The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants kicked off the 2012 NFL regular season on Wednesday night and the eyes of football fans everywhere were glued to the game in which Dallas came out on top, 24-17. While it's only the first game of the first week, there were several impressive facets to the Cowboys' victory that many likely took note of -- especially future opponents of both teams. But the Kansas City Chiefs should also take a closer look.
Tony Romo is making every headline coast to coast by Thursday morning for his three touchdown performance. It's the sort of performance Romo will need several of in a row to be able to take his reputation to the next level, and while Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel hasn't even achieved Romo's level of stats or success, both quarterbacks face the same ghosts in the fan base and media that believe they might not be the best man for the job.
Yet one key for Romo's success was found in the man behind him on the offense against the Giants. DeMarco Murray ran 20 times for 131 yards for an incredible 6.6 yards per carry. Murray is expected to be a highly productive back this season for the Cowboys, so the numbers are not surprising. But it's no secret that Murray's success laid the foundation for the Cowboys to air things out the way they did.
The headlines will read Romo and even Kevin Ogletree, the surprise receiver who grabbed two touchdowns from Romo, but the ground game for the Cowboys and Chiefs is all about success on the ground. If the Cowboys can successfully force defenses up in the box, the passing game becomes that much more dynamic.
The Chiefs are relying on Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis to carry the offense this year and they will need both to return from subpar years to keep the offense on the field. Matt Cassel has shown in his three seasons in KC that he is unable to place the team upon his back and lead them to victory. However, the Chiefs are not built to win that way anyway. Expecting Cassel to become like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning is not only unrealistic but it's also not what the Chiefs need.
Instead, the Chiefs simply need Cassel to play smart, minimize mistakes and take advantage of the opportunities given to him. The Chiefs have the makings of a dynamic backfield and the defense should become an impact unit once everyone gets healthy and Tamba Hali returns from his quick suspension. The elements are there -- just like the same things are there for Tony Romo.
The Chiefs need to average about the same 5-6 yards per carry for Cassel to be able to move the offense down the field against the stout defenses the team will face this year. Taking on Buffalo's defensive front, for example, is going to be a tall order given the tremendous front four that Chan Gailey has at his disposal. But if Charles and Hillis can wear them down, the game becomes much easier past those four, especially if they are looking for the run.
Murray and Romo showed the world what can happen when a ground game opens up the offense. The Chiefs will hope for exactly that on Sunday against the Falcons.
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