Aug 24, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (7) sits on the ground after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas (not shown) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Seattle won the game 44-14Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

KC Fans: Is It Time For Optimism Or Pessimism?

Sometimes it is REALLY hard to be a Kansas City Chiefs fan. Unfortunately, for the last decade “sometimes” has actually been most of the time. Years of failure and a young generation of fans that have never seen a playoff win have turned many fans to pessimists. We as Chiefs fans have literally been conditioned to expect the worst. Some (like myself) try to fight this conditioning. We start each new season with a “this year will be different” attitude. Most years by midseason we optimists are forced to admit that we were wrong. We tuck our collective tails between our legs and start dreaming about what the Chiefs can do to make our dreams come true next season.

I’ve stated before that I see my outlook on the Chiefs as one of optimistic realism. In other words, I’m not oblivious to the problems that the Chiefs have, I just choose to believe (or at very least hope) that they will find a way to overcome those problems. The 2010 season was such a rush, because for once the Chiefs actually lived up to my optimism. So when the 2011 season rolled around I decided I wanted to go to the opening day game against the Bills. My optimism runnethed over. I was convinced that they would build on 2010 and take the next step toward building a Super Bowl winner. But as I sat there in my nosebleed seats watching the Chiefs get blown out of the water I had an all too familiar thought run through my mind…

You know the one. It’s the scene from the Adam Sandler movie the Waterboy when Rob Schneider’s character yells out….


After that week one game some people abandoned ship right away. I convinced myself it was a fluke and that week two against the Lions would be different.


Over the next few weeks the Chiefs showed some life. About the time my optimism was returning the Miami Dolphins came to town.


Still, because of a weak division the Chiefs weren’t out of it. They started Tyler Palko for four games.


They fired Todd Haley, beat the undefeated Packers, and all they had to do was beat the Raiders at home and they could even make the playoffs despite all the agony that they had put us through! Two blocked field goals later, you guessed it…


Fast forward to the 2012 preseason. After free agency, the draft, and the return of the ACL crew, most KC fans were on the optimistic bandwagon. The first preseason game only fueled the optimism, but after back-to-back loses to the Rams and Seahawks many fans are now starting to sound the alarm once again. I’ll admit that it’s hard to defend a team that losses 44-14 at home to a team starting a rookie 3rd round draft pick at QB. So the question of the day is should we still be optimistic or are we bound to “suck again”?

No one can really know the answer to this right now. The fact is we won’t even begin to get our answer until the Chiefs and Falcons kick off on September 9. In the meantime, let’s set aside our biases and see if we can come to some kind of logical conclusion about where this team stands. So I’ll set aside my “homerish” optimism and some of you will have to set aside your pessimism. What I’d like to do is compare where we are today with where we were last year about this time. We’ll go position by position (including the coaching staff) and I’ll try as much as possible to keep my opinion out of it so you can take a hard look at the roster and make a realistic call as to whether or not we should believe that the Chiefs will be better this year.

Here we go.


2011 – Cassel, Palko, Stanzi
2012 – Cassel, Quinn, Stanzi

So the question here is simply who would you rather have as the #2 QB, Tyler Palko or Brady Quinn?

Running Back:

2011 – Battle, Jones, McCluster (Charles on IR after 1 game)
2012 – Charles, Hillis, Draughn/Gray

Technically, a year ago at this time KC still had Jamaal Charles, but since he was lost so early and was a non-factor in 2011 the choice here is would you rather have Battle, Jones, and McCluster at RB or JC, Peyton Hillis, and some combination of Shaun Draughn and Cyrus Gray?

Wide Receiver:

2011 – Bowe, Breaston, Baldwin (1/2 season), Copper, Colbert
2012 – Bowe, Baldwin, Breaston, McCluster, Wylie, Copper

So this one takes a little more explanation. In 2011 Bowe and Breaston were the clear starters with Baldwin not having an offseason and then breaking his hand in training camp. This year Baldwin has been a camp star but Bowe missed all of camp with his hold out. The rest comes down to if you’d rather have Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie or Keary Colbert.

Tight End:

2011 – Pope, Becht, O’Connell (Moeaki on IR before week 1)
2012 – Moeaki, Boss, Maneri

Pope and Becht or Moeaki and Boss? Not much else to say.

Offensive Line:

2011 – Albert, Lilja, Wiegmann, Asamoah, Richardson, Hudson, Gaither
2012 – Albert, Lilja, Hudson, Asamoah, Winston, Allen, Stephenson

As far as the starting lineup goes, there are two differences. First is Wiegmann’s declining ability but veteran experience against Hudson’s strength and inexperience. Then there is the change from Richardson to Winston that I think speaks for itself.

Defensive Line:

2011 – Dorsey, Gregg, Jackson, Bailey, Gilberry, Gordon, Powe
2012 – Dorsey, Toribio, Jackson, Bailey, Poe, Powe, Pitoitua, Gordon

Not all of the guys I mentioned for 2012 will probably make the team, which is a good problem to have. So I guess it comes down to if you would rather have Gregg and Gilberry or Powe, Toribio, and Pitoitua.


