Suddenly, the Chiefs have nothing.
Even the most ardent homer cannot argue that the team Scott Pioli and Todd Haley have assembled is making progress. Based on the last two weeks, we have no choice but to treat the thrilling, maybe-these-Chiefs-are-different flash of hope against the Pittsburgh Steelers as just that – a flash. It cannot be considered anything other than a complete fluke after Kansas City's 87-27 exposure against the Chargers and Broncos.
Pioli, Haley, and Matt Cassel have been exposed. The rebuilding effort underway at the Truman Sports Complex is utterly fruitless so far. The Chiefs have accomplished nothing. San Diego and Denver, teams that are far from perfect in their own right, wasted little time in completely dominating the Kansas City Nothings. They threw back the curtain and exposed all the horrors of inept management, coaching and talent that have come together to form the worst team in Chiefs history.
Don't believe it? Ask yourself if you really believe Haley and Cassel could formulate and execute an offensive gameplan that could keep pace with Chan Gailey, Tyler Thigpen and the 2008 Chiefs. There's a high probability that even Gunther Cunningham, who has successfully installed his "32" defense in Detroit this season, could throw enough blitzes at Cassel to make him long for Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Bill Belichicks's warm, inviting embrace.
The Chiefs' two-game, 60-points-short embarrassment is more pathetic than anything Herm Edwards' worst team exhibited in back-to-back outings. The 2008 Chiefs came close, losing by 58 points to the Panthers and Titans, but it came at the beginning of the season, in the midst of a quarterback quandary, with zero team identity established. These Chiefs exceeded that sad exhibit with an "established" quarterback in Week 13, when NFL teams supposedly are at their most cohesive and have forged that identity.
What is the identity of the 2009 Chiefs? They don't have one.
They are the Kansas City Nothings.
The Chiefs have nothing at head coach. Down 14-6, Haley committed a giant tactical error to start the second half Sunday, calling for a bizarre fake-punt pass from his own 28-yard line. It was a terrible decision, far worse than any call Edwards made in three seasons. It's one thing to be aggressive, it's another to abandon all logic and throw to your long snapper in a close game.
Considering every eligible Chief was dropping the ball like it was coated in grease Sunday, throwing to Thomas Gafford (zero career catches) in 32-degree wind chill, in a do-or-die situation, borders on lunacy. Haley's rash decision was made even worse by the fact KC's defense stiffened in the second half.
The Broncos couldn't mount a single drive greater than 22 yards during the third quarter, running 19 plays and gaining 46 yards. Trailing by only eight points, there was zero reason for Haley to call for a fake, as if his offense had to score on every possession in order to stay in the game.
Do we even need to bring up Haley's playcalling? With one yard to go for a game-tying touchdown at the start of the second quarter, he pitched the ball wide against a fast defense on first and goal. With 37 seconds and a timeout in his pocket before halftime, he threw a pass on third and one.
The Chiefs have nothing at quarterback. You can blame Cassel's poor start on dropped passes, but the abysmal finish is all on him. His inaccuracy is crippling Kansas City's offense and he continues to trend downward as the season continues.
Cassel has gone from a question mark to a legitimate concern entering 2010, because there's no question his offensive line has improved. He had time to sit back and read defenses against the Broncos. It didn't make any difference. At a price tag of $63 million, Cassel is supposed to make a difference.
Instead, there were probably Chiefs fans at Arrowhead yearning for Kyle Orton. Cassel's 14.6 quarterback rating against Denver is lower than anything Tyler Thigpen, Elvis Grbac or Steve Bono ever posted as Chiefs. It is the lowest rating posted by a Kansas City starter since David Krieg stunk up Arrowhead in a 1992 game against the Steelers. We're rapidly approaching Bill Kenney levels of failure.
In his post-game press conference, Haley was quick to squash any hint of a quarterback controversy that arose from Brodie Croyle's entrance into Sunday's game. But at this point, it's obvious Cassel needs competition. If Croyle doesn't receive an opportunity to start one of KC's final four games, something is wrong. It would indicate Pioli and Haley are playing favorites, that a double standard exists at Arrowhead, that perhaps "The Right 53" has suddenly become "The Right 52 Plus The Anointed."
Obviously, the Chiefs have nothing at receiver. If Chris Chambers is going to disappear against a 31-year old Champ Bailey, there's a need. Bobby Wade's failings are obvious. After a disappointing start and a suspension, Dwayne Bowe has to be considered a question mark, and who knows how many passes he'll drop in the December chill when he returns.
You might think Jamaal Charles is something in the backfield, but when he fumbles away possessions and keeps getting hurt, it's apparent he has a long way to go. Charles has made enough mistakes this season that the Chiefs can't afford to enter next season without fresh competition for the starting feature back job. Kolby Smith's long-term relationship with the injured reserve list compounds that.
Do the Chiefs have anything at linebacker, safety, defensive tackle or end? What about defensive coordinator? The Broncos ran for a season-high 245 yards Sunday. Ron Edwards clearly is no answer at nose tackle. Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson make more money than anyone else on KC's defense, but have less impact. Clancy Pendergast is who we thought he was – a repeat offender in assembling terrible NFL defenses.
Maybe we shouldn't be so harsh, because Tamba Hali's three-sack, two-strip performance, especially alongside the late Derrick Thomas' ceremony, was timely and let the Chiefs flirt with hope. And we can't forget KC's team MVPs, Dustin Colquitt and Ryan Succop. Unfortunately, when all you have is a pair of kickers and an overachieving defensive end playing out of position, the worst team in franchise history is the result.
Hali, Colquitt and Succop aren't nearly enough when you have no head coach, no quarterback, zero true playmakers at wide receiver and running back, and a defense that parts like the Red Sea week after week. Sunday, not even Thomas could have saved the Chiefs. After 13 weeks, they are nothing.
They have four weeks to become something.
Suddenly, The Chiefs Have Nothing
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