By Ed Fulda
The mid-season point is upon us and that means itís time to hand out the report cards. I have tried to keep in mind that this a re-building year (maybe Ė it depends on what kind of spin the front office wants to put on things once the season is over). Given that football is a team sport, grades have been assigned to units rather than to individuals.
Wide Receivers: This unit has earned a solid grade of ďFĒ so far. Eddie Kennisonís injury hasnít helped matters, but Samie Parker isnít contributing a thing. Dwayne Bowe had a monster game against the Chargers but has been virtually ignored since then. Jeff Webb hasnít done much. Bobbie Sippio has spent most of his time on the inactive list and Eddie Drummond only sees the field on punt & kickoff returns.
Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez has basically has been the Chiefsí entire offense and is aiming for his second 100-plus reception season. Jason Dunn is still a solid blocker. This unit gets an ďA.Ē
Offensive Line: What do you get when you produce a paltry 79.5 rushing yards per game average, give up 25 sacks, and produce only 8 touchdowns in 20 Red Zone opportunities? A grade of ďD-,ď thatís what. Damien McIntosh is no better than Jordan Black was at left tackle. Chris Terry and John Welbourn arenít doing anything special on the right side of the line. Center Casey Weigmannís lack of size has become really noticeable in this offensive scheme. Brian Waters canít do it by himself. The back-ups are a bunch of nobodies.
Running backs: Larry Johnson has produced 559 yards. Everyone else has contributed a total of 77 yards. If the team canít run with Larry Johnson, imagine how bad itís going to be if Johnson misses time with the ankle injury. Kolby Smith is a rookie who hasnít shown on any level that he can be the ďgo-toĒ guy. Priest Holmes canít shoulder the load anymore. Kris Wilson is an H-Back trying to play fullback. Boomer Grigsby is still learning how to play fullback. An ďFĒ almost seems like a generous grade.
Quarterbacks: Damon Huard was a backup for all those years for a reason and his weaknesses are becoming more apparent the longer heís out on the field. Brodie Croyle isnít learning a thing sitting on the bench. Iíll give this unit a ďC-ď because Huard is playing to the best of his limited ability.
Special teams: Dustin Colquitt is doing a solid job. Dave Rayner is probably a little better than Lawrence Tynes but not by much. Kick coverage has been below average. Eddie Drummond has been ordinary returning kicks. Overall, this unit gets a ďC-.Ē
Defensive Line: Jared Allen has been solid since he returned from the 2-game suspension. Tamba Hali has not been as active in his sophomore season as he was as a rookie. Ron Edwards and Alphonso Boone have been OK in the middle. Of the back-ups, only Jimmy Wilkerson has shown much. Overall, a ďB-ďseems fair but Allenís heroics are the main reason for the grade.
Linebacker: This unit has performed well. Napoleon Harris is a definite upgrade over Kawika Mitchell. Donnie Edwards has been solid if unspectacular. Derrick Johnson needs to be turned on to blitz more often. Kendrick Bell provides nothing, Keyaron Fox has been hurt, and the youngsters only see the field on special teams. Overall, the unit gets an ďA,Ē but I really donít want to see what happens if any of the starters go down with an injury.
Defensive backs: Both Ty Law and Patrick Surtain got toasted badly by the Packers. Both of them are starting to show their age, but the team has no one else who can start in their place at cornerback. Bernard Pollard and Jarad Page make their share of mistakes, but the young safeties show plenty of promise. Bennie Sapp is decent in the nickel package, but the rest of the backups are just warm bodies. A grade of ďCĒ fits the bill.
Coaching: Yes, Gunther Cunningham and his staff have done a good job with the defense, but I challenge any of you to say the same for Mike Solari and his offensive assistants or Mike Priefer (special teams). There have been way too many instances this season where the team has come out obviously unprepared to play and that falls squarely on Herm Edwardsí shoulders. Cunninghamís efforts aside, the coaching staff rates a grade of ďD.Ē
Front Office: The front office has been trying to play both ends against the middle. Is this team rebuilding or is it a contender trying to win the division? If the team is rebuilding, why are so many of the starters over the age of 30 and why isnít Brodie Croyle starting at QB? The young players need to be on the field in order to get game experience, but thatís not going to happen if the team thinks itís a legitimate contender to make the playoffs. For now, a grade of ďCĒ is the best I can give.
Outlook for the 2nd half: Expect more of the same; decent one week and terrible the next. This team is lacking focus and direction and I donít see where that will change until the front office and the coaching staff get on the same page. The team still has to face Denver twice, the Colts, the Chargers, the Titans, and the Lions. It could well be that the games against the Raiders and the Jets will be the only two wins the Chiefs get in the 2nd half.