By Britt Schramm
Hot damn, it’s finally the regular season. By the time you read this post, the Giants finally subdued the Redskins 16-7 and both teams struggled to hold the nation’s attention spans much to NBC’s dismay as there were so many tempting choices on the clicker such as House Hunters International, Antiques Roadshow, and the Big Brother 10 Elimination show where Renny got kicked to the curb in true Big Brother back-door fashion (non-porn definition, if you please).
As you may be quite aware, this preseason has not been kind to the Pats as they went winless while their warts (Back-up QB play compared to the beer left in a 14-day old tapped keg, OL resembling a piece of Swiss cheese, and CBs giving opposing WRs a free cushion with every snap of the ball in exchange for a piggyback ride into the endzone) exposed for all of the world to see and analyze. However, this Sunday, those games will be like that Madden game when the CPU jumped to a quick 45-0 lead in the first quarter as the Pats’ record will be reset back to 0-0 when the Chiefs come into town for the first game of the 2008-09 NFL regular season.
This Week – Kansas City Chiefs (0-0; Final Pre-Season Record 2-2)
You think that Pats had problems in the preseason? Well, Herm Edwards is not getting any younger looking at some of the same challenges with his team.
After looking at the New England depth chart after Asante Samuel and Randall Gay left town on Route 1 during the off-season, things weren’t looking too bright on the corners; at least before the O’Neal pickup, I mean. This same problem is virtually the same with their Game 1 opponent. KC also is starting a rookie at least one CB spot with an additional two rookies CBs coming in for the nickel/dime packages on Sunday at kickoff.
When you consider the two starting safeties are both 3-year vets, this KC defensive backfield is greener than Richard Hammond on a speeding dingy. The vet on the team, 11-year vet Patrick Surtain who is considered a mentor to the young corners, has been consistent (avg 52 solo, 9 asst, 6 Passes Defensed, 2 INT) in his tour with the Chiefs but at 32 years old, is definitely on the downside of his career; especially for a starting CB in today’s NFL. Just ask Fernando Bryant how hard it is to hold down a starting corner job when you’re in the low 30s age-wise.
After seeing this kind of backfield make-up, I can see why Tom Terrific to come back even if he has to hop on one foot to throw down the field. I don’t know about you but I would think that both Gunther Cunningham isn’t getting too much sleep at night when his side of the ball has to go against a conference that has QBs like Brady, Manning and Broadway Brett plus WRs like Moss, Welker, TJ Whosyourmama, Ocho Cinco, Reggie Wayne and his pistol-whipping teammate in Indy.
On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs were experiencing injury issues with their own left tackle. Their first round (and 15th overall) pick Branden Albert hasn’t played a snap this preseason due to a sprained foot. And yet, he is still penciled in as the starter who is responsible for protecting Brodie Croyle’s blindside against the likes of Seymour, Thomas and Bruschi.
This task is daunting for a seasoned pro, much less a rookie. But when you factor in the injury to his foot, the lack of any pro experience – preseason or otherwise – and that usually Gonzalez is looking to go downfield rather than stay behind and help block, Albert better be on the top of his game or Croyle may be trying to tell what shapes that the clouds look like over Gillette Stadium than finding his secondary receivers.
Kickin’ It Around
If the game is closer than everyone expects which invariably means that the game will be decided by the swing of the leg, KC will be turning to a guy who has been kicking around the league for the past three years. Nick Novak, who made a name for himself in 2006 by replacing the oft-injured John Hall in Washington, beat out rook Connor Barth for the starting PK job in one of the windiest stadiums in the league.
Now, nothing against Novak (and if you think that it’s an easy job, give Stefan Fatsis’ book, A Few Seconds of Panic a chance – you might gain a smidge more respect for those little guys that sit on the sidelines for the majority of the game) but there might be a reason or two why he has seen any regular season action since the end of the 2006 season.
It could be that during that last season with the Redskins, he only hit 5 of 10 FG attempts making 1 of 3 in the 30-39 yd range. So consistency may be an issue. Or it could be his possible lack of range since he has never attempted a FG in excess of 50 yards. It could be that he only had one touchback in 69 kickoffs which would be a question of leg strength as well.
Either way you cut it, unless Novak turns into a second coming of Adam V, I can’t imagine that he will make it past Thanksgiving this year.
This section of Line ‘Em Up will be used to spotlight a heaping sampling of football commentary made by the fan sites and blogs of the Patriots’ opponents for that week that can be found on the web. And for the most part, these “bon mots” will not be found in that hotbed of informed and rational commentary known as the forums.
KCChiefs.com’s Rufus Dawes compares the youth in the Chiefs’ lineup to that of a recently selected VP nominee in a post called “The Perils of Youth”:
“The young Chiefs, at best, will be playing the role of the young Sarah Palin, the youthful choice as the Republican running mate with John McCain. Some initial excitement from the public early, more criticism or palpable apprehension from the media as time passes.”
Hopefully, the new Chiefs will refrain from indulging in the daughter being preggers and the drunk-driving spouses until after the season.
Arrowheadpride.com’s ChiefDJ likens the youth of the Chiefs to that always dangerous combo of Bixby’s Incredible Hulk pilot and minor urban legend as part of his “Keys to Victory” :
“Young guys are emotional and if they get pumped and excited about this challenge, they could be capable of performing superhuman acts the like of that 95 lb mom that lifted the car off her kid.”
Kansas City Star’s (and personal Facebook friend) Jason Whitlock pleads for the Pats to rest Brady because he thinks that even with Cassel at the helm, New England should beat KC. But that’s not all. Whitlock also drops this wonderful comparison of this year’s version of the Chiefs with a certain act that has been made infamous by a certain Boo-Yah’d SportsCenter anchor when he used the words “Lemme Know”:
“These Chiefs, Carl Peterson’s 20th rendition, are the ultimate slump-busters. They’re a more reliable booty call than the girls found in Eliot Spitzer’s rolodex. In fact, we’re thinking of dropping the K in KC Chiefs and going with a B, the Booty Call Chiefs.”
Coming Up Next Week
It’s a road trip to Jersey to play John Madden’s Man Crush, the former coach known as Mangenius and the rest of the Green Gang. Plotlines a plenty so tune in next week to see what their side is crowing about for Week #2.