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Chiefs 2013 Season Fades: Another Auld Lang Syne

1 Feature From The Bleachers
The beer was empty and our tongues were tired.

And running out of things to say… she gave a kiss to me as I got out,

And I watched her drive away. Just for a moment I was back at school,

And felt that old familiar pain, and as I turned to make my way back home,

The snow turned into rain.

~ “Same Auld Lang Syne,” Dan Fogelberg, 1980

~ ~ ~

Like Dan Fogelberg’s love song to an old lover, all the memories come flooding back, including all the old “familiar” pains of Chiefs playoff loses gone by. Boy, did this Chiefs playoff loss ever sting. Honestly, the pain hasn’t yet faded and I don’t expect it to any time soon. I suspect that won’t happen until the Chiefs put a “W” at the end of a playoff game.

Some have referred to this organization’s playoff loss as part of an ongoing “curse.” One can certainly see why there are those who want to go down that road. It’s like calling unexplained objects in the sky… UFOs. There are things that will forever remain… unexplained.

However, there are also a number of explainable phenomena that should be addressed. The transformation of the Chiefs special teams this past season was… phenomenal. The improvement of the Chiefs offense this season was… noticeable as was the play of many defensive players. However, this is not the phenomena, of which I speak.

This specific column is called, “Another Auld Lang Syne” for a reason. While the Chiefs have made great improvements this year, some things remain the same.

“Another auld lang syne.”

Lost in the translation of last off season’s high volume turnover in the front office and coaching ranks and all the dazzling roster changes for the Chiefs was… the biggest team needs still going unaddressed. I’m referring to Free Safety, Left Inside Linebacker, Wide Receiver and Tight End.

Afterall, the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs defense finished, 25th in passing defense and 22nd in rushing defense. If you were under the impression that the Chiefs had a top ten defense this year it’s time for a reality check. The Chiefs have a bottom ten defense.

Disappointed and Getting Disappointed-er

Yes, the Chiefs lost a golden opportunity. Sure, this is going to be year two of the R&D regime. However, they made mistakes last offseason by overpaying for free agents that will now limit what they can offer to new free agents as well as their own players. Back up QB Chase Daniel, even with his “good game” in week 17, is not worth the price of his contract (figures provided by Rotoworld).

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 8.57.02 AMNeither is CB Dunta Robinson. Especially Robinson.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 8.58.32 AM

TE Anthony Fasano hasn’t nearly lived up to the hype associated with his performance and contract and he’s only an average TE at best when healthy.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 9.00.50 AMIf you look back 3 short years ago to the last time the Chiefs were in the playoffs you may recall the Ravens shutting down Dwayne Bowe and by doing so made the Chiefs offense one dimensional: see Jamaal Charles. Was this year really any better? For Bowe, it was a worse year than 2010 but, with 8 receptions, 150 yards and a 63 yarder in the playoff game against Indy it’s no wonder Bowe was predicting he’d lead the league before the year began. For some reason it never materialized. Yes, Alex Smith is a huge step up from Matt Cassel in 2010, as it turns out, but the Chiefs receiving corp, as a whole, is still one dimensional and has to rank in the bottom half of the league.

The point is the Chiefs have big needs… still! Aside from QB…THE CHIEFS STILL HAVE THE SAME NEEDS THEY HAD THREE YEARS AGO.

The Chiefs still need,

1) A Free Safety who can, A) read the QB, B) run like a Cheetah and, C) hit like an asteroid.

2) An ILB who can cover like Kilz and thrills as a thumper,

3) Another high quality WR… and

4) A liquid nails hands, healthy and dependable TE.

These positions represent huge holes that can no longer go unaddressed.

Yes, there is greater overall depth at most positions including Free Safety but Kendrick Lewis should never play another down for the Chiefs. He was a 5th round selection and after four years — that’s right four years — anyone evaluating the play of the defense this year, and specifically the playoff game against Indianapolis, should be able to see that Lewis can’t, 1) read QBs, 2) read WR patterns, 3) take appropriate angles to arrive at the ball in a timely manner, and 4) use speed to stay with WRs (Lewis 4.57 in the 40 was his best time ever and it’s clear to see he’s never going to keep pace with the likes of someone like T.Y. Hilton who runs a 4.3).

Some will say that CB Dunta Robinson has lost a step. If you go back and look at game tape I think you’ll see that in most cases he’s lost two. Does he play aggressively? Yes, but that does no good when he’s turned the wrong way — which I’ve seen repeatedly this season.

Dunta Robinson needs to go. However, to do that it looks like the Chiefs will take another cap hit. In the case of corners… it looks like the Chiefs will have to rely upon their younger players stepping up and developing, which we have every right to expect them to do. Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker may be the short term future of the Chiefs defensive backfield.

