The Chiefs missed a golden opportunity to make the lead story at Tuesday morning's water cooler Monday night. Journeyman quarterback Tyler Palko, Shane Falco hair and all, was poised to shock the football world and outshine Tom Brady. A handful of dumpoff and gimmick plays later the Chiefs trailed the Patriots by two possessions at the half, ending all hopes of a 2011 turnaround.
With Matt Cassel on injured reserve, the Chiefs' starting job for the remainder of the season will be Palko's to lose. If he continues to struggle, the Chiefs will have to take a look at fifth-round draft selection Ricky Stanzi. Considering that Monday night was the first time Stanzi has suited up in 2011, the Chiefs may be missing Cassel more than they had imagined.
I'm not a live-in-the-past kind of guy but the release of Pro Bowl guard Brian Waters continues to linger. Seeing Waters make an All-Pro play on the Patriots' second drive, when he checked two Kansas City defenders, made me yearn for old days. You remember 2010, right? It seems like a different era, but we are just one year removed from the Chiefs' offensive line leading the NFL in rushing.
While Jamaal Charles was the motor behind KC's offense last year, the offensive line was the wheels that Charles rolled on. Brian Waters was the tread on those tires.
Waters didn't want to be in Kansas City, but how could you blame him? The Chiefs wanted him to ride the pine and Waters proved Monday night he is still one of the best in the game. Without his presence, the Chiefs have not been nearly as effective at running the ball. Charles' injury has a lot to do with the drastic drop in rushing production, but the Chiefs miss Waters, too.
The highlight of the night may have been how well the Chiefs' defensive line played in the absence of defensive end Glenn Dorsey. His replacements played above and beyond expectations against one of the best offensive lines in the league. Fielding a combination of Amon Gordon, Wallace Gilberry and Allen Bailey, the Chiefs attacked and pressured Tom Brady like few teams have been able to accomplish.
With the success the Chiefs had Monday night you have to wonder why KC's defensive staff has been holding back. When defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel brought consistent and steady pressure this defense looked like it could stifle any offense.
If you found yourself scrambling for a numerical roster Monday night there was a good reason why. Several Chiefs made their season debut including the Chiefs' sixth-round draft selection, nose tackle Jerrell Powe. He had yet to dress for a game this year despite being a heralded selection in last April's draft.
The results were somewhat of a mixed bag for Powe. On several plays he displayed the dominant power and strength that made him one of the best 3-4 tackles in the draft. On other plays, Powe showed why he had been on the sideline throughout the season. Powe is KC's biggest body in the middle, and if he gets more on-the-job training, his value in 2012 will be much higher.
The Chiefs lost more than just the possession on one Tyler Palko interception, they also lost their starting left guard, Ryan Lilja. He was injured on a brutal block by a Patriots defensive lineman during the interception return and never returned to the game. The initial report is a head/neck injury, but we won't hear anything definite until Wednesday.
Filling in for Lilja was third-round draft choice Rodney Hudson, a young player who is highly thought of and believed to be a long term fixture on the Chiefs' offensive line starting in the near future. With Lilja's recent struggles, Hudson's play should be closely watched in the event Lilja misses more time. If Hudson plays well, he may keep the job.
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