Hello San Diego! This week's episode of Ask A Chiefs Fan is brought to you by Gloom and Doom (or, Death and Destruction and the end of the world is near). Yeah, we Chiefs fans are tough to please, and the team's first loss of the season to the Denver Broncos has more than a few Chiefs fanatics up in arms that the "exposed" Chiefs team may never win another game (or something like that). Seriously. The Chiefs are 9-1 thus far and it's already been a "miracle season turnaround" for the team and the fans, especially considering the 2012 debacle of a 2-12 finish.
Yup. The damage is complete, the Chiefs have a loss, the team isn't perfect. But then, most of us knew better all along and are fully prepared to continue the season, which means back to the office for the team and getting ready for the San Diego Chargers. Another division game for the Chiefs, and yet another gunslinger in Rivers who, along with Antonio Gates, has been a thorn in the Chiefs side for years. Peyton Manning and the Broncos had their way with the Chiefs at Mile High, and there's no doubt in my mind that the Chargers brain trust will be dissecting every play and looking for any kind of nuance that might give Rivers & Co an advantage in the upcoming game. So, what to look for when the Chargers play the Chiefs?
Jamaal Charles, arguably the best running back in the league, despite having gone thru much of the season with painful blisters on his feet. He's accounted for close to 40% of the Chiefs total offensive production, and if he gets even a small opening of daylight he's generally gone, turning what might be a 3 yard gain into a 10 yard run or more. Don't take my word for it, though: check out this article from Bleacher Report on what makes Jamaal Charles one of the elite players in the league. To be fair, the rest of the Chiefs offense is pedestrian, as the passing game (Alex Smith, game manager) hasn't really gotten into a groove this year, but hey: he's no Matt Cassel so there's that. Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery and Dexter McCluster are the targets, along with TE's Anthony Fasano and Sean McGrath. FB Anthony Sherman provides the heavy crunch up the middle, and thus far he's been a pleasant surprise for the team.
But What About The Defense?
Chargers fans will remember the "Halloween" game at Arrowhead a couple of years ago, and the Chiefs current Defense is better than that year's by far. NT Dontari Poe has improved by leaps and bounds in this, his second year. Tamba Hali, the guy with the motor that never stops, along with Poe and LB Justin Houston, can put the pressure on just about any QB in the league (with the exception of Manning, so far), and perhaps no player is as important as the guy that most Chiefs fans point to as the very heart and soul of the team: LB Derrick Johnson. All the guy does is make play after play after play. Along with players that Chargers fans know very well such as Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry, the team also sports new additions Sean Smith and Rookie of the Year candidate Marcus Cooper. Will the Chiefs defense be enough to stop, or at least contain, Rivers and the Chargers? We'll find out Sunday when the Chargers head to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
Very Special Teams
The Chiefs have some of the best in the league when it comes to both kicking and punting. Rayn Succup is among the all-time best at his craft, and Dustin Colquitt leads the league in pinning the opponent inside their own 20 yard line. Not too bad at all.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Andy Reid has been a godsend for the Chiefs as HC, and the work by new GM John Dorsey has been nothing short of incredible. This year's Chiefs squad is deeper than ever, with a new-found belief and confidence in each other that was absent from teams in the past. All year long, Chiefs fans have heard the players talk about "family" ... being there for each other, playing for each other and not simply WITH each other. Every man on the team has bought into Reid's team-first concept, and it's been working for over half a season. The question now is: how will the Chiefs bounce back from a loss? That remains to be seen, and the Chargers will have a lot to say in deciding the answer to that question.
As for Chiefs fans who might be down about the Chiefs loss in Denver ... to be honest, I think most fans will rebound and recover in style, looking forward to a fun, injury-free divisional rivalry game against the Chargers on Sunday. As Andy Reid told his players, and to a great degree the fans of the Chiefs: "Are you enjoying this? You should!" and he's right. Fans SHOULD be enjoying it. I know I am. And if the world DOES end, I plan on making the most of it.
Questions about the Chiefs? Ask all you want, we'll do our best to keep you informed if not downright entertained. Good luck to both sides on Sunday and have a great week!