Beware the Pied Piper of Arrowhead


He is wearing red and gold. His music is intoxicating. It sweeps over the Arrowhead faithful like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night. It dulls the senses and makes the eyelids heavy, unable to focus and see what is ahead. His music, his beautiful, soaring song, is much too splendid to be leading anywhere but heaven.

It sounds like this:

2-0.

For those seduced by the Piper’s song, 2-0 brings such comfort and complacency that they fail to see they are being led off a cliff, into a sweeping river or through the mouth of the darkest cave.

How quickly a little music has us changing our tune.

Just a couple of months ago, the music in Chiefs Nation sounded a little bit different. It reeked of optimism, sure, but there was a certain tempering of expectations. There were too many unknowns to make any concrete predictions but there were certain things that were understood, almost universally, by followers of the Red and Gold. These were commandments if you will, that I rarely if ever, saw questioned.

They went a little something like this:

Jamaal Charles is a budding super star. He saved our putrid offense in the second half of 2009. The old, unproductive Larry Johnson stunted our team’s offensive growth. 2010 would be the year the Chiefs set Charles lose upon the NFL.

Thomas Jones was a very shrewd pickup. He will be the perfect complement to Charles. After all, Charles isn’t a huge back and will need someone to come in and give him a rest. He is the clear and unquestioned lead back, but his touches will be supplemented in order to keep him healthy, fresh and productive. Jones will get 7 to 10 carries a game in relief of the team’s most dynamic player.

Matt Cassel struggled in 2009 because of a lack of talented playmakers, poor blocking, dropped passes and no real offensive coordinator or QB coach.  Cassel will have those things in 2010. We will be able to finally judge our QB.

Then 2-0 happened.

The tune has changed.

Now critics are being too hard on Cassel. Never mind that he has played horrible football for two weeks in a row. Never mind that he has led the team on zero touchdown drives in 8 quarters. And no, Jamaal Charles breaking off a huge run and a poor pass to Tony Moeaki in the endzone after acquiring field position off a turnover doesn’t count.

We’re hearing that a deep pass to Chris Chambers, who was never even close to being open that ends up getting picked off isn’t Cassel’s fault. It is the fault of Chambers for not trying harder to break up a play that never should have been thrown in the first place.

We’re hearing that tipped passes aren’t Cassel’s fault. Especially tipped passes that result in interceptions. It is the offensive line’s fault for not giving him enough protection. Never mind that Cassel has only been sacked twice in two games, a vast improvement from 2009 when the Chiefs QB’s were sacked 5 times. Incidentally, both 2010 sacks have come from the guy backup RT Barry Richarson was blocking. Nay. The 6-4 Cassel can’t be expected to throw his passes over the defensive lineman. His telegraphing where he is throwing the ball has nothing to do with 300 pound men being able to perfectly time a leap to bat down his passes.

Never mind that Thomas Jones is averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Never mind that Jamaal Charles is averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Charles is too small to be an every down back or the coaches are saving him for out Super Bowl run in 2012 or Jones’ smash mouth style at 3.7 yards a pop is better for milking clock and moving out offense than Jamaal Charles being more productive with less touches. Our coach is a genius and has some sort of brilliant plan that involves an anemic offense, a 32 year old running back and a defense that is going to be totally gassed by the 3rd quarter the first time they face an offense that isn’t being QB’d by Seneca Wallace or playing in a hurricane.

Anyone who speaks the truth about what they are seeing, not what they want to be seeing but what they are actually seeing, must be tarred, feathered and put on display in Scott Pioli’s office. They are doubters, haters and not real fans. They, with all their facts and evidence are clearly wrong because the only thing that matters is the win/loss column.

It isn’t true. None of it.

The truth is the Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0 not because of Matt Cassel, Thomas Jones and Todd Haley’s ridiculous personnel decisions. They are 2-0 because of Dexter McCluster, Derrick Johonson, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki (because he is tall and caught a ball  3 feet over his head, in the rain when the pass should have hit him in the chest given that there wasn’t a defender within 5 feet of him in any direction), Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey and Romeo Crennel. Honorable mentions go to Seneca Wallace, poor officiating, the Monday night Arrowhead crowd, Philip Rivers’ temper and the well documented fact that God hates the city of Cleveland.

Pointing out obvious and glaring mistakes and flaws on your favorite football team, win or lose, is not being a bad fan. It is not hating. It is honest.

I know many of you are angry that some of the staffers here at AA are writing negative things about our 2-0 Chiefs. The corner stone of AA has and always will be that it is a place where we man up and say what we think. We offer up our opinions to you both good and bad, popular and unpopular and we sure as heck expect you to fire back. If someone’s opinion differs from yours, I welcome you to stick around and debate them. Tell them why you disagree with their perspective. Explain your side.  Don’t call them a “punk,” don’t resort to prodigious use of the CAPS LOCK key and don’t start cussing folks out.

The fact is that it is easy for us to agree on the bad stuff when the team is terrible.It is a lot harder to agree on the deficiencies when team is winning.

Fortunately, this 2010 edition of the Kansas City Chiefs isn’t terrible. They are clearly an improved football team. That means that the better the Chiefs get, the more important the their weaknesses are going to become. The fact that writers, not just for this site but across the net, are pointing to Matt Cassel’s performance and Haley’s misuse of Jamaal Charles and crying foul, shows that there are legitimate concerns about the Chiefs.

The idea that Cassel might not be the answer or that Haley is foolish in limiting his most dynamic offensive player shouldn’t ruin your enjoyment of the Chiefs last two victories. I cheered my head off on Monday night at Arrowhead and I watched wide-eyed and white knuckled as Thomas Jones soared over the Browns defensive line for a Kansas City Chiefs first down.

But I won’t make excused for mistakes. I won’t try to explain away every bad decision Haley makes just because I love the team.

Enjoy the wins. Really. You deserve it. It has been a long 3 years Chief fans deserve a little something to be proud of.

But beware of the Pied Piper of Arrowhead. His music may be nice to listen to but if you don’t watch where you are going, you could find yourself in for a very steep drop.

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Tags: Cleveland Browns Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs San Deigo Chargers Thomas Jones Todd Haley