The Worst Offense in Franchise History?

Unfortunately, the phrase "worst ever" has been thrown around a lot in Kansas City this year. On any given Sunday of the 2007 season, Chiefs fans can be heard yelling from their barstools, couches and stadium seats that this year's team is the "worst ever" in some respect.

The worst play calling, the worst running game, the worst special teams - anything and everything about the 2007 Kansas City Chiefs has been targeted for the "worst" consideration.

Most of that talk can be dismissed as game day rancor, feelings that spew out as verbal manifestations of preconceived notions about coaches and players. It's the type of talk that's reserved for the moments between whistle blows, not for Monday morning lucidity.

But consider the following - the Kansas City Chiefs have been an NFL franchise for over 40 years. That's over 40 seasons of offensive stats, quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends. Even though the 2007 version of KC's offense is a poor example by any generation's standard, they certainly aren't the worst.

Are they?

They just might be. Here's the evidence.

Kansas City's offense currently ranks 30th in both yards and points. That means that in 2007, only two teams have been worse than the Chiefs in scoring points and manufacturing offensive yards.

To find another team in franchise history that's performed so poorly, flash back to 1979, when Marv Levy was only 54 years old and the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. That season, the Chiefs finished ranked 26th in the league in points scored and 27th in offensive yards gained, out of 28 teams in the NFL.

Levy, like Herm Edwards, was in his second season as Kansas City's head coach. The 1979 team also experienced a mid-season slide similar to what our current Chiefs are suffering through. The '79 team began the season 4-2 and then proceeded to lose the next five en route to a 7-9 season. The 2007 Chiefs started the season 4-3 and have now lost their last five games to sit at 4-8.

There, the similarities end. While the 2007 Chiefs can't find the end zone, they can throw the ball a little bit, as Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez have both flourished this season. But the 1979 team posted atrocious passing numbers by modern-day standards.

Between starting quarterback Steve Fuller and backup Mike Livingston, the team passed for just 1,953 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. Through twelve games in 2007, the Chiefs have passed for 2,341 yards, with 11 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. That's a 122-yard average versus a 195-yard average, per game. Disregarding the difference in football eras, the 1979 team was simply unable to pass the ball.

Conversely, Levy's offensively-challenged Chiefs did find a running game, something the present-day iteration seems to struggle with. The 1979 team racked up 2,316 rushing yards, scoring 18 touchdowns and featuring what was truly a running back by committee system. The team spread that load over six running backs, each of whom carried the ball at least 40 times to build up a team average of just over four yards per rush.

Over 16 games, that rushing average is an eye-popping 145 yards a game. Only one team in 2007, the Minnesota Vikings, boast a better per-game average.

The 2007 Chiefs are averaging just 85.6 yards rushing per game and have only managed to break the goal line five times on the ground. With the play of the offensive line steadily decreasing throughout the '07 season, this argument is already a wash. The 2007 Chiefs can only dream of replicating the 1979 team rushing stats.

What does it all add up to? Through 12 games this season, the Chiefs have scored 172 points. Through 12 games in 1979, the Chiefs were able to score 184 points. The team went on to score 54 more points that season, which included a 3-0 loss in the last game of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In order to match the 238-point total of the '79 season, the Chiefs will need to average 16.5 points a game over the last four games of 2007. If Vegas had a line on that, you'd be smart to take the under.

The franchise took a long time to rebound after spending the 1979 season in the statistical cellar. Over the next 10 seasons, the Chiefs posted a winning record only three times, as a trio of head coaches presided over the 1980s until Marty Schottenheimer and Carl Peterson arrived in 1989.

The 1979 numbers were indicative of a franchise in need of a major overhaul. The organization and the fans of our current era can only hope that 2007 is not another albatross that will take the franchise 10 years to shake off.

Like what you're reading? There's more at Arrowhead Pride, Chris Thorman's long-running Chiefs blog site.

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