The Chiefs were riding high after a solid victory last week against the Saints, but their parade was promptly and torrentially rained upon by Phillip Rivers and the Chargers. This game was not so much about the Chargers being vastly superior, as it was about how truly terrible the Chiefs are.
Heroes: Phillip Rivers, Jackie Battle
For years, Phillip Rivers has led this Chargers team to the playoffs without much success. Except for one AFC Championship appearance, San Diego has lost each time in either the first or second round of the playoffs. This is a make or break year for many people in the Chargers' organization, and I have to believe that if Rivers struggles this year, that he may be on the chopping block. Well, he can rest easy for another week, as he had a nice game against the stout Chiefs defense.
Rivers was 18-23 for 209 yards, a pair a touchdowns and one interception. Rivers was composed in the pocket and made plays when he had to. This wasn't a spectacular game for him by any stretch, but he did what he had to do for his team to win, and that's exactly what they did. This game was more about winning when you're supposed to, and not costing your team the game. Rivers played well enough to pull out a win at Arrowhead.
Jackie Battle is familiar with the Chiefs organization, as he played with them as a backup running back from 2007-2011, before signing with the Chargers this off-season. Battle has filled in nicely for starting running back Ryan Mathews in his absence due to a broken collarbone suffered in week one of the preseason.
Although Mathews is back and healthy again, the Chargers are understandably being cautious with how they use him. Battle continued to make plays for the Chargers this week, as he not only had a rushing touchdown, but also had a receiving touchdown. Battle has played well enough in these past few weeks to earn some playing time along side the starter Mathews. It's going to be interesting to see how the duo of Mathews and Battle works out for San Diego.
Zeroes: Matt Cassel, Brian Daboll
The Matt Cassel story certainly is an interesting one. After being drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 draft by Bill Belichick and the Patriots, Cassel backed up Brady for a couple of seasons before having to play in place of him in 2008 due to a knee injury (ironically suffered at the hands of Kansas City's defense). After an impressive showing in 2008, Cassel was an attractive player to quarterback needy teams.
The Chiefs antied up the most, and Cassel was subsequently awarded to them. Since then Cassel's play has been up and down, and today was a down day for the eighth year player out of South Carolina. Cassel was hurried and/or hit on many plays, and was sacked twice. The pressure clearly got the best of Cassel, as he ended up throwing three interceptions in this loss to the Chargers. Matt Cassel is making a strong case as to why the Chiefs should look at getting a quarterback in next year's draft.
You're probably wondering who Brian Daboll is, surely he is no household name. Brian Daboll is the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs, although sometimes it seems like he works for the other team. Daboll was hired as Kansas City's offensive coordinator this year after spending the last two seasons with Cleveland and Miami respectively. I have to wonder what the Chiefs' front office saw in him, as Cleveland and Miami's offenses have certainly not exactly been stellar as of late.
But nonetheless, Daboll is the play caller .. for now. Matt Cassel has never, and in all likelihood will never be considered an elite quarterback. So, Mr. Daboll, I am wondering why you had him throw the ball 42 times against this ninth-ranked Charger defense? With an all-pro running back in Jamaal Charles, I'm thinking, "Why didn't you RUN the ball 42 times?". Okay, maybe 42 times would've been a bit much for a guy coming off ACL surgery. Still, considering Charles had 233 yards last week, and was averaging 5.4 yards per carry this week, why not give him the ball more? This was just bad play calling on the part of Daboll. If the Chiefs hope to have any success this season, they need to balance out their playbook.
If I were them, I would have a run heavy offense and have Cassel work off of the play-action, similar to what the Texans do with Matt Schaub. The Chiefs have a thrilling running back that they just don't use enough. The Chiefs sole win this season came when Charles got 30+ carries. For whatever reason, Daboll ditched that course of action and only gave Charles 17 carries this week, even though he was playing great. If the Chiefs want to win, and if Daboll wants to keep his job, they have to give the ball to Charles.