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Stillers-Chiefs Pregame Outlook

October 12, 2001 by Still Mill


Stillers @ Chefs Preview  (Game #4)

The Stillers make their nearly-annual trip to Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday, facing a foundering KC team that has far more resembled squaws than chiefs.The Stillers, after an opening-day team-stink down in Jacksonville, have rebounded with 2 straights wins after their 3-week layoff, albeit over weak Bill and Bengal teams.This shapes up as a potentially dull matchup between 2 teams that have had extreme problems throwing the football and scoring points, so national interest in this game probably won�t be quite as large as, say, the Indy-Oakland matchup.�� Nonetheless, this game should feature a lot of hard hitting and a Chiefs team that is literally backed up against the wall after a miserable 1-3 start.

* When the Chefs have the ball, they�ll literally limp up the line of scrimmage with a banged up offense that, aside from a laugher over the lowly Deadskins, has struggled nearly as much as the Stiller offense.�� QB Trent Green has had his problems getting acclimated to his new mates in KC.�� On top of that, his receiving corps has been banged up since before the season began.WR Sly Morris hasn�t played at all.Rookie Snoop Minnis has been a lil� nicked up.�� Derrick Alexander has been hampered by injury, and probably won�t player versus the Stillers.Even backup WR/kick returner Dante Hall is out with a bruised shoulder.This leaves Green to toss the ball to the rookie Minnis, and unheralded backups Chris Thomas and Larry Parker.�� I have been impressed with what I�ve seen from Minnis thus far, but it�s a bridge too far to expect Minnis to carry the WR burden all by himself.Of course, there is considerable help at the TE spot, where all-world Tony Gonzalez plays for the Chefs.Gonzo is without question one of the premier TEs in all of pro football, and he�ll be a load to handle on Sunday.Gonzo, as you may recall, terrorized the Stillers in the last meeting with the Chefs in �99, abusing tubby Levon Kirkland all day long.�� The Chefs, especially with the injury-riddled WRcorps, would love to be able to pound the ball on the ground.Their O-line is a solid crew, led by tackles John Tait and Vic Riley.The Chef running game is led by former Raven Priest Holmes, who�s had a few top-notch games running against the Black & Gold.What really hampers the Chefs is the injury of all-around FB Tony Richardson, who will miss the Stiller game.Richardson is a real all-around FB who truly can �do it all�, and he does it all well, including catching passes out of the backfield.Jermaine Williams will step in for Richardson, and that�s a significant dropoff.The key matchup will be the Stiller pass defense against KC TE Tony Gonzo.As much as the Chefs would like to run the ball to relieve their ailing passing game, it won�t happen on Sunday.The Stiller front 7, supported by good run support from their DBs, is simply too good and too strong for the Chefs and Priest Holmes to run the ball with much success.�� But the Stillers have had problems all summer, as well as the Jax loss, with coverage on the TE.Gonzo gave them fits 2 years ago, and he�s by far the best TE they�ve faced thus far.Starting SS Lee Flowers missed last week�s game, but it appears that he�ll start this Sunday.Flowers will have his hands full trying to cover Gonzo.�� Backup LB Mike Jones might very well be called upon to chip in on obvious passing downs.Personally, I would also, at times, use an OLB to blast Gonzo as the ball is snapped, in order to throw his timing off and delay his getting into his pattern.The Stillers are not wont to do this, but given the other woes of KC, and the threat that Gonzo provides, it would make sense to do this some from time to time.

* When the Stillers have the ball, they�ll at least try to continue the on-the-ground, smashmouth football that has racked up gobs of yardage in wins over Buff and Cinci.�� The O-line has been opening gaping holes for Bettis and Amos the past 2 games, and they�ll face a somewhat soft KC defense that has had its share of troubles in stopping the run.The Chefs primary problem against the run is a front 7 that is lacking the kind of horses ya need to stop the power running game.�� The D-line of Hicks, Browning, Ransom and Clemons isn�t likely to keep any offensive blocker awake in cold sweats at night.The LB crew of Bush, Patton, and Edwards is adequate, but hardly a top-notch unit like the one manned by the Ravens or even the Stillers.The Chefs have a pass defense that has shown its share of warts, too.�� The secondary is probably just a smidgen above average, but little more.Veteran CB Ray Crockett leads this crew, and he�s a darn good cover corner who is a reliable, trusty professional.Eric Warfield mans the other corner, with Woods and Wesley doing the safety chores.The key matchup will be the KC plan to defend against the run, versus the Stiller ground game.The risk-averse Cowher isn�t about to let go of his Neanderthal, Nickel-Dime Offense, so he�ll be looking to run the ball early and often.The Chefs simply do not have the hosses on their front 7 to go toe-to-toe with the Stillers in the trenches.Their only chance to avoid having Bettis jam the ball down their throats, is to stack 7 and even 8 men near then LOS.Yes, it�s risky�if facing an offense that can throw the ball downfield.The Stillers do not throw downfield, so fretting about �risk� here is like fretting about the risk of a football being punted out of the stadium and breaking a windshield or upsetting a keg of beer at a tailgate party.

* Spec Teams: Hall is out, which removes a solid KR threat from the Chefs� lineup.Former Stiller Dan Stryzinski now punts for the Chefs. Todd Peterson is the Chef kicker.After some opening-day problems in Jax, the Stiller spec teams have rounded nicely into form.Ace punt returner Hank Poteat is gushing with confidence, and has looked quick and sharp.Kicker Kris Brown has found a good rhythm and is kicking FGs -- which are a Cowher favorite -- quite well.Josh, the multi-million dollar punter, is punting adequately, and the coverage teams have been fairly solid.

* Synopsis:This game worries me.The Chefs have been punched around thus far this season, and amazingly enough, they are winless at Arrowhead, a stadium that is generally considered to be one of the toughest venues in the NFL for visiting teams.As much as the Chefs have struggled, they can be a tough home team, and they have faced considerably stiffer and tougher competition than have the Stillers.Additionally, Coach Vermeil has to realize that the season is rapidly eroding into a fiasco, so he must pull out all stops, which includes, but is not limited to, the aforementioned 8-man fronts.Meanwhile, the Stillers might be complacent after this modest 2-game winning streak, and that�s just the kind of thing that can bite a field-goal kicking team in the butt on the road.�� But the bottom line is that I will be there at this game, and because of that, the Stillers will prevail over the timid Squaws, 16-13.


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