A Benchmark Monday … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs

Yes, this is a big one.

Year No. 2 of the Pioli/Haley Era kicks off with a national television audience watching and more than likely the biggest home crowd the Chiefs will see all season as they face the San Diego Chargers on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kickoff is 9:15 p.m. CDT and can be viewed on Chanel 9/KMBC-TV and ESPN.

It is but the first step in a football marathon that runs until the first days of February for the good teams, and the first days of January for the bad ones. What category fits the 2010 Chiefs? That’s what makes this game so important.

Let’s set aside the obvious effect on business that rests on the outcome of this game. The Chiefs are struggling to sell all parts of their inventory, whether it’s tickets, suites, sponsorships, signage, etc. A victory over the Chargers would mean a real stomp on the gas pedal of fan enthusiasm and also would generate millions of dollars in sales for the franchise.

And we don’t need to dwell on the fact that it’s the first regular season game in the New Arrowhead, and the first Monday night game in Kansas City since 2004 and the Chiefs first prime-time appearance on Monday night since 2005.

What is most important is what this matchup means in a football sense. The Chargers are the defending AFC West champions, winners of four consecutive division titles and five of the last six. They are the alpha-dog that everybody else in the West is chasing and trying to dethrone.


The Chiefs have spent three years in the division basement, winning only 10 of 48 games, the worst three-year stretch in franchise history. Last year, the Chargers administered the largest division beat down the Chiefs have experienced in 50 years, winning by 30 points at Arrowhead and then 29 points in San Diego.

There has been a lot of confidence and excitement associated with the Chiefs in the last few months, a belief that things have improved for the team. All that becomes meaningless with Monday night’s kickoff; the Chiefs must display the improvement that their head coach says they are making.

That makes the Monday night game a benchmark for the Chiefs and their development under Pioli/Haley. Are they still 59 points worse than the division’s best team? Have they cut the difference between themselves and the Chargers? Can they compete with San Diego?

“I try to stay away from benchmarks and turning points and those types of words because I think you never know when some of those things actually occur,” said Haley. “I think you know after the fact, down-the-road somewhere. What is important is this is a division opponent, it’s the team that’s been the best in the division for the last four years running and this is a real good opportunity for us, the Kansas City Chiefs, our team to go out under the lights on a pretty big stage and just see exactly where we are at this point.”

So just where are the 2010 Chiefs right now? They remain a work in progress on both offense and defense. Only on special teams is there any clarity at the beginning of this season, especially with the addition of returning talent like Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster.

The pre-season did not reveal enough of what Pioli/Haley has assembled for season No. 2. There appears to be development among returning players and the seven-player class from the NFL Draft has provided promise. The work of new coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel was kept under wraps during the 1-3 pre-season, so just what their plans are for the offense and defense remains unknown beyond the meeting rooms and practice field.

It’s always important to start fast in the NFL, to win at home, to win in the division, to beat one of the contending teams in the AFC. And for the Chiefs, this game and its outcome is hugely important to find out where they are in the rebuilding process.

“It will be a good test for us and a good measuring stick to see where we are at,” said Cassel. “They are the division champs and they have a great defense. It is going to be a great challenge for us offensively because they create a lot of pressure with their front seven and they have a good secondary.

“But at the same time, it is week one of 16 games. I don’t think this is our Super Bowl, this is week one so hopefully we can go out there and put out a good performance and come out of there with a win and go from there.”

Going from there hasn’t been a very good thing for the Chiefs at the start of the past three seasons. Last year, they started 0-5 before finding the victory column against Washington. In the 2008 season, they were 0-3 before topping Denver and they were 0-2 in 2007 in advance of their first victory, beating Minnesota.

So starting fast is good, but stressing that with a rebuilding team can do more harm than good. As a coach, where do you go if you pound home the idea of winning out of the chute, and then the team does not win? How do you adjust your message?

Haley does it by not going there from the start.

“You want to start fast, you want to be good fast, you want everything to happen a lot faster than it ever does,” said Haley. “I think the important thing is to stay focused on that fact that we’re just going to keep working, keep trying to get a little bit better each day, knowing that the result of this game cannot affect us one way or the other too much. If it does then it won’t be good for us as a team, that’s regardless of the result. That’s regardless of a big win, close win, close loss, big loss.

