Tag:Tyson Jackson
Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:07 pm
 

Film Room: Steelers vs. Chiefs preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



Let’s be honest: Chiefs-Steelers is not a great matchup. It’s the Sunday night game because this week’s great matchups all fall on Turkey Day. A straight-up breakdown of this game would yield predictable analysis, with a “take your pick” list of reasons why the Steelers can be expected to cruise to victory (the most obvious being, Tyler Palko’s tendency to pat the ball and re-hitch in the pocket; if the Patriots D generated sacks and interceptions off that weakness, what will the Steelers D do?).

But this matchup is certainly not worthless. Analyzing its contrasts and comparisons gives us a chance to examine some of the broader pictures of today’s NFL. Here are five of them.


1. Valuing an offensive line
As passing games have evolved rapidly in recent years, we’ve started to change our outlook on offensive lines. These days every lineman weighs north of 300, and a lot of them move pretty well. What separates good and bad lines is the mental approach. The aggressiveness and versatility of blitzing defenses has put a premium on blockers’ intelligence.

It doesn’t matter how well a lineman moves his feet if those feet are taking him to the wrong assignment. With the league-wide increase in Byzantine defenses and quick, timing-based passes, for an offensive lineman, recognizing an assignment is often more challenging and important than executing an assignment.

The Steelers offensive line, battling countless injuries and personnel changeability the past few seasons, has struggled mightily at times in recognizing pass-blocking assignments. This is a window into another revelation. The idea that you need a great offensive line to protect your quarterback is becoming less and less valid. The reality is you need a great quarterback to protect your offensive line.

Now, don’t take this too far. Of course you need to protect your quarterback. But in today’s pass-oriented league, one superstar quarterback can compensate for five “not-so-superstar” offensive linemen. Most superstar quarterbacks do it through presnap reads (see Brees, Drew or Manning, Peyton -- two guys who have played behind arguably the worst offensive tackle combinations of their respective conferences the past few years). Ben Roethlisberger does it through incredible postsnap improvisational abilities.

No one can argue that the Steelers have had anything more than an average offensive line the past five seasons. But no one can argue that the Steelers offense has not been still been successful. It’s when your quarterback is, say a 28-year-old left-handed fringe backup, that your offensive line woes become problematic.

2. 3-4 defensive ends
A leading ingredient to the Steelers’ defensive success has been the outstanding play of their ends. This ingredient was secret until just recently, when Brett Keisel finally went to the Pro Bowl and casual observers finally appreciated Aaron Smith after injuries took him out of the lineup. The value of great 3-4 ends is that they can attract forms of double teams.

(We say forms of double-teams because there’s a misguided belief that a double-team is one player needing to be blocked by two blockers for an entire play; in reality, for an end, attracting a double-team simply means forcing a guard or tight end to make some sort of contact with you in a manner that prevents them from being able to get out in front and block an inside linebacker. Making that contact last the first 1.5 to 2 seconds of a play is all it takes. For many intents and purposes, a 3-4 end is actually more of a blocker than a pulling guard.)

The Steelers scheme calls for the ends to disrupt through motion more than power. Lateral mobility is a key trait. If both ends are destructive along the line of scrimmage, Pittsburgh’s three defensive linemen will stalemate the opposing team’s five offensive linemen, leaving room for the four linebackers to make plays. Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recognizes the value of this; he invested his ‘09 first-round pick on Ziggy Hood and his ’11 first-rounder on Cameron Heyward.

Scott Pioli also recognized this value when he became the Chiefs general manager in 2009. He converted defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the No. 5 overall pick in ’08, to end and spent his No. 3 overall pick in ’09 on LSU’s Tyson Jackson. The results, however, have been disappointing. Dorsey and Jackson are both movement-oriented players. Problem is, Kansas City’s scheme is more like New England’s old 3-4, where the ends cause disruption not through motion but through sheer power.

Consequently, neither Dorsey nor Jackson have been worthy of consistent double teams. That was painfully apparent watching the Broncos-Chiefs film from Week 10. The Broncos didn’t win that game because Tim Tebow mastered the read option -- they won because their tackles manhandled the Chiefs ends one-on-one, allowing the guards to easily get a body on inside linebackers Derrick Johnson and Javon Belcher.

