LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: In his current ad campaign for Old Spice deodorant, Chicago Bears LB Brian Urlacher claims it is better to be defensive than offensive. The Kansas City Chiefs would disagree.
After ranking fourth in the NFL in total offense last season and averaging a whopping 29 points per game, the Kansas City Chiefs have shown that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Even though their defense allowed 23 points per contest, which would be disastrous for most NFL teams, their offense was good enough to propel the team to a modest, yet mediocre, 8-8 record.
Realizing his team's offensive strengths and defensive deficiencies, head coach Dick Vermeil turned each game into a track meet with a variety of pass plays, a relentless rushing attack and a few opportunistic trick plays. Teams that could slow down the pace and control the tempo of the game usually beat the Chiefs. Those that could not keep up were left far behind.
who coached the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl XXXIV
Championship in 1999, likes to light up the scoreboard, but
knows that his team's postseason hopes depend on how much
their defense improves this season. Even if the Chiefs allow an
average of one field goal less per game, that could translate
into a couple of more victories and drive the Chiefs into the
playoffs. After allowing an average of 17 points per game in
their first two contests this year, they are slowly headed in
the right direction.
Leading the Chiefs offensive attack is seven-year veteran RB
Priest Holmes, who scored an NFL-high 24 touchdowns and rushed
for 1615 yards in 2002. Along with strong-armed QB Trent Green,
perennial Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez and arguably the
NFL's best offensive line, the offense should continue
dominating. They have already scored 68 points in just their
first two games.
The addition of LB Shawn Barber from the Philadelphia Eagles and
DE Vonnie Holliday from the Green Bay Packers during the
offseason should add some much-needed pop to the Chiefs defense.
CB Dexter McCleon arrived in Kansas City from the St. Louis Rams
and will provide some stability in the secondary.
**DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK:** Despite offseason hip
surgery, and legitimate fears that his career was over, Holmes
has returned to rare form. After scratching and crawling his way
into the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas in
1997, one injury wasn't going to stop him.
Holmes put in the extra work necessary during the winter and
early summer to not only recover from surgery, but also improve
as a player. So far, he already has five rushing touchdowns and
311 combined yards in two games. With his darting speed and
agility, Holmes gains huge chunks of yards through a variety of
ways: screens, draws, pass-routes out of the backfield and power
With an extremely mobile and athletic offensive line that
averages a solid 312 pounds, Holmes doesn't need to look hard
to find holes in the defense. The line is led by eight-time Pro Bowl OT Willie Roaf and seven-time Pro Bowl OG Will Shields.
It's easy to forget about the rest of the Chiefs offense with
Holmes around, but QB Trent Green had his most successful NFL
season in 2002. His comfort in Vermeil's offense was evident
as he passed for 3,690 yards and 26 touchdowns, which ranked him
in the top-10 of all NFL passers.
Four-time Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez returns after another
stellar year. Due to the publicity that New York Giants TE
Jeremy Shockey garnered as a rookie, Gonzalez didn't receive as
much recognition as he had in the past. Nevertheless, he posted
63 catches for 773 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Chiefs' receivers don't make most NFL defensive backs'
palms sweat. However, they tied for third in the NFL in 2002
with 27 touchdown receptions. Receivers Marc Boerigter, Eddie
Kennison, Dante Hall and Johnnie Morton had a combined 14
touchdown catches and stretched the field for Holmes and
**LACK OF FIREPOWER:** If the Chiefs' offense was full of
serious weapons in 2002, their defense was full of squirt guns.
They finished last in the NFL in total defense and in the bottom
half of the league in sacks, forced fumbles and passes defensed.
They gave up over 30 points per game in their eight losses last
Needless to say, the Chiefs' defense lacked playmakers all over
the field. With Holliday, Barber and McCleon, who have a
combined 16 years of NFL experience, they hope that each facet
of their defense will improve.
They are also banking on the development of their younger
players, such as second-year LB Scott Fujita and their top draft
pick in 2002, defensive lineman Ryan Sims, who is returning from
a dislocated elbow. Both are starters and are responsible for
the Chiefs run defense, which finished 24
th in the league last year.
In just two games, the defense has already turned the page from
2002. They have seven sacks, 14 passes defensed, five
interceptions and one interception returned for a touchdown.
They are well on their way to eclipsing their 2002 totals of 34
sacks, 73 passes defensed and 18 interceptions with no defensive
This Sunday will mark the second consecutive week that the
Texans face a top-flight kickoff/punt returner. At New Orleans,
the Texans faced 2002 Pro Bowler Michael Lewis, and this week
they face 2002 Pro Bowler Dante Hall.
Hall has the kind of quickness, vision and big-play potential
that leave Chiefs' fans at the edges of their seats. In 2002,
Hall returned two punts to the house and took one kickoff return
88 yards for another score. Hall has already returned one
kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown this year.
Believe it or not, but K Morten Andersen is still kicking field
goals at the tender age of 43. After 21 years in the NFL,
Andersen wasn't ready to give up the game quite yet.
Third-year punter and NFL journeyman Jason Baker will handle
punting and kickoff duties for the Chiefs. In his short career,
he has already been a member of three NFL teams.
**WHETTING THEIR APPETITE:**The Chiefs have a very favorable
schedule the rest of the season. Already 2-0 after convincing
wins over the San Diego Chargers (27-14) and the Pittsburgh
Steelers (41-20), the Chiefs will only need to win half of their
remaining games to be in playoff contention. Anything more than
that will surely secure them a spot in the playoffs and likely
give them home-field advantage.
The Chiefs are licking their chops; half of their remaining
games are against teams that finished in the bottom half of the
NFL in total defense last season. Only four of their remaining
14 games are against 2002 playoff teams. Besides tough road
contests at Green Bay, Oakland, Denver and Minnesota, the Chiefs
play the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and struggling Cleveland
Browns at home.
If things continue the way they have been during the first two
weeks for the Chiefs, Kansas City fans can prepare for some
playoff festivities for the first time since 1997. However, if
they look past the Texans, who are juiced up for their
home opener, the Chiefs could be kicking themselves come