The Kansas City Chiefs face the Denver Broncos in a match up that, much like their previous meeting, could have a very serious impact on the remainder of the Chiefs season.
Move to 4-5 in the AFC with numerous winnable games, and the Chiefs can reasonably being talking about the playoffs. Lose this game, and with a record of 3-6, it’s hard to see the Chiefs winning enough games to make a serious push towards the post season. With all that’s going on with this team and organization, perhaps its best for the team to sit this post season out.
History, especially recent Chiefs history has played the fact out that simply making the playoffs year after year isn’t a great thing. During the Schottenheimer run, the Chiefs made the playoffs frequently, but never really advanced towards anything, but were blessed with the low-round draft spot that routinely took this organization out of the running for top prospects. You don’t bust a season just to improve your draft stock, but it brings us to the next point. Since then, the Chiefs have moved up and down, making the playoffs usually followed by droughts. There are reasons to those droughts.
Is Alex Smith the answer at quarterback? Many readers, all three of you, likely answer in the negative. Make the playoffs, and he becomes the quarterback of the future. How do you replace a guy who’s ‘lead’ the team to two playoff appearances in three years?
While the Chiefs are surely tied to Alex Smith through next season regardless of the outcome due to an erroneously horrific contract, the opportunity will be there this off season to find a quarterback to groom for the future this off season. If this team backs into the playoffs, there is likely a sense of security with Alex Smith, and the organization moves forward with him as the quarterback.
Are Bob Sutton and a non play calling Doug Pederson the right guys to lead their side of the ball squads into the future? What about the coaches underneath them, namely offensive line coach Andy Heck? Rarely when a team makes the post season does that same team make major changes to their coaching staff without another team helping them out and forcing their hand. (If a team hired Bob Sutton to be their head coach, that’s obviously a change, but past that point).
If this team ends up not making the play offs, the odds of changes, or at least the opportunity for a lot of soul searching about if people are in the right place can happen. While maybe this organization believes those previously named two are the correct people, maybe some lower level changes occur or different perspective on approach or scheme can be achieved.
Here are a couple examples.
In 2006, the Kansas City Chiefs, in the last week of the season on a cold day, defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars 35-30. Coupled with losses by the Titans, Bengals and Broncos, the Chiefs ‘secured’ the sixth seed of the playoffs and the opportunity to travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts in a game that they would summarily be destroyed by NFL standards 23-8, a game in which they failed to achieve a first down during the first half, achieving a grand total of seven first downs.
This game masked a larger issue that Herm Edwards has spoken to since that season. The Chiefs team was getting old, and needed to being a movement of getting younger. Instead of making those necessary changes while there was some veteran leadership, and while the youngsters could be integrated into the fold, the team made one last effort to put together a winner.
The team went into the 2007 season trying to patch together a winner, finishing that season with a 4-12 record that was highlighted by the broken foot by Larry Johnson that helped ensure the Chiefs would finish the 2007 season on a nine-game losing streak. The Chiefs would follow that season up with a mind blowing 2-14 season in the 2008 season, playing numerous rookies after they were forced to do a total reconstruction on the roster, and costing Herm his job with the organization.
In a different sense, but the same point, the Chiefs win the AFC West in 2010 behind the power trio of Todd Haley, Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel. What has become an open secret in town, and later presented itself in a very ugly fashion, general manager Scott Pioli realized early on during that season, before the conclusion of the 2010 season that he and head coach Todd Haley were not going to co-exist in the manner he had hoped and or expected, and had explored moving on from Haley.
That idea became complicated and difficult when the Chiefs won the AFC West, despite the fact that Pioli-picked offensive coordinator Charlie Weis accepted the University of Florida offer to do the same job in season creating more drama then a TNT mid day marathon.
Haley as well all know was fired the following season after starting the season 5-8 in a season that included a complete implosion against the Jets, and a pissing match between the coach and general manager that lead to a then-Kansas City Star columnist Kent Babb to write a story about the rampant paranoia and a fear of Big Brother tapping and recording phone calls. It all led to the complete wash of the leadership and one that is still cleansing to this day.
Yes, we all want the Chiefs to do well and be successful. However, sometimes that means that a team or organization sometimes must take a step back to enable them to take two steps forward. Obviously nothing is guaranteed, but it’s apparent this team, regardless of how they finish, isn’t what we thought they would be. Maybe that’s the best thing that could have come from this season.