Behind The Buzzkill

It seems some Chiefs fans aren't quite ready to accept the reality that this year's Chiefs team might actually be worse than the 2-14 squad that stunk up Arrowhead Stadium a year ago. When I presented that reality following Sunday's loss in Baltimore, the backlash was furious.

Not only was I invited to become a fan of the Denver Broncos, I was called clueless, insane, a "Haley hater," and urged to move to Boston, where I could enjoy the luxury of writing solely about winning sports teams.

Let me assure all Chiefs fans – my hatred for the Broncos runs deep, I'm on board with Haley and the only thing I want to see the Red Sox do this October is lose enough games so that my Texas Rangers steal the wild-card spot in the American League. I'm as big a Chiefs fan as the rest of you are, and was thrilled by Sunday's game just the same. It was entertaining as hell, and kept me right on the edge of my seat.

When it was over, my first instinct was to write exactly what all Chiefs fans felt. My gut reaction told me to write something positive and uplifting, that chronicled how brilliantly Kansas City had gone into Baltimore and survived, how the team had scrapped and clawed its way into a tie with an AFC power through 55 minutes and surprised us all.

I literally began to write such a column. The title - "Chiefs Shock The World." The sentiment – upbeat. The bunny rabbits and butterflies – frolicking in the meadow. The truth – nowhere to be found.

There was no truth in the idea that Kansas City had somehow competed with the Ravens. Despite the way the Chiefs actually made us all feel during the game, the reality is that they got their butts kicked on most snaps. Two snaps – resulting in a blocked punt and an interception – kept them in the game, but the Chiefs ultimately lost because they were not even close to being good enough, as they showed during the majority of the snaps.

So I could not bring myself to paint Sunday's opener in a positive light. It would have felt wrong, especially after what's happened the previous three years.

For three seasons, I mostly painted the Chiefs in a starkly positive light. Most readers appreciated it. Looking back, there's no question it was a mistake. Not only do I feel ignorant for writing some of the things I did during the Herm Edwards "era," but I feel I cheated Chiefs fans out of the truth.

Let me give you a sampling of this garbage:

October 14, 2006 - It's clear to me that Edwards is a definite improvement over Vermeil. He's a complete coach, and it will serve Kansas City well in the future. The rebuilding of KC's offense has already begun. Edwards has his handpicked offensive coordinator to facilitate the transition. Mike Solari and Edwards go way back.

How?!?! How could I write such terrible things? Is it what you wanted to hear? No question. Was it the truth? Not even close. I owe Dick Vermeil an apology.

November 6, 2007 - The Chiefs were ahead 22-16 at the end of this magnificent stretch of football, Arrowhead got to its feet and 80,000 people believed the Chiefs would beat the Green Bay Packers, the team with the best record in the NFC… If the Chiefs continue to play as they did within those 10 minutes, the AFC West Division championship is as good as theirs.

Division champions? Really? The Chiefs finished 4-12. Ouch.

April 18, 2008 - If Allen is traded for a bounty of draft picks, we should believe Edwards can build KC's franchise with those resources. We should get behind Herm in his effort to replace Allen and reconstruct the Chiefs' pass rush as he sees fit.

I bet you loved hearing that Herm was going to magically make everything better after the Chiefs traded Jared Allen. We probably should have seen the writing on the wall at that point. Allen's trade and the downfall of KC's pass rush only expedited Herm's eventual firing.

I'm embarrassed beyond belief. Do you want to read the passage wherein I hypothesize that Gunther Cunningham might construct a pass rush akin to the attack the 2007 New York Giants possessed? Sounds great, but it's not grounded in reality. Cunningham is in Detroit, constructing another terrible defense (the Lions gave up 515 yard to the Saints Sunday – and no, they didn't sack Drew Brees).

Reality is what we must deal with. Not fantasy, pie-in-the-sky optimism, or a hope for the future based upon a couple of fluke plays. The reality of Sunday's opener in Baltimore is that the Chiefs are no better than they were a year ago, and in some ways they are easily worse.

The Chiefs gave up 501 yards to the Ravens Sunday. Not once did the 2008 Chiefs even come close to allowing 500 yards to an opposing team. They faced juggernauts of offensive might – the Saints, Chargers, Broncos, Falcons and Patriots – and none of them came close. Even with Bernard Pollard on the field!

The 2009 Chiefs began their campaign in a way that reminded me of another Chiefs team. The 1995 Chiefs finished 13-3 and had home-field advantage in the playoffs. How did they get to that point? The same way the 2009 Chiefs almost beat the Baltimore Ravens – a streak of incredible luck.

Almost every other week, it seemed the 1995 Chiefs won a game because of an improbable highlight play. They beat the Raiders on a 64-yard interception return by James Hasty. They beat the Chargers on an 86-yard punt return by Tamarick Vanover. They beat the Oilers on a 34-yard fumble return by Mark Collins.

The 1995 Chiefs were not nearly as good as their record indicated, and it showed when they reached the playoffs. You all remember what happened. Lin Elliot was involved, and a mediocre Colts team exposed the Chiefs as a fraudulent first seed.

The 1995 Chiefs were a fun team to watch, but in the end they weren't good enough, and the end result was heartbreaking. Just like Sunday's game.

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