From the Armchair: Kansas City Chiefs, Week 12
In reality, it is more of a devil/angel scenario. On one shoulder I have The Dude from The Big Lebowski telling me "Nothing is f***ed here," while the devil on the other shoulder insists "Nothing is f***ed?!?! The g**damn plane has crashed into the mountain!"
Right now, that devil, Mr. Jeffrey Lebowski, is winning.
Sunday's loss at home against the San Diego Chargers can be described as nothing short of an abject disaster. The loss itself is bad enough -- at home, to a mediocre team -- but the way the Chiefs lost is what is worse.
The once-vaunted defense all of a sudden looks incredibly vulnerable. The simple answer as to why is first-half injuries to perhaps their two best defensive players -- outside linebackers/pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. The losses of Hali and Houston, especially Houston, seemed to cripple the once mighty defensive squad. Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses filled in and gave their best efforts, but were clear steps down from the pair of Pro Bowlers.
However, the defensive issues run deeper than the loss of two stars. The Chiefs losses the past two weeks seem to provide a formula for teams to best Bob Sutton's defense: Run crossing routes and get the ball out quickly to beat the pass rush. Sutton's strict man-to-man defense has been exposed by the crossing route/pick plays employed by the Chargers and Broncos. Marcus Cooper, who a few weeks looked like a revelation as a waiver wire pickup at corner, all of a sudden looks lost out there. Oh, and did I mention that the Chiefs DBs seemed to have forgotten how to catch the ball?
The good news is that early reports out on the Hali and Houston injuries indicate that they likely aren't season-ending, and there seems to be some chance that Hali is back on the field this week when Kansas City hosts the Broncos in a tussle for first place in the AFC West.
For my weekly takeaways, head to page 2.