The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Atlanta Falcons 40-24 Sunday afternoon in Kansas City. While the final score does look ugly from all angles if you're a Chiefs fan, there are some positives you can take away from this game. Most of those would be on the offensive side of the ball as the Falcons punted just once in this game, and that was later in the second half.
In this post we're going to take a quick look at each side of the ball and discuss what went well and what didn't go well for the Kansas City Chiefs.
The first half of this game was something of beauty if you were just watching the Chiefs on offense. They moved the ball well with the running game and the passing game. Matt Cassel looked crisp, sharp and precise. He knew where he was going with the ball and he was accurate with his passes. As the game got more out of hand in the second half it seemed as if Cassel started to force more passes than he may have normally, but overall there is a lot to feel good about with Cassel at quarterback from this game, at least compared to other areas of the team right now.
Dexter McCluster continued what was a great training camp and preseason and led the team in targets (10), receptions (6) and yards (82) against the Falcons. Dwayne Bowe had a solid game with three receptions for 53 yards.
Jamaal Charles and the running game looked solid as well for the most part. Charles finished the game with 16 carries for 87 yards. The Chiefs offense averaged 5.7 yards per play overall which on any other day would be pretty good, but on this day the Falcons averaged 6.8 yards per play. Which brings us to the defense.
The Chiefs came into this game without their leading pass-rusher Tamba Hali, their best corner back in Brandon Flowers, and their starting free safety Kendrick Lewis. That's a tough draw for any team against any opponent, let alone Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the Falcons high-powered offense. But there's no sugar-coating this at all. The Chiefs defense was absolutely dominated by Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game.
The one positive, if it can be called that, is that the Chiefs contained Falcons running back Michael Turner. He finished the game with 32 yards on 11 carries. The problem in this game is that Matt Ryan picked apart a depleted Chiefs secondary, who wasn't getting any help from the Chiefs front-seven in getting pressure on Ryan in the pocket. Ryan had all the time in the world to decide where he wanted to go with the ball.
It seemed as if every time the Chiefs did send extra guys to try and get pressure on Ryan, which would sometimes be safety Eric Berry or nickel back Javier Arenas, Ryan got the ball out quick to the right guy who made a big play. It's a tough game for the Chiefs and while they didn't play well, you have to give a lot of credit to Ryan and the Falcons, who look every bit as good as a team that had been getting consideration as a top team in the NFC this season.
Let's hope that next week with the return of Tamba Hali and a hopefully-healthy Brandon Flowers, the Chiefs can start playing the kind of defense that many around the league thought they'd be playing this season. If the offense plays like it did today and the defense figures it out, the Chiefs will still win a lot of football games this season.