The transition from veteran leadership to youth is a difficult road to travel for any team. It takes patience, talent, and motivation on a level not usually seen among most teams. Not many teams are capable of handling that task, which is why you see franchises like Detroit, Houston, and Arizona suffer through years and years of miserable play, without ever tasting the sweet success of a Super Bowl appearance.
The main difference between those teams and those that have made the transition from also-ran to perennial Super Bowl contender (ie: New England, Indianapolis, San Diego, etc.) is in their leadership. The teams that end years of frustration by winning the Super Bowl have some of the best minds in the game plying their trade, both on the field as coaches and in the front office as talent evaluators.
The Chiefs would love to tell you that they’re in that category, with Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson providing the direction for the franchise. They have assembled a fair amount of talent on both sides of the ball, most evident by the haul they netted last spring in the draft, headlined by the dual 1st round picks in Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert. Given time and the proper leadership from veteran players and coaches alike, the Chiefs young players should thrive very shortly.
Unfortunately the reality of the Chiefs current situation indicates a potential fatal flaw in the strategy I presented earlier. Despite having enough talent to compete on most days, the Chiefs have not displayed any of the requisite leadership capabilities needed to guide this team to a Super Bowl appearance in the near future.
Saying that is very difficult, as I truly like Herm Edwards as an individual and respect his ability to assess talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But his continued inability to properly prepare his teams to play after winning a big game troubles me immensely, as that tells me that he is not the kind of head coach this team needs right now.
Never has this been more evident then in the Chiefs dismal showing last Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. The Chiefs were woefully inept in every respect defensively, giving up 148 total yards, and three touchdowns to Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams. And offensively things were even worse, as the Chiefs managed just 127 total yards and laid an egg on the scoreboard.
After the game, the look on the Chiefs’ faces told the story, as they just quietly gathered their belongings and hustled out of the locker room without saying much. They had blank looks on their faces and gave generic responses as to why the Chiefs were once again embarrassed on the road. To me and many other faithful fans in Chiefs Nation, the Chiefs are a team that has the look of one that has given up completely on their coaches.
They have absolutely zero confidence in Edwards’ ability to correctly game plan for a superior opponent on the road, as he, along with the rest of his coaching staff, have looked completely lost when teams line up and play smash mouth football. There are no adjustments to be found; no creativity in the play-calling offensively. The Chiefs’ coaching staff seemed to be content with just staying injury free against Carolina, and instead of taking their shots when presented with an opportunity to do so, they continued to run the bread and butter of Herm’s offensive gameplan – the 32 Crash Bash Smash right into the teeth of the Panthers defensive front.
All of this tells me that the Chiefs are a team that is headed in the wrong direction, despite having a superior philosophy in place to rebuild this club. I liken it to building an awesome ship, outfitting it with the best technology available, and then hiring your plumber to be the captain. Obviously your plumber is a nice guy and all, but is he really qualified to sail your brand new ship? I don’t think so.
An organization is only as good as the leadership in place allows it to be, and if you have a talented team with poor coaching, you’ll never win when it matters most. The Chiefs are unfortunately falling right into that trap by continuing to allow Herm Edwards (who I respect and like quite a bit – just like the plumber) to call the shots.
No one likes to make a move mid-season to fire a coach or a GM and replace him on an interim basis with someone from their staff, but the Chiefs are going to have to look at making that decision very soon if they continue to play the way they did last Sunday in Carolina. If they don’t, they will risk losing the players’ drive and determination in the process, which could set this franchise back even further into the dark ages, and place us on the same pedestal of zero success that the Cardinals, Lions, and Texans currently share.
The Chiefs need to do something to right this ship during the next two weeks. At this point, I’m not sure what exactly it will take to shake this team up and get them ready to play each week, but to do nothing is to invite disaster. And as the failed franchises in Detroit and Arizona have shown us year in and year out, there’s no coming back once that occurs.
Let’s hope for their sake and ours that Clark Hunt has the guts to make the right call in the near future. If not, the Chiefs will lose their most valuable asset overnight – the fans.
Chris Kolb is the owner and lead writer for KCChiefsFanatic.com