KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Remember the incredible run of backups, developmental players and journeymen quarterbacks the Kansas City Chiefs played against last year in their 9-0 start? It’s been a distant memory this year.
The Chiefs have instead gone up against a couple of quarterbacks who are certain to eventually reach the Hall of Fame (Tom Brady and Peyton Manning) and another who will likely get to Canton (Philip Rivers). Two of the others were former first-round draft picks (Ryan Tannehill and Jake Locker) and the last was Colin Kaepernick.
Not a bad lineup, certainly more formidable than the group the Chiefs faced last season over the first nine games. Six of those quarterbacks from 2013, by the way, are no longer starting. Two of them aren’t even on the active roster of an NFL team.
The stretch of upcoming opposing quarterbacks for the Chiefs resembles the bunch the Chiefs faced early last season more than the ones they’ve gone against this year. On Sunday, the opposing quarterback for the St. Louis Rams will be Austin Davis, an undrafted player who was once on the scrap heap for any team to salvage.
After that: struggling Geno Smith of the New York Jets and journeyman Kyle Orton of the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs will face Seattle Russell Wilson, Arizona’s Carson Palmer, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger later this season, as well as Manning and Rivers again. But there are also two games against the Oakland Raiders and rookie quarterback Derek Carr.
Davis has played well in replacing the injured Sam Bradford. He’s completing 66 percent of his passes and is 14th in passer rating at 94.3. As a comparison, the Chiefs’ Alex Smith is completing 64 percent of his throws and is 19th in passer rating at 91.0.
"There are challenges,’’ Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of playing against a young starting quarterback as opposed to an established veteran. “You don’t know his arm strength.
“Anytime you haven’t played against somebody personally, whether you’re coaching or playing, there’s always that unknown. You’re not quite sure what he’s really like. You can see things on video but you don’t appreciate [his strengths and weaknesses].’’
But it bodes well for the Chiefs’ chances to successfully defend Davis that they’ve done well against their first six opposing quarterbacks, four of whom have better passer ratings than Davis.