3. Chiefs Injuries impact -- tight end versatility
You could argue that Kansas City’s season ended when tight end Tony Moeaki tore his ACL in August. Moeaki was not just a flexible receiver who could work off the line of scrimmage or out of the slot -- he was also a versatile run-blocker. His ability to operate out of shifts and motions brought potency to the play-action game and allowed the Chiefs to disguise a lot of their run concepts.

In this sense, Moeaki was very similar to Heath Miller, Pittsburgh’s steady, soft-handed, fundamentally fine-tuned X-factor. In today’s NFL, where every play is preceded by a chess match at the line of scrimmage, a tight end who is versatile in the run AND pass game is invaluable.

4. Chiefs injury impact -- safety versatility
Same concept as tight end, just different side of the ball. The loss of Eric Berry (ACL Week 1) not only took away Kansas City’s rangiest pass defender, it also took away Romeo Crennel’s third-level blitzes, which previously had given opponents fits. Berry’s speed and open-field hitting made him an easily disguisable weapon. With him out, the Chiefs don’t just lose his big plays, they also lose the indecisiveness that his presence naturally instills in opponents.

As far as a parallel to this in the Steelers defense ... you can probably figure it out on your own

5. Understanding the value of a playmaker
On a similar note, let’s take this opportunity to grasp the full value of a playmaker like Jamaal Charles (lost for the season with an ACL in Week 2). As with Berry, when a weapon like Charles goes out, you don’t just lose explosive plays, you lose the threat of explosive plays. Charles was Kansas City’s only true playmaker (that is, a guy who can regularly create his own opportunities with the ball in his hands; the Steelers have two players like this: Roethlisberger and Mike Wallace).

It would take 10,000 words to explain, but in short, in watching film, it’s apparent that the difference between the way defenses attack an offense that has a truly explosive weapon versus the way a defense attacks an offense that don’t have one is staggering.

That likely stems from the difference in preparation during the week. Think about it. How much practice time does a defense devote specifically to “not getting killed” by Charles? With him gone, that’s how much practice time the defense now has to devote towards creating unique ways to attack.

A business analogy: as a defense, prepping for Charles is like sitting around the boardroom talking about covering your bases so you don’t get sued; prepping for “no Charles” is like sitting around the boardroom brainstorming the next big idea. Which meeting will ultimately lead to more sales?

What’s more, for an offense, when it becomes apparent that your gameplan is not working, a true playmaker still offers the hope and possibility of success. (And all the players know this.) Without a true playmaker, a staggering offense often hopes to simply control the damage by waiting for a lucky break. When that’s reflected in the play-calling, the entire team becomes reactionary.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 12 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 12:06 am
 

Cassel knows nothing about Haley-Pioli rift

Scott Pioli (right) and Todd Haley apparently aren't getting along (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Considering the Chiefs are off to an atrocious start and considering we’ve been talking about the warmth of Todd Haley’s seat, it’s not surprising rumors of in-fighting between the coach and general manager have been whispered about lately.

Apparently, Haley and general manager Scott Pioli don’t get along, and though the Chiefs won the AFC West last season, the relationship between the two of them hasn’t improved. That’s the rumor anyway.

If that’s the case, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel doesn’t know anything about it.

“I haven’t heard that. I haven’t read that,” Cassel told WHB radio in Kansas City (via sportsradiointerviews.com). “To be completely honest I haven’t seen that with my own two eyes. From what I see they talk to each other in the building. They are communicating and everything. It looks great, so I don’t know anything. I can’t really speculate on the article or what is being said out there because I haven’t seen that or know anything about it.”

Yet, if there are problems between the two, it’s not like Haley has any leverage. Pioli presumably could fire him tomorrow if he wanted.

But, as CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco wrote earlier this week, it’s not like Pioli is blameless in Kansas City’s woes. Wrote Prisco: “It's easy to take shots at Chiefs coach Todd Haley. But what about general manager Scott Pioli?  His moves have backfired in a big way. Trading for Matt Cassel and paying him a long-term deal was and is a bad move. The guy is just ordinary. Pioli has made some other questionable personnel moves, like drafting Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick. Pioli is from the "we invented the game bunch" that is (the) offspring of Bill Parcells. It looks like Mr. Rigid hasn't invented the game after all.”

