Gut Check Time

Let’s cut to the chase. It is a REALLY hard time to be a Chiefs fan. Now I won’t blame anyone for being upset with the Chiefs. We lost yesterday 48-3. We’ve lost the first two games this season by a combined score of 89-10. To make matters worse, the two teams we lost to were a combined 10-22 last season. In other words, the Bills and Lions COMBINED won as many games as KC did last season. No, no, no my friends, I’m not done venting yet. If you go back to the final game of the regular season last year the Chiefs have been outscored 150-27. That’s an average score of 37.5 to 6.75. A point differential of about 31 points per game. Am I done? NOPE!!! I read earlier that in those same four games Matt Cassel is a combined 67-109 for 437 yards, 4.01 yards per attempt, 1 TD to 9 INTs, and a 38.6 QB rating.

Oh please, for the sake of all that’s right in this world, let that be all.

(Heavy sigh) Sorry, one more itty bitty tid bit. Some guy named Jamaal Charles is joining Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki, and Brandon Siler on IR. I’m told this Charles guy had something like 1,900 total yards last season (whimper).

Now, I’m sure some of you are ready to stop reading this post now. You don’t need to feel any worse then you already do. I get it. I’m there with you. The rest of this post will not be a pity party. I just wanted to make sure that nobody could accuse me of sugar coating anything.

After the break, it’s gut check time and I’m putting Todd Haley, the players, AND the fans on notice.

I should probably clarify that the reason I’m not calling out Hunt and Pioli in this post is because I don’t think they can save THIS season for us. If we are going to walk away from the 2011 season with our pride still intact, it will be because of the coaches, players and fans. I’ll leave the Pioli and Hunt talk to others around here.

Gut Check Number 1: Todd Haley

First off, let me say that I do believe Todd Haley is coaching for his job, but I don’t see ANY way he is fired during the season. I understand it has been horrible, but Romeo Crennel is really the only candidate to take over mid-season and right now he has his hands full fixing the defense. Think about it, we have given up 89 points in two games and you want the DC to have LESS time to game plan? Haley will be the coach for the rest of the season, and I really don’t think its debatable. Obviously, if he doesn’t improve things this will be his last year. Now on to his gut check.

I don’t know what in the wild, wild, world of sports is going on with this team, but they better get it figured out, and fast. When Haley took this team over, they were a mess. I think we would all agree that the talent level is better now than it was that first season when he took over. The problem is that team only lost its first two games by a combined score of 51-34. So they’ve scored 24 points less then that first year team and given up 38 more. That team didn’t have Tony Moeaki or Eric Berry on it and Jamaal Charles wasn’t a key player yet. That team didn’t have Charlie Weis as the OC either. Despite that we at least gave those teams a fight, something that can’t be said about the first two games this season.

So how were we more competitive then? Well we didn’t beat ourselves. In those two games in 2009 the Chiefs only had two total turnovers compared to a whopping nine so far this season. Keep in mind, we only had 14 turnovers total in the regular season last year.

So what’s different? Well in my opinion, it’s Haley. I mentioned this last week, but when he first took over as coach his attitude was: “We may not be the best team in the NFL, but we won’t beat ourselves.” If a player did something stupid or turned the ball over Haley was ALL OVER THEM. That doesn’t seem to be happening now. I know Haley got killed for his temper that first year and everybody praised him for calming down last year. However, I have always said that it wasn’t that Haley calmed down last season, it was that his team finally stopped doing the stuff that made him furious. However, I seem to be wrong. The Chiefs have gone back to making game killing mistakes at an unprecedented rate and yet “Angry Haley” is nowhere to be found.

The only thing I can figure is that Haley thought of that first year as “trial by fire” and whoever survived were then “his guys” and somehow graduated from his “tuff love boot camp.” Well, Todd Haley, it’s gut check time. Your team is now the exact opposite of what you said it would be when you took over. You have some talent (even with the injuries) but you make stupid mistakes that beat yourself. So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to worry about losing the locker room? Are you hoping that “better practices” or being “more prepared” are going to correct a 89-10 short fall? I hope not. I hope you draw a line in the sand and tell them the same thing you did in 2009. That if you are going to make bone-headed, game-killing mistakes, you won’t play. Not even if you’re Matt Cassel or Dexter McCluster. I mean I guess I can understand wanting to protect your QB from getting killed in the media, but I’ve got news for you, if this doesn’t get fixed and you get canned, Cassel’s job security follows you out the door. No new coach is going to be happy with a QB that has been playing like Cassel has. Your team’s performance has been so horrible these first two games that you went from a coach of the year candidate to on the hot seat in TWO GAMES. If you plan on keeping your job, you better fight like a mad man to turn the tide. Use more of your padded practices right now. Take over as OC. Bench people that aren’t cutting it. Make the players uncomfortable. You have to do something different. I don’t care if critics say you’re panicking. JUST DO SOMETHING!!!!!!!

