Jamie Squire - Getty
The primary question before Kansas City’s game against New Orleans was whether or not second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle could do enough to win the starting job. His final line last night: five completions, 17 attempts, 45 yards, one interception. Croyle’s quarterback rating was 15.1. Did he do enough to win the job?
But head coach Herm Edwards said he wasn’t prepared to name a starting quarterback.
“He struggled some, but he didn’t get any help either,” said Edwards. “He can’t catch the ball; he can’t block. That’s not all on the quarterback.”
It wasn’t pretty to look at and, at times, it was downright unwatchable. Thursday’s game wasn’t the sort of performance that made you feel great about the how the offense is going to look a month from now. It was a quiet, no-frills evening with some savvy plays in the face of pressure, bad execution and a stadium full of impatient fans.
It was one of those nights where the box score told the story of the game, but didn’t reveal the characters.
Did Croyle play a perfect game? Not at all. The Chiefs struggled moving the ball all game. The offensive linemen struggled to protect Croyle and were put in a position where they had to abandon the running game. In key situations, without a running game to account for, the Saints just brought more and more pressure, and pretty soon were blitzing guys from all over the place. At the end of the night, Croyle had been sacked twice.
“I’m frustrated,” said Croyle. “I thought I’d have a good showing tonight and I didn’t. It went from bad to worse.”
In the face of that pressure, the offensive line let Croyle down. The young quarterback had defenders in his face most of the time, affecting his decision-making and his ability to get the ball out to the receivers, but he still managed to make good, snap decisions under duress. The pass to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe in the second quarter was a play where Croyle had to decide where to send the ball quickly. He threw a sharp, catchable ball with the defensive line bearing down on him.
Of course, great decisions can be negated if the receivers drop passes, and that’s what happened to Croyle several times last night. Just about every guy let him down at some point, and that’s got to be fixed. None of the dropped passes were especially difficult catches. They were catches you’d expect an NFL guy to make. The receivers just didn’t concentrate.
Despite the bad line and receiver play, there’s still plenty of work for Croyle to do. He’s got to play better if the Chiefs are going to be successful this season. So far, Croyle’s turned over the ball in every preseason game, and regardless of what the rest of the offense does, he can’t do that. It hasn’t even been so much the turnovers themselves, as the timing. It seems that every time he turns the ball over, it’s in the middle of a great drive, or after KC’s defense generates a turnover. Those kind of plays lose ball games in a hurry.
But in the end, with all the pressure the Saints generated, and with little help, the Chiefs and Croyle could have turned the ball over three or four times, easily. It wasn't an enjoyable night, but it could have been much worse.
Even with his struggles, Croyle’s done enough to win the job. Sure, he’s a young player and he’s going to have some growing pains, but he’s shown he can make the plays to win a game, and like tonight, he can keep the wheels from falling off. Sometimes, that’s all a team needs to keep things on track.