KC Chiefs: Cloudy With a Chance Of Meat Heads

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.

Next Chiefs Game View full schedule »
Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug7:00Minnesota VikingsBuy Tickets

Tags: KC Chiefs

  • Altarium

    Crennel being “a players coach” may be a concern, but he can be successful with it. My concern with him is that he seems to have gotten a lot more vague in his communication with media/fans/etc. It seemed to me that when he was hired, he was very direct and to-the-point. Now it seems like he just dances around questions (not always of course), and it makes me wonder if he’s falling in line with the Chiefs usual “zipped lips” culture or if that’s how he coaches with players.
    Either way, this was just one game, and players have been saying how much they like playing for Crennel, now we just need to see if he can motivate them beyond that.

    • ladner morse

      Yep.. it is just one game… and if they win the next one… this will all be forgotten.

  • Jesse o

    Love this article with every single word in it.great work, and it sucks to know that it’s the truth.

  • http://www.facebook.com/OregonTrailMan Mark Bellware

    Another excellent analysis with all the right adjectives and colloquialisms enough to make the most bitter fan smile. It was said however that the “new refs” were going to concentrate on the skill positions and blatant defensive at restricting them. I saw it on the pre-game, those refs were informing us that off and def holding calls would be almost totally ignored unless flagrant. I am sure Romeo got the same memo… and just expected fair treatment for his young distraught lines. You are right about the kick but this young man needs a job as an analyst, not a NFL kicker, past 35yds he is bad. How about one of those soccer players yo’all got in Overland Park/Olathe? Give them a shot! lol It couldn’t hurt.

    • ladner morse

      Yea… I’m on the fence with regards to Succop.

      • chiefridgy

        I believe his confidence is waning :(

  • chiefridgy

    Good read. I think the problem lies in that Pioli thinks someone like Picatelli? is “the right kind of guy”

    • ladner morse

      That’s a great example… wish I’d said that.

  • ArrowFan

    Last week was at best a maybe win with all our players, look at it as a playoff warm up. The lose does hurt and having so much cap space burns my @$$ as well. But this team is in the same boat as every single team in the league. What happens when Manning goes down in Denver? Everyone their will be complaining about the depth at QB. I can label more than one position on every single NFL roster that falls under the same category. Example GB and the O-line last year, they didn’t have enough depth. That said this week is an entirely different story, banged up or not we should win in Buffalo buy multiple scores if not then the flood gates will open wide on the organization.

    • ladner morse

      Good point about replacements for a guy like Manning and I realize there will be no replacing someone like Eric Berry. However, there have been a goodly number of high quality DBs come and go on the free agent market this off season. Why the Chiefs couldn’t land one can only be answered by not enough $$$ signs.If Pioli said he was still interested in retaining Brandon Carr AFTER he signed Stanford Routt — why wasn’t he willing to go out and get another top quality DB??? And I don’t want to hear the “right-kind-of-guy” excuse again.

      • Calchiefsfan

        You have to think first it’s money. Did the FA DBs want too much money? I don’t want to call the Hunts and Pioli cheap, okay maybe they are. The other thing is did a lot of those free agents want to start? They would have to beat out Flowers or Routt. Then again, what happened to competition at every position?
        Pioli did well in getting more depth at running back, tight end and even safety though he could have done better at safety imo. But we’re still light on the o line and obviously CB. It’s like Pioli thinks about this only after its exposed and then he goes out and gets quality backup insurance the following off season, (too late). He’s got to get more proactive and spend the money now.

        • ladner morse

          I don’t think a third DB has to “beat out” the other two DBs anymore with so many team running three talented WRs out there — there’s just too too many times 3 good DBs are needed and the Chiefs clearly don’t have three good DBs.

  • Jesse o

    I like how Romeo is calm and conservative, but I also liked Haley’s fiery and ballsy personality to a point.the chiefs front office need to have more of a risk takers mentality.they remind me of the kid that will walk two miles out of his way to get to school instead of walking across the street to school, risking that he might get his ass kicked by the neighborhood bully.stop with pussy footing and grow a pair, so us you want to win as bad as us fans do.

  • jimfromkc

    I can agree with a lot of your post, but the crux of the problem lies with Pioli. He seems unable to admit a mistake and to rectify it. We have seen the best of Cassel and it is mostly below average with teasing moments that reinforce the kool aiders who want to believe that he is going to get better. He is 30 and I see no improvement in consistency, accuracy and awareness. Plus he is never going any farther than a weak arm will take him. Weeden with the lowest QB rating for a rookie first start still only lost by one point to one of the most talented and well coached teams in the NFL. He has the arm and all the things you look for in a franchise QB and I believe we will have to see how he does this year before I will admit it wasn’t a really bad mistake by not drafting him.

    • ladner morse

      In years past Pioli just wouldn’t let go of a guy he had drafted — as if they were some kind of blood brothers. This year he’s let go of Donald Washington (finally), Junior Hemingway (this year’s 7th rounder) and now even got rid of someone I liek a lot — Cameron Sheffield. So — I think Pioli is changing.

  • Calchiefsfan

    You know when the Chiefs fall apart because of a missed field goal their spirit is just too fragile. They really need to man up and keep playing hard. Not pressing but just believing they can do it. I watched them go toe to toe and then give up when they were confronted with a little adversity. I’ve been defending Cassel but on this one he is QB and it’s his responsibility to settle this team down and lead. Make them believe, not panic and start making mental mistakes, forcing things etc. This is a classic example of a lack of mental toughness. I’m hoping the coaches can point that out to this team and specifically Cassel.

    • Danny W

      You could tell by Cassel’s demeanor on the sideline that he had something mentally wrong with him. Maybe the kid has diabetes and could have used a candy bar? Either way he rode that emotion out to loss.
      You’ve got to attribute that mental weakness to the coaches too. They’re not mentally tough enough to over come a missed field goal then something is wrong with all the players confidence.

      • Calchiefsfan


    • ladner morse

      I think Cassel said afterwards that he pressed and tried to do too much. I really don’t place ANY blame for this one on Cassel — he was just doing what any good QB would do. Is he capable of carry the team on his back? Not yet but, he’s shown me more this year and has improved more this off season than any other Chief in my book.

      • Calchiefsfan

        You’re probably right and I do believe the criticism on Cassel has been unreasonable to say the least. But if KC is going to be a real playoff contender then they can’t implode when they get behind. When Succop missed that field goal we were still only 3 points down. Even when Atlanta went down and scored if we had stayed with our plan and marched down and scored we would have still been right with them.

        This falls on the coaching as well. I would like to see Cassel on the sidelines in these situations pumping the offense up and leading his troops in battle. This doesn’t take skill it’s mental toughness and leadership. The Chiefs are going to need that if they are going to fulfill my prediction of 10-6 and winning the AFC West.

        By the way another fine post Laddie :)

  • Danny W

    Liked the read man. Keep em coming.

    • ladner morse

      Thanks Danny!

  • BigGil

    Last year’s Chiefs didn’t set the bar too high performance-wise. I’m betting the cap space isn’t being spent b/c most incentive bonuses being offered don’t qualify for “Likely To Be Earned” (meaning performing only as good as last year), and are rather team-based “Not Likely To Be Earned” (i.e. doing better than 7-9, winning division, etc.) Money’s a powerful motivator and is the only reasonable explanation that Pioli isn’t spending.