This week the Kansas City Chiefs will host a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium.
I’ll be honest with you Arrowhead Addicts, when I came on board as a writer midway through this season, even with our early division lead, I didn’t think I’d be writing those words. I had hope, but not faith. So this should be the most exuberant week to be a Chiefs fan in years. However, that’s not the vibe I’m getting from a lot of fans right now.
There are two main topics that seem to be taking away from our playoff excitement. The first is the loss to the Raiders (and how bad we looked in it). The second is the announcement of and fallout from Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis leaving KC to take the same position with the Florida Gators.
However, none of that is on your mind right now. What you’re thinking right now is “What does any of this have to do with potty training and Goldilocks?”
I’ll tie it all together and hopefully get you ready for this Sunday after the break.
Potty Training the Kansas City Chiefs
I have a five year old and a soon to be three year old so I am now an expert on the subject of potty training. I have learned that no matter how physically or mentally “ready” a child is, when you potty train there are going to be some “accidents”.
The Kansas City Chiefs are a very young, inexperienced, and developing team that is trying to replace the diapers of a losing team with “big boy pants” like their big brothers the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers wear.
Now for those of you that have never had the “pleasure” of potty training a young child let me fill you in on the typical process. When you first start out there will be some messes (last season). Then the child will start to get the hang of things. However, as soon as you let your guard done and think you are out of the woods there will be another accident. Some will be just a tiny “leak” (loss at Indy) or for no good reason they may just poop their pants (last week). However, these “accidents” don’t cancel out the overall progress they made and eventually as they mature the “accidents” stop.
That’s the best way I can describe last week and some of the other bad losses this season. We’re almost ready for the NFL’s “big boy pants” but we still have the occasional slip up.
There’s one more thing I want to touch on using this analogy. When potty training, things always go faster when there is an older sibling to act as a role model for the child that is learning. That is why second children often train faster then the first. This is where guys like Mike Vrabel and Thomas Jones come in. They may not be as productive as the younger guys, but their presence is supposed to help prevent the team from having as many accidents. It’s fair to complain that Vrabel and Jones aren’t as productive as some of the younger players. It’s fair to complain that the very young Kansas City Chiefs aren’t as consistent as fans might like. However, saying that they should play the veteran players less AND be more consistent is probably being a little unrealistic. It’s finding the right mix of the two.
Goldilocks and the Three Offensive Coordinators
So there has been a lot written about Charlie Weis and the Chiefs’ OC position these last few days. Some are of the belief that Weis leaving is a sign that Todd Haley is a power hungry tyrant who has run off the man that “fixed” Matt Cassel because he just wouldn’t let Weis and his three Super Bowl Rings do his thing. If any of you read the Jason Whitlock piece that Patrick linked yesterday you know that Whitlock is the torch bearer for this movement. Others think that Weis is the one whose ego couldn’t handle the situation after being in the national spot light in New England and South Bend.
My take: It’s probably both. I don’t think it’s wrong for Weis and his resume to want total control of an offense. I also don’t think it’s wrong for a young head coach with an offensive background to want some say in what the offense is doing on HIS team. Maybe it was foolish to try making it work in the first place. They did try, and apparently it didn’t work. Hopefully they’ll make it work this Sunday and whenever the Chiefs lose they can go their separate ways.
Here’s what I don’t get. Most Chiefs fans agree that Haley trying to pull double duty as head coach and OC last year wasn’t a good idea. It now seems clear that pairing Haley with a proven NFL play caller isn’t a great fit. Haley and Chan Gailey couldn’t get on the same page. Haley and Weis have reportedly been butting heads all season. The solution here seems simple to me. The Chiefs need an offensive coordinator that is willing to work under Haley. Haley needs someone to run things “his way”. However, today on KC sports radio I hear Kent Babb from the Kansas City Star tell 610′s Nick Wright that if Haley hires from within or brings in a “yes man” it will be a bad sign and that what he needs is someone to argue with him. I get that the coaching staff needs to be able to tell the coach when he is making a mistake, but it seems to me that it would be more important that the head coach and OC were in sync and working in unison. Jason Whitlock said that the organization is already trying to talk up Nick Sirianni. He said it like it was a bad thing. Now I don’t know if Sirianni has the capacity to put together a game plan and call plays in game. However, if the team thinks he does, wouldn’t that be a perfect fit? No new system, no battle over who has “control”. Wouldn’t hiring someone like Josh McDaniels just set us up for the same thing that happened with Weis or Gailey?
