Jon Asamoah knocked Darnell Dockett on his ass. This is important, and not because Dockett is an exceptional run stuffer. He isn’t. But with three Pro Bowls under his sizable belt, he’s no slouch either. No, this is important because Asamoah has thus far been a piss poor road grader. For a guy that was drafted to fill the painfully vacant shoes of Will Shields, he barely edged out luminaries like Wade Smith and Jason Pinkston to avoid the dubious honor of being 2011′s worst run blocking interior lineman.
Asamoah’s performance wasn’t unique either. Relative to his teammates on both sides of the ball, it was ordinary. The Chiefs beat the hell out of the Cardinals, and they did it in the trenches. Final stats for the offensive line: 4.0 yards per carry (7.6 from the two backs that count) and zero sacks. Final stats for the defensive line and linebackers: 10 tackles for loss, 6 QB hits, 3 passes defensed, a forced fumble, and seven sacks.
The bad news here is that it looks more than ever like the last three years were Todd Haley’s fault. I wanted Haley to succeed as much as anybody, and you can’t fault Scott Pioli for thinking Haley would have the requisite pedigree. He didn’t. This roster isn’t all that different from the one he inherited in 2009, and for all intents and purposes it’s the same team that got embarrassed by Baltimore in the wild card round two seasons ago. No doubt that guys like Eric Winston and Justin Houston are making this team better, but swapping a couple of cogs in the wheel can’t account for how much faster the wheel moves nowadays.
The good news is that it looks more than ever like the last three years were Todd Haley’s fault. Now he’s Pittsburgh’s problem.
There are still chinks in the armor. I’ll reserve judgment of Matt Cassel until he has his full complement of receivers, but I don’t find it encouraging that the leading receivers were Steve Maneri and Dexter McCluster. Then again, I find it quite encouraging that Steve Maneri can actually catch. Likewise, it’s encouraging that a journeyman like Abram Elam can cover routes. It may not be a tall order to outplay the guys they’re replacing–Jake O’Connell and Sabby Piscitelli–but these two might actually bypass the standard third string benchmark of not-completely-awful and venture into the lesser known territories of potential-contributor and moderately-watchable. Or better. There’s no rule that says benchwarmers have to suck.
In any case, it does appear that Cassel probably doesn’t need to fear losing his job. Brady Quinn looks shakable, and Ricky Stanzi looks shook. Or, rather, he throws with the accuracy of a quarterback who’s shook. My fear with Stanzi is that he isn’t shook, and very well may have full confidence in his ability to make plays–a sort of full time Mighty Casey, minus the track record. I want a new quarterback, but since that isn’t in the cards, Matt, please stay healthy.
In the meantime, I used my press credentials today to get in touch with the lunch lady at 1 Arrowhead Drive. On the menu for Saturday: Big hits. Bewildered opponents. Sam Bradford undulating in his boots and defecating in his shorts. Strap in, sports fans. It’s time for some fuckin’ football.