The Kansas City Chiefs are a team the Detroit Lions can relate with. After an offseason full of hope and expectations, the team has crashed and currently sits at 2-5. In order to figure out what is going wrong, we asked Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride five questions about the state of the Chiefs. His answers are below.
1. Charcandrick West showed up big last week in Jamaal Charles' place. What can you tell us about West?
He was an undrafted free agent last year who can really kind of do everything. He's playing over Knile Davis right now because he can catch the ball out of the backfield and pass block well enough. For a undrafred kid in his second year in the league to be thrown into the fire after an injury to a star like Jamaal, that's impressive. We had seen him in the preseason but really the past few weeks are the first time we've seen him consistently against real action and he's shown he belongs on the field. He doesn't have the explosive top line speed that Jamaal did but he's shifty and can make guys miss. As an added bonus, he's a super easy guy to root for. I went into the locker room last week after his 100-yard game last week and he was all smiles. He seems really humble, crediting his teammates and the support of Jamaal Charles. By the way, Jamaal told him to write down his goal for each game on a piece of paper. Last week's goal? 100 yards and a touchdown. Goal accomplished.
2. What has gone wrong this season with the Chiefs' typically intimidating defense?
It's been a weird season. It seems like their third corner was picked on pretty badly early on. The first three weeks of the year the Chiefs were without Sean Smith so in Week 2 we saw Peyton Manning attack CB Jamell Fleming in a two-minute drive to tie (and eventually beat) the Chiefs defense. The next week, the Chiefs lost their nickel corner, Phillip Gaines, to a torn ACL. Aaron Rodgers had his way with his replacement. The week after that, it was Andy Dalton and AJ Green who are so good it's not even funny. The week after that, Jay Cutler was throwing a dime to beat the Chiefs late and it came at the expense of a costly (and questionable) pass interference call against first round pick CB Marcus Peters. I still maintain the Chiefs cornerbacks are good (currently, Sean Smith and Marcus Peters) but their failures have been magnified. Every team probably has a couple of drives like this but if the Chiefs defense stopped the Broncos on their final drive in Week 2 and the Bears on their final drive in Week 5, the Chiefs are a 4-3 team.
3. If you had to create a blueprint for beating the Chiefs, what would it look like?
On offense, I would target their nickel corner, which has been a combination of players including rookie Steven Nelson. That's the area where they seem to have struggled to nail down consistently. I'm not sure how the Chiefs will handle Calvin Johnson but they're often in a Cover 1 asking their corners to go man up on the outside receivers so you'll probably have a shot to go deep to him, which is a matchup I'm guessing the Lions like. On defense, I would do whatever you can to pressure Alex Smith. Get them in obvious passing situations. He handled the blitz much better last week but overall this season his numbers go way down against the blitz. Get in his face and force him to move around.
4. It was awesome to see Eric Berry pick up his first interception of the season last week. How has he looked since his return?
He's really looked pretty good. Outside of the interception and a timely pass breakup against the Bears a few weeks ago, there haven't been a lot of splash plays but it's been solid play overall. Considering we never really expected him to play at all this season it really is remarkable where he's at. He's back to being a full-time, every-snap player for the Chiefs.
5. What's your prediction for the game?
With all the distractions this week of playing in London, I think there is an added emphasis on the coaching staffs to prepare their players. Comparing the two coaches, I would take Andy Reid over Jim Caldwell. So give me the Chiefs, 27-23.