Friday, November 2, 2012

NFL WEEK 9 – THURSDAY NIGHT GAME T&R (thoughts and revelations)

Blame Cassel all you want, this wasn't on him.
The anatomy of a Chiefs loss is a complex series of bungled plays, all compounding into one big maelstrom of misfortune. That misfortune is going to pull the Chiefs coaching staff apart any day now, with Romeo Crennel getting pulled under first.

Is anyone else seeing the kind of error-prone team Matt Cassel is leading? Does anyone believe that starting Brady Quinn behind this group is going to build his confidence for the future? Even before the two defensive touchdowns the Chargers scored in less than two minutes, the Chiefs did everything in their power to make sure they couldn't win this ball game.

On their first drive, one that started on their 13 and opened with a Jamaal Charles run of eight yards, Dwayne Bowe lost his first fumble ever inside the San Diego 35-yard line. The Chiefs opening possession of the second half resulted in a punt, but kick returner Erick Weddle muffed the return and the Chiefs took over on the Charger 24. Then Matt Cassel threw what looked like a perfect third down touchdown strike to Bowe, except the angle Bowe took on the ball wasn't toward the wide open corner, it was back to the center of the field. The pass flew harmlessly over his head to the corner when Bowe turned slight inward and the Chiefs lost a touchdown. Kicker Ryan Succop then hit the right upright on a 39-yard field goal attempt which leaves them down 10-3. The next drive, Cassel guided KC from their own seven yard line to the San Diego 28, where a first down run by Peyton Hillis was snuffed out for a loss of three. Then Guard Eric Winston commits a false start penalty, the first of what will be two seriously bad ones.  Now the Chiefs are 2nd and 18 on the Charger 36. Instead of tying the game, the Chiefs now are down 10-6, when at worst the game really should be 10-9.
Need I go on? 

It was a comedy of errors, most of which weren't funny. They were instead connected by the very unraveling threads Romeo Crennel can't seem to patch up fast enough. When a head coach tells the media he's "not sure" why his starting running back received five carries, you can be sure he doesn't understand that two bad penalties, plus a second and long situation inside your own five yard line can add up to a crucial turnover.

Jamaal Charles left the game in the fourth quarter after taking a hit to the neck. This turned out to be crucial as just one play later Cassel was victimized by his receiver Dexter McCluster tipping his pass to the Chargers Demorrio Williams, the same completion Charles caught just moments before. With Charles gone, Shaun Draughn becomes a good bet to get the bulk of the carries, though Hillis will probably get the start next week. Draughn ended up with his second rushing TD of the season on the night, and offers a more complete package than Hillis does.

As for San Diego, the Chargers showed again that this is the kind of team they can beat. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for two TDs, but committed the most egregious of errors when he threw an interception at the end of the half as the Chargers sat poised to add to their lead. These are the kind of errors someone of Rivers experience and position should be able to avoid. The more I watch him, the more I realize that Rivers hasn't learned the old Spiderman mantra (slightly paraphrased); that with great talent, comes great responsibility. Rivers constantly takes that responsibility and chucks it into the air for anyone to grab, often at crucial times. Against a solid team like Denver, the Broncos took it and ran him back over with it. He escaped this time because this was the Chiefs. While Matt Cassel has fumbled way too many times to defend everything he's done, he's put the Chiefs in plenty of positions to stay competitive and even win (see the game versus New Orleans if you can remember that far back). I watch Philip Rivers and I now see a quarterback who takes winning positions and often gives them away, week after week. I don't doubt Rivers God-given talent. I don't think anyone thinks it's a matter of "if" Rivers can do things. I think it's a question of "when" he chooses to do things. I question his brights. Perhaps the quarterback change is as necessary in San Diego as it is in Kansas City.