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Posted on: April 15, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 2:10 pm
 

Pioli would pick Tyson Jackson again

T. Jackson has been rather average in his career so far (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

This will be the third draft for Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley since the two landed in Kansas City, and though the teams, without question, have improved (a 10-6 record last year as opposed to a 2-14 mark in 2008 is pretty dramatic, I’d say), there are still some questions about their decision-making on draft day.

Particularly when it comes to discussing 2009’s No. 3 pick Tyson Jackson – who hasn’t exactly played like a superstar the past two seasons and who was No. 5 in my Top Ten list (with a Twist) of overpaid players.

But in a predraft news conference, Pioli said he’s not ready to give up on his defensive lineman.

"I look back to that draft and I would say that I think we do have a good player in Tyson Jackson," Pioli said, via Arrowhead Pride. "I know the jury is still out. We need to see that. I think everyone in our organization is pretty confident still that Tyson is going to be a good player."

Would he pick the same player again if he had it to do over again? Absolutely, he said. Absolutely.

Of course, Pioli and the rest of the Chiefs organization didn’t have as much time on the 2009 draft preparation following Herm Edwards' firing and GM Carl Peterson's retirement after the season, cutting down the opportunities to see college players for Pioli and his organization. Now, though, Pioli says the club is coming together as a unit when it comes to scouting future players.

"I think if you're going to be good consistently,you have to continue to evolve and improve and get better in everything you do, "he said. "It's not just on the field. It's in player acquisition, the draft, free agency and managing the entire operation."

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Posted on: March 30, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Offseason Checkup: Kansas City Chiefs

Posted by Will Brinson

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups . Also, check out our checkup podcast:





The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t -- as a certain former Chiefs coach-turned-analyst said -- the “story of 2010.” Maybe at the midway point of last year, but now? Come on. Still, watching the Todd Haley’s crew grow up right before our very eyes last year was definitely fun.

And definitely a reason to give tons of credit to Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, the two coordinators that managed to get a slew of the Chiefs’ early-round draft picks to actually play to their potential. Glenn Dorsey, Derrick Johnson, Brandon Flowers, and Tamba Hali all blossomed on the defensive side, and Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki turned into fantastic offensive seasons.

Various talent levels aside, there were too many players who took a step forward in 2010 to simply call it a coincidence. Sustaining those levels, though, is the bigger problem.




Scheme, Blocking

The offensive skill positions are pretty well set for KC (depending on what you think about Matt Cassel anyway, and with the notable exception of a second wideout with wheels) and if they can bring back Brandon Carr, the secondary is going to be sick long-term, and possibly even as soon as next year.

But the Chiefs still need some help in the trenches, though. Defensively, Tyson Jackson played well before suffering an early season injury and Glenn Dorsey certainly made people in Kansas feel a little better about his top-five selection.

And offensively, well, it’s pretty obvious how good this team can be. The biggest question is whether or not Haley can stay out of his own way. (Or, alternately, if Weis really is that brilliant a playcaller -- 2011 will let us know to some degree.) Weaknesses in one particular area -- offensive line -- could put the risk of not repeating on the table.




1. Offensive Line
The key indicator that the Chiefs’ offensive line played better than it is in 2010 is the differential in yards per carry for Thomas Jones (3.7) and Jamaal Charles (6.4). That’s not to say the two backs are equal, because they’re absolutely not; Charles is many times better than Jones at this stage. But Charles also creates his own yardage to a significant degree, and made it easier for KC to be the top rushing team in the NFL. There’s enough talent at O-line in the draft this year to warrant beefing up early.

2. Wide Receiver
Chris Chambers, clearly, isn’t the answer to line up across from Bowe, who had one of the more dominant stretches by a wide receiver we’ve seen in a while across the middle of last season, despite the Chiefs not offering anyone that warrants not double-teaming the Pro Bowler. Putting a talented speedster on the opposite side of Bowe would boost the offense’s overall potent-ability and make life easier for Cassel.

3. Defensive Line
Though the defense produced some surprises from guys who previously underwhelmed, don’t be shocked if the Chiefs look to the defensive line with an early pick in this draft. There’s ample talent available in the early rounds (we’ve covered the depth at this position, no?) and stockpiling some big bodies will bode well for an overall defensive improvement in 2011.



