It was dumb luck — or just no luck at all. That darn ball hit the upright and Ryan Succop’s donk of a field goal effort triggered a downhill slide, resulting in consecutive Chiefs opening day calamities.
Yes — Ryan Succop is the Meathead “player” of the week. By a meatball.
If the Chiefs had driven down the field and scored a TD on that drive — they would have taken their first lead — team confidence would have gone way up — and the outcome of the game is in all likelihood reversed.
To that point the Chiefs had matched the Falcons score for score with Atlanta scoring first each time. If the Chiefs had taken the lead — no telling what effect that would have had on not only the Chiefs’ confidence but the Falcons second-guessing themselves.
A real reversal of fortunes happened instead.
Season over? Year wasted? C’mon, man! It’s just game one, and it’s just one game.
The name of this post was supposed to be “The FIRE CHIEF of the Game” — a focus piece on the most inspirational Chiefs player at the most critical moment of the game.
C’est la vie.
Some want to point to a defensive collapse. Yet the real responsibility may lie with the Chiefs leadership – coach, GM and owner.
Let me explain.
I watched the game on Sunday with — shall we say — an older gentleman. While sitting and watching the game with him — as it slipped away again, for what seems like the 1000th time — he said,
“What if Scott Pioli had a grandpa who was on his deathbed. A grandpa who had been a Chiefs fan his whole life, then I’ll bet he’d have done a whole lot better job at putting his team together.”
When I read stories about the excessive millions the Chiefs have not spent the past several years and about all the money they have saved by operating business so far below the salary cap — on a day like Sunday — it’s discouraging and disheartening. More so for an older fan who’s had a recent heart attack.
Yet, the Chiefs continue to struggle with a depth problem — and the wheel in the sky keeps on turning.
Personally, all offseason long I have been high on the Chiefs’ chances. I still am. However, when the first preseason game played out I was sure they’d found the right combination of spirit and skill. Since those first two drives in the first preseason game — not so much.
If the Chiefs had the chance this offseason to make the team better than they did — but, didn’t do that because they tout that they’re “looking for the right kind of guy” — then I’m wondering how could all of these other teams FIND the right kind of guy? Because if the right kind of guy isn’t one who helps you win games — like a lot of other teams did on opening day weekend — then what’s the purpose of using the words “right kind of guy?”
One of the strong suits that the Atlanta Falcons had in this game was — a deep secondary. They were three-deep at corner. I don’t need to site the half dozen DB FA examples I can think of who could have helped the Chiefs on Sunday — but, I guess they weren’t — the right kind of guy.
What does that really mean anyway? That they don’t spit or cuss or or drink or something. Because — if that’s the case — we need some more sailors.
Having participated in sports for years during my lifetime — as a player, coach and even as an umpire — I can have a global view of the game, and that makes me wonder how certain moments in a game could get away from a coach, a player or a referee. Sure, I saw the holding going on and the replacement referees were abysmal but, I didn’t see any Chiefs coaches objecting. The Chiefs defensive line was cradled like a newborn baby throughout the game but, the refs seemed to be more interested in the beauty of Matt Ryan’s spirals sailing through the Arrowhead firmament. My question is: where’s the video tape of Crennel hounding the referees?
The Chiefs coaching staff needs to appreciate that the team’s talent level is marginal in that they’re not going to blow most teams out, so they have to recognize that most games have a “critical mass moment” that a big play must be produced.
Prior to Succop’s miss, which was kicked on 4th and 4, and knowing that this young Chiefs team had been standing and punching toe to toe for the first eight rounds, don’t you consider throwing a punch you haven’t tried before? The Falcons got the ball right there eventually following the miss. Sometimes a coach has to go for it and show the team he’s willing to take a chance, in a seminal instance. Todd Haley was willing to do this and had varying success but his players were inspired by it and I also think he did this because he had a broader vision for the team and a wilder conviction to succeed.
Yes, Succop’s missed field goal placed the team in an emotional hole but, up to that point they had been matching the Falcons drive for drive. At that point, something needed to be done to alter the outcome of the next defensive stand. Perhaps an all out blitz. Perhaps the insertion of a defensive alignment they’d not shown before. Whatever that might have been, coaches are responsible for managing those critical passages of time that most certainly turn the tide and decide the final outcome.
I like Romeo Crennel, but he doesn’t strike me as being willing to take such influential risks. Brian Billick, who was calling the game on FOX Sports said he asked Crennel before the game why he called the defensive plays. Crennel’s response, “I like it.”
I don’t want to hear, “I like it” when it comes to leading the multi-multimillion dollar organization that bears our fair city’s name. I have stated before that I question whether or not Crennel should be calling defensive plays, as much as I ever questioned that Todd Haley should be calling offensive plays. The inability to let go and trust another person to handle the defense — to delegate that responsibility — is a concern.
I certainly don’t want to hear that it makes him feel good. He should be doing it for one reason and one reason only: he believes it makes the Chiefs better. But at this point I don’t know that it does.
Some say Romeo Crennel is more of a “players’ coach” than Todd Haley was. Now, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. Think back to all your days in elementary school. How many of your teachers were favorites? Probably not all of them. It doesn’t take “liking” your teacher for them to get the best out of you. It might feel good but, it’s not necessary.
Then again, if Scott Pioli had done a more complete job of fixing the Chiefs depth problems — maybe we’d be celebrating still.
On the other hand, if Clark Hunt had demanded that Scott Pioli spend the cap money available — maybe we’d be optimistic about a trip to the playoffs even now.
To quote my favorite singer-songwriter, the dearly departed Dan Fogelberg, “Lessons learned are like bridges burned, you only need to cross them but once.” So, I guess the Chiefs haven’t learned their lessons about taking motivational risks, developing a more thorough depth chart at every position or the integration of performance-based spending, yet. That’s why I’m willing to place the responsibility for this loss more on the people in the organization that weren’t even on the field of play. Especially with so many starters out.
There are probably as many perspectives about the Chiefs’ loss on Sunday as there are fans. However, the crux of this loss is at the feet of the coaches, GM and owner — before it falls to the players.
Meathead Awards all around.
Then, I vote Succop.
Go Chiefs! Stomp the Bills — looking forward to that FIRE CHIEF moment.