Chiefs 2013 Season Fades: Another Auld Lang Syne

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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?

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