– The run defense. For the most part, the Chiefs defense kept the might Atlanta running game in check. Two notable exceptions, but those are what you get with a young team, and they should be fixable. It was a step up from last week.
– Thigpen made some strides as a QB today. He was praised several times by the annoncers for great throws and great decisions. He looks like an NFL QB to me. An inexperienced NFL QB, but one who can start and win, eventually.
– The defense prevented a Falcon 1st down on their first three possessions.
– The D-line is doing very well in the run game. It isn’t often to have 2 DTs get so many tackles and stuffs, and McBride did great locking down his side for most of the game, too.
– We didn’t give up when down 17-0. We almost made a game of it.
– We got little to no pressure on the opposing QB for the 3rd straight week. We won’t win a game until we find a way to create pressure.
– The offense had 5 straight 3-and-outs to open the game.
– As a change from 3-and-outs, the offense (Tyler Thigpen, to be exact) followed up with 2 INTs, one deep in our territory.
– The right side of the O-line is still pretty much a swinging gate.
– I’m convinced that LJ made it across the goalline both times that weren’t called: the announcers caught one, but LJ made it up on the next carry. However, on the 4th down, 4th quarter run, I am convinced that LJ landed on the defenders arm, which means he wasn’t down yet. The ball was already across the line. It should have been a TD, and Herm should have thrown the red flag. Why be gutsy on making the play call, then not be gutsy on the challenge?
– Where was DJ? He had one tackle in the stats. I didn’t see him even close to making a play the whole game. In fact, the only time I saw him at all was when he was being held to spring Norwood for his 44-yd gain in the 4th quarter.
– The refs didn’t lose this game, but there were several significantly bad non-calls, including the two missed TDs, the holding mentioned just above, and two pretty clear offensive pass intereferences…one on each side, as it turns out. On the heels of the horrible call last week in the Broncos-Chargers game, I’m concerned with the quality of officiating this year.
– Thigpen started, if anything, even more slowly than last week. He had all the snaps and a game-plan set up for him, and didn’t have to come in cold like last week. He put us in the hole (with some help from Charles in the form of easy drops) with his play early in the game. He nearly got us back, but the hole was just too deep.
Reasons for Optimism
– The team did not give up after falling behind 17-0. They fought and nearly got us back into it. Falling so far behind was directly attributable to our youth and inexperience, and they got some valuable experience in this game: they kept Turner under 5 yds/carry, and gave up only 3 big plays all game (one long run each for Turner and Norwood, and the long bomb TD from Ryan to White). I’m not going to play the “if you take away those 3 plays” game, because you can’t take them away, they happened. But if we can fix those lapses, our defense will again be smothering.
– As good as our defense did overall, it included bad play from Pat Thomas, our RDE position, and a totally AWOL Derrick Johnson. If we can fix any one of those positions, our defense should be able to keep the game in reach of even our inept offense.
– Thigpen actually looked good at the end of the first half and into the 3rd and 4th quarter. He made another horrible mistake in the pick-6 to Houston at the end of the game, but not bad for a first start and getting down by 17 points. I’m now hoping he supplants Brodie Croyle as the starter, because I believe he will fix his decision-making and cold-start problems.
– I still think this team is just a few players from being a contender: RT, MLB, RG, WLB, #2WR are all we need to be a dang good team. You can get all that in one slightly-above-average draft. The Safeties are playing at Pro-Bowl levels (except for no INTs), the rookie CBs are playing like established veterans and should only get better, our DTs (Tyler and Dorsey) are making big plays in the run defense game, our running game showed it still has some pop, and we still have Bowe and Gonzalez. If a light-bulb can go off in Thigpen’s head about making consistently better decisions and slightly better throws, we’ll have a good starting QB who can inspire teammates and move the ball. It’s probably too much to ask for these improvements to happen this year, but I am still praying for a LB and O-line miracle.
Reasons for Pessimism
– DJ. I can’t think of any reason he was so quiet this game. We expected him to be a pro-bowl player this year, and we need him to be a pro-bowl player to increase our hope for the future.
– We still had significant lapses at the wrong times, giving up momentum-stealing big-play TDs and first downs.
– We won’t win with the O-line we have, either, and Herm doesn’t seem willing to make the change; Richardson was inactive.
– Our WR corps consists of Bowe and Gonzalez. The Darling experiment should be over with, and Webb or Franklin should get those snaps. I’m not as down on Webb as most people: he produces good numbers when given enough playing time. Franklin has even more upside. But Herm (Gailey?) doesn’t want to make this switch, either.
– I hate to sound like a broken record, but this team can’t win with the current level of play from our QB, RT, RG, MLB, SLB, WLB, and #2 WR. 4 of the 7 have to improve for us to better our 4-12 record of last year.
– We’ll probably be 0-4 at the end of the game next week.
Write it down: we lost because…
– Our QB started badly.
– the right side of our O-line is still the worst in the league.
– As a group, our LBs are still sub-par. I saw Donnie Edwards more involved in some of the big stops this week, and Demorrio Williams got one, too. But overall, the LBs are supposed to be our playmakers: preventing the long run, getting INTs, knocking the ball loose on big hits and generally making WRs afraid to come over the middle. They aren’t doing any of that right now.