We would like to thank Craig for taking the time out of his busy schedule to provide Colts fans with some useful answers that provide some insight into what Indianapolis could see at Lucas Oil stadium on Sunday.
Travis Tango: I thought the Chiefs would be better this season but they haven’t been. Of course, I also thought the Colts would be good. Both teams have had big injuries to key players. These injuries are causing others to step up and when that happens, team game plans to change. How have these injuries had an impact on what we should expect to see from the Chiefs.
Craig Stout: The first two games of the season, the Chiefs seemed very...shellshocked by the injuries. The team had already suffered a major blow with the loss of Tony Moeaki in the preseason, and the offense was having to re-tool to learn to live without the promising young tight end. Losing one of the biggest playmakers on defense, and THE playmaker on offense left many fans, and definitely the team, with a sick taste in their mouths. On offense, the player this team turned to in rough situations is gone, so the quarterback and other running backs are having to shoulder the load. Thus far, there have only been glimpses of success. Meanwhile, on defense, the front seven is having to step up and make plays to help cover for the loss of the young safety.
TT: With Jamaal Charles out for the season the Chiefs ground game won’t be the same, but do you believe it will be effective with McCluster and Jones against the Colts run D this year?
CS: Effective? Potentially. As effective? Most assuredly not. McCluster is definitely a home run hitter when he is in space, but getting there is a different story. The Chiefs have attempted to get him into advantageous positions, but for one reason or another, it hasn't happened. Thomas Jones shows small flashes of the running back he once was, but struggles for the most part. McClain is used more sparingly than most of the supporters of the team were hoping. Finally, Jackie Battle was used to pick up some hard earned yards near the end of last week's game, but he had a bout of fumblitis n the preseason.
TT: I really liked Baldwin coming into this season playing alongside Bowe. There are rumors that he may play on Sunday for the first time. Can you share any news on this front? If he does play, what should Colts fans expect -- or what do you expect if anything?
CS: From a fan's perspective, I'm not so sure that there is a swirl of negativity surrounding the kid. He's practiced in full all week, and the fanbase is really hoping to see him on the field on Sunday. I personally have very low expectations early on, as he'll need to get up to NFL speed before being a big contributor. I'd expect a small production week, but ideally he could become more of a Bowe-style receiver (maybe catch the routine ones, instead of just the impossible ones?) and allow Steve Breaston to run more out of the slot. When Breaston was in the slot last week, he had a great week, so getting Baldwin on the field should help in two positions.
TT: The defense was something Chiefs fans seemed to be excited about at the end of last year. It hasn’t helped the defense that Eric Berry is gone, and there have been other defensive injuries but they have struggled to stop anyone. What is the issue? Is the pass defense or run defense weaker?
CS: Well, as one of the “defensive guys” on ArrowheadPride (shameless plug: I have a “points system” called the KPM that I use to evaluate the front seven play by play, go look it up!), I've been pleased with the past couple weeks. Against San Diego, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel focused more on stopping the pass, and the team spent 57% of the game in the nickel or dime defense. These formations are INCREDIBLY weak against the run, so the Chargers ended up running the clock and running up the gut...while still having some success against the pass defense. Obviously, the distance between Eric Berry and Sabby Piscatelli is a vast chasm, so Romeo was trying to shore up the secondary, and Rivers had one of his worst games as a pro. Last week against the Vikings, the Chiefs were in the 3-4 for over 75% of the game. McNabb didn't have a whole lot of success. Outside of a perfectly placed deep ball for a touchdown, he was forced into checkdowns. The run defense didn't look great, but Adrian Peterson was held to 80 yards rushing on 23 attempts...the damage was done on four end arounds by Percy Harvin.
The issue is pass defense, without a doubt. Whether it be a short pass on the linebackers, or a deep one attacking the safeties, there is some serious inconsistency from play to play. The pass defense tends to go how the pressure from the front seven goes. If Tamba Hali is in beast mode (see last week...wow), life is incredibly rough for the offense. If Derrick Johnson is also on, this team becomes very hard to beat against the run and the pass.