As is our wont leading up to each week's Minnesota Vikings game, we took a little time to exchange some questions and gain some insight with the folks from one of our SB Nation brother sites. This week, we have Joel Thorman from Arrowhead Pride answering some questions for us. Here are the questions I posed to him and his answers. . .once he's posted the questions he sent to me and my answers, we'll have them on the front page here.
1) The Chiefs came into the season as a team with a lot of hype and a lot of promise. They obviously have talent, so how have they managed to stumble to a 1-4 start in 2015?
That's a loaded question for Chiefs fans right now. Everything happened. The Chiefs simply have not been as good as we thought they would be. The biggest surprise is the defense, which was one of the best in the NFL last year and has now become one of the worst in the NFL. The Chiefs are pressuring the quarterback but not getting those sacks they did last year. The secondary didn't allow a 300-yard passer last year but this year they're giving up more yards and touchdowns to wide receivers than anyone in the NFL. I guess the run defense is doing a little better? Offensively, we thought the Chiefs would be better but they weren't expected to carry the team as much as the defense but they have plenty of issues, too. The Chiefs also played a hard schedule. They are a play away from beating the Broncos and Bears. They lost to the Packers at home. And who knew the Bengals would be one of the NFL's best teams this year? Everything just piled up at once.
2) The big story from Chiefs camp this week is obviously the loss of all-everything running back Jamaal Charles. Give us some insight on who the Chiefs are going to use to replace him and how they'll go about doing that.
Yeah losing Jamaal Charles really sucks because he was a significant part of the Chiefs offense. Probably pretty similar to AD for the Vikings. Charcandrick West is an undrafted rookie who joined the Chiefs last year and he'll probably be the main guy, although the Chiefs will be more of a running back by committee. West is closer to Charles in that he's shifty and can catch the ball well. He's probably the guy on most passing downs. Knile Davis is a bigger, one-cut type of back who goes north and south. It feels like he's one of those backs who needs multiple carries to get into a rhythm. Then there's Spencer Ware, who was brought up from the practice squad this week. He's a running back / fullback and can catch out of the backfield. He'll be the third back but I wouldn't expect much from him.
3) A lot has been made of unwillingness of the Kansas City offense to throw downfield, even with the acquisition of Jeremy Maclin this off-season. Does this have more to do with play design, Alex Smith's limitations, or is it a bit of both?
A bit of both but probably more on Alex Smith because Andy Reid did have a vertical offense in Philadelphia with Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb. Alex Smith's strength is his accuracy on shorter passes so Andy Reid tries to play to that. I am sure the team wants him to stretch the field more often - which, to be fair, he has been doing more o this year - but it doesn't seem to happen regularly. Andy Reid will never pin the blame on Alex Smith but I suspect Alex is the biggest culprit here.
4) Give us one player on each side of the ball that Minnesota fans might not know about that you feel will have an impact on Sunday's game.
Defensively, check out Jaye Howard along the defensive line. It looks like Dontari Poe might not play so Howard, who has already been playing, will step up for Poe. Howard is one of the NFL's best run stoppers this year. He's in a contract year so he has plenty of motivation for a big year. His emergence this year kind of came out of nowhere. You'll probably see him flashing in the backfield here and there. He's more of a run stopper than a pass rusher but we will see on Sunday. Offensively, check out De'Anthony Thomas out of Oregon. You might know him more as a returner but he has been playing some wide receiver this year. The Chiefs usually seem to have packaged plays specifically for him rather than running routes but with Jamaal Charles out we are wondering if DAT will be used any differently. We're as curious as anyone else to find out.
5) How do you think Sunday's game will play out?
Five weeks ago I would have told you the Chiefs have a solid chance to win this game. And, really, they're only 4-point 'dogs which isn't much on the road. But after losing four in a row, I can't pick them. This offense completely zoned out after Jamaal Charles went out last week. The defense, while better last week, has struggled all season. Something just isn't right about this year. I'll take 24-16, Vikings.
Well, both Joel and I are picking the Vikings to win on Sunday. Here's hoping that we end up being right.