The Vehicle

Following the 2012 season, the Chiefs “vehicle” was in a precarious and strange position. It was like a car with great wheels, but bad brakes… excellent air bag safety but a broken down steering system… terrific souped up carburetor but a sad and desperate set of exhaust pipes. When drivers John & Andy appeared on the scene there was even a suitcase of cash in the trunk and they wasted no time spending it all either.

That’s a big problem now. It’s as if R&D were operating under the belief system that the Chiefs only needed a few players to contend. I contend… the Chiefs are not ready to contend… and now the cap space needed to reach the land of contention… is a bone of contention.

As things stand right now, it appears to me the Chiefs budget this offseason allows them to;

1) Sign all their drafted players,

2) Not sign LT Branden Albert,

3) Sign a minimal number of low dollar free agents, unless they restructure some big names already on the roster.

Clark Hunt turned the car keys over to Andy Reid and John Dorsey last January. While they are recognized for doing many good things… they may have also frittered away the near future by paying too much money for some bad parts that just won’t allow the thing to get out of third gear. I hope I’m wrong… but that’s the way it looks for now.

Epic Hero Story

If the Chiefs were an epic hero story being written they’d be at the ultimate jumping off point of a tale of “The Two Towers,”

“Though The Lord of the Rings obviously operates in the realm of the fantastical, real traits such as bravery and loyalty are more important—and far more frequently witnessed—than the fireworks of a magic wand.”

Joseph Campbell spoke of critical junctures in the hero of the mono-myth. That’s where the Chiefs are at now. To overcome, and travel the heroes journey, the hero must pass tests. This season may look like failure to many but it’s just the opposite. It’s the beginning of a successful journey.

What’s next? Actually, Campbell is clear about that. The hero needs magic helpers. Personally, I think those guys are Andy Reid and John Dorsey.

That’s because I believe it’s going to take some magic this offseason for the Chiefs to navigate the difficult terrain of the tight clifted cap space.

So, where is the cap space going to come from to sign these new talents or free agents?

The question behind that question is… how are the Chiefs going to improve this offseason when it looks like they may be losing their Pro Bowl LT?

“The draft” you say?

Picking number 23 overall in the draft should place the Chiefs in a prime position to select a high quality player. If they hit the middle of the target this time they should be able to locate a player who can come in and contribute immediately as well as be a top rookie in their class, like Eric Berry was a few years back.

That may sound like I’m suggesting the Chiefs “won’t” take a LT in the first round if they lose Albert. That’s right. While I wouldn’t be thrilled to see the Chiefs second teamers moving up along the OL and becoming starters… I’m less interested in the second teamers taking over at other positions like FS, LILB, WR, and TE. At those positions — there’s just nobody home. No good choices at all.

And please, please, don’t say Nico Johnson. John Dorsey claimed a LB off of waivers (James-Michael Johnson) who’s better than Nico.

Yes, I’d like to see Quintin Demps back but mostly as a kick returner. Yes, I’d like to see Husain Abdullah back, but only as a spot starter or extra DB.

Many fans are talking about Sanders Commings. He may be the answer but the reality is, we know as much about him as we do WR Kyle Williams.

The answers (players) are somewhere out there. I don’t believe the answers to the FS, LILB, WR, and TE are on the current Chiefs’ roster at all.

Why did the Chiefs lose in Indianapolis? Poor play at FS, LILB, WR, and TE.

How long have the Chiefs been sorely deficient at those key positions?

The Talking Heads may have said it best:

Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was… Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was… Same as it ever was…Same …

The loss to the Colts could easily be typified as the most devastating loss the Chiefs have ever experienced. It’s clear to see that fans are disappointed. They should be.

Dealing personally with the result of this game is difficult for many of us. However, it’s disappointing to me to hear fans say they are “done” with this team. Martin Luther King once said, “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” So, does that mean some fans don’t “love” the Chiefs enough? I don’t think it means that at all. I think it means some fans are overcome by their disappointment. Remember, King also said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Of course, we’re all at will. If fans want to celebrate their disappointment more than their hope they first need to realize their disappointment is born out of their hope. You can’t have one… until you first have the other.

My great hope this offseason is that for once and for all, they will solve the needs they have at… FS, LILB, WR, and TE.

 

We drank a toast to innocence

We drank a toast to now

And tried to reach beyond the emptiness

But neither one knew how.

We drank a toast to innocence

We drank a toast to time

Reliving in our eloquence

Another ‘auld lang syne.’

What do you think Addict fans? How do you think the Chiefs are going to get better this offseason?

Tags: Featured KC Chiefs Popular

  • 2dogs

    Last year we had the first choice off the waiver wire. No such luxury this year. I’d like to see us trade the #1 pick for some later picks.

    • tm1946

      Trading down would depend finding a partner who was “desperate” for one player available at 21, doubt that happens.

