It's sad with all the Super Bowl talk and expectations that this team now stands 3-5 on the season when they should be 7-1 or 6-2. Kansas City continues to beat themselves and for whatever reason the Chiefs don't play football with any sense urgency or passion. They just expect to show up and win without doing all the little things that determine victories in the NFL.
Now Kansas City faces another huge test the next two weeks in trying to defeat a New Orleans Saints team that was thumped by the suddenly world beating San Diego Chargers and then the following Monday Night at home against the New England Patriots.
Kansas City now sits 2.5 games back in the AFC West behind those Chargers and the Denver Broncos who won again on Sunday. For the Chiefs the only shot they have for post season is to somehow win the division. They're so far down on the Wild Card Depth chart, that mathematically it's possible but they don't come close to controlling their own destiny.
Sunday the Chiefs offense went into the tank in the second half. Granted Priest Holmes went out in the fourth quarter but still there was more than enough fire-power to defeat the Bucs. But this offense only scored seven points in the second half when they had scored 24 points in the first half.
And I don't want to hear anything about Larry Johnson. He was the only one who was making plays on third down and the fact he was not more prepared can't be bamed on anyone else other than Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil.
Johnson has the tools to be a productive running back in the NFL but given the handicaps that this organization has put on him; I thought he played a solid game filling in for Priest Holmes.
Trent Green had another 300 yard plus day and added three more touchdowns to his resume but his two interceptions cost the Chiefs a victory. He is one the league's best when he does not force the ball but his first interception was into quadruple coverage with no pressure on him. The second was aided when he was hit as he threw the ball late in the fourth quarter.
Still the Chiefs got the ball back but the offensive line tanked and allowed the Bucs to put pressure on Green rushing only three down lineman. Folks that's inexcusable at any level of football especially in the NFL. The five horsemen instead could not muster enough pride to insure that nobody would touch their quarterback in the final two drives.
As for the defense, its time that defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham make some changes in the secondary. Willie Pile needs to replace safety Jerome Woods who has little to know skills left to play this game. Woods is too slow and for whatever reason continues to be out of position on virtually every key defensive play.
If the Chiefs want to be aggressive, they should actually return Julian Battle to safety; which was his natural position at Tennessee, since he's struggling adapting to playing cornerback in the NFL.
At linebacker the Chiefs are thin and have been hit with a plethora of injuries that have kept this unit from being productive. Still yesterday, Kawika Mitchell could not make plays and with the loss of Shawn Barber, Quentin Caver had to fill in at linebacker. But it's also time to get rookie Keyaron Fox involved on Sundays. He was a tackling machine in college and he has skills to be a productive linebacker. Someone on this group needs to step up because nobody has. Scott Fujita has been a disappointment to say the least and Barber, despite the injury yesterday has not lived up or earned the $30 million contract he signed before the 2003 season.
On the defensive line, Kansas City needs to get Junior Siavii in the lineup and Ryan Sims needs to go to the bench. This kid looks like a bust and the best defensive line the Chiefs can put on the field is when Siavii and Lionel Dalton are in the middle and rookie Jared Allen and John Browning are on the outside. Eric Hicks continues to struggle and Vonnie Holliday has lost it and can't be counted on to make productive plays on defense.
As far as Special teams, it's probably above anything else the most frustrating. Dante Hall for whatever reason just won't run full speed. So much of success in the return game is confidence and it's clear that he has none. Several times on Sunday Hall just ran to the sidelines or slowed down. He just needs to run as if he's being chased and he'll never play another NFL snap if he's caught. Granted the blocking schemes have been atrocious this season in the return game and that's coaching; nothing more or less.
But the primary reason this team is faltering is because, Hall is not making plays. Until that happens, this team will continue to struggle. Granted it's not the primary reason because the offense and defense have equal blame and for that matter so does this coaching staff.
Speaking of Dick Vermeil and his group; Chiefs fans have to be wondering if he's lost some control. Not the respect factor by any means but his ability to rely on certain individuals who are put on the field. He loves his players by a fault sometimes but he's just going to have to start insisting that some of his younger players get more opportunities and hope they can interject some life into this team.
Vermeil who will step down as Chiefs coach after the 2005 season needs to come to grips that Kansas City has virtually no shot in 2004. Instead he needs to start preparing for next year and getting as many players experience on the field as he can. He also needs to sit some veterans and take more control of this football team.
He also has to get some new coaches on his staff and start preparing for the next generation. Chiefs fans for the most part have come to the same conclusion as myself, this season is lost and this team needs an infusion of new blood. We now know that the 2004 product is in transition and unless the Chiefs act now and fast as an organization; the rebuilding process could take even longer than it appears it will take now.
If they don't, the Dick Vermeil and quite likely Carl Peterson farewell party in 2005 will be more of the same as we've seen thus far in 2004.