“It’s going to be a short week next week and we’re going to have to be back at it and we want to continue to improve. It’ll just be interesting to see how we show up and how we respond and if we’re seeing some of those improvements.”

Haley was forthright this past week, stating that the Chargers have more talent than the Chiefs. One does not need to be Vince Lombardi to see or understand that. But the fact the head coach said it out loud and did so for both the Kansas City and San Diego media was an interesting bit of gamesmanship by Haley. Was he looking to lull the Chargers into overconfidence? Was he trying to fire up his own team with the idea they are the second cousin to the guys with the lightning bolts on their helmets?

Any member of the Chiefs that was on the field for those two games last year knows that Haley spoke the truth. That would be 36 of the 53-player group that got thumped in two games where:

  • The Chiefs were minus-6 in touchdowns.
  • They were minus-17 in first downs.
  • The Chargers had a 342-yard advantage in offensive yards.
  • The Chiefs were minus-6 in sack ratio and minus-6 in the turnover ratio.
  • The Chargers held a combined 16:10 advantage in time of possession.

In the pre-season, we did not see a lot of scoring, first downs or offensive yards from the Chiefs. There were not many sacks and even fewer takeaways from the defense. Are things really any different for the guys in red and gold?

So yes, there are 15 more games after Monday night. But by the end of business in this first week of the 2010 season, and that will come sometime after the stroke of midnight, we will know far more about the Chiefs, where they are and where they are going.

That makes the Chiefs and Chargers a big, big game.

22 Responses to “A Benchmark Monday … Game-Day Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 13, 2010  - Butler says:

    Well it’s time for the talk to end
    Git-R-DONE !!!!!!!!!

  • September 13, 2010  - Edward says:

    Chiefs will shock the world tonight. All the talk has been about how Oakland is the team to come out of nowhere and be a good team, but know one is given us credit for the additions we mayed this season. Well after this game expect people to hop on the bandwagon which there isn’t any room.

  • September 13, 2010  - Michael says:

    I understand how excited people get, and how easily emotions are skewed when that happens. I think we need to keep perspective here, though.

    Yes, this game is an important one for the Chiefs, but it is only one of 16. If KC beats San Diego (even soundly), it does not mean the team is playoff bound. If KC loses to San Diego (even soundly), it does not mean their season is over or the rebuild didn’t work.

    It’s one game. If they win, it will amp everyone up and provide juice for the rebuild and the next game. If they lose, all the sky is falling folks will come out for sure. But, the team will just have to go back to work and get ready for the Browns, try to get a win and move forward. They can’t allow one game to knock them off their path.

  • September 13, 2010  - Don says:

    Michael is on the money. It would be nice to see a return on all of the hard work! To savor a victory no one says is possible…would be nice. Pass the Kool Aid

  • September 13, 2010  - el cid says:

    I am with you on this one, Michael. Just one game and, in theory, the Chiefs must be able move on the next day. Not sure what will happen but, if you can keep your perspective, we need to play well on all aspects of the game. Because we are not headed for the superbowl this year, just improving over the past.

    Got a laugh, Adam T, star reporter (Star reporter), said when the Chiefs start winning in 10 YEARS or so….. and I thought I might be a bit negative, who would guess.

  • September 13, 2010  - aPauled says:

    Just 1 of 16, but every game is an A, B, or C game mentally for the fans, players, even coaches. This is an ‘A’ game..a ‘big one’ as Bob says. It is either going to kick the season off on a high note…or bog us down.

  • September 13, 2010  - Dave says:

    Tonight is gonna be huge! I’m calling a monster game by McCluster (because no one has any idea how we will use him) as well as Charles. The D will surprise with pressure and hopefully some sacks, and Arenas will have a 40 yd return avg. I’ve been skeptical and realistic for far too long…let’s all drink the Kool-Aid and get a win!