      Draft who Dorsey and Reid feel necessary but not another Fisher. He is ok but not anything special and being the first pick sort of sad but he may get better next year.

      Do not understand the money situation. Dead money, salary cap, and what else is beyond me. I say cut your loses and try to find a diamond in the rough or two.

      • 2dogs

        I feel confident with Dorsey and Reid making these decisions too. Jason had a good article on the cap explanation that helped me realize I’d need the help of a dozen accountants and a physicist to figure it out.

  • Tristian Shelley

    Poor play at receiver was not the reason we lost. The offense in general despite the injuries should never have been in a position to win the game with a 4 TD lead. Alex Smith dosent throw for 378 if our receivers were that bad. Is it a need? Yeah. But ILB and FS and CB were the reasons we lost that game. And theres no question about that. But you could also point to lack of pass rush too. Andrew Luck just got way to comfortable as the game went on. I think the chiefs understand that no matter how hard you try you can’t cover all your holes in one offseason. So with that said I expect Reid (because he is an offensive coach) to address wide receiver no matter what and u can add RB to a need because Davis has a broken fibula so no telling how he returns from that. Would I rather have a Free Safety or a Corner? Honestly I can train a guy to play deep middle because playing corner is much harder. I expect the chiefs to adress one or 2 of the defensive positions but not all 4. (pass rush). They have alot of young guys at corner so you expect everybody to be better with another year in the system. I can sign Charles Woodson or somebody like that for cheap or draft a guy at FS. Thats what I expect. Most needs will be met with the draft in my opinion

    • Travis Forsyth

      I’d like to see kc draft HaSean Clinton-Dix the FS from Alabama. Don’t think kc needs a CB, Ron Parker and Marcus Cooper played pretty well in their rookie year and can only develop and get better. Brandon Flowers could be better as a nickel back and I hope Sean Smith gets in his 2nd in Sutton’s defense

  • toperspective

    Wow. What a fantastic article. Besides the eloquence, it also summed up my feelings exactly. Therefore it’s brilliant. The other area to address is 2013′s underwhelming draft. For me the jury is still out on Dorsey. I sure hope he does a better job in the draft in 2014. And I hope Sutton is the right guy for DC and just not part of the good ol’ boys club.

  • Calchiefsfan

    Wow Laddie you seem a little depressed about the Chiefs right now. The biggest need was a new HC, accomplished. Second a good QB, accomplished. Because of those two things we won and went to the playoffs.This year’s needs, an upgrade at DC and FS. Everything else is gravy.

    We have almost $7 million in cap space as it stands. Dumping some players that didn’t work out and restructuring some others can get us to the $15 mil mark easily. That should be enough hopefully. Remember we paid Albert like 9.5 mil last year. We sign him long term at $7.5 per and that saves $2 mil.

    • toperspective

      Albert isn’t part of the cap figure since he’s not under contract. The Chiefs will need cap money to sign draft picks and their FA’s such as Dexter, Demps, Abdullah, Jackson etc. It only helps to dump players if it frees up salary cap. Although the glacier Fasano makes almost 5M, dumping him only saves 1M. Unless a player is wiling to accept a reduced salary in lieu of getting cut, as Jackson did last year, restructuring tends to just push the problem into future seasons. They also have the issue of what to do with Smith. If they do extend him, I doubt he’ll do it for his current salary.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Maybe I’m wrong but I thought I was looking at the 2013 salaries which totaled a tad over $122 mil which included Albert’s, Robinson’s etc. This years cap is approximately $129 mil. I don’t have the figures on whose salaries will go up this year though. I’m trusting in Dorsey to make it work. McCluster and Smith will be the only players we would have to pony up more money for at this point. Dumping Robinson should help. Fasano we’re stuck with so let’s hope he stays healthy next year.

        • toperspective

          You need to look at the 2014 salaries. We’ll see how Dorsey does this year. I’m less trusting than you. Take a look at Laddie’s write-up – it addresses the mistakes Dorsey made in free agency last year. It doesn’t address the lack of contributions by the 2013 draft class.

          • Calchiefsfan

            I see what you mean. It appears only Dunta is worth dropping and saving $3.3 mil which would give the Chiefs around $12 mil to sign draft picks and free agents. Not enough to keep Albert unless the go signing bonus and back loaded deal.

          • toperspective

            Yeah, they’re in a tough spot. I don’t see anyway that they keep Albert. It seems his expectations are out of whack with what the Chiefs can afford. At least if he goes I think they would get a compensation draft pick.

          • ladner morse

            Yep… but not until the next year…. Carr left in 2012 and we got he extra pick in 2013.

