I feel bad for Carl Peterson. I thought the way that fans and local pundits reacted to the announcement of his departure was embarrassingly over the top and way too personal in its tone. What’s next? A black and white photo of the dethroned and disgraced king walking along some lonely stretch of beach in his baggy shorts with his head hanging down?
I mean, come on. Say what you will about Carl Peterson, there is no denying that his tenure provided this city and the fans of this team everywhere with some pretty exciting football and that he, more than anyone, was responsible for creating the “Arrowhead Experience.” For that and a host of other reasons, on behalf of appreciative Chiefs fans everywhere, I salute and thank you Mr. Peterson for your many contributions and years of dedicated service to this fantastic organization. I am sure similar success will continue to follow you in Detroit or wherever you happen to land and I wish you only the best on that account.
On that note, I feel I must now move on to the accompanying mob frenzy calling for the head of Herm Edwards and presumably any and all other decision makers. Pretty much everyone I know, have read or listened to fundamentally agreed on what needed to be done with this team after last season. Blow it up and rebuild. Herm and the organization, for the most part, did what we asked of him on that account and there was negligible dissent about the fact that he and the Chiefs, in acing the draft, mastered the essential first step.
Yet, in spite of such universal acclaim and optimism, the dominant consensus about what should be reasonable in terms of a win-loss record for this season remained reservedly low. I believe 4-12 was the most favored prediction. At this point, I would guess the Chiefs stand about a 50-50 chance of going 4-12. But then, so what if they don’t?
Still, if we indeed hit or come close to that mark, I have to admit I will be particularly eager to see how people respond. Why? Because I can hardly wait to see how many people will continue to carry on in shrill fashion, making like this season ended up being some catastrophic disappointment for them. Based on what I see people writing and hear most people saying I totally see that happening. Results meeting expectations be damned apparently, the fevered mob will not be satisfied until it sees the head of Herm Edwards and his entourage roll.
I have a theory about all of this actually. I say that Edwards actually produced a product that was better than what most people expected. Because that product turned out better, expectations grew in kind. I also believe that the true source of frustration comes through the fact that those elevated expectations were rarely met as a result of an unusually high number of unanticipated injuries and even more by the fact this team came up on the short end of several winnable games. Last Sunday was just the latest chapter in that saga.
Say again? Indeed, those raised expectations along with the accompanying disappointment we all felt began in week 1 when we showed the world we could compete with the best but then somehow fail to make the kill when given the perfect opportunity. I remember being more than a little pissed about that myself. The problem is that most of us started out expecting a 4-12 team and then quickly saw that this team could actually be better than that. The realization and disappointment quickly set in (as early as week 2) that despite its potential, this team would, for whatever reasons, have a tendency to either disappear, beat itself, or let up.
Did our concerns about Croyle’s durability turn out for the worst? Absolutely. Did instability and poor performance at quarterback prove to be a major setback for this team? No disputing it. Did injuries and declining-to-poor play from our dbackers prove to be the Achilles heel of this defense? Profoundly so. Did the weak play of our linebackers negatively affect the play of the rest of the defense? Undeniably. Did our veterans fulfill their role as leaders? Mostly not. Did we miss what Jared Allen was able to do for this defense? Decidedly.
To what extent is Herm Edwards accountable for any or all of this? Completely? Forget about it. Some? Sure.
For example, Herm took a big gamble on Brodie and lost. Hindsight tells us that was a pretty big mistake. But there was a silver lining to that bad roll of the dice. We learned that Tyler Thigpen and the spread offense have a place in the NFL. We also learned that Damon Huard’s days as a Chief are most likely over and as a result, backup QB is a position we can ill afford to neglect during the offseason. As any addict will tell you, recognizing a problem is the first step towards fixing it.
Whether Herm is accountable for the plague of injuries that beset this team is arguable. I tend to fall into the camp of those who feel that improper conditioning leads to increased injuries. Given Herm’s storied history of being bitten by the injury bug on a fairly regular basis, I do wonder whether he’s going about things in the right way in that department. I have no specific evidence to say that he does or does not. I’m just looking at the results and asking.
Yes, there are a few things that I think Herm could have or should have done differently this season. I would say I have been at the forefront in pointing out several of those miscues in fact. Still, a 2-12 record has a tendency to make any mistake rise to the level of “glaring” for the agenda-driven mob leaders. I also suspect there is little that can be said to dissuade them from reconsidering their march to the guillotine.
I have alluded to this before and will say it once more. Despite their record, it would be pretty tough to convince me that the team we’re seeing this year is not better, lacks greater upside, or is further off the path of becoming a contender than the one we suffered through a year ago. As best I remember, most of us agreed with the need for a complete revamping and acknowledged it would take 2 to 3 years for this team to compete for a championship. How quickly we forget.
This is what rebuilding through the draft looks like folks. Admit it, we agreed to this deal and Herm and company have yet to renege on their end of the bargain. Such being the case, are we not similarly obliged to hold up our end and allow this process the fair amount of time it deserves, which, in turn, is what we said we expected?
Who knows? Depending upon what offseason moves are made, we may even come to learn that not only was the finished product delivered as promised but ahead of schedule.