Gut Check Number 2: The Players

You can take Clark Hunt, Scott Pioli and the entire coaching staff to task (and with some valid reasons to do so). However, the bottom line is the players have to man up and play. I mean say what you want about the coaching job, but we’ve seen defenses coached by Greg Robinson and Clancy Pendergast not look this bad over a two-game stretch. Is anyone really going to argue that they were out-coaching Romeo Crennel? I don’t think so. At some point the players just have to make a play. The players have failed as much (if not more) as anyone. You want my list of players that I’ve been happy with so far this season (it won’t take long to go over)?

Here it is.

Branden Albert (playing better then ever)
Le’Ron McClain (has looked good when we use him)
Leonard Pope (nothing special, but has filled in pretty well for Moeaki)
Tamba Hali (still our only real consistent pass rush)
Amon Gordon (signed off the street and (sadly) may just turn out to be our best run defender)

That’s five of 53 that I can say have played pretty well through 2 games. That means 48 players have either been a let down or have been too inconsistent thus far. 89-10 shows a lack of heart and basic football skills. The players need to man up and decide if they have the pride to put a stop to this. I don’t care who the coach is or what plays are being called, go out there and do your job. Make a play. Win your battle. Beat your man. Otherwise get off my team.

I feel like I should take a second to address the most important player on this team going forward: Matt Cassel. One of my first posts here at AA was called All Aboard the Matt Cassel Bandwagon. I meant every word of it. I believed (and still do) that he was our best hope of reaching a Super Bowl sooner rather than later. No free agent we sign off the street is going to be significantly better than Cassel and a rookie is going to take a few seasons to “get his legs” in the NFL. My hope was that by 2012 we would be ready to compete with the “big dogs” for a Super Bowl. That only happens if Matt Cassel fixes whatever is wrong right now and keeps his job. So just remember, if you hope for Cassel to fail so that we can look elsewhere, you are hoping to set the Chiefs franchise back even further.

The problem is that Cassel has been HORRIBLE of late. I’ve defended him a LOT over the years, but those numbers I gave at the beginning can not be defended. Again, I don’t understand why he looks worse then when he first got here. Don’t even go there with Charlie Weis either. Cassel looks worse than he did in 2009 when Haley fired the OC right before the start of the season and was a first year head coach/OC/QB coach all in one. How can that be?

Of all the players on the roster that need a gut check, Matt Cassel has the most to lose if things don’t get better and had better man up. Like I said before, if Haley gets fired (soon or the end of the season) Cassel’s days as the starter will be short-lived.

Gut Check Number 3: The Fans

This one is going to rub some people the wrong way. Let me be very, very clear. I am not saying you should be anything but upset with what we have seen so far. Obviously, from what I have written so far, I’m not happy. You have every right to question Hunt, Pioli, Haley, Cassel, etc. You have a right to not give the Chiefs your money via tickets, parking, concessions, merchandise, etc. That having been said, if this year is going to be as brutal as it looks like it could, we fans are going to need a gut check as well.

People are already starting to lose their minds. I jokingly put a comment in last weeks post about how if we kept playing like that we might have a shot at Andrew Luck. However, at the time I honestly thought there was no way that would ever happen. We didn’t know about Berry at that point and that loss paired with this one and the loss of Jamaal Charles now makes it seem like much more of a reality. Now, I admit that the possibility of a true franchise QB would make a miserable season at least have some kind of a silver lining. However, this “Suck for Luck” campaign is not something that a true KC Chiefs fan should get behind. If you would actively root for your team to lose even one game, let alone 14, you are not a true fan. That’s right I said it. My brain can understand the idea that we might be better off in the long term if that happened, but my heart could NEVER allow me to turn on a Chiefs game and hope for them to lose. Seriously, is anyone really going to admit that they could turn on the TV and cheer for the Raiders to beat the Chiefs? That’s the most sickening thing I can imagine as a life-long KC fan. I don’t care if it comes down to week 17 and both the Chiefs and the Broncos are 1-14 and the loser gets Andrew Luck. I STILL couldn’t cheer for the Broncos to win that game. Maybe that makes me an idiot. I’m sure there will be some of you that think so. I just don’t see how you could devote as much time to following a team as many of us do and hope that they lose week in and week out.

This could be an awful season. We could also fight our way out of it and end the year on a positive note even if we don’t make the playoffs. There is still enough talent on this roster to make some noise. That is what KC fans should be hoping for. Big Matt made a great point on the AA podcast when he said there are still a lot of reasons to tune in and watch this Chiefs team. How they respond to this situation, what players step up, what young players develop into key players, etc. That is what we should focus on going forward. Clearly with the losses of Moeaki, Berry, and Charles have made a repeat as division champs unlikely. If that means you don’t want to cheer for this team anymore, then do us all a favor and check back in this spring for our draft coverage.

Again, I’m not saying you can’t be upset or question decisions about this team. I’m just saying take a little pride in your “fanhood.”

Gut Checks All Around.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs Matt Cassel Todd Haley

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