It's only one game, but the 34-point beatdown the Bills laid on the Chiefs was so reminiscent of something cooked up by Peterson and Herm Edwards during their final season we can't ignore it.
It was 2008, the third year of Edwards' tenure, and his team was supposed to be making progress. Following a rousing 33-19 win over the Denver Broncos – the first Chiefs win in 13 games – there was a glimmer of hope.
That hope was destroyed a week later in Carolina. The 34-point beatdown the Panthers laid on Kansas City erased any doubts as to the degree of progress the Herm ‘N Carl Chiefs were making. There was none.
A 1-10 finish to the 2008 season confirmed what everyone suspected the day the Panthers beat up on Kansas City. The Chiefs, after three years under the same general manager and head coach, were one of the worst teams in football and had no quarterback, no identity and little fan support.
Do you see what's happening here? We're in year three of a new regime and the Chiefs are evoking memories of the previous one. Haley and Pioli are smelling a lot like Herm and Carl at this point. When a team gets blasted by 34 points after supposedly spending an entire offseason focused on one game, "The Patriot Way" echoes like the empty rhetoric behind "you play to win the game."
Here's the really scary part – at this point, the comparisons between the regime that emptied Arrowhead and the one that was supposed to fill it back up go way beyond one game.
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The offensive coordinator nightmare
In three years, Edwards had two offensive coordinators – Mike Solari and Chan Gailey. In three years, Haley has had three offensive coordinators – Gailey, Charlie Weis and Bill Muir. In both cases, bad things have happened when the head coach couldn't leave well enough alone and had to meddle.
The Chiefs already appear to be missing Weis.
Haley? His collaboration with Charlie Weis a year ago resulted in a completely shocking turnaround for quarterback Matt Cassel. But, according to one report, Haley felt the need to strip Weis of his playcalling duties at halftime of last season's Wild-Card disaster, resulting in one of the worst-quarterbacked playoff games we've ever seen from a Chiefs passer.
Now, with Weis now gone for good, the Chiefs have suffered through a lackluster preseason and an opener in which Cassel literally set a record for inept passing. The results are not pretty, just as they weren't pretty when Haley dumped Gailey just before the 2009 regular season started.
In both cases, we're dealing with a head coach who couldn't avoid meddling with offensive coordinators to the detriment of his team.
There was no mistaking Edwards' identity as a head coach. He wanted to win games with defense. Embarrassingly enough for Herm, his defense got worse and worse the longer he paced the sidelines at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs allowed 315 points his first season, 335 his second, and an abysmal 440 his last.
When it became obvious the Chiefs were a complete defensive disaster early in 2008, it was the biggest strike of all against Edwards. What good was he as a head coach if he couldn't implement the most basic part of his football identity?
What is Todd Haley's identity? The passing game. From his early days as a wide receivers coach to passing game coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys to offensive coordinator with the high-flying Arizona Cardinals, Haley's identity is throwing the football. Undoubtedly, he knows the modern NFL is being dominated by teams who can strike fear in opponents with the passing game.
What's scary about the Chiefs' passing game? Mostly how bad it is.
A year ago, the Chiefs were 30th in passing. Haley lost a playoff game because his passing game disappeared against a Baltimore Ravens team that, embarrassingly, wasn't even particularly adept at rushing the passer. This season, Haley's Leonard Pope-based passing game is actually making his predecessor's look good. At least Herm, via Gailey, got the ball to Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe.
In both cases, we're dealing with a head coach who can't implement the most vital part of his football identity.
A shallow roster
When Carl Peterson sat down to review his 2007 Chiefs' roster, evidently this thought popped into his head:
"Chris Terry and Kyle Turley at right tackle? That side of the line looks solid!"
Peterson thought wrong. The results of his decision to enter the year with virtually nothing at right tackle – no proven starter, no quality depth - proved disastrous. The Chiefs started three different right tackles that year due to injury and performance issues. Turley was far too brittle to make it through an entire season, Terry far too awful, Svitek too inexperienced. Kansas City's offensive line was terrible, and it proved to be the worst part of a horrible year.
Thanks to Pioli, the Chiefs have a situation at safety.
One injury to Eric Berry has created a giant hole in Kansas City's deep secondary. Pioli's decision to stick with Jon McGraw and Sabby Piscitelli (already gaining fame for his ability to blow coverages after just one game) as backups appears horribly inept. McGraw's Kansas City legacy as a special teams player/defensive liability is well documented. The true horror is his new partner in crime.
According to Pro Football Focus, Piscitelli was not just a bad player, but one of the ten worst safeties (including backups) in the entire league two years ago, missing more tackles (20) than any other defender in football. So why would he deserve a roster spot among "The Right 53," let alone be considered a top backup? Piscitelli is so bad, Chiefs fans on the internet have already created 37 derogatory nicknames either based on his odd name or simply his ability to miss tackles.
The Chiefs' safety position is in real trouble. While Peterson managed to make headlines by starting a special-teams player (Devard Darling) at wide receiver in 2008, Pioli may surpass him if he insists on platooning two special teams players (McGraw and Piscitelli) at starting strong safety for the balance of the 2011 season.
Do we even want to contemplate what happens in the event of an injury to Casey Wiegmann, Ryan Lilja or Jon Asamoah? Pioli's depth chart literally lists ONE player – rookie Rodney Hudson – as the backup at left guard, center and right guard.
In both cases, we're dealing with a football executive who has massively neglected the depth of a roster despite having multiple seasons to build it.
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There's no question at this point. Consider all the similarities, throw in an embarrassing first-round playoff loss for each regime, and two-plus years of Haley and Pioli is definitely taking on an odor not unlike Eau De Herm.
How do the Chiefs pass the sniff test for the rest of the season? There are 15 more games. That's plenty of time to turn things around. Perhaps the Chiefs' offense will be fine, Cassel will flourish and poor safety play won't destroy the defense. But things have to change quickly, and here's why:
Almost immediately after the 2008 Chiefs were blown out by 34 points, they let another team humiliate them in the next game. The Tennessee Titans took that honor after KC's bye week, 34-10. At that point there was no doubt – Carl and Herm had to go, and everything had to be blown up.
You would hope we're not at that point with this regime just yet, but a difficult game this weekend in Detroit looms large. A repeat of last Sunday, and the smell will only get stronger.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Are we in for round two with this duo?
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