Step 1: What To Do With LJ?

Today we start going down a list of 10 moves the Chiefs have to make to field a winning football team in 2009. Step one revolves around running back Larry Johnson. After reports that the high-priced running back was involved in another altercation, it might be time for more tough love from Head Coach Herm Edwards.

No matter what Chairman Clark Hunt decides to do during or after the season it's clear that changes are inevitable. The hammer is coming down sooner or later. As the Chiefs continue to lose, fans are now abstaining from visiting Arrowhead.

We've lowered the bar as fans now. All we care about is the team being average. That's the only logical next step this franchise can take, because division titles and playoff wins aren't in the near future. You have to take baby steps, and if you look at the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans, who stand right now as the two teams to beat in the AFC, they were not afraid to be bold.

The Bills parted ways with some of their top players, found a young dynamic quarterback, exiled some high draft picks and stood their ground by making smart free agent decisions.

The Titans have put their high-priced franchise quarterback on the bench in favor of Kerry Collins, a journeyman, but he's in the perfect situation. That wasn't an easy choice for Jeff Fisher, but head coaches are paid the big bucks to make the hard decisions.

In Kansas City, Herm Edwards has made one and is likely to make another soon. Last week he de-activated Johnson. My guess is that Edwards has had enough of Johnson and his off-the-field antics, but President Carl Peterson probably fought the decision by Edwards to bench his star running back.

However after recent allegations implicated Johnson in yet another off-the-field incident, even Peterson has likely come to terms with the fact that signing Johnson to a long-term contract a year and a half ago was a mistake.

If the NFL suspends Johnson, which appears more likely by the day, then the Chiefs could release him after his suspension is over or bench him the rest of the season.

What seems more likely? That's the $64,000 question at the feet of Edwards and Peterson.

Sunday was a sign, at least to me, that with Johnson's absence from Arrowhead (he was not at the stadium per Edwards' request), his tenure is nearly over in Kansas City. The Chiefs really can't afford to give him any more chances. His off-the-field antics have cost this football team.

Everyone makes mistakes, but when you repeat them over and over again, even over a course of several years, that's a pattern. The only thing to do with a multiple-time offender is either get him help - if he wants it - or cut him loose and move on.

If you ask me, Johnson's NFL career is on its last leg. Anyone who watched Sunday's game knows he would not have made any difference in the outcome. The future at the position in Kansas City is in the hands of Kolby Smith, Jamaal Charles and someone from the 2009 NFL Draft.

The Chiefs need to move on from Johnson as they have with Tony Gonzalez. One is staying until the offseason (Gonzalez), the other should be shown the door right now. That might be difficult for some fans to stomach, but if this franchise is going to be saved from its own failures, then some tough love and tougher decisions have to rule the day.

This first fix of 10 won't decide the fate of Peterson or Edwards, but by removing a player from the roster who is making more headlines off the field than on it, the team benefits. Johnson's best days in Kansas City are behind him.

Thursday – Step 2 – Tony Gonzalez Top Stories