<
>

Quarter checkpoint

The NFL season is a quarter over. Let’s look at some key developments of the first quarter of the season in the AFC West:

Story of the quarter: Injuries have devastated the defending division champions. The Kansas City Chiefs entered Week 1 with standout second-year tight end Tony Moeaki out for the year with a knee injury. They also lost first-round pick, receiver Jon Baldwin late in camp (he is still not fully practicing) after he reportedly injured his thumb in a fight with teammate Thomas Jones. Then, the Chiefs lost stars Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles with season ending knee injuries in the first two games of the season.

MVP of the quarter: Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden. He is superstar and a difference maker. McFadden currently leads the NFL with 468 rushing yards.

Rookie of the quarter: Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller. The No. 2 overall pick is a bright spot for the 1-3 Broncos. He has four sacks in four games and he is on pace to set the NFL rookie sack record. Jevon Kearse had 14.5 sacks in 1998.

Coach of the quarter: I could go with the San Diego Chargers' Norv Tuner, who has his team at 3-1 and who has avoided another slow start. But I’m going with Oakland’s Hue Jackson. The rookie head coach is changing the culture in Oakland and his offense is very potent.

Disappointment of the quarter: The reports that Kansas City coach Todd Haley is on the hot seat. Haley is a good coach and has helped turn this program around. After a terrible first two games, the Chiefs have shown a strong spirit in the past two weeks.

Biggest unanswered questione of the quarter: Are the Chargers ready to be an elite team? They are 3-1, but they haven’t dominated. Their three wins have all come at home against teams that are a combined 1-11. They didn’t blow any of those teams away.

Fearless prediction for the second quarter: The Chargers and Raiders will still be separated by a game or so, if not tied, during the season's halfway point. This race is going to remain tight. By the way, the two teams start their third quarters of their season in Week 10 on a Thursday night special in San Diego.