1. The more things change the more they stay the same. Going into this game, it appeared the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense would most likely win this game for them against the Cleveland Browns. The Chiefs’ offense is still a “work in progress,” more on that later, but the Browns were starting a journeyman quarterback in Jason Campbell, who has never dazzled but is considered competent. I also figured that the Browns’ defense, a top 10 unit in their own right, would hold their own against the Chiefs’ offense. Sometimes, you never know what you’re going to get in a game. The Chiefs’ defense came out and stifled the Browns and kept getting good field position since the Browns were unable to move the ball. The first few possessions the Chiefs moved the ball well and even Alex Smith hit fullback Anthony Sherman on a screen pass for a touchdown. This was going to be the Chiefs’ day for sure. As the half went along, Cleveland started finding their identity and getting the ball to their play makers. The game turned in the Browns’ favor when Ryan Succop missed a 52 yard field goal which gave the Browns’ great field position. A few plays later, Campbell hit wide receiver Josh Gordon on a 39 yard touchdown pass via the flea flicker. Cleveland would score another touchdown in the 3rd quarter and cut the Chiefs’ lead to 20-17. That’s as close as they would get as the Chiefs’ defense took over the game as the Browns’ had the ball late with a chance to tie, but Justin Houston finally got the Chiefs’ first and only sack of the game and they held the Browns on four downs to secure a much tighter game than had been anticipated. The defense came up big when Kansas City’s offense couldn’t put any second half points on the board. The theme of this 2013 year has been the Chiefs’ defense coming up big in the fourth quarter and this again was on display Sunday afternoon.
2. The offensive line was offensive. The point was made during the broadcast of the game that the Chiefs’ offensive line, compared to other lines is light. They all move well in space and can get out to the perimeter on sweeps and pulls to make blocks for running back Jamaal Charles. Enter the Cleveland Browns’ defensive line. They seemingly all weigh at or well over 300 pounds, especially nose tackle Phillip Taylor who weighs in at 335 pounds but has to be over 350. The Chiefs’ offense was a well oiled machine in the first half and in the second half Browns’ defensive coordinator Ray Horton made some adjustments and started coming after Alex Smith. Cleveland used its’ weight and some quickness to get around struggling right tackle Eric Fisher and left tackle Brandon Albert and got push up the middle from Taylor to completely interrupt the timing of the Chiefs’ offense and sack Alex Smith six times to go along with nine quarterback hits. The line at one point in the 4th gave up two sacks in a row and it was almost as if Cleveland had 11 guys coming after Smith. They were getting whipped. The Chiefs had 296 yards of offense in the first half and 31 yards total in the second half. That number is not a typo. The Chiefs may have won, but if they don’t start getting better pass protection, they will not win these types of games much longer, especially on the road when their line may get off the ball a tenth of a second slower than if they were at home. This week someone on their line gets to block Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills. Albert and Fisher need to be on alert and if they can block like they have for most of the year, the Chiefs can control the tempo and the clock and come out of Buffalo with a win.
3. Wasn’t Dwayne Bowe retained in the off-season? I only ask this because he was nowhere to be found on Sunday. This is the same guy who scored 15 touchdowns in 2010 and averages through six and a half years of his career 63 receptions. I understand that this offense is not predicated on big plays, rather ball control and a running game featuring Jamaal Charles. I also understand that Bowe was going up against Browns’ corner back Joe Haden who is considered a top 5 cornerback. It’s actually not Bowe’s fault as Alex Smith just will not throw into tight windows and risk getting intercepted, while Andy Reid is limiting the chances the offense will take. It comes down to Reid believing in his defense and special teams and doing just enough with the offense to keep the team in all games. Reid knew the personal of this team when he was hired. He had many suitors in the off-season for his services and chose this team based upon a strong, young defense, a good kicker and punter, and an offense that has some legitimate players, but lacked a quarterback. Flash forward to now where the team is winning based on what Andy Reid saw earlier on this year and the fact that he never has put a huge emphasis on star receivers, and we are now seeing why Bowe is off to the worst start of career. Add in caretaker quarterback Alex Smith, and you have a recipe for Bowe to have a down season statistically. Bowe is still a legitimate threat and if need be, I believe Reid will make an effort to get Bowe more involved.