Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 10/10/12
TAMPA, Fla. While elusive Kansas City tailback Jamal Charles occupies virtually every waking thought of Tampa Bay Buc defenders this week, theres another facet of the Chiefs offense that couldnt be more tantalizing. The Bucs would love to help Kansas City keep killing its drives by turning the ball over in droves. Through five games, the Chiefs have committed a mind-boggling 19 turnovers 10 fumbles and nine interceptions and are on pace to threaten the all-time turnover record of 63 by the 1978 San Francisco 49ers. And with a turnover differential of minus-15 more than twice as bad as the next-worse NFL teams (Philadelphia and Dallas) theyre easily on track to shatter the NFLs dubious differential mark of minus-32 set by the 1965 Steelers. Thats certainly a huge reason why Kansas Citys record stands at 1-4 heading into Sundays 1 p.m. contest against the 1-3 Bucs at Raymond James Stadium. Last week, the Chiefs undercut an outstanding defensive effort against the Baltimore not to mention a superb ground attack with four turnovers in a 9-6 loss. Thats left head coach Romeo Crennel searching for solutions. (They happen in) a lot of different areas and for a lot of different reasons, Crennel said by conference call Wednesday at One Buc Place. Theres not one thing you can put your finger on and say, Its this guy or its this technique or anything like that. Its been several different things. Two weeks ago (in a 37-20 loss to San Diego) we had the ball ripped out a couple of times. Last week, we dropped the ball and then we fumble a quarterback-center exchange. So its been different things. We tip balls up in the air and they get intercepted. Then sometimes we made a bad choice and threw the ball in a bad place and got intercepted. Some of the problems stem from the play of quarterback Matt Cassel, who has been vilified by fans for the turnovers this season and found himself at the center of an ugly scene Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium. After suffering two picks and being credited with two fumbles against Baltimore (raising his season total to nine and five), Cassel was hit hard by Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata as he tossed a pass to Charles for a short gain. As he lay on the turf with a head injury, a cheer rose up from the stands sparking an angry post-game reaction from teammate and right tackle Eric Winston, who called the fan display 100 percent sickening. If hes not the best quarterback, hes not the best quarterback, and thats OK. But hes a person. And he got knocked out in a game and we've got 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out. Asked about the incident, Crennel responded by saying the distasteful reaction wasnt representative of the vast majority of Chiefs fans. I think historically if you look back, youll see that the Kansas City Chiefs fans are very supportive and are great fans, he said. Eric reacted to a situation that occurred, where a minority of fans did something. He was speaking to the minority and not to the majority. I think the majority of Chiefs fans are very supportive of the Chiefs. That said, indications are strong that backup quarterback Brady Quinn a former No. 1 draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2007 will be behind center Sunday. Cassel has yet to be cleared by doctors to play, so Quinn and third-team QB Ricky Stanzi are preparing to face the Bucs. Quinn hit all three of his passes in relief of Cassel against Baltimore, but saw no action with Denver in 2010 or 2011 and hasnt been involved in any games since 2009, his third and final season with the Browns. He started nine games, completing 53.1 percent of his passes for 1,339 yards, eight TDs and seven interceptions. He hasnt started a game in a while, but hes played in the league and he understands what it takes to run an offense and to run a team, Crennel said. And I think hes been preparing his whole team in the league and I think hes going to operate the offense efficiently. You can bet the Buc defense will be doing all it can to make Quinn feel the heat, hoping to keep the Kansas City turnovers coming. Chances are that Kansas City will rely heavily on workhorse running back Charles to minimize the pressure on Quinn. So far, Charles has been more than up to the task, despite suffering a major knee injury last season. He currently leads the NFL with 551 rushing yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and has rushed 30 and 33 times respectively in two of his last three games. Charles is the reason KC ranks second in rushing offense (with 221 yards per game). In fact, the offense rushed for 214 yards against the tough Raven D that had previously allowed just 94.5 yards per game on the ground. In the process, the Chiefs became only the second team since 2000 to rush for more than 200 yards against the Ravens thanks in large measure to Charles 140 yards on 31 carries. Hes a very competitive young man and has tremendous talent, Crennel said. Hes got great vision and great speed and he wants the ball in his hand. And he wants to be able to help his team win. I think hes doing that. Hes giving us a chance. And when its going good, we keep feeding him. The Bucs defense boasted the No. 1-ranked defense against the run prior to its 24-22 loss to Washington in its last outing Sept. 28, prior to last weeks bye. The unit has slipped to No. 4, allowing only an average 73 yards per game. The defensive line highlighted by tackles Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller, and left defensive end Michael Bennett has been a highlight of a unit that overall ranks 27th out of 32 teams, even with the loss of right defensive end and 2011 No. 1 pick Adrian Clayborn with a major knee injury. They look like theyre a very well-coached, aggressive unit, he said. I think they try to press the offense to make some things happen and try to win those individual matchups they know theyll get during the course of a game. It seems like they have a lot of energy and a lot of hustle. On the flip side, Crennel expects his own defense to be tested by Tampa Bays offense, praising quarterback Josh Freeman, the Buc receivers, rookie tailback Doug Martin and work of the line. I know Vincent Jackson because weve played against him twice a year (when he was with the Chargers) I know what he brings to the table, his size and his speed, his production, he said. Hes definitely a guy who catches your eye. And I also know Dallas Clark and what hes capable of, because Ive coached against him several times. Josh Freeman is a big, strong quarterback with a really strong arm, good ability. Hes been a Pro Bowl player. And Doug Martin we looked at him when he was coming out (of Boise State) and liked the way he ran the football. And you have a big, physical offensive line. So there are several weapons that were going to have to see if we can do something about. Then again, the biggest challenge may not be posed by the Bucs offense. For the error-prone Chiefs, it could simply be holding onto the football. NOTES: Head coach Greg Schiano said Wednesday he hasnt yet decided whether longtime tackle Jeremy Trueblood will start at right guard, the position vacated by the season-long loss of Pro Bowler Davin Joseph. Ted Larsen is still listed as the No. 1 player on depth chart, but Schiano has been looking for ways of improving consistency at the position. Certainly the best choice (Joseph) is on the IR, so now we have to find the next-best choice, he said. Ted is part of that equation. I think what happens is that everybody else gets the attention who hasnt been there. Schiano singled out McCoy for high marks thus far this season (three sacks, 10 tackles and constantly being a disruptive force). I think Gerald has had a good first quarter to the season. What hes done has whetted his own appetite and ours for what can be in the future here. .. The thing thats nice about Gerald is he has the ability to be a superstar in this league. Yet he takes coaching very well and wants to get better. Thats a good combination to have.
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