So in summary, Haley being the OC himself was “too hot” in that he was overloaded. Haley handing over the reigns to a proven OC that wants control for themselves was “too cold” in that Haley needed some say in his team’s offense. So in my mind having an OC that was truly under Haley sounds like it would be “just right”. So stop worrying about the OC position. The Chiefs will survive without Charlie Weis. We don’t need some huge national name to come in and replace him. Yes Cassel made huge strides this year, but I think we can all agree that the play calling has been less then perfect. We just need Haley and Weis to “get along” well enough to come up with a winning game plan this weekend.
Which leads me to…..
Kansas City vs Baltimore
This is where our attention should be. So let’s look inside the numbers for this match up.
The Chiefs are 10-6 the Ravens are 12-4.
The Chiefs are 7-1 at home. The Ravens are 5-3 on the road. However, the teams KC faced at home only had a 39% winning percentage, where as the teams the Ravens faced on the road had a 52% winning percentage. The Ravens three road losses were to Cincinnati, New England, and Atlanta.
When KC has the ball:
The KC offense averages 349.7 YPG and 22.9 PPG.
The Ravens defense gives up 318.9 YPG and only 16.9 PPG.
KC has given up 32 sacks this season (13th in the NFL).
The Ravens only have 27 sacks (27th in the NFL).
In home games this year KC has averaged 182.9 rushing.
On the road the Ravens have allowed 101.75 yards/game rushing.
I think the team that is closer to this average probably wins the game.
When Baltimore has the ball:
The Ravens offense averages 322.9 YPG and 22.3 PPG.
The KC defense gives up 330.2 YPG and 20.4 PPG.
However, in home games the KC PPG allowed drops to 14.75.
The Ravens have given up 40 sacks this year (23rd).
The Chiefs have 39 sacks on the year (10th).
My key to the game:
I don’t think the Chiefs can “out physical” the Ravens on either side of the ball so I think the Chiefs need a big day from their skill players. On offense Matt Cassel needs to spread the ball around and open up the field for Charles. Running right at the Ravens front seven is a mistake. Our O-line has good technique but not the sheer power to push around the Ravens defenders. If we attack them the same way we did the Raiders we will see similar results. However, a steady diet of Bowe, Moeaki, McCluster, and RB screens may keep the front seven on their heels and that is when Charles breaks the long run.
On defense we will have to crowd the line to shut down the run. That means we need big plays from the secondary and linebackers in single coverage in order to stop the passing game. The pass rush will also be a huge factor. If Joe Flacco has all day to throw, he’ll find one of his many different targets. The Ravens have five players with 30 or more receptions (Boldin-64, Rice-63, Mason-61, Heap-40, and Houshmandzadeh-30) where as the Chiefs only have three (Bowe-72, Moeaki-47, and Charles 45).
Make no mistake; this is the best team we’ve played this year. We will need a great game plan and little to no mental break downs to win. However, we are at home and over the course of the season we have done a great job of not turning the ball over. The Arrowhead advantage is always a factor. So be excited about this game. Don’t dwell on the OC situation or what happened last week against the Raiders. We have suffered so much during the last three seasons that we shouldn’t let anything ruin this moment. They’ll be time to sort out what needs to be done for next season after our playoff run is over (hopefully that won’t be for another few weeks).
As usual, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!