Red Zone

Chiefs Blitz: Q&A about Sunday’s 27-21 win over the New Orleans Saints

Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles pedaled a stationary bicycle on the sideline in the fourth quarter. Charles only carried the ball one time in the game for 0 yards.
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles pedaled a stationary bicycle on the sideline in the fourth quarter. Charles only carried the ball one time in the game for 0 yards. deulitt@kcstar.com

In this week’s Blitz, The Star’s Terez A. Paylor answered five postgame Twitter questions from Chiefs fans.

1. When should we expect more Jamaal? — @brianharold9

It sounds simple: when he gets healthy. Jamaal Charles was limited in practice Friday due to swelling in his knee, and you have to remember, he’s still coming off an ACL tear. Sometimes the recovery process for those can be a bit up and down. The key thing to remember is that the Chiefs like the other two backs on their active roster, and probably won’t feel compelled to play Charles much if his knee is giving him any trouble whatsoever. What’s important is that Jamaal is healthy and feeling good for the stretch run in December. If you own Jamaal in fantasy, I’d probably hesitate to play him until he has a big game.

2. Maclin, Kelce, Ware all need more touches (not to mention Charles). How do we get more plays off and more talent involved? — @batmanandadam

Getting more plays off? That’s easy — be more efficient and effective on offense. Yet, that’s easier said than done. I think Spencer Ware’s workload is fine, but Jeremy Maclin (four catches, 40 yards) and Travis Kelce (two catches, 24 yards) have been victims of coach Andy Reid’s commitment to spreading the football around. Unfortunately for them, that philosophy probably won’t change any time soon. Spreading the ball around is Reid’s way, and that’s also what quarterback Alex Smith is comfortable doing. The Chiefs are 4-2, so as long as they keep winning, there won’t be a commitment to getting them the ball if opposing teams remain committed to taking them away.

3. Seems like this defense consistently has slow starts. Do you think that changes when Houston returns? — @AbbyMann13

Eventually? Yes. Justin Houston is a fabulous player and a true difference-maker — he’s the key to the defense taking the next step, but it will probably take him a while to look like the Justin of old. By the end of the season, barring a setback, he should be back to the old tone-setting force fans are used to. But you’re right to be concerned about the slow starts, in general. Against better teams, getting in a hole early will get you beat. Luckily for the Chiefs, their schedule over the next month —Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Carolina and Tampa Bay — looks pretty appetizing.

4. Tamba had two crucial penalties and has yet to really make his presence felt. How concerned are you with him? — @jaredbarzee

Good question. So far this season, outside linebacker Tamba Hali has a sack and two quarterback hits. His playing time has been cut back due to the team’s desire to rest his balky knees, but he generally has not been as productive as normal. It’s important to remember that Hali also needed a little while to round into form last year, too; through his first six games last year, in way more snaps, he only had a sack and four quarterback pressures before he broke out with five tackles and two sacks against Pittsburgh in game No. 7. The lesson: Give Tamba, a five-time Pro Bowler, the benefit of the doubt. His track record suggests he’ll start ramping up soon.

5. How good can this team actually become? — @B12Mentalist

Well, before the season I picked them to advance to the AFC Championship Game and lose to New England. I haven’t seen anything so far to make me change that prediction (I’m a perfect 6-0 in my game-by-game predictions, by the way). Justin Houston should be back fairly soon (again, barring a setback) and this team should be better in a month than it is now, since offenses sometimes need longer to come around than defenses (reps matter).

The number

9 – The number of consecutive home games the Chiefs have won, dating back to last season. That’s the fourth longest streak in team history, and they’re only four away from tying the longest streak, which lasted from 2002 to 2003.

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