(Eds: Adds quotes, details. With AP Photos.)By DOUG TUCKERAssociated Press
During a bad year to be coordinating offense or defense in Kansas City, this could be an especially bad week.
As the Chiefs (1-9) prepare to host AFC West-leading Denver, it’s hard to find even one encouraging trend or stat for Brian Daboll’s impoverished offense or Gary Gibbs’ put-upon defense.
The Chiefs have lost seven in a row, while the Broncos have won five straight. During that time, the Broncos (7-3) have scored 30 or more points every time out. The Chiefs’ biggest output all year has been 27, and that was back in September.
Making his third start for the Chiefs at quarterback will be journeyman Brady Quinn.
”He’s a pro. He’s been working at it,” said Daboll, who signed on with KC last February.
Critically important will be getting some regulars back onto an injury-ravaged offensive line. By the end of last week’s 28-6 loss to Cincinnati, right tackle Eric Winston was the only starter still in the game. Facing fierce pass-rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, with 21 sacks between them for the Broncos, a patchwork offensive line does not bode well.
”Those two guys are one of the most dynamic pass-rush tandems in the league. We’ve worked a lot of different combinations out here,” said Daboll. ”This guy here or this guy here. We’ve been trying to prepare for all scenarios.”
So far, while hitting 35 of 58 passes and getting sacked and intercepted three times, Quinn has yet to produce a touchdown.
”Brady’s been working real hard,” said Daboll. ”Now we’re going to have to put it together against a team that can really rush the passer.”
In their last six games, KC’s impoverished offense has averaged fewer than 11 points while dropping to dead last in scoring, turnover margin (minus-21) and point differential (minus-13.2). In three games, the Chiefs have failed to score an offensive touchdown at all.
As if that weren’t enough to give heart to Denver fans, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning brings in a career record vs. KC of 7-1.
Plus, it’s not as though Kansas City has made a habit every season of peaking right about now. Since 2007 in November games at Arrowhead Stadium, the Chiefs are only 2-9. The last time they bested an AFC West foe in a home game in November was 2006.
”There’s challenges and we understand it,” said Gibbs.
”We know (Denver) is a very good offensive football team. We all understand how good Peyton’s been for many years and we know what he brings to the table.”
Gibbs was promoted from linebackers coach three weeks ago when Romeo Crennel decided to be the full-time head coach. On a Monday night in Pittsburgh, Gibbs’ first game in charge, the defense had one of its finest efforts, but still dropped a 16-13 decision.
Then last week in Gibbs’ second game as coordinator, there were a number of mental breakdowns while Cincinnati scored four TDs and the usually plodding Benjarvus Green-Ellis went over 100 yards rushing for the first time all year.
The hope was that a new man in charge might be a motivator.
”Whenever you get a new boss, there’s a little bit of a spark,” said linebacker Derrick Johnson. ”We needed it.”
While there seems to have been at least the beginning of an improvement on defense under Gibbs, the same cannot be said of Daboll.
In fact, unless the Chiefs find a way to pull out of their offensive nosedive these next six games, he will steward one of the NFL’s lowliest bottom feeders for the third time in four years. In 2009, his first season as a coordinator, the Cleveland offense finished last in the 32-team league. The next year they progressed to No. 29, an upward trend for Daboll that continued the following season in Miami when he took the Dolphins offense from a No. 30 ranking in 2010 to No. 20 in 2011.
But there’ll be no similar improvement this season in Kansas City. Plagued by injuries, turnovers, penalties and poor execution, the Chiefs through 10 games have scored only 12 offensive touchdowns, including five oh-by-the-way scores in the final quarter when they trailed by 21 points or more.
Crennel, who’s being blistered daily by disgruntled fans, was terse when asked if he’s been pleased with how his offense is coached.
”At times,” he said. ”I mean, you know, this is a results-driven business we’re in. And when you get results you feel good about it, and when you don’t get results, you don’t feel good about it. There have been some ups and downs offensively.”
Taking over at midseason hardly gave Gibbs time to put his personal stamp on the defense.
”Our system is in place and we play our system and when we do what we’re supposed to do, we play decent football,” Crennel said. ”When we forget what we’re supposed to do, then we give up plays.
”The fact that he’s new and he’s different, I think that in itself gets guys’ attention. But practice is practice and there’s not much change that will occur during practice.”