  • Travis Forsyth

    I said it once, I’ll say it again, the 2013 chiefs were no different than the 2012 chiefs…The fact is 2013 was a “see what we’ve got” year all kc changed was the GM, HC and QB. that’s it! And look at the difference! 2-14 to 11-5 and a playoff appearance is terrific!! Now Dosey and Reid know what they have and what they don’t and need to go get for 2014….Remember, the Packers went from 6-10 in ’08, to a playoff contender in ’09, to super bowl champ in 2010, Dorsey can and will turn this ship in the right direction and who better than Andy Reid to lead it?

  • Chris Tarrants

    Maybe next year! Thats the Chiefs montra after all. Always next year, while wallowing in our own misfortune this year! And so it is told, that the cycle of the lowly chiefs fan goes full circle to another year of disappointment. Look on the bright side of things though we get to draft in the 20′s again! Oh and no second rounder either which should make sense in the financial aspects of our team, money saved

    • ladner morse

      Maybe next year?… I think that may be a bit of a cynical view of the team…. you’re saying only one team’s fans are happy each year?
      Also, remember we got Alex Smith with our number two pick this year and he’s needing to be resigned for more… or longer.

      • Chris Tarrants

        Don’t mistake what I said as a jab a Smith, I’m glad he is here. My point is we not only don’t have our second rounder due to that deal, which is fine in my book but we are now drafting in the 20′s again. We had a true shot last draft to change our team for years to come. Drafting #1 every other round and also being number 1 on the waiver wire. This year will be much more tough. The part I said about the annual disappointment was just what you read. Every few years the tides change, there is a changing of the guard and good teams collapse and bad teams start to shine again. Except for ours! Sure, we made it to the wildcard round again but how many one and done’s can a fan base take? I wear my emotions on my sleeve when it comes to this team. I love celebrating and running around the house with my kids doing my best imitations of Mitch Holthus, taught my two year old the chop and had him doing it this year. At the same time I have also broken furniture, glass top coffee table comes to mind from last week, a few remotes to the TV. My wife says I take football and baseball too seriously but I tell her no, that its just enough. Just enough to make me giddy like a school girl and pissed off like I just stubbed my toe. I am sick of being content to be middle of the pack simply because we were so horrible the year before! I want to celebrate good times for once and see my team make a strong run, think about this, I am going to be 30 soon and I wasn’t even born when we won our only Super Bowl and the last time we won a playoff game I was in elementary school. I mean come on, how long does this fan base have to wait to taste some kind of success?

        • ladner morse

          Sorry Chris… I thought you were sating we should “expect” to be disappointed every year.
          Yep… being 23rd on the waiver wire process is going to make it tough to improve this year… in that way anyway.

  • jimfromkcj

    Laddie, Over the Cap shows us spending around 13 million more on our defence than our offence. My suggestion would be to put all of our players on the trading block who are underacheivers. Hali Flowers, Jackson and Berry are all overpaid and I would like to see anyone tell me where they took over a game when we played a good solid playoff team. We can’t seem to win with them, so why not find out what the rest of the league values them at. Pioli started this whole mess when he didn’t offer a reasonable contract to Carr and Albert before they got into their free agent mode. We got nothing for Carr and we might very well get nothing but some needed cap space for Albert. Dorsey so far hasn’t done much to improve this team in the draft, and I hate to see this turnstile of free agents coming in and out of Arrowhead. It seems to me it is basically throwing mud at the side of a barn seeing what sticks.

    • ladner morse

      “throwing mud at the side of a barn seeing what sticks”……. I guess that’s kind of what I was trying to say. We did get Knile Davis with our compensatory pick for Carr and we’ll surely get another end of the 3rd round comp pick for Albert…. but in the case of Albert it’s extreeeeeemely difficult to replace a Pro Bowl LT with basically a first pick in the 4th round.

  • jimfromkcj

    Oh, and by the way here are 4 players I would consider for that 23rd pick. Richardson Baylor OG 6’5″ 335,Gilbert Ok. St. CB 6’0″ 195, Matthews Vandy WR. 6’3″ 205, and Reynolds Stanford FS 6’2″ 205.

  • Blake Molina

    I agree with you Laddie. I hate Kendrick Lewis as much as Micah hates Alex Smith. Robinson needs to go as well.

    I mostly agree with your assessment of needs, but I think the offensive line could use some improving, especially at tackle if Albert goes. Not that I don’t think Donald Stephenson and Eric Fisher won’t be capable, but more for the depth.

    I do also agree that the answers may not be currently present. Fasano is unknown still (sadly), and we haven’t gotten the chance to see Sanders Commings (who I hope is as good as advertised). Answers will hopefully come from this upcoming deep draft class. Wouldn’t be surprised if we trade out of the 1st round to garner 2nd round picks. If we pick in the 1st, we absolutely have to take a playmaker on offense, the best WR or TE. Somebody to take pressure off Bowe, and provide more balance to continue letting Charles get the best opportunities.