Morton, the X-Man, looks comfortable
So many receivers, only one football.
Dick Vermeils first game as head coach of the Chiefs
against the Oakland Raiders on September 9th of 2001 saw
Marvin Minnis as the starting x receiver while
Derrick Alexander started at the y receiver.
They made a total of one catch between them in a losing
effort. How far the passing game has come. Alexander was
cut and is out of the league for the time being, Minnis
is still with the Chiefs, but is in danger of being released
and fighting for a roster spot.
The Chiefs now have four quality wide receivers (Johnnie
Morton, Eddie Kennison, Marc Boerigter and Dante Hall)
that can each present match up problems for most defenses.
Add to that a happy all-world TE in Tony Gonzalez, RB
Priest Holmes and a healthy FB Tony Richardson out of
the backfieldand the mismatches multiply.
It was never more evident than on Marc Boerigters
59-yard TD catch for the Chiefs first TD of the pre-season
in the second quarter against the Vikings. TE Tony Gonzalez
and back-up FB Omar Easy ran underneath routes and drew
the attention of two Viking linebackers and Vikings cornerback
Denard Walker. Boerigter slipped behind the confused defense
and found the seam behind the corner, then showed off
his speed in blowing by three Vikings defensive backs.
Now that the Chiefs have skilled receivers in all positions,
all with different talentsit makes this passing
game even more dangerous.
A fun game to watch on a 100-degree night in KC brings
notes a plenty.
The Chiefs new x-man Johnny Morton
finally seems comfortable. He had four grabs for 57 yards.
And all four receptions by Morton resulted in first downs.
It also looks as if the new x-man Johnny
Morton is finally having fun. His de-cleater block on
Vikings DB Corey Chavous is the kind of downfield blocking
the Chiefs need from the wide receivers.
While many fans are now calling for Marc Boerigter
to crack the starting lineup, it really doesnt matter
in this offense. Bo is going to see the field in a variety
of packages, and the mismatch he presents is the key.
And enough already with the Ed McCaffrey comparisons
for Bo. While Ed McCaffrey is a great receiver, and Bo
is an up-and-coming star and they are both big white guys,
the comparisons end there. McCaffrey doesnt have
the big play ability that Bo possesses anymore, and never
possessed Bos speed.
Derrick Blaylock solidified his hold on the number
two RB with a few nice runs. His 17-yard scamper around
the left end in the second quarter set up the Trent Green
to Marc Boerigter 59-yard TD.
Rookie WR Chris Horn showed his versatility with
3 catches for 76 yards, two punt returns with no mistakes
and a reverse for 5 yards. That versatility should land
him the number 5 receiver spot ahead of Marvin Minnis.
Priest Homes ran well again in limited action,
and took a serious shot directly on his right hip on the
Chiefs first offensive series when he ran for eight yards
up the middle on a 3rd and two. As Holmes was tripped
up, 215-pound safety Willie Offord drove into Homes right
hip with all his weight as Holmes landed on the Arrowhead
turf. No problems, Holmes bounced right up.
What a difference a year makes. The Chiefs starting
front four played mean and nasty. The Vikings first play
from scrimmage saw QB Daunte Culpepper sacked on a three-step
DT Ryan Sims is already commanding double teams
and that is opening it up for the other D-linemen. Make
no mistake, Sims will be the key.
R-Kal Truluck has now made enough plays to become
inserted into the regular defensive line rotation. Another
plus is when the Chiefs zone blitz, Truluck has enough
speed to actually cover a fullback or a tight end as he
did on the third play from scrimmage when the Chiefs got
a sack on Culpepper by LB Shawn Barber. He should quickly
move to number 2 on the depth chart at right defensive
end ahead of Gary Stills.
It was nice to see the front seven play so well
and protect the Chiefs' suspect defensive backfield.
The Chiefs are really not deep enough to have the
luxury of carrying a kickoff specialist, but Jose Cortez
boomed three kicks into the end zone (one called back
by an offsides penalty) and one to the Minnesota six-yard
And speaking of kickers, Morten Andersen is still
On the punting side, dont be surprised if
the Chiefs bring in P Darren Bennett if he is cut by the
San Diego Chargers. Right now, the SD punting game is
dead even but the smart money is on the Bolts keeping
rookie Mike Scifres as their new punter as Bennett is
a more expensive player.
And as most Chiefs fans know Chargers head coach
Marty Schottenheimer is nothing if not cheap when it comes
to the kicking game.
The Chiefs had a nice game against a weak team in the
Vikings. Both the first team offense and defense played
well. The defense was nasty and the offense spread the
ball around and finally found the end zone. The distinct
difference was the x-man Johnnie Morton, who
moved the chains on four separate occasions. The clear
difference on defense was Ryan Sims.
If these two continue to perform at this high level,
it opens everything up for their teammates on respective
sides of the ball. The x-man moving the chains
for first downs, and Ryan Sims commanding double and triple
teams may be just enough to push the Chiefs not only into
the playoffs, but deep into the post-season.
(CK Rairden can be reached by email