2011 – Hali, DJ, Belcher, Studebaker, Houston, Sheffield, Greenwood
2012 – Hali, DJ, Belcher, Houston, Studebaker, Siler, Sheffield

The only real difference this year is that Houston has had a full offseason and is the undisputed starter on his side. Also, Brandon Siler is back from his Achilles’ injury.

Defensive Backs:

2011 – Flowers, Carr, Arenas, Daniels, Brown, Lewis, McGraw, Washington, Piscatelli (Berry on IR after week one)
2012 – Flowers, Routt, Arenas, Brown, Daniels, Menzie, Berry, Lewis, Elam

This one is very hard to judge for me. Carr is gone and has been replaced by Routt. Eric Berry is back from his injury but both Flowers and Lewis are banged up and could miss time. Depth-wise the Chiefs have replaced McGraw and Piscatelli with Menzie and Elam.

Special Teams:

Special teams’ key players are all the same as last year with the addition of Devon Wylie as a possible return man.

Coaching Staff:

2011 – Haley, Muir, Crennel, Hoffman
2012 – Crennel, Daboll, McMahon

Crennel vs. Haley. Haley/Muir vs. Daboll. Hoffman vs. McMahon. You could debate quite a bit on any of these areas. I think the big differences are Haley’s overall attitude versus Crennel’s and then how Daboll is running the offense versus how things were working under Haley/Muir.

So now that we’ve looked at this team versus last year’s team I want everyone to stop and think without any of your own homer/hater tendencies about how this team stacks up against last year’s squad. Is this a better group of players or not? Do you feel better or worse about the coaching staff? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Now that you’ve made up your mind, I have to put my 2¢ in as well. I don’t think there is any question that the 2012 roster is better than the 2011 roster. I don’t know that I can judge how the 2012 Chiefs compare with the other 2012 NFL teams, but they are clearly better off than they were last year. Getting the ACL crew back is huge. Peyton Hillis over Thomas Jones is huge. Eric Winston over Barry Richardson is huge. Justin Houston and Jon Baldwin look like they might be break out players this year. Dexter McCluster seems to have finally found his home in the slot. Abram Elam over Sabby Piscatelli as the back up safety makes me feel much better. Finally, the working relationship between Cassel and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll seems 100 percent better than Cassel had with Todd Haley.

The only downside I can see to this season is the early injuries in the secondary. If both Flowers and Lewis miss extended time and Stanford Routt can’t live up to the standard that Brandon Carr set then the secondary could be an issue. Otherwise I don’t see any reasons to believe this team won’t be better than last season, even if they did get land blasted by the Seahawks on Friday night. If the Chiefs can lose Pro Bowlers like Charles and Berry, have their first-round pick miss half the season, start Tyler Palko at QB for four games, start Barry Richardson at RT for 16 games, have Sabby Piscatelli on their 53 man roster, and fire their coach midseason and still win seven games and be in the running for the division, then there is no reason to believe that they can’t do much better than that this year.

So even though Friday was HORRIBLE, I haven’t lost all of my optimism and I’m certainly not ready to say…


So where do you stand? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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

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  • DeWayne

    Right. Now they look like a 6-10 team. I pray its the other way around…

  • Derek Jamison

    I’m torn on how I feel right now. They looked fantastic the first game, yet the last two have been stink bombs. I keep telling myself it’s just preseason though. This is why I hate to follow preseason too closely. I don’t know if they are really preparing for games, if players are just being extremely cautious…who knows. They do have the most talent on the roster that they have had in years, so obviously I’m hoping for good things, but who really knows what goes on behind closed doors.

  • Shannon Thompson

    You caught me! The thought is always in the back of my mind, I was reminded of it a few times through the 2010 season, because Haley was so prone to blowout losses, I was reminded of it pretty big at the beginning of the 2011 season, then last week, while preseason game, still brought back that feeling of, here we go again! I guess though it might be good to be knocked off my Chiefs are all that pedistal early, not saying they are going to definately let me down, but just to give me a more realistic approach to the season, that every single week is differant and despite all the talent on the team the gap between good and great, and bad and good aren’t really all that big. Perfect example is the seahawks beating the saints in the playoffs!

  • jimfromkc

    I think that most everyone thinks the Chiefs are more talented this year then last if the 3 ACL’s come back to their previous abilities. But the thing that you don’t address is that for the most part the other teams in the division aren’t standing still either. and you also fail to address the QB position. We are still Hoping that Matt will improve, but all the excuses in the world is not going to make him what he isn’t. He plays well against the bottom feeders in the league, but is mediocre against really good teams. All three of our division opponents have better QB’s. Every rating that amounts to anything has Matt rated in the bottom half of the leagues QB’s and Manning and Rivers are rated in the top ten. Palmer is rated all over the place, but I would have to rate him in the top 16 until his play shows otherwise. His past performances have shown him to be a very good QB, not the same caliber as Manning and Rivers, but much higher than Matt. So I think an 8 and 8 record would be a realistic record for this Chief’s team and I would consider that a step forward. Not as much as we would like, but much better than last years team.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Have you seen Palmer’s 2011 and 2012 preseason stats? Cassel is not the worst.