2011 will carry the unusual burden of high expectations for Kansas City. On offense, that’s a distinct possibility if Charlie Weis’ presence really was that important to the development of his skill position guys (Cassel, Bowe and Charles, specifically). If Kansas City struggles to score points out of the gate, all fingers will be pointing at Todd Haley, who’s reportedly clashed enough with Weis to run the big guy out of Dodge and down to work for Will Muschamp in the college ranks.

Defensively, Crennel can help continue to restore his reputation if Jackson can step up and the Dorsey/Johnson can keep the redemption story rolling. Eric Berry, Javier Arenas, Brandon Flowers, and Carr should grow as well, so there’s absolutely some upside from last year’s defensive performance.

It’ll all come down to expectations, though. If some of the guys who performed so well last year regress, or the offensive performances in 2010 were a mirage built on Weis’ brain, there’s a good chance that 2011 looks more like a mirage than a blossoming team for a recovering franchise.

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Posted on: October 12, 2010 4:35 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 5:37 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Overpaid players

J. Delhomme is making more than $19 million this year. He's probably not worth it (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I saw a stunning stat on Twitter as the Browns mucked their way to a loss against the Falcons this past Sunday. It had to do with how much money QB Jake Delhomme is pulling in this year. Naturally, the number is ridiculous, as I’ll detail further in the below paragraphs.

But it gave me the idea for the newest edition of Top Ten With a Twist. Who are the most overpaid players in the game today? By overpaid, I mean the players who are either busts or has-beens or guys who simply found an owner who decided that spending tens of millions of dollars on a problem child was the way to go.

I’m not talking about rookies like Sam Bradford. Of course, the first-round NFL draft picks are overpaid, but at this point, I’m not including them on this list (it’d be an entirely new list altogether). Instead, I’m including guys like Delhomme – either guys who have been around the league for a while who are getting a good payday because they were good at one time, or guys who were supposed to be good but haven’t shown it.

Be forewarned: the salaries we’ll discuss might make you a little nauseous. So, pop a Dramamine or two and let’s go.

10. Eli Manning, QB, Giants: Before last season, you’ll recall, Manning signed a seven-year deal worth $106.9 million that pays him an average of about $15 million from 2009 through 2015, and that doesn’t include his endorsement deals. There’s little doubt that Manning is the most important player on the team, but is he really worth the money? I’m not saying Manning isn’t good, because he is a good quarterback. But he’s not an elite top-five kind of guy, and he’s making elite top-five kind of money. For what it’s worth, he currently makes more than his brother, Peyton (and his oldest brother, Cooper, for that matter).

9. Marvin Austin, DT, Tar Heels: OK, we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves if we’re talking NFL. But look at the damage Austin – well, the recruitment of Austin – has done already and look how much money it’s cost the people around him. Austin apparently accepted gifts and other improper benefits from agents (the NCAA determined it was worth between $10,000-$13,000). As a result, Austin was kicked off the team Monday and UNC teammates Robert Quinn and Greg Little have been made permanently ineligible, the NCAA has brought up academic violations, coach Butch Davis might get fired, the Tar Heels football program has been set back in a major way, and the school in general has taken a hit to its reputation. That’s quite a bit of money Austin indirectly is costing everybody, and as one of my colleague says, “And he hasn’t even played yet!”

8. Joey Porter, LB, Cardinals: Blame the team in this case instead of the player. The team which gave a 33-year-old LB a three-year deal for $17.5 million which could max out at $24.5 million. Porter was coming off a pretty good season in Miami in 2009, where he recorded nine sacks in 14 games. This year, though, has been a rough one. He’s recorded 16 solo tackles, good for 10th on the team, and he’s only recorded one sack through the team’s first five games. No doubt that Porter has had a standout career, but there’s also little doubt that he’s not the player he once was. He’s still making good bank for it, though.

7. Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants: Perhaps if Jacobs had been signed as a discus hurler, his four-year, $25 million extension that he signed before last season would have made sense. Instead, Jacobs is solely a RB who’s gained 172 yards in the team’s first five games and who’s lost his starting position (for the record, in 2009, his attempts rose from the 2008 season, but his yards gained fell and his touchdowns dropped from 15 to five). Plus, you had the throwing-his-helmet-into-the-crowd incident at the Indianapolis game. The $15 million he was guaranteed doesn’t look so good now.

6. Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders: We’re not discussing rookies in this list, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about second-year players (or players that are still in college, I suppose). For some reason, the Raiders took him with the seventh pick in the 2009 Draft, and then they blew up the slotting system by awarding him a five-year contract worth $38.25 million ($23.5 million guaranteed). He promptly went out and caught nine passes in 11 games. This year, he’s got 11 catches through five games, so that’s an improvement. Good thing the Raiders took Heyward-Bey instead of, say, Jeremy Maclin.

5. Tyson Jackson, DE, Chiefs: He was the third overall pick of the 2009 Draft, and while he wasn’t great last year – hell, he wasn’t even decent – he wasn’t the worst bust in the history of the Draft. It could be argued that he wasn’t nearly as bad as Glenn Dorsey, the Chiefs 2008 first-round pick who had tallied exactly two sacks in his first two years. But Dorsey is playing better this year, while Jackson – 38 tackles last year but zero sacks – has been out with a sprained MCL. At this point, he’s a big disappointment.

A. Smith still hasn't won a starting job with Cincinnati (Getty). 4. Andre Smith, OL, Bengals: The one thing I’ll always remember about Smith – aside from the whole running-the-40-shirtless-at-his-pro
-day-only-to-be-mocked-unmercifully
thing – is that after he signed his contract for $21 million on HBO’s Hard Knocks, his agent turned to him and said, “Congratulations. You’re a millionaire now.” Yep, that’s pretty much how he’s acted the past two years in Cincinnati. He’s been overweight, and his work ethic has been questioned. He only played in six games last season, starting one, and he still can’t be used as an every-play offensive lineman. Dennis Roland, who’s much less talented than Smith, has been starting ahead of him.

3. Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: One good year can get you a big contract, and for proof, look no further than Cassel. In 2008, he led the Patriots to a 11-5 record while completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. After New England QB Tom Brady returned, Cassel signed with the Chiefs for a six-year, $63 million deal with $28 million guaranteed. Not bad for a career backup in the NFL and in college at USC. This year, he’s completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 650 yards (about 162.5 yards per game), four TDs and three INTs. That’s not much production for a guy being paid a lot of money.

2. Albert Haynesworth, NT, Redskins: You thought I was going to put Haynesworth No. 1, didn’t you? While we’ve spent so much time on Haynesworth and the $100 million contract and the tens of millions of dollars of guaranteed money, he’s begun to play better lately (he sat out this past week, though, after the death of his brother). Surely, he’s not worth the money, but considering some thought he could have been released from the Washington squad at this point, the fact he’s still playing is sort of a win. Sort of. Still, it’s hard to overlook the fact he’s made six tackles and recorded exactly zero sacks this season.

1. Jake Delhomme, QB, Browns: Ah, the impetus for this column in the first place. Delhomme, between what the Browns and his former team, the Panthers, are paying him, is making $19.7 million this season. Doesn’t that number just absolutely blow you away? He started the first game of the season but was lost for three games with an ankle injury. Then, he backed up Seneca Wallace against the Falcons on Sunday, replaced him when he went out with an ankle injury and then reinjured his own ankle. He’s likely to be out for a while now. On the year, he’s 33 of 60 for 324 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Not real good. Not a real good return on Cleveland’s money either.

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Posted on: September 26, 2010 11:42 am
Edited on: September 26, 2010 12:51 pm
 

AFC inactives, Week 3

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

First, those who are active: Texans WR Andre Johnson, who had been questionable with an ankle injury; Patriots LB Brandon Spikes, who was a late add Saturday to New England’s injury report but was listed as probable; WR Joshua Cribbs, who hurt his ankle at practice Wednesday; and Baltimore CB Cary Williams, who has finished serving his two-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Tyson Jackson, Chiefs, DE: This is the second week in a row Jackson has been out, dealing with a knee injury suffered in the first game of the season. This isn’t terrible news for Kansas City. Although he was the No. 3 overall pick last season, Jackson has done next to nothing on the field thus far.

Adam Jones, Bengals, CB: He’s been better than expected this season, but his shoulder is banged up. Expect second-year CB Morgan Trent to get much more playing time as the third CB.

Antwan Odom, Bengals, DE: He was supposed to play today as he appeals his four-game suspension for violating the performance enhancing drug policy. But he’s not on the 45-man gameday roster with a wrist injury.

