I’m not going to sit here and tell you Croyle was spectacular Saturday night – every completion was a garden-variety dumpoff. But at the same time, anyone reacting in knee-jerk fashion to the poor offensive play in Saturday’s 16-12 loss better check themselves. The sky is certainly not falling, and the season is definitely not over.
What stood out to me most about Croyle’s performance in Cleveland was one thing – for the most part, he got rid of the football quickly. That’s in stark contrast to his predecessor, Trent Green, who had a woeful penchant for holding the ball too long.
The Chiefs, and in particular quarterbacks coach Dick Curl, have been preaching this mantra all offseason. It showed up drastically during training camp, as some of you might’ve seen on the initial episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks.
The only time Croyle really held the ball too long Saturday night was on the play when he was intercepted. The Chiefs attempted to set up a screen pass, but when running back Michael Bennett was held, the jig was up. Croyle wisely escaped pressure (he’s more nimble than people think) and attempted to throw the ball away, but unfortunately threw it into the waiting arms of Browns cornerback Leigh Bodden. Lesson learned, Brodie. Next time throw it into the third row of the stands.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the Chiefs have emphasized quick passes all offseason, because what’s now become a much greater concern is the play of KC’s offensive tackles. Will Svitek’s starting debut was awful (Browns linebacker Kamerion Wimbley completely took Svitek to school Saturday night), and the situation at right tackle isn’t improving.
The Chiefs rotated Chris Terry and Kyle Turley at the position, but neither did much to stake a claim to the job. Obviously Kansas City isn’t happy at all with Terry, as he continued to play with the backup offensive line late into the second quarter. They’re getting a good, long look at the veteran, and the results aren’t pretty.
On one play Terry was completely victimized by a spin move, and Cleveland’s defensive ends and linebackers constantly bull-rushed him into the face of whoever was playing quarterback. After spending so much time away from football, I wonder if Terry has his legs back under him yet. Right now he looks weak at the point of attack.
If Saturday’s game was an isolated incident, Terry’s problems wouldn’t be so much of an issue, but he wasn’t good against the Vikings in scrimmages, and in training camp defensive end Tamba Hali pretty much had his way with him – especially on Family Fun Night last Wednesday.
The other thing that really stood out Saturday was the poor play of Kansas City’s Johnson-less stable of running back. Bennett opened the game with a nice run, and picked up some garbage yards on a third-and-long draw, but other than that the play of Bennett, Kolby Smith, Marcus O’Keith and Derrick Ross was vastly underwhelming.
Smith appeared lost against the Browns, unable to find holes, and generally looked nothing like the aggressive, powerful player we saw in River Falls. O’Keith did nothing of note in five carries, but managed to get himself run over in a failed attempt to pick up a blitz late in the game. Ross had a nice 19-yard run, but otherwise continued to show why he won’t make the 53-man roster in a few weeks. As if all this wasn't enough, there were dropped passes - which wasn't an issue in Wisconsin.
Did I mention none of these guys even so much as broke a tackle?
I have a feeling that as soon as the Chiefs (hopefully) get their pass protection situation remedied and get Johnson signed, Croyle and Damon Huard will look like much better quarterbacks. In the meantime, let’s be patient – and that goes for you Dolphins fans who booed Trent Green in his Miami debut, too.
• It’s nice to see a Chiefs kicker boom on the ball on kickoffs. I was concerned that rookie Justin Medlock wasn’t much of an upgrade over Lawrence Tynes, but he placed the ball a yard deep into the end zone on his first kick Saturday night. The difference was clear on the ensuing return, as Cleveland started at its own 23-yard line, instead of somewhere around the 30. If the Chiefs can consistently force their opponents into that sort of field position, it will significantly help the defense.
• Linebacker Donnie Edwards was simply all over the field Saturday night. He opened the game with a near-interception of Charlie Frye, stopped running backs in their tracks on swing passes and stuffed a third-and-1 running play in tandem with Jared Allen. I was shocked to see him credited with only two tackles when I looked at the box score – the guy has an incredible nose for the football. The Chiefs had him playing both outside linebacker positions against the Browns, and I see no reason why that won’t continue when the regular season starts.
• Safety Jarrad Page must work on his tackling. In extremely limited duty Saturday night, he whiffed on two tackles – one on tight end Kellen Winslow, Jr. and another on running back Jamal Lewis. In both instances he was lucky his teammates were there to cover for him. This was a problem last year, and it’s got to be fixed.