A Thoroughly Impressive Chiefs Win in Jacksonville
By Eric Paolini
In Sunday’s victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Kansas City Chiefs made some history. They recorded the first ever 28-2 game. The 26-point victory is the second-largest margin of victory in an opening game for the Chiefs (they beat Denver by 52 points in 1963). And they played in a game featuring the ugliest NFL helmets (c'mon Jacksonville, what are you doing?).
Most likely, those three milestones won’t be remembered. They certainly won’t have an effect on the rest of the season. However, what will be remembered is how well the Chiefs played. A missed blocking assignment allowed Dustin Colquitt’s punt to be blocked, which gave the Jags their only score. From that point on, the Chiefs controlled the game completely. There was an ease to the victory not typically shown by a team coming off a 2-14 season.
The general consensus was the Chiefs were not just any 2-14 team. They were the most likely bad team to rise the rebuilding ranks quickly and make it back to the playoffs (like last year’s Vikings and Colts). And after one game, that appears to be an even likelier bet.
Now here’s where I will pump the brakes a bit. The Jaguars were last season’s other 2-14 team. And they looked terrible on Sunday. Blaine Gabbert is one of a few candidates for worst starting quarterback in the league. The Chiefs’ pass rush smothered him and forced two interceptions, both of which were the easiest passes a defensive player could have asked for. They gave Gabbert no time in the pocket, and any yards the Jaguars’ receivers gained were mostly inconsequential. On top of that, the rush defense limited Maurice Jones-Drew to a measly 45 yards on 15 attempts.
The offense dinked and dunked most of the day. Alex Smith passed for only 173 yards on his 34 attempts for a subpar yards-per-attempt average of 5.1. But the main thing is, that Smith was the highly effective quarterback Kansas City traded for. One of the main arguments for the Chiefs’ improvement was the benefits the acquisitions of Andy Reid and Smith would provide. And through the first half, they were undoubtedly great improvements from Romeo Crennel and Matt Cassel/Brady Quinn. With the game clearly in control by halftime, the second half didn’t feature much ingenuity from the Kansas City sideline.
The West Coast offense got the ball out of Smith’s hands quickly (only one sack) and allowed some of the Chiefs’ athletic weapons (namely Jamaal Charles) to wreak havoc. Smith spread the ball around, completing a pass to nine different receivers. No Chief caught more than four passes. Charles was his typical self, picking up 77 yards on his 16 carries. Charles recorded these stats mostly in the first half. He had limited snaps in the second half due to a quad injury that isn't serious.
Even though the Jaguars will be a very bad team, the victory in Jacksonville for the Chiefs is not hollow. They gave everyone enough of a look to know that the hype around them is at least a little real. They looked like a completely different team than the one that stepped on the field every week last year. The 28 points dropped in this game would be their highest-scoring game last year. Their offense was truly awful a year ago.
After an impressive victory from start to finish, it appears this will be a very different season in Kansas City.