SDUT: Chiefs erred terribly by not airing it sooner

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#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA

The NFL is a good place for coaches to think. It's not a good place for them to overthink, because when they do, they forget this is "Football for Dummies." The Nobel Committee pays little attention to this game – although Bill Belichick no doubt wishes it would.

Yesterday, the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff forgot not only who they were, but who they were playing. And, by the time they realized they had screwed it up without adjusting for far too long, they were getting a good look at the Chargers' big, ugly rear ends.

Playing uphill, on the road against a good but banged-up football team – which is what the Chargers are – is not a time to come down with a case of severe brain flatulence. But the Chiefs were in a London pea souper through the first 37 minutes, fell behind 21-3 and then discovered themselves much too late, eventually falling 28-20.

The Chargers had the ideal plan, knowing what the Chiefs were going to do in the copycat NFL. They would do what everyone else has been trying to do – jam the running lanes on LaDainian Tomlinson and force Drew Brees to beat them through the air.

Brees knew he was good enough to do so – but then he always feels that way and was last week in Philadelphia (until special teams let him down) – and he was in control. It became his game to win, and with the help of tight end Antonio Gates (10 catches, 145 yards, three scores), KC wasn't up to it. No Martyball yesterday.

"We talked about it all week, how this could be the game that we throw it 50 times, and I think we almost did," said Brees, who would heave it a mere 42 times, completing 25 for 324 yards and three scores, his only real mistake a down-the-middle flyby that was picked, killing a drive.

"You enter the game and see what kind of game plan they have for you defensively. If they bring a bunch of guys down in the box that you figure are going to pressure a lot, there are big holes in the defense to take advantage. I felt like we were able to do that today."

Granted, the Chiefs, with revolving tailbacks Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, can run with the best of them. But the Chargers can defend the run with the best of them. Pounding it against this defense, trying to beat it with short stuff isn't going to get it done, because the offense can outscore you.

What KC coach Dick Vermeil and his staff forgot was that the Chargers came in ranked 29th in pass defense. I mean, if you can lay it in or try a 40-foot jumper, which do you do? KC chose the long shot.

KC converted on 1-of-7 third-down tries in the first half. It had 112 total yards to the Chargers' 291. It had 30 yards passing on 12 attempts. The Chiefs stunk.

Their wake-up call came midway through the third period, when Holmes was given a good-night call by rookie linebacker Shawne Merriman, who seems poised to become a devastating player (he needs to get a hold of himself every once in a while). With his best back and touchdown machine hearing Poe's "The Bells" in his head, Vermeil decided to air it out.

KC was on its own 9 when Merriman hit Holmes. On third-and-8, the Chargers blew up a pass play, but Chiefs quarterback Trent Green scrambled and hit wideout Eddie Kennison on a 29-yarder. Next play: Green to Dante Hall for 11 yards. Next play: Green to tight end Tony Gonzalez for 36 yards. Next play: Green to Gonzalez for 16 and a score.

They had found the secret, which was no secret at all. The Chargers have been known to have problems with air raids. The visitors would gain 306 yards over the final 30 minutes – 293 of them through the air.

"I think (offensive coordinator) Al Saunders did a great job figuring out what didn't work," Gonzalez would say.

Well, Saunders, who once ran the Chargers – maybe that's why we say "once" – did, but he must have been tailgating the first 37 minutes.

"We started throwing the ball down the field," Gonzalez noted.

Right. Too late. Overthinking by Vermeil, overthinking by Saunders, overthinking by defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.

Meanwhile, the Chargers had but a few problems. Receiver Reche Caldwell, who fumbled the ball away on their final drive in Philadelphia, did so again, this time at the KC 31 with San Diego driving and up 14-0. Caldwell did not return.

There was the Brees interception in the third quarter and a few special teams coverage problems. Kicking off to Hall with 17 seconds to go in the first half – he almost broke it, returning it 53 yards to the San Diego 47 – was ludicrous.

But it was a win. No such thing as a bad one. The Bolts are 4-4 now, they haven't played a team truly better than them, and, with the possible exception of Indianapolis, they may not see one the rest of the way – if they can get the crowd out of the training room.

"We've won the first of a nine-game season," coach Marty Schottenheimer announced.

The Chiefs lost one they'll overthink about for a long time.