Don't Kill The Mellinger

Titans 26, Chiefs 10, and a busy injury cart: Insta-reaction

Really, the only way I’m sure this wasn’t just a bad dream is that the weather was so nice. In the nightmare, it would’ve been super hot. Or hailing. But the rest of this had a pungeant, almost 2012 feel to it.

* No matter your level of optimism or pessimism, if you close your eyes and imagine the worst-case scenario for the 2014 Chiefs, it includes Derrick Johnson going down, untouched, and being taken off the field on a cart.

* Much more on this in the column that will post later today, including perspective from someone who knows as much about this as anyone in the world.

* I’m not sure Johnson is the Chiefs’ best defensive player. My pick would be Justin Houston, and there’s a case to be made for Eric Berry. But Johnson might be the team’s most important defensive player, or perhaps its most irreplaceable. In the locker room, and on the field, both.

* A lot of times, what seems like an enormous deal after the first game of an NFL season turns out to be less of a thing a month or two later. But a long-term injury for Johnson — if that’s what this is — would shape nearly everything the Chiefs do and don’t do on defense this year.

* I heard from a lot of people who thought my 6-10 prediction was pessimistic, but that assumed a win over the Titans. A 4-12 season is in play.

* The injury to DJ — and another Achilles injury to Mike DeVito — gave cover to a rotten performance from the offense. Alex Smith’s numbers were terrible, maybe his worst game with the Chiefs in his first game after the big contract, but I’m not sure how much more he could’ve done.

* Seemed like a good day to do a lot of give-the-ball-to-Jamaal-and-watch-him-go, but he only had seven touches in the first half, when it still mattered. Charles might be the biggest non-quarterback offensive force in football, and the Chiefs’ second-biggest non-quarterback offensive force on Sunday might’ve been Travis Kelce. I’m all for not turning Jamaal Charles into Jamal Anderson, but there has to be a happy medium here.

* The offensive line, as we all expected, was spotty. They gave up four sacks, but beyond that, there was a lot of pressure, a lot of Alex Smith needing to use his very good instincts about when to break the pocket.

* At least once, a three-man rush collapsed a pocket of six blockers. Next week, the Chiefs will try to block Von Miller.

* Travis Kelce lined up in the slot, and a lot. The Chiefs’ decision makers have been anxious to get him involved in a real game, and they had to have liked what they saw.

* Cairo Santos hit the upright on both of his first two field goal attempts, missing one. At the time, it felt like that was a big deal. The Chiefs would love for that to be their biggest problem.

* On the bright side, the Chiefs will get Dwayne Bowe back next week and Donald Stephenson back in three games. D’Anthony Thomas will, presumably, be healthy. Marcus Cooper should be back healthy. That’s not nothing, but neither is it enough to make the nasty taste from a gorgeous Sunday afternoon go away

* /Checks schedule/ … /sees Chiefs are at Denver/ … /shoots whisky/

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