Washington Redskins (3-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)
October 16th, 2005 at 1pm
There is a tribal war brewing in Kansas City as the Redskins roll into town to face the Chiefs. The Redskins, coming off a loss against the Broncos in Denver, take on a Chiefs team that is coming off of a bye week, which allowed them to get perhaps their most important player, Willie Roaf, back for the game. Having Roaf back in the lineup for the first time since he popped his hamstring early in the opening game makes this dangerous offense even more intimidating. While out, the Chiefs, loaded at running back with Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, have still moved the ball, but not between the tackles. They have also lacked production from Tony Gonzalez at the tight end spot because without Roaf, Gonzalez has been held in for pass protection. The Redskins, who seem to have found some rhythm on offense, are now facing questions about their defense and their inability to play the run. Having questions about the ability to stop the run while getting ready to face one of the best offenses in the league is not what even the most optimistic Redskins fan wants to hear.
The Redskins will face the two-headed monster that is the Chiefs backfield: Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. They have carried the Chiefs to 4th ranked rushing offense with an average of 135.3 YPG - without the services of Willie Roaf. The Redskins struggled to contain Broncos running back Tatum Bell last week as he became the first back to go over 100 yards since Jerome Bettis hit the century mark last November. Bell finished the day with 127 yards on only 12 carries but the bulk of that came on two (34, 55) touchdown runs that saw the Redskins miss tackles despite seemingly being in position to stop both runs. The defense that allowed only seven rushing touchdowns last season has allowed four already. Both Chief running backs have found the end zone 3 times this season. It wasn’t just the Denver game that gave the Redskins rush defense cause for concern. They also had trouble containing Shaun Alexander in the second half of the Seattle game, a game that saw the Seahawks come back on the defense. This poor play has dropped the defense from the top of the heap to 15th in the league against the run, allowing 103.8 YPG.
The Chiefs passing attack will also benefit greatly from the return of OT Willie Roaf as not only will it afford Trent Green the time to pass but also it will allow Tony Gonzalez to again be a vital part of the offense. Normally, Gonzalez is a favorite target of former Redskin QB Trent Green, but this season Gonzalez has only caught 16 balls for 129 yards and has not yet found the end zone. This is a telling fact as to why the Chiefs are 2-2 on the season. The rest of the receiving corps has not struck fear in the heart of their opponents and they will see their opportunities increase with Gonzalez in the mix. Eddie Kennison, another favorite target of Green, will look to go over 100 yards receiving for his third straight game. The Chiefs currently rank 18th in the league in passing while garnering 210.0 YPG. The Redskins defense looks to have Walt Harris back in the lineup which will certainly help the effort against the prolific Chiefs offense. The secondary may be without Shawn Springs (shin) for this week however. The defense did well in controlling Jake Plummer last week and has played the pass well overall this season (178.3 YPG, 6th in NFL). This success has come despite the inability to get a consistent pass rush without using blitz packages. The Redskins failed to get a sack or force a turnover against the Broncos. The balance and potency of the Chiefs offense easily poses the greatest test for the Redskins. It is imperative that the Redskins control, to some extent, the pace of the game as getting into a shootout with the Chiefs doesn’t appear to favor the Redskins, despite their impressive offensive production.
The Redskins offensive juggernaut, led by the suddenly strong-armed Mark Brunell, continues to roll up some impressive offensive statistics, but those statistics haven’t translated into big point production. The critics that once threw the Redskins under the bus are now starting to look for a seat on the Redskins bandwagon in large part because the offense that was lethargic last season is now ranked 8th (367.0 YPG) in the league in total offense. They are moving the ball well on the ground (133.5 YPG, 6th) as well as through the air (233.5 YPG, 12th). Last week in Denver, the offense had no 3-and-out drives for the entire game. Add to that, the Redskins ability to convert on third down and it is easy to see that the offense is doing their part to stay in games. Their third down success can be attributed to Santana Moss’ league leading 12 third down catches. The loss last week at Denver was especially bitter considering that the offense had a chance to tie the game late but failed on their two point conversion attempt. The Chiefs had made improving their much maligned defense in 2004 a priority for the 2005 season. They used the draft and free agency to bring the much-needed help to the defensive side of the ball but questions about the unit as a whole still remain. They have been able to thwart their opponents running game, ranking 8th in the league allowing 94.5 YPG which could be because teams who have faced them have taken to the air for an average of 273.3 YPG, which is 30th worst in the league. Clinton Portis has logged 559 yards in his last three games against the Chiefs, dating back to his Bronco days. Considering the success that Brunell and the new Posse have had through the air, if the offensive line can continue to protect their quarterback and if Brunell continues to take care of the ball the Redskins should be optimistic about their chances of passing on the Chiefs. Mark Brunell has some history with the Chiefs - three of his four starts he has been victorious and he only has one interception in 111 attempts. Conversely, former Redskin Trent Green has found success against his former team. In two games, he has posted 673 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Redskins kicking game, namely the place kicking, needs to avoid the missed opportunities. Rookie kicker, Nick Novak, has had two field goals blocked but it would be hard to blame the line’s blocking since the blocked kicks were line drives into the defenders. It is doubtful that they will get John Hall (quadriceps) back this week so Novak will again be counted on for the place kicking duties.
