KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Accepting the concept that the Tennessee Titans might not be that bad isn’t what’s driving the locals nuts today. It’s accepting the concept that the Kansas City Chiefs might not be that good.
"Yeah, it was tough," quarterback Alex Smith said after his Chiefs’ 26-10 egg-laying Sunday in the team’s home opener — their last home game until a Monday night dance with New England on Sept. 29. "We recognize that our schedule is tougher as far as teams and their record last year. But I mean, at this point, we’re focused on Denver and ourselves a little bit. When you have a game like that, really, it’s going to be (about) looking at the film, being honest with ourselves in what we did and what we’ve got to get better at."
Chances are, when the Chiefs take a long look in the mirror this week, they won’t like what they see …
THREE LINGERING QUESTIONS FROM TITANS 26, CHIEFS 10
:03 … Did John Dorsey cut the right kicker?
Probably not. But hindsight is 20-20, and we’re one game in. Granted, it was a game in which your old kicker came in to your house and stuck it up your craw.
Cairo Santos had a great camp. Ryan Succop had a great camp. The longer they hung on to the former, though, the clearer it became that things were about to come to an end for the latter here.
In what looked to be a statistical and practice tie — or draw, if you prefer soccer parlance — Dorsey went with the cheaper option, period. Santos is slated to make $422,000 this year; Succop had been on track to make $2.7 million. By cutting the latter, the Chiefs reportedly gave themselves $2 million in cap space this year, $2.5 million in 2015 and $3 million in 2016.
Now if Justin Houston doesn’t get paid, once the dust settles, it will get harder and harder to justify letting a good kicker go just to pinch a few nickels. And speaking of …
:02 … Am I wrong that it angers me — still — to see that Smith got a big-time contract extension but Houston didn’t?
Not at all. Hell, most of the scribe corps figured during camp that if one deal was going to get done before the end of the preseason, that it would be with Houston, the Chiefs’ 25-year-old outside linebacker.
So much for that.
It’s hard to find a genuine cause-effect between Smith getting big money and having arguably his worst day in a Chiefs uniform (three picks, one touchdown) while Houston is still hanging in contract limbo and pounded the Titans for three tackles, two quarterback hits and two sacks. No. 11 had to try to make magic happen without his best receiver and one of his best pass protectors, while the Chiefs’ defense lost an iconic starter in Derrick Johnson late in the second quarter, and a heady veteran in defensive end Mike DeVito early in the third.
That said, it’s not hard to imagine Chiefs fans gnashing their collective teeth over what they saw Sunday — namely, Smith giving his many detractors more fuel, and Houston showing (again) that he’s one of the most underpaid defenders in pro football. Oh, and the general cushion Titans receivers got from cornerbacks Sean Smith and Ron Parker, but the new rules on contact might’ve had something to do with that, too.
At least safety Eric Berry had a decent return, statistically: 15 tackles, 14 solo — both new career single-game highs.
On second thought, maybe that’s not so groovy after all.
:01 … So, how did the best running back in the AFC run the ball only seven times? What?
To his credit, the Chiefs’ coach owned up. Kind of.
"Could’ve used our short/intermediate game better, probably could have run it more," Reid said when asked about the number of deep balls, and the repeated failure to convert those attempts. "Not a very good job on my part."
Fair enough. But 11 touches?
"They took away a lot of what we had designed for" Charles, the coach continued. "That was one of the reasons."
To his credit, Charles answered questions in the locker room after the contest and tried to put a brave, positive face on an ugly afternoon.
"We’re just trying to make plays; I understand that," the Pro Bowl running back said. "And we’re coming from behind, and that may be some of the reason that I didn’t touch the ball as well. But it hurts."