By BRENT GLASGOW
Normally, it's pretty easy to move beyond a first-game flop. But for the Kansas City Chiefs, who are coming off their worst opening day defeat ever and most lopsided home loss in 35 years, panic is justified.
Head coach Todd Haley took "100 percent responsibility" for the Chiefs' 41-7 humiliation last Sunday against the Bills. While players are taught to circle the wagons after such atrocious outings, some had no problem with Haley falling on his sword.
"I agree," safety Kendrick Lewis told reporters, regarding Haley's acceptance of blame. "That's the head coach and that's what he said and that's what we're going to stick by.
"You always want to be prepared as an individual. But, as a team, coach said, he didn't have us ready to go as a team."
For a team like Kansas City, Week 1 can be a trap. Coming off a division title and playoff appearance, the Chiefs had lofty aspirations beyond the first game. Buffalo, however, had eight months to point to the season opener and no doubt prepared like it was its Super Bowl. Still, pride alone should've kept the Chiefs in the contest, but they were outplayed at every position on the field.
Offensively, it was a mess. With brash former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, the unit played with maximum confidence. But with offensive line coach Bill Muir at the helm, they've have looked confused since the start of the preseason. Most O-line coaches are conservative by nature, and it's hard to imagine Muir matching Weis schematically or motivationally.
Meanwhile, the loss of captain and Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry for the season is disaster, both defensively and in terms of general presence. There is no replacing him.
With their schedule the rest of the way, if the Chiefs lose today in Detroit, reaching the playoffs becomes more fantasy than possibility. So yes, Kansas City fans, panic is allowed.
Rolling with Cadillac: St. Louis got off to a great start against Philadelphia last Sunday as Steven Jackson ran for a 47-yard touchdown on its first offensive play. Unfortunately, it was the last time Jackson saw the field, and the Rams aren't sure if his strained quad will be good to go by Monday night.
With 140 yards from scrimmage, Cadillac Williams was solid in relief of Jackson. If Jackson's injury persists, the Rams should be in good shape with Williams, the 2005 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year who is looking for a career rebirth. He doesn't have Jackson's size or explosiveness, but playing for his professional future, Williams will overachieve. He'd need to tomorrow night, as the Rams face a Giants defense which allowed just 2.8 yards per carry in last week's loss to Washington.
Bears take care of their own: Few things in life bring pain like the loss of one's mother, and that's what Bears captain and star linebacker Brian Urlacher has faced this week.
Urlacher returned to the Bears on Thursday, three days after his mom passed away in Texas at just 51 years old. Like in 2003 when Brett Favre's father died, Urlacher has chosen to seek solace among his teammates and in the game he loves, and there's no doubt he'll play at warp speed and peak intensity today in New Orleans.
In last week's demolition of Atlanta, the Bears showed they are for real. Their response to Urlacher's family tragedy has been a display of tremendous character, and regardless of today's outcome, they will come out of it a stronger team than before.
Week 2 Predictions
Chicago at New Orleans (-6.5): If this game is in Chicago, the Bears win, but the Saints are comfortable at home, where they'll escape the dreaded 0-2 start. NEW ORLEANS.
Kansas City at Detroit (-8): The spread shows how much respect the Chiefs lost in Week 1. They won't win it back in the Motor City against the upstart Lions. DETROIT.
St. Louis at N.Y. Giants (-6): With Philadelphia next, if Tom Coughlin and his maligned team open 0-2, their fate is sealed. The Giants won't let it happen. NEW YORK.
(Season Record: 1-2)
Herald-Whig Sports Writer