Eagles see unbeaten year, Chiefs pass them by

October 12, 1992|By Terry Larimer | Terry Larimer,The Allentown Morning Call

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It only looked like the players in the Philadelphia Eagles secondary yesterday had names like Rye, Wheat, White, Melba and French. Actually, their names were Jenkins, Allen, Waters, Hopkins and Smith.

But they were toast just the same in the Eagles' 24-17 loss to the host Kansas City Chiefs.

"I've never been as wide open as I was today," crowed Chiefs wide receiver Willie Davis, who caught five passes for 167 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.

"We totally faked them out and were waiting in the end zone for the ball to come down," bragged J.J. Birden, another Chiefs wide receiver, who made touchdown receptions of 43 and 24 yards.

Was this 1991's best pass defense in the National Football League out on the carpet of Arrowhead Stadium yesterday afternoon? Or has Chiefs quarterback Dave Krieg just been underrated like for maybe his entire career?

This was supposed to be a battle of one of the league's best running offenses against one of the best run defenses. But early on, Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer announced he was sending up a white flag and offering a surrender as he sent his team out and called seven consecutive passing plays.

The second and third ones worked for 17 and 12 yards, respectively, and the fifth went for 43 and a touchdown. But surely the Chiefs could not live by the pass even if they did wisely pick on be leaguered Eagles cornerback Izel Jenkins on most of those passes.

Schottenheimer said, "I'm not very bright, but I'm not very stupid, either. You can't run the ball against Philadelphia. History tells you that. We did what we thought we had to do, and it worked today."

Eagles defensive coordinator Bud Carson admits he isn't very stupid, either. He knew he had defensive problems. He just hoped no one else would find out about them.

Jack Ham, the Hall of Fame linebacker who played under Carson when the two were with the Pittsburgh Steelers, came up to Carson before the game to tell him what an outstanding job he thought the Eagles were doing.

"I told him that we have a very average pass defense," Carson related. "But we've been lucky so far because no one has been able to exploit it. Now someone has."

Krieg exploited it for 272 yards and three TDs, giving him 201 TD passes for his career, making him the 15th NFL quarterback to throw for 200 or more. But Krieg, who hit on just 12 of 26 passes, never has been the kind of thrower to strike fear into the hearts of an opposing secondary. But he killed the Eagles.

Was it lack of ability, lack of preparedness, bad judgment or just getting faked out of their shoes?

All of the above, was Carson's answer.

Fans complain about Jenkins, dubbed "The Human Crouton" by one of his more severe critics. Burned early, Jenkins got benched except for those situations in which the Chiefs were obviously passing. Otis Smith got his chance to play, but soon had Eagles fans longing for the good old days of Jenkins.

"He's going to play more," Carson promised of Smith. "He has to play more to get better." Translation: We're going to get killed if Jenkins stays in there and our only hope is that Smith can come through.

But it wasn't just the youngsters screwing things up. Hopkins said, "We respected their run a lot, maybe too much. We thought they were going to come and run it at us and they crossed us up. Kudos to them."

Waters, who like Hopkins is in his ninth year in the league, said he was also doing some things he shouldn't have. "I came up a lot on play-action," Waters said. "I know better than that. I'm a mature player. I'm supposed to be doubling up on the receivers and not looking into the backfield, trying to stop the run."

And Allen said of the TD pass just before halftime that put the Eagles in a real hole, "Me and Wes, we never lose coverage like that. I blew the coverage. When we blitz like that, Wes and I are supposed to try to bracket the receivers, but I thought my man was going to try a slant, and I went with him."

Davis rubbed it in some more. "With the speed we have outside, we felt we could run by them and they were playing the run. By the time they recover, we're by them. The corner and the safety kept biting on the run fake and we could run right by them."

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