New Chiefs Test Has Old Questions

Pencils out with Croyle in

Jon Willey/Miami Dolphins

The Chargers defense spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning preparing for the wrong test, courtesy of a switcheroo made with precision tools, medical gloves and an operating table in Missouri.

Matt Cassel was the old exam, its complex challenges crossed out and paper shredded by a Wednesday appendectomy that has replacement quarterback Brody Croyle leading the Chiefs onto Jack Murphy Field Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium.

From free response Calculus to true and false.

New look. Same equations.

“Watching them, they have the formula for success,” linebacker Shaun Phillips said. “The formula for success is run the football well — they lead the league in rushing, so they're obviously doing that; don't turn the ball over — they're leading the league in fewest turnovers, and they're doing that; and play sound defense, and they're obviously doing that.”

None of that is about to change with Croyle at quarterback, on purpose anyway.

Running backs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones aren't about to stop breaking tackles. They are the league's only tandem with at least 750 yards apiece.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe isn't about to stop running routes. He leads the NFL with 14 touchdown catches, including 13 in an eight-week span that includes last week when Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey held him without a catch.

The Chargers will not be asked to replicate what happened last Sunday. Croyle will be.

Croyle, who is winless in nine career starts with a 70.6 passer rating, will be asked to do what Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell did against the Chargers: hand the ball off; manage the game.

In a 28-13 win, Campbell efficiently threw for 117 yards and a touchdown and ran for 37 yards and a score without a single turnover, numbers that don't win fantasy leagues but do win games.

The Raiders rushed the ball for 251 yards on 52 carries.

“We have to stop the run whoever's in at quarterback,” coach Norv Turner said. “(The Chiefs) do a great job using their run with the play action, with the bootlegs and those types of things. Those are the things you have to start with whoever's at quarterback.”

Surprise, surprise. It is Croyle.

This new test they can't afford to fail.

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