With kick-off weekend in our rear view mirror, Sunday’s combatants the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, head into this game after decisive losses to open the 2012 campaign. The Bills were destroyed on the road by an average New York Jets team. And the Chiefs, were spanked at home by a solid Atlanta Falcons squad.
But the game on Sunday at Orchard Park, could be the ticket for both teams to salvage their season. If the Bills win, they can regain some of their offseason thunder, where most felt, they were the second best team in the division behind the New England Patriots.
For the Chiefs, many believed they had the best talent in the AFC West. But at the moment that’s under great debate. Currently Kansas City lives in the cellar of the division with the Oakland Raiders. And if the Chiefs want to maintain the fodder as one of the teams to beat for the division crown, they best find a way to defeat the Bills.
If not the Denver Broncos, who looked like world beaters on Sunday night at home and the San Diego Chargers, who smashed the Raiders on the road, might make a mockery of the division.
To say this game is pivotal for the Chiefs 2012 fortunes, might be mild understatement. It’s so important, especially when you consider the fact the Chiefs have to travel to New Orleans next weekend to face an angry Saints team, that they have to view this contest Sunday as if it were a playoff game.
Since the Falcons left Arrowhead last Sunday, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact the Chiefs defense played so poorly. I can make all the excuses, injuries, questionable play-calling on both sides of the coin and finally a deficiency in talent.
Yet I really don’t want to go there. I’m not thrilled with the lack of aggression on defense. Yes, I know some of the personnel on that side of the ball wasn’t strong but so what.
If you don’t run your defense with your back-ups as you would with the starters, you’re already hoisted the white flag. Sure you can make a case that the second and third stringers were a few steps behind or flat out lost on the field, but who cares. You can’t make excuses in the NFL because nobody is going to feel sorry for anyone.
If there is one thing about this league that infuriates me, it’s when defensive minded geniuses like Romeo Crennel, lack aggression. The Chiefs secondary was getting torched by Matt Ryan and company. So with that fact, why not go all out.
On Sunday in Buffalo, they’re facing a quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has a track record for tremendous success against the Chiefs. However, since he signed his mega-contract last year, he’s won only a pair of games and that includes whiffing in the pre-season as the teams starter.
But with those riches in hand, Bills Head Coach Chan Gailey, can’t do anything but find a way to get his offense back on track with a quarterback that losses far more than he should based on the coin he’s being paid.
And if Gailey watched any of the Falcons game film, he should be salivating at the thought of lighting up against the Chiefs secondary.
For his part, Crennel, can’t fall into the same sense of lack of confidence that riddled his teams chances of making enough stops on defense to stop the Falcons juggernaut. He has a potent offense that can’t continue to play from behind game in and game out.
So that means, he needs to send the house on long third down situations and having sack-master, Tamba Hali back in the fold this week, should boost the defense.
But the secondary has to be more aggressive from jamming the Bills receivers at the line of scrimmage to disguising coverages, to confuse the embattled Fitzpatrick. Should they be able to do just that, then perhaps Hali and Justin Houston can force the Bills quarterback to throw a few more interceptions to the opposition.
Either way the defensive game plan on Sunday can’t be as ill-fated schematically as the one that was so easily devoured in week one.
But I don’t want to be too critical of the genius of Crennel. And I’m no expert. But I’ve always maintained that when you play a prevent defense for any reason, you’re going to lose football games. It’s probably the single most mind numbing aspect of watching highly skilled defensive minds like that of Crennel fail to have that Carpe Diem mentality.
I can justify all the reasons to play soft coverage for the Chiefs each week, but it’s a flawed plan.
Its time to let the dogs out!
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