    • Lyle Graversen

      I’m going to give Cassel a chance under Daboll to prove himself before I write him off for good. And I second that Palmer isn’t what he once was and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cassel out plays him.

  • vbchief

    Pre season is exactly what it is. A stretch of over glorified scrimmage games! The browns beat the packers, in fact they dismantled them i believe. Does that mean the pack isnt any good? No it doesnt. maybe pete carrol called up romeo and asked him not to run certain defenses against the seahawks. thats what rex ryan says all the coaches do right? so i dont put too much stock in these pre season games at all.

    But when the falcons come strolling in to town and we dont have flowers and lewis in the backfield, that could be a problem. But still we wont be at 100% so we still cant judge them correctly. even when they both are back. flowers has missed a significant amount of much needed practice to be extremely effective. It will take some time for him to be up to par.. lets just hope not too much time!! Go Chiefs!!!

  • ArrowFan

    I agree that this roster is hand down better than last year or even the last couple of years. The coaching has yet to be determined but by all accounts looks to be an improvement as well. The main problem I see is our team playing as a team. On D we just looked lost on several plays last week, guys where way out of position or looked like they didn’t know their assignments. On O I think the coaching staff was just playing with a new toy so to speak just to see how it reacted. Even though for the most part our O was unsuccessful last week. I find it encouraging to see that if needed I can see our O being able to keep up with the likes of NE or GB or NO in a shoot out. Grant it, the O will need a little tweaking still, but I can see us going toe to toe with them. My greatest worry at this point is our D specifically our ability to force an opponent to through the ball then our ability to defend against it. Crennel’s D is based on shut down corners and right now I just don’t see that.

    • Calchiefsfan

      We really need Flowers to get healthy for the start of the season. Brown got schooled out there.

  • steve james

    I am truley learning that you can’t go by preseason games. To many moving pieces. I think the first game was game planned a little, they wanted to start off with a win and all cylinders firing. I think that is much more true to who they will be this year. The other games they were obviously exploring things with winning as a secondary thing IMHO.

    All that said the secondary being banged up is scary. It will probably mean we will be playing catch up football and I think they were going more for a get on them early then protect the lead type of defense.

  • Michael Shaw

    You know the Seachickens may have a 3rd round pick at QB, but I think they are also bringing back basically the same team that beat the Saints in the playoffs last year, so the loss Friday doesn’t really bother me too much other than the fact that we couldn’t move the ball into the end zone against a good defense as opposed to the horrible defense we faced against Arizona. Also, despite being a rookie 3rd rounder, Wilson looked better and more accurate than our starter, just sayin.

    • Luke Wilkinson

      They beat the Saints TWO years ago not last year. Agreed though, Wilson in his first start ever looked much more capable then Cassel.

  • Calchiefsfan

    We are learning a lot about our Chiefs this preseason. It’s a marathon of 16 games and I still think we look better, more competitive than last year.
    Cassel looks much better, his receivers need to catch the ball but that was mostly uncharacteristic of our receivers. Our first 4 drives were stalled by dropped balls that should have been caught.
    McCluster is going to have a good/great year.
    Baldwin will continue to improve and be a beast by the end of the year.
    I’m glad Bowe is back. He’ll be in sync with Cassel for Atlanta
    We need Flowers. Brown’s not ready.
    DJ looks like he’s headed for another pro bowl.
    The game is still too fast for Poe, hopefully he will start to get it. Though Powe is starting to come on.
    Jamaal averaged over 5 ypc against a good D. We still have yet to see our running game. I think the coaches are confident in our running game and are trying to work on the passing game during the preseason. Once the season starts we’ll see a lot more of Charles and Hillis.
    Our D needs to clean it up and stop blowing assignments before the regular season starts.
    The Chiefs still have a long way to go but even if we go 2-5 to start the season we’ll be okay. As long as we stay relatively healthy and continue to gel and improve.

  • Ganjamancer

    Cassell/ Quinn/Stanzi have not improved a single bit since any of their careers started. When we face an 8 man front we have no answer, Cassell cannot make a pre-snap read, Cassell cannot make a post snap read, Cassell cannot read his progressions, when faced with the 8 man front the coaching staff must make the perfect call so Cassell can hit his primary receiver. If the primary receiver is not open Cassell will; panic, get happy feet, throw an incompletion, take a sack, int or fumble. This guy sucks! Quinn throws it in the dirt more often than to a receiver and Stansi cannot unseat Quinn who should not even be in the NFL anymore. This team is going nowhere.

  • TOPerspective

    How can anyone be excited about the season with this garbage stew Pioli has cooked up. Cassel is mediocre, at best. The draft was horrible and only the kool-aid drinkers were pleased. Poe…really? When a draft pick has work ethic and effort issues not too many teams are going to reach to get him.

  • SuperGnat

    Slightly improved