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Relax, it’s Just the Raiders
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On December 2, 2008 @ 8:11 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
Kansas City fans, relax. It’s just the Raiders. We didn’t beat the Giants or the Ravens or even the Rams. I was as happy as I could be that we won another game yesterday, thus avoiding a prospective 1-15 record and putting a little separation between us and the magnificently awful Detroit Lions (please God, let them run the table), but quite frankly I was happier with the San Diego loss. The reason why is simple: I saw no progress. We played the same or a little worse than we did against Buffalo, but we had the benefit of playing the 2nd worst team in the NFL. In the words of Deuce McAllister after his team handed our team its collective ass two weeks ago, “no offense, but we beat a team we should beat.”
Let’s start by focusing on the positives. First, Tyler Thigpen won a game. The team didn’t win in spite of Tyler Thigpen. Tyler Thigpen won a game. Tyler Thigpen won a game on an off day. Tyler Thigpen won a game despite throwing more interceptions than touchdowns for the first time since taking over as the full-time starter. Tyler Thigpen did what Brodie Croyle could not and Damon Huard did not–he led the team not by default but by presence. He made the men around him believe in his ability as well as his durability. I don’t claim to know whether or not he is the future of this franchise, but I do know he is the present, and presently that’s an acceptable arrangement.
Second, Tyler Thigpen won a game without his favorite target. Mark Bradley played sparsely and acted mostly as a decoy. He didn’t (and likely couldn’t) run at full speed and he seldom got open. He was a nonentity and the offense suffered as a result. I ardently believe a team needs a third target in the passing game to be truly effective, and thus far neither Will Franklin nor Devard Darling has shown that they can be that in Bradley’s stead. Someone will invariably think to point out that Trent Green never had a third target, but in reality he did–Priest Holmes was a 600+ yard receiver when healthy. Bradley might not have Holmes’s versatility, but up until this week he possessed another important quality: availability. Hopefully he’ll be healthy soon. We’ll need him if we’re going to win these next four games.
Third, Derrick Johnson showed up again. Maybe somebody reminded him that this is a contract year and thus far he hasn’t done nearly enough to earn much more of a salary than he’s already making. Maybe somebody reminded him that it’s bad that his journeyman backup has been outplaying him. Maybe somebody reminded him that he’s on the fast track to having career low years in both tackles and sacks, including the year he missed three games. Simply put, he has to be the playmaker on this defense if he wants this team to win games. They will live and die by the measure of his achievement. He must live up to his billing for the next four weeks, and if he doesn’t we as fans must learn to accept that he will likely not be wearing red and gold next season.
Now let’s examine the flip side. First, Wade Smith is a sieve. He is second only to Chris Terry in poor offensive line play in recent Chiefs history. He makes Brett Williams look serviceable. Of course it doesn’t help that Herb Taylor went in for a series and racked up yet another false start penalty, but is there nobody else that can take this guy’s place? Nobody else that can snap a ball AND make a block? Thigpen should count his lucky stars that Rudy’s injury wasn’t all that bad and that he was able to return. I hope desperately that we spend more picks on linemen in this next draft. Unless Barry Richardson turns the corner, we don’t have nearly enough.
Second, fire Mike Priefer. Those three words have become my mantra and will remain so. You will never again read a Nathan Kent game review without those three words until said wish comes true. This week I saw on one return something that almost looked like a wedge. I hadn’t seen that at any point prior since Priefer took over. This formation had many of the key elements of a wedge. Five blockers? Check. In front of the kicker? Check. Running in the same direction? Check. Shaped like a wedge? FUCK! Close, but no cigar. It’s not a tough concept to grasp. Birds do it all the time. If they can figure it out, a veteran coach with a veteran coach father should be able to as well. I’d call him birdbrains, but a bird’s brain would clearly be an upgrade.
Third, the Chiefs are well on their way to setting a truly embarrassing record. One season ago this team was a respectable 9th in the league in sacks with 37 and sported the #1 pass rusher in Jared Allen. This season, without said #1 pass rusher, it seems woefully unlikely that even one Chief will register even 3 sacks. That’s a failure of epic proportions. It’s inexcusable. The buck must stop somewhere. Someone in the organization needs to step forward and confess a monumental error in judgment in personnel management. Keeping Jared Allen might not have been the answer, but neither was electing not to pursue anybody to take his place. The single late round pick used to replace that Pro Bowler is no less acceptable than the single late round pick used last year to replace another Pro Bowler (Will Shields). It demonstrates that our needs are rather simple: we need more of everything.
Soon enough we’ll be able to put this colossal failure of a season behind us. We’ll find a little solace in the handful of wins our beloved team collected. Our skin will grow a little thicker and our expectations will fall a little lower. We’ll celebrate the success of another draft, all the while nursing the suspicion that it might be pissed away once again. But for the time being, let’s not get too excited over beating a team that should have lost every week for the past five seasons. Let’s hope instead that we can find our footing next week when we play another varsity squad. Relax for now. It’s only the Raiders. But cross your fingers and hope that this time next week our new cry can be Behold, it’s the Broncos.
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