Let’s get something straight — there’s no such thing as a good loss. Well, unless you’re a fan rooting for a top draft pick after your team has been technically eliminated from the playoffs. We’re not at that point, at least yet.
That being said, even though this loss was frustrating, it was an easier one to swallow than the week one loss at Houston. Our Chiefs aren’t going to make the playoffs, and even if they did they’d have no shot at taking down the suddenly invincible New England Patriots. That’s why both this loss and the two-game suspension of Jared Allen may turn out to be blessings in disguise.
The Chiefs still need to get better in order to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and a high draft pick can help that. The thing about a top ten draft pick isn’t just the first-round pick, but also the second- and third-round picks. When you draft that early, you get two of the top 40 players and three of the top 75 players. I’m pretty sure we will be able to draft a talented quarterback, offensive lineman and corner, probably in that order, if finish in the bottom ten. With what we already have in place, that sounds great to me. While I’m neither giving up on our season nor rooting for losses, it’s hard to look at the rest of our schedule and see more than a five-win season.
If we start 1-3 (my prediction is that we’ll beat the Vikes at home next week, and turn around and drop one at San Diego), Damon Huard‘s days will be numbered. That’s a good thing. While Huard hasn’t been awful, he hasn’t lit it up either. He’s also antsy in the pocket, which isn’t a good thing, especially considering our struggling O-line and that Hewey’s about as mobile as Jason Whitlock after polishing off four or five slabs of ribs at Gates.
I now honestly believe that Brodie Croyle is a better fit for this offense, mostly because he has better arm strength and mobility. The other great thing about Croyle taking over when we are all but out of the playoff race is that there won’t be a lot of pressure on the young QB. Hopefully, this will allow him to not force things. If he can cut down the number of mistakes he makes, and start to mesh with the Dwayne Bowes and Jeff Webbs, that will bode well for next season. If he chokes and looks awful even without the pressure to win, then the Chiefs use that top pick to nab the franchise’s new quarterback of the future.
This is why Huard began the season as the starter. It gave the appearance that the Chiefs are trying to win, but also protected our possible future starting QB.
This loss was also easier to swallow because of the way several youngsters — most notably Croyle, D-Bo, Derrick Johnson, Kris Wilson and Webb — played.
The Bears are also the defending NFC champs, so just hanging with them during their home opener says that we’ve improved since both the preseason and week one (also, the Texans are now 2-0, and could be underrated).
I’m encouraged because even though I see several gaping holes, there’s more talent than there are holes. Really, nobody should lose much between this season and next, save maybe for Ty Law. If that’s the case why not move Law to safety, like Rod Woodson late in his career. While Bernard Pollard has been mostly solid, I’ve been less impressed with Jarrad Page. Since 1995, Law leads the NFL in interceptions. Even at 80% of what he once was, he’d be a ball-hawking free safety. He’s also a physical corner, so tackling wouldn’t be a problem.
Other than that, re-signing Jared Allen and significantly upgrading three positions — CB, QB and OL — would likely put us right back in the mix.
I also think that as the season progresses, we should give Kolby Smith all of Michael Bennett‘s reps. Bennett’s a solid player, and a perfect change-of-pace back. But with his fumbling problems and injury history, he can’t be considered a potential starter and can no longer be counted on even as a back-up. Bennett hasn’t been terrible, but like Huard it’s obvious that he has no long-term future with the Chiefs.
The other Chief who needs to be replaced is Mike Solari. The offense’s pathetic blocking, penchant for penalties and poor playcalling are more his fault than anyone else’s. That third-and-one pass play that he called late in the game was an inexcusable mistake, and the one I most blame this loss on. After all, why have the highest-paid RB in the league on your roster if you’re not going to call his number on crucial short-yardage situations? How many other OCs would call for Huard’s pea shooter to go deep to tiny Samie Parker over L.J. in that situation? OK, besides Mike Martz? None. This guy is way over his head, and a far cry from Al Saunders. He also has a new nickname that I’m rather found of — Three And Out, which is definitely the TAO of Solari.
The other thing I noticed yesterday is that this linebacking core has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL. They recorded 20 tackles, three sacks and two picks yesterday, almost single-handedly delivering an improbable upset. You add Allen back into the mix at defensive end and this unit will play even better. Napoleon Harris is finally starting to look comfortable in this defense. There’s also no reason to think that either D.J. won’t keep improving or that Donnie Edwards will slow down. Donnie looked about as fast as any front-seven defender on the field yesterday, and, yes, that includes Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs.
I lied — one more thing. Benny Sapp really brought the wood yesterday. For a player of his diminutive stature, he sure isn’t afraid to mix it up, is he?
That’s it for now. Here’s hoping that I gave everyone some light at the end of the tunnel during a time where things appear pretty bleak.