Jerome Harrison, Browns, RB:
This probably won't phase coach Eric Mangini much, because, for some reason, he doesn't like seeing Harrison, who's got a thigh injury, on the field. But now that Peyton Hillis and James Davis will get the carries, it's hard not to see Cleveland struggle in the running game.

Jake Delhomme, Browns, QB:
This was expected. But it's still important nonetheless. Especially since that means Seneca Wallace will get another start.

Brian Robiskie, Browns, WR: With three important pieces of Cleveland's offense out of today's game, it could get ugly today vs. Baltimore.

Terrence Cody, Ravens, NT:
Even though he practiced all week and wasn't on the injury list, Baltimore still decided to deactivate the rookie.

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Posted on: September 14, 2010 1:34 am
Edited on: September 14, 2010 8:58 am
 

Chiefs should be fun to watch this year

Posted by Will Brinson



Whether or not the Chiefs can actually challenge for AFC West division supremacy doesn't really matter, because they're going to be incredibly fun to watch this year. (Well, it does matter, I guess, and Kansas City can contend in a weak division, especially after beating the Bolts 21-14 in a thrilling Monday night doubleheader .)

But even if they don't, you're going to want to tune in when they play. Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster are ticking timebombs in the return game; McCluster is a home run threat out of the slot, on screens and even out of the backfield on offense; Dwayne Bowe/Matt Cassel will be better than they were against San Diego; and Jamaal Charles is the truth.

The defense has playmakers too, even if the weather in Arrowhead substantially assisted the Chiefs (or, if you prefer, "Cheifs" as was the popular trending topic on Twitter at some point on Tuesday ). Glenn Dorsey managed a half-sack, which wouldn't be that impressive if it wasn't a half-sack more than his 2009 total.

And Tyson Jackson, if he's not hurt too badly, looked vastly improved -- look no further than the immediate success of the Chargers following his departure. Eric Berry got torched for a deep touchdown pass, but he's clearly got skills when he's not forgetting what coverage package the team is running.

Finally, Kansas City has two established veteran coordinators running the show; people (myself included) like to make jokes about Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. That's because they stunk when they were put in charge of teams. They didn't stink when they were calling plays and running individual units of teams.

While it's easy to say there was a "different feeling" in Arrowhead on Monday night/Tuesday morning based on the crowd noise and excitement, there's at least a logical reason for thinking that this franchise is headed in a different direction.

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Posted on: September 13, 2010 6:54 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2010 7:08 pm
 

Chiefs v. Chargers: Monday Night Football Preview

Posted by Will Brinson



First things first -- I recorded a podcast preview for tonight's second game with Joel Thorman of ArrowheadPride.com and Kansas City SB Nation . Give it a listen now and go and Subscribe via iTunes to the award-winning* CBS Sports Football Podcast.

If you can't view the podcast, click here to download .

Now, onto what we'll be watching for in the second matchup:

1. Left Tackle Loss
Two of the biggest weapons for San Diego -- Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill -- will be absent Monday night. The latter is far more concerning, because the Bolts can't just plug-and-play a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, though. If Philip Rivers' blindside gets, um, blindsided against the Chiefs, it's only going to be tougher for San Diego to maintain their stance that McNeill should sign his (now lowered) tender.

2. Jack of All Trades
Dexter McCluster is primed for a big year. I'd be willing to bet not-so-hard-earned money on it. Even if he doesn't catch a ton of passes or rush the ball like crazy or lead the league in return yards, he'll do enough of everything in route to sparking the Chiefs' offense to draw rave reviews. That needs to start tonight, though.

3. Franchising
Matt Cassel had a monster year for the Patriots when Tom Brady went down, and then he got straight paid. Unfortunately, he hasn't done much to justify that pay day since -- a lot of people, myself included, think Charle Weis joining Cassel in KC can result in a big year. He gets to start justifying his contract tonight.

4. D-Line Redemption
The Chiefs (still) hope that Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey can become the anchors of a dominant defensive line. Jackson's time obviously isn't running as short as Dorsey's, but they'd still like to see a significant uptick in production for their 2009 investment. If both guys can produce, the Chiefs can really be dangerous.

5. Replacing LT
Ryan Mathews has some serious hype heading into 2010 -- there's no question that he can succeed at this level, but can he adequately replace LaDainian Tomlinson? No, not the 2009 LdT -- the one who became a Hall of Famer in San Diego.

*My mother said it was awesome.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com