  • September 13, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Every week in the NFL 16 teams lose & 16 teams win. It’s a part of the game that affects us all. We as fans can only voice our opinions and feelings. We can’t play, we can’t be at meetings and we can’t heal the sick or wounded. To measure a teams success and or failure is how that team responds each week to that success or failure.
    Win or lose we all react to the end result of each battle. How we react is of no consequence to the mgmt, coaches or players. It’s how they react that matters on any given week.
    I’m like everyone else here. Mondays are great after a Chiefs victory and pure hell if they lose. If in fact the Chiefs play well tonight and can instill the pride & swagger of yesteryear… We can all have something positive to say tomorrow. I, for one am looking forward to it.
    Go Chiefs.

  • September 13, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    I just hope they compete against these guys especially considering how bad it was in the two games last year, absolute embarrasment!!! A win would be AWESOME, but like you guys are saying, its one of 16. I think what is more important, is HOW we play them. We are going to Run, run, run, run and run somemore!!! If we can stop this new rb, whoever he is, from running between the tackles and we pressure rivers, maybe get him on the ground a couple times, then I definately believe we can win it!! Go Chiefs!!!!!

  • September 13, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    @ Dave,I agree on Dex, he is going to have a big game! This whole illness thing is just hilarious! What a Patriot/Parcells thing to do!

  • September 13, 2010  - Brandon says:

    @Jimbo, your analogy eliminates the possibility of a tie. The NFL needs more tie games IMO. Tie games save face.

  • September 13, 2010  - Merwin says:

    Agreed, this is a big game to start the season, a win would be great. But more then that a win will help propel this young team on to more wins. Other wise the process will just take a bit longer to get the Chiefs players to come together as a team. I for one am just hoping for a nice win or if we should lose then just keep it close so its a nice game to watch. GO CHIEFS!

  • September 13, 2010  - TDKC says:

    Trying to decide if DVR is the best way to go on this game. no way I can stay awake to see the end.

  • September 13, 2010  - el cid says:

    Coffee, light snacks. No booze or heavy foods. You can make it but Tues will be heck at work.

  • September 13, 2010  - Dave says:

    TDKC-With all due respect, if you sleep thru this game you will lose your posting priviliges…just kidding! Seriously though, stay awake till the end.

  • September 13, 2010  - Dave says:

    dan in jop-exactly!

  • September 13, 2010  - Michael says:

    I am taking a vacation day tomorrow. No limits tonight for me. The Jets/Ravens game will be the appetizer for the main course. Nice to see the Chiefs back on a MNF game. Hope they play well. If they do what the coaches ask of them and play all 60 minutes, we can do this. I am excited to see the rookies in action, Crennel and Weis’ calls, and overall who steps up. I hope Cassel has a dolid game and I hope Rivers goes down.
    Go CHIEFS!

  • September 13, 2010  - Brandon says:

    TDKC, consider yourself lucky. The game starts at 03:15 in the UK. I’m definitely DVRing it and will watch it starting tomorrow morning and finish when I get home from work.

  • September 13, 2010  - jim says:

    Guys, can anyone remember another season with as much pre-game excitement as this year? I go back to the 70′s and damned if I can remember this much excitement. Let’s get a win!!!!!

  • September 13, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    jim, I can go back as far as ’90 and i can’t think of one! The clock can’t go fast enough!!!!!!!!!!! If we get the ball and Arenas takes run it back for TD, Arrowhead and A BUNCH OF HOUSES/BARS are going to go CRAZY!

    To all of you who are fortunate enough to go tonight, GO CRAAAAAZZZZZZYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!! BRING BACK THE CHOP!
    It will be interesting to see how “close to the vest” we have been in regards to off/def schemes and use of players.

  • September 13, 2010  - scott.go says:

    Is it just me, or does ESPN think there is only one game on tonight? I understand the draw of Ravens/Jets, but can’t they at least mention Chiefs/Chargers? I haven’t been watching all afternoon, but have yet to see any coverage of game 2. As a fan I feel ignored. Regardless, I have Chief’s Nation out there rooting my beloved Chiefs on! Go Chiefs!!!

  • September 14, 2010  - Dan-NY says:

    Well TDKC I sure hope you DVR’d the game. The end of the game was surely worth the wait.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News