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KCChiefs.com's Midseason Report

Posted Nov 9, 2010

A look at the surprises, tough breaks and best performances of 2010

Sitting at the midpoint of their regular season schedule, the Kansas City Chiefs are your AFC West division leaders. Despite a very disappointing loss on Sunday, the first half of the Chiefs 2010 season has been an incredibly fun one to watch.

As a result, there’s a genuine feeling of excitement that surrounds this team and it looks like meaningful football is destined to return to Arrowhead this December. As we head into the final eight games of 2010, let’s recap some of the surprises, tough breaks and best performances from the first half of the season.

Offense

Key Stat: #1 Rushing Offense

The Chiefs are on pace to churn out two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time in franchise history. If the Chiefs can keep their current pace it would turn out to be quite an accomplishment considering some the impressiveness of running back duos of that have come through Kansas City.

The Chiefs were in line to challenge the NFL single-season record of 3,088 rushing yards, set by Buffalo in 1973, prior to Sunday’s 104-yard effort in Oakland. The feat is still possible, but it’s more of an uphill climb after Sunday’s result. In the meantime, Kansas City leads the league in rushing and the run game vital to the Chiefs winning football games.

Surprise Player: Barry Richardson

Here’s a guy who entered 2010 with just one career start on his resume. It goes without saying that Richardson has come a long way in a short amount of time. He didn’t even make the Chiefs 53-man roster coming out of training camp in last season. The big man out of Clemson looks to be coming into his own during his third NFL season and he fits into that category of young player that Chiefs coaches placed an emphasis on developing this past offseason.

Richardson received his opportunity to start when incumbent Ryan O’Callaghan suffered a groin injury in practice on August 24th. Since then, Richardson has been Kansas City’s guy at right tackle. He’s continued to start even with O’Callaghan healthy and available for play.

From The Bench: Terrance Copper

Copper has been more than just a special teams guru of late. With wide receivers Chris Chamber and Dexter McCluster each battling injuries over the past few weeks, Copper has been thrust into the offensive lineup as a number three (and sometimes number two) wide receiver. Copper had just four catches for 68 yards last season and half of those came in the season finale at Denver. He’s already eclipsed those receiving  totals this season and has likely seen more offensive snaps over the last several games than he did in all of 2009.

Tough Luck: Jerheme Urban

The Chiefs had high hopes for the offseason free agency acquisition. Urban showed plenty of promise during offseason workouts and preseason practices/games to get fans excited about him as a possession receiver and special teams player. Unfortunately, Urban’s season was over before it ever began.

Urban landed on injured reserve with a hand injury during the final game of the preseason and had surgery several days later. He’s taken on more of a coaching-type role with the receiving core as he recovers and readies for 2011. .

MVP: Branden Albert

Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles have paired to put up incredible midseason rushing numbers. The offensive line as a whole has been outstanding as well. There’s an argument to be made for all of those guys. But which player would the Chiefs miss most? To me, that player is currently Branden Albert.

Dissecting the play of an offensive lineman is a tough thing to do, and that’s not what this is about. Albert has appeared to adequately protect Matt Cassel’s blind side and Albert has obviously been a large part of the Chiefs run game as well.

Through the first three weeks of the season, Albert hadn’t allowed a single sack or committed any penalties; that’s a tall task for a player going up against an opponents’ best pass rusher week-in and week-out.  Plus, Albert’s been healthy. We saw Kansas City scramble for a handful of plays in Indianapolis when Albert was dinged. Brain Waters shifted to left tackle for the first time of his 11-year career because of depth/injury concerns at tackle.

Defense

Key Stat: 58-0

Kansas City has outscored opponents 58-0 off turnovers this season; a key component that factors into the Chiefs current standing. Some of the credit for this statistic goes to the offense as they’ve limited giveaways and capitalized on defensive takeaways, but pitching an eight-game shutout in this category is incredible for a defense. This defense has some moxy to it and their ability to adapt after a sudden change has been a huge asset to the team.

Surprise Player: Shaun Smith

We didn’t know exactly what we were getting in Smith, but circumstances dictated that we’d find out rather quickly. When Tyson Jackson suffered a knee injury in the season opener, the Chiefs called upon Smith to step up as a starting defensive end. Despite not starting an NFL game since 2008, Smith looked like he hadn’t ever left the starting role he once held under Romeo Crennel in Cleveland.

Smith has provided  the Chiefs with a defensive spark and has been a major factor in the improvement of the defensive line.

From The Bench: Wallace Gilberry

It’s tough to find a better role player than Gilberry. Despite playing reserve snaps last season, the undersized defensive end led all Chiefs defensive linemen with 4.0 sacks. This year, Gilberry’s play-time has increased, but he still comes off the bench. Gilberry is a favorite of sub-package sets and he’s already matched last season’s sack total. Once again, Gilberry’s sack output leads paces the Kansas City defensive line.

Tough Luck: Demorrio Williams

Don’t forget about this guy. Williams is still a good player. The Chiefs tackle leader from a season ago hasn’t seen much of the field in 2010 because of the way that Derrick Johnson has been playing. It’s a good problem for the Chiefs to have.

Johnson won a fierce training camp battle over Williams for the weak-side post at inside linebacker and he hasn’t left many holes in his game that would allow a reserve player significant repetitions.  Throughout it all, Williams has been a professional. He continues to push Johnson in an effort to make the team better. Williams is a player that Chiefs coaches haven’t forgotten about despite his lack of defensive snaps this season.

“Those two battle every day,” Coach Todd Haley said. “If you watch individual (drills) and you watch them go against each other (you will see). But they care for each other, they push each other and they are for each other. They are pushing everyday and that is all part of the deal. I have to take my hat off to Demorrio.

“He is a great teammate and wants to be part of something special also and that is what you try to do at every position.”

MVP: Take Your Pick

Fan favorites Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali have to be in the discussion. Oh, and don’t forget about Johnson either. The fact that so many players can be debated for defensive MVP honors at this point in the season speaks volumes as to just how far this side of the football has come since last season. Prior to training camp, many weren’t giving the Chiefs defense much love. That’s not the case anymore.

Play of the First Half: Tony Moeaki’s one-handed TD grab against San Francisco will be part of Kansas City highlight reels for years to come. It’s in the discussion as one of the most athletic catches in franchise history and it helped Moeaki earn NFL Rookie of the Week honors in the process.

Here’s another look.

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