Do tell the truth
1. Where did this performance come from?
This is probably the Chiefs’ best performance since the Seattle game. The Chargers, 9-7, are a good matchup for them on paper. You can run the ball on the Chargers, and they can’t punish the Chiefs on the ground. Add that to a much-improved secondary that could go toe-to-toe with Philip Rivers, and the Chiefs had all the ingredients needed to beat the Chargers.
2. What should we make of Chase Daniel’s day?
Very, very good. Daniel completed 16 of 27 passes for 157 yards in Alex Smith’s place, and generally did a good job managing the game. Aside from a few instances where he held the ball too long, there’s not much to complain about. Be cautious, however, assuming that Daniel could be the same guy Smith is week after week. San Diego’s front seven is weak, which allowed the Chiefs to establish the run, and their secondary is nothing to write home about, either. Smith has also outperformed Daniel and the rest of the quarterbacks regularly in the practices open to reporters. This isn’t to bag on Daniel — he did a nice job Sunday and might have a future in this league as a starter — but only a reminder that Smith is the starter for a reason, and it goes beyond his $68 million deal.
3. Is Justin Houston better than Derrick Thomas?
This might be sacrilege in Kansas City, but the truth is that Houston — who broke Thomas’ single-season club record for sacks on Sunday — is a more complete player. You could run at Thomas, but Houston is a really good edge defender. Few 3-4 outside linebackers in the game are better than he is at playing the run. He’s obviously a great pass rusher, too. Thomas played with more flair and certainly had a knack for the dramatic, so it’s definitely a good argument, though Houston obviously needs to put together several more seasons like this to match Thomas’ legacy.
4. Was this season a success or failure?
Most experts pegged the Chiefs as a regression candidate after last year’s 11-5 record. Some, like yours truly, had them pegged at 7-9, so from that standpoint, they exceeded expectations. This team has some really good pieces, and they aren’t that far away from being a championship team. But the offensive line and receiving corps have been major liabilities all season, and those groups limited the ceiling of this team. Expect the Chiefs to aggressively upgrade each position this offseason.
5. But is it OK to be mad they missed the playoffs?
Yes, because had they taken care of business at home in the season opener against a terrible Tennessee team, they probably wouldn’t be in this position. They also should have won on the road against Oakland. No excuses for either loss, even though it’s understood that any team can win on any given Sunday.
113: Points Cairo Santos has scored this season, breaking the Chiefs’ single-season club record for rookie kickers of 108, set in 1967 by Jan Stenerud.