This game could turn into a shootout with the Chiefs coming into the game healthy after their bye week and the Redskins offense growing more confident each week. The defenses ability to force a turnover could be the determining factor for both teams. If the Redskins allow the Chiefs ground game to dominate, the Redskins will again be counting on Brunell to lead the team back, but they will need to keep the game close for that to happen.
Last meeting, September 30, 2001. In that game, the Chiefs, powered by Priest Holmes’ 3 touchdowns and 147 yards rushing, won in FedEx Field in a rout 45-13.
Kansas City is 90-32 at home since 1990.
Here are some of this week's key player match-ups:
Sean Taylor Vs Tony Gonzalez By Scott Hurrey
Tony Gonzalez will be licking his chops in this game. With Roaf out he has been stuck in pass protection, but Willie is back, and Gonzo will be trying to take advantage. Taylor is the perfect answer: big enough to stop him, fast enough to cover him. Should be a good matchup.
Phillip Daniels vs Willie Roaf By Scott Hurrey
The Kansas City running game has been pretty good over the course of the season, and this week the Chief’s beast is back since the first game of the season. Roaf will be hungry, which could be bad news for Phillip Daniels. Daniels has been steadily improving each week, but this task may prove difficult.
Santana Moss vs Patrick Surtain By Scott Hurrey
While Moss lines up on either side of the line of scrimmage and Surtain sticks to the left side, these two will see plenty of each other on Sunday. Surtain is a physical corner and will look to bump Moss off the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of the Redskins’ passing game. If he isn’t able to, Moss has the speed to beat him deep.
Eric Hicks vs Samuels By Bernard Marshall II
6-foot-6, 280-pound Eric Hicks has been a full-time starter since 1999. KC coach Dick Vermeil said this about the ex- Terrapin “He finishes every play, He makes the plays he’s supposed to and makes plays others are supposed to.” This season, he has one sack for the Chiefs
Chris Samuels the 6-foot-5 310-pound has played in 2 Pro-Bowls and appears to be regaining that form. With Derrick Dockery steadily improving Samuels doesn’t have to “help out” as much as in years past
This battle will be won in the trenches, but offensive and defensive schemes will play a big part in each players success on Sunday. Run blocking vs stopping the run will be pretty even. But when you consider the left handed QB and his mobility, pass blocking is the deciding factor here
KC Secondary vs Brunell By Bernard Marshall II
Surtain, the former Pro Bowler, was brought in to upgrade the Chiefs defense. That hasn’t happened, and the team has dropped into the bottom 5 of the NFL in pass defense in 2005 . Safety Greg Wesley will have to keep an eye out for Portis coming out of the backfield and CB Dexter McCleon will continue to fill in for Eric Warfield, who is returning from his four-game suspension.
Many said Brunell's best days were behind him but he is coming off a career high for attempts and He has shown he can get out of the pocket. Brunell has begun to rely on Moss but this Sunday Patten versus McCleon may be too good to pass up.
Mobile quarterbacks gives the Chiefs fits in buying time to throw, and Brunell routinely beat this team when he played for the Jags. The Chiefs are giving up more than 270 yards through the air on the weekly bases. Throw in Cooley and Thrash. Brunell will have plenty of opportunities to make big plays.