GRETZ: Searching For An Identity
Sep 19, 2007, 8:42:34 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ
This past Sunday in Chicago, we saw the Chiefs defense take another step in establishing its identity in the National Football League.
With the turnovers they caused, the pressure they applied to Rex Grossman and the Bears offense and the fact they allowed only one offensive touchdown (caught by a backup tackle too boot) the Chiefs are letting the league know that a controlling, ball hawking defense has returned to Arrowhead. Itís just two weeks, but they rank seventh in fewest yards allowed in the league. The teams ahead of them are defenses like New England, Denver, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia.
The defensive house appears to be in order.
The same cannot be said for the offense. Last season was a transition year for the Chiefs offense, moving from Vermeilís Flying Circus to a more conservative and more ball control offense that Herm Edwards wants to pair with his defense.
For some reason, that transition continues through the first two games of the 2007 season. Thereís no other way to explain what weíve seen on the field for the last two weekends.
Letís break it down to a single play, the much talked about 3rd-and-1 call at the Bears 16-yard line with just under eight minutes to play.
If you have listened to Edwards since he took over as the teamís head coach, heís made it plain that he finds nothing wrong with kicking to end an offensive possession. If the drive went nowhere, then he wants a good punter to help shift the field position advantage. If the drive moves into opposing territory and bogs down, then he has no problem kicking a field goal.
Which begs this question: why were the Chiefs throwing the ball on this play? Down by 10 points, they needed two scores to tie the game. They could not afford to come away from this possession Ė set up by a Donnie Edwardsí interception and return Ė without putting points on the board.
That means on 3rd-and-1 you hand the ball to your multi-million dollar running back Larry Johnson and run for the first down. Are the Bears a tough defense? Absolutely. Might they stop the play for no gain, possibly, maybe even make the play behind the line of scrimmage for a yard loss? Yes.
But you might just get a first down, and then three more opportunities to score a touchdown. Even if stopped, the Chiefs still would have had a field goal try of less than 40 yards. Yes, field goals have become an adventure this season with the Chiefs, but this would have been sound football judgment.
The pass that Damon Huard tried to get into Samie Parker was intercepted. The Bears brought the ball out of the end zone and the Chiefs had a possession wasted.
Which brings us back to the question: why were the Chiefs throwing the ball in that case? Watching all this unfold, it comes down to one thing: they are still struggling to establish who they are on offense.
That struggle needs to end now and itís up to Herm Edwards to make it happen. Like most head coaches, he allows his coaching staff a pretty free reign on game day to call the game as they see fit. Edwards needs to make sure that his offensive staff is hearing what heís saying. If they arenít, he needs to get involved.
The Chiefs identity on offense is not hard to figure. They have a shaky offensive line that is built more for running the ball than protecting the passer. They have one of the top running backs in the league, a guy designed for a heavy workload. They have one of the top tight ends in the league. They have a potential big-play contributor in a rookie wide receiver that should help pull some of that double coverage away from Gonzalez.
Get them the ball. Johnson in two games has 36 touches for 174 yards. Thatís what he should have per game. Yes, Johnsonís contract holdout and his getting in game shape affected that. Itís time to forget about that. Itís time to get back to ďoverworkingĒ L.J.
Tony Gonzalez in two games has nine catches for 71 yards, also numbers he should have in each game. Dwayne Bowe is growing each week and that growth needs to be nurtured and encouraged.
There are all sorts of excuses for why the Chiefs have struggled on offense: injuries, new faces, holdouts, not enough practice time together, etc.
Many of these are legitimate reasons for the problems this group has experienced in the last two weeks. Do not dismiss them.
But it goes much deeper than that. This offense needs to establish in their own minds and hearts who they are and what they are about.
The time to do it is now.