I woke up Monday to a HeyTell message from my brother asking if it was a dream or if the Chiefs really lost to the Buffalo Bills 41-7 at home. I must admit that although I knew it had happened, I still was shocked enough that I checked “The Website” (as I now call AA) just to verify. It’s a fortunate thing that I am slated to post on Tuesdays, because I’m not so sure I would have had the heart to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) after the devastating loss suffered by all Chiefs players, staff, and fans Sunday at the hands of the supposedly terrible Buffalo Bills. After waiting eight solid months and going through the dreadful lockout to see KC football again, the performance by the Red and Gold Sunday left me feeling deflated. I responded with jokes as the messages rolled into my phone from friends who are fans of other teams to seem in good humor, but all semblance of taking the game with a grain of salt was feigned. I felt let down to say the least.
I didn’t watch any more football that day, and spent the rest of my time cutting open long-healed scars by watching 9/11 coverage until it was time to go to bed. Hard to believe it’s been 10 years, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
So what happened? Todd Haley’s press conferences after the loss give me both hope and doubt. It was strangely comforting to hear Todd Haley take full responsibility after the game and mean it. He knew his team was not prepared, and he owned it. His apparent humility gave me hope that he knew his plan had failed, and it was time to revisit his thinking. That despite his careful use of players after the lockout key guys were still injured. With the loss of Moeaki and Berry, now the Chiefs are not only out two of their most influential rookies from last season, but are behind every other team in the NFL as far as preparation. We all knew his preseason tactics were a gamble (admittedly, a very poor one) and now it’s time to focus on next week. But wait, hold the phone, did I hear him say that he and his coaching staff all thought they were 100% ready going into Sunday’s game? This insight is decidedly not good. Todd may be using this as a tactic to avoid saying his offseason/preseason plan failed, but if this is true it means that Todd Haley and his coaching staff are clueless and incompetent beyond anything that anyone has previously conceived (even Double D). This, my friends, is perhaps the most discouraging thought to come out of the entire calamity.
More thoughts on the press conference, and some insight into the game after you click the thing.
Fortunately the quotes from Haley’s press conference don’t just make me sad, they also make me laugh. Not only because Monday he looked to be about the most uncomfortable person I’ve ever seen in front of a group of people, or because he seems to consistently lose his train of thought in the middle of sentences as if wowed by some mysterious shiny object sparkling in the back of the press room, but because how he phrased his reasons why the Chiefs lost was almost an exact impersonation of the ski instructor from the “Asspen” episode of South Park:
If you allow 160 yards rushing on defense, you’re gonna have a bad time.
If you turn the ball over on the opening kickoff, you’re gonna have a bad time.
If you don’t do anything right against your opponent, you’re gonna have a bad time.
Although that last one is not entirely fair. There was one working facet of their game that Haley and Friends totally abandoned: Rushing the football.
Sure it’s below his average from last season, but Jamaal Charles averaged 5.6 yards per carry against Buffalo. The rub? He only rushed the ball 10 times. Now it is true he has got a case of the fumbles (I also refuse to believe that was a fumble), but man, how do you only hand him the ball 10 times against last year’s worst ranked rush defense? Sure the Chiefs were playing from behind the whole game, and it didn’t make sense once KC was down by three scores, but down seven and then 14 in the first quarter, why not pound the rock? Even if it meant giving the ball to Jones and McCluster more, it’s no secret that the Bills were the worst team in the NFL against the rush last year. Pair this with the rib injury Matt Cassel was playing through, and it becomes more absurd that they did not rush the ball more. Maybe it was just too obvious, because it’s what a smart person would have done.
Moving on in this comedy of errors… Matt Cassel did not look good, and I’m not just talking about his errant passes for which I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt based on his injury. It may be a lack of trust in his offensive line or rust from the lockout, but he was not looking off his targets or checking down from his primary receivers. Watch the game again if you have the heart, and see how many wide open receivers he failed to see as well as how many plays failed because he had tunnel vision on his number one target. I hope Zorn has him take a long look at this film and puts his ass in check before the Lions game. The Lions aren’t marshmallows on defense like the Bills.
Addicts, I would like nothing more to be that über-positive Haley-supporting Chiefs fan that I normally am and overlook this first game of the season. I would love to say that this is just the first game and that everything can be fixed, because quite frankly those things are true. Unfortunately I cannot do that today because I’m just too tired to contrive a positive attitude. I still have hope that the Chiefs will pull their heads out of their respective asses and make this season a success. I still think with the setup of our schedule, there is enough time to get the team back on track. I still think these things, but now I wonder whether this hope is based in reality or me just being a homer. In the end to answer the question I posed in the title:
No, it is not yet time to abandon hope, but it is also not time to rejoice and revel in our good fortune.