even half the player he used to be, then he is going to take some carries away from Larry, and that just might get the “running mad” Larry back into action.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The Chiefs wide receivers have been a on and off again subject for many games. Rookie Dwayne Bowe has been nothing short of spectacular so far. Bowe has shown speed, good hands, and the ability to make the big play. Bowe has easily been the bright spot among the wide outs. Veteran Eddie Kennison has been out with a bad hamstring for most of the season, and Samie Parker has shown why most Chief fans feel he should be a 3rd or 4th receiver at best, by not getting separation off the line of scrimmage and dropping passes. Second year man Jeff Webb had one good game against the Bengals where he produced over 70 yards, but other than that game Webb has been a very inconsistent player with far too many drops. Tight End Tony Gonzalez has been his usual Pro Bowl level self. Tony still gets open, catches everything thrown his way, and is one of if not the best blocking tight end in the NFL. Gonzalez is as dependable as any player on any other team.
GRADE: Receivers- C Tight End- A.
The Chiefs offensive line is a simple one to grade. The line has been inconsistent and shown far too many weaknesses. There have been too many times that Larry Johnson has been given the ball only to see defenders in his face before he could take another step. Damon Huard has also had to pick himself up off the ground far too many times this season. Huard has already been sacked 18 times, a sign that the offensive line has been just a shell of the line from just a couple years ago. Major improvement is needed on the line, and with a Pro Bowler like Brian Waters there, improvement still does have a chance to arrive with the proper leadership.
Unlike the past few seasons, the Chiefs defensive line has been a solid part of the team so far this season. Veterans like Ron Edwards, Alfonso Boone, and James Reed, along with young rookies like Turk McBride and Tank Tyler have caused havoc in the middle and ends of the line for opposing offenses. Defensive end Tamba Hali is having another solid season as well, but the soul of the defensive line has been Jared Allen. Allen is tied at the top of the NFL with eight sacks, but Allen has produced those eight sacks in only five games. Jared is going to make it all but impossible for the Chiefs not to give him top level defensive end money at the end of the year. Jared Allen is simply playing out of this world so far this season.
A team can never have enough speed, but the Chiefs had been lacking that combination of speed and quality for years at the linebacker positions. This is no longer a problem for the Chiefs. Linebackers Donnie Edwards, Napoleon Harris, and Derrick Johnson form one of the fastest and best set of linebackers in the NFL this season. Sure tackling and play making ability are the main qualities of these players. In addition to being a part of a very good set of linebackers, Donnie Edwards continues to be one of the most underrated linebackers in the history of the game.
Despite having a much improved defense this season, the Chiefs still have some issues to deal with in the secondary. Cornerbacks Ty Law and Patrick Surtain are not getting any younger, and have shown signs of reaching the end of the road. Law has been beaten a hand full of times on deep routes, and has started giving a lot of receivers a large cushion in front of him making it easy for catches to be made to many times. Surtain has had a solid season so far, but has also started showing his age as well. Young safeties Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard have been good this year. Page has been a dependable player and shows signs of getting better every week. Pollard has had his problems this season, blown coverages and missed tackles are among the major issues. Pollard has shown the ability to forget his mistakes and keep his head in the game and improve. Veteran Greg Wesley has given the Chiefs a very solid option to replace either Pollard or Page if needed, and he still provides some of the hardest hits on the team. The future looks bright at the safety position for the Chiefs.
Finally we reach coach Herm Edwards. There are really no words for the job Herm Edwards has done so far. If you go by everything the “experts” said before the season, you would have been surprised if the Chiefs would have won four games all season, let alone four in the first seven games. Coach Edwards has done a great job with his young players by giving them the chance to play and develop, as well as surrounding the young players with QUALITY veterans, unlike the AVERAGE veterans that were brought in during the previous coaching era. Coach Edwards has given his coordinators Gunther Cunningham and Mike Solari the freedom to run their respective parts of the team as they see fit, but still lets them know what he expects from them while they work with his team. Herm Edwards will deserve a look at coach of the year if he is able to get this Chiefs team to the playoffs, and perhaps even a division title.
Overall, the Chiefs are proving to be a team that will be tough to be dealt with for anyone left on their schedule. Teamwork and a solid foundation are the parts that Coach Edwards has installed, and the parts appear to be running on all cylinders at the moment. The sky’s the limit for the Chiefs this season, and the season is only half way done.
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