It was September 26th 2010, and the Kansas City Chiefs had just manhandled the 0-2 San Francisco 49ers to go 3-0 to attain the best record in all of the NFL. As fans we watched anxiously and came out of that day with a sense of pride and elation not felt since the days of Dick Vermeil and Trent Green going 9-0. After an abysmal two seasons the ship had weathered the storm and gotten back on course. The Chiefs blogs exploded with surprise and praise for the new coaches, the new systems, and the improved defense. The rest of the AFC West was in shambles. We started to talk about the playoffs.
Since winning the first three games of the 2010 season, the Chiefs only managed to win two of their next six games and have not won a road game since squeaking by the Browns where they did not score an offensive touchdown. Over the past few weeks the crazy rushing attack has dropped significantly from 190 to 165 yards per game (still an NFL best), and the Chiefs have lost to two division rivals that records, statistics, and Vegas said they should have won.
I know this is a far cry from the optimism I showed last week after that painful loss to Oakland, but after the debacle last week in Denver I have been scratching my head looking over these statistics and wondering if I have over-hyped what is looking like a mediocre team. Did the carriage turn into a pumpkin that quickly? Is this season going to turn into some kind of freakish monster despite the best of intentions? It is at this point I find myself thinking back to every press conference with Todd Haley where he has said flat out that this is not a good team and that they had a lot of work ahead of them to get to there. Maybe it was not just coach-speak for Haley’s job security. I know that KC’s record in Denver is horrible (19-32 all time), and although I picked them to win 24-17, I was prepared for a loss. But nothing could have prepared me for Sunday when there was another seven points on the Denver side of the scoreboard every time my phone updated (don’t move to Tulsa if you want to watch the Chiefs).
So what is different these past six games? I have seen a lot of opinions on this site pointing fingers in every direction, and there are a lot of good explanations out there. We give RB Thomas Jones too many carries, and QB Matt Cassel is not a premiere quarterback (yet). However, I believe the overall problem with this team was nailed directly on the head during the press conference on Monday with Haley.
“Success is the biggest obstacle to success.”
Now, am I saying that this young team crumbled under pressure of winning? Not even close. Three wins is not enough to warrant that kind of pressure. What has happened is that once this team started to win, and started to be favored in games, they stopped doing the things that got them to that point. It started to really show during the game in Oakland. Now, although that was the most horridly officiated game I have ever seen, there was a severe lack of discipline from the Chiefs that really hampered them and got under my skin. It did not look like the Chiefs I had seen the entire season. I placed myself firmly in denial and discounted it as them playing Oakland, the division rivalry and whatnot. Then the very next week that lack of discipline allowed Denver to put up 35 points in the first half. Yes, Denver does have the second best passing attack in the league, but they play from behind a lot. Look at what Matt Cassel can do against a prevent defense when the game is beyond recovery…
So who’s to blame Addicts? I place this blame firmly on the coaching staff. I have been and will continue to be a strong supporter of the Haley regime; they have taken a team in shambles and turned it into a respectable organization. But this doesn’t change the fact that I am pissed off to see who I thought was a strict disciplinarian and who preaches constantly about doing the little things right to get better every day say that this game was a “wake-up call” to the coaching staff to get back to fundamentals.
Every press conference I see, the same and only message is that this team needs to focus on the fundamentals and continue to improve. That’s it. Haley should just record one press conference and play the DVD every week for the media. So is this just lip service to the fans, politicking, or did “Haley and Friends” fall into the trap they knew was right there in front of them? Did they start to believe they were good enough to not continue what gave them a 3-0 start?
This problem needs to be addressed and needs to be addressed quickly. The secondary was exposed last week, and Sunday we have the Cardinals coming to Arrowhead. Although their team is not making a lot of headlines this year, I am a bit nervous to see exactly how our defense will size up against WR Larry Fitzgerald and company. Luckily this is at home and we will have the Arrowhead faithful giving our boys the home-field advantage they so desperately need right now. Winning this game will be key for the team to regain some confidence and move past this rough patch if they are going to make it into the postseason.
So what do you think Addicts? Which team will we get going forward, Cinderella or Frankenstein?