Column: A Season Ends In A Hurry

From Arrowhead Stadium

There is suddenness to the end of the season for teams that lose in the NFL playoffs.

One minute everyone is together, preparing for another game, taking phone calls from buddies on teams that saw their season end last week, and there’s a growing excitement about January football that is ahead.

Then comes the loss and a season doesn’t just end. It slams into the wall and crumples to the ground. Plus, there is no air bag to comfort the blow. There is just the realization that something that started in the last days of July is now kaput.

And, the ultimate goal was not reached.

“It’s the worst part of this,” said LB Derrick Johnson, who experienced the feeling back in 2006 when the Chiefs to the Colts. “The season is over and it brings an end to everything that we put together this season.

“It’s all done.”

With already short average careers and the type of turnover that most teams go through each season, it’s darn hard to carry the chemistry of one year into the next for NFL teams. For a building team like the Chiefs, it’s darn near impossible. Circumstances change, faces change in the locker room and on the coaching staff. Opponents change … nothing really stays the same.

That’s how the game has become in pro football – the only constant is that change never leaves. It has a long-term contract.

“You work so hard for something and you feel like you’ve put together a special team and …,” DE Glenn Dorsey couldn’t finish the thought. His chin dropped to his chest and he shook his head.

That’s why when a team gets an opportunity to take part in the extra season, it must take advantage. Nothing falls together the same way from year to year. There are new challenges, new faces and new foes. There are adjustments, tweaks, alterations that come at all times.

When the chance is there, it must be acted on.

“You never know when you are going to get this chance again,” said Johnson. “I don’t think we took advantage of our opportunity today.”

In the NFL – heck, in life – you are either getting better, or you are getting worse. The 2011 Chiefs may actually get better and not win as many games as they did in 2010. They will play a much tougher schedule and they will be in a position where they are considered one of the league’s contenders, not a pretender trying to climb the ladder. They will have a bit of a target on their back, especially in the AFC West.

Each step up that ladder requires different emotions, different talents, and different commitments. The ’10 Chiefs were lacking in the skills to move up the ladder in the post-season. There’s simply no way to discount the lack of experience that hurt them in this game. To wave it away would be to stick one’s head in the football sand.

“They know what the meal tastes like,” DL Shaun Smith said of the Ravens. “We were just getting started on the appetizer. Hopefully a lot of guys keep that hunger in them and understand that in the post-season it is a different season.”

The Chiefs did not play a good game against Baltimore. The Ravens deserve credit for a lot of that – they did go 12-4 on the season. But there were many instances when the Chiefs were not themselves. They did things that are uncharacteristic of how they’ve played most of the season.

That’s what will make this post-season headache burn even more. It’s one thing to lose, it’s another thing to do it and play poorly, not giving yourself a chance to succeed. Such is what happened to the Chiefs.

“That’s a good team we played and they have been here before and we are still a young team, still trying to develop,” said Smith. “It’s going to be hard to get back to where we are now and win 10 games next year.”

Smith has been around the NFL block a few times and understands that outhouse to penthouse performances are usually followed by a fall back down the ladder. It is so much harder to stay on top than it is to get there.

But there’s nothing that hurts more and leaves a bruise like losing in the playoffs.

7 Responses to “Column: A Season Ends In A Hurry”

  • January 9, 2011  - Fleaflicker34 says:

    Regardless of the outcome ot todays game.


  • January 9, 2011  - Edward says:

    I’m getting a little sick and tired of everyone keep saying next yr schedule is going to be harder well this is the NFL same teams that were good this season maybe horrible next season. So we really have no idea at all until after the offseason whether will be better then those teams we’re preparing to face or worse. Personally I think this Chiefs team is on its way up. We have a complete defense. Now its time this organization focus on getting explosive good young receivers and also adding youth to the o-line. will be fine. We’ll be a much better team next season with rookies this season have a yr under they’re belt so they should ascend as players. As well as now this team getting this experience and now learning what it takes to win in post season. This is the beginning of something special its time media and fans stop looking at this season as a one yr wonder.

    Last Bob you keep saying we lack talent I see alot of talent on this defense. Do we need to add more talent to compete with likes of Ravens and Steelers sure we do but not nearly as much as you make it out to be. Give this team a couple of explosive receivers to take pressure off Bowe along with him and Cassel developing as players we will have a team that can make a run in playoffs.

  • January 9, 2011  - Todd says:

    Naturally, I’m feeling pretty sad right now.

    I keep reminding myself, however, that no one expected us to make the playoffs at all. There’s a “cheer-up” in the thought that we won the division, and are much better than anyone expected. I also am so happy to see a winning record season, that had more wins than the last 3 years combined.

    I’ll keep saying it ’til the day I die.. I can’t wait for Chiefs football to return next year!

  • January 9, 2011  - Tenand6 says:


    Did this game change your evaluation of Matt Cassel?

    It was interesting to see who stepped up today and those who have played better in lesser games against lesser opponents. Eric Berry had his share of big plays. Jamaal Charles is so much fun to watch. I need to see the game again to get a better sense of it all.

    The Chiefs need to be better up the middle, IMHO. QB, Center, NT, ILB. And, who can forget RT and WR?

    Thanks for all the great game summaries and commentary. Lots to think about with personnel and coaching changes ahead.

    It was a really great year. Your web site made it that much better.

    Will be looking forward to your assessment of the team and what we need going forward.

  • January 9, 2011  - el cid says:

    eddie, if you do not think GB, Chicago, and the other teams we play next year are stronger than the non divisional team we played this year, well, I know you know your football better than that. To suggest they will all collapse, or the Chiefs will be so much stronger, is not all that intelligent. We just lost in a real ass kicking to a “real” playoff calibre team, so we will get better, how could we not unless we slip into the bottom levels of the NFL in 2011. As for talent, you are partially correct, just not enough talent. Defenses need to give up no more than 17 points a game, how many did the Raven, SD, Den, and Oakland score on us this year?

    Looking forward, I would like to believe Mr Pioli would sit down with Haley and say something like “your my guy but we need a OC who will stick for more than one season”, “a better draft that ever before”, and “you win championships will a strong defense, not this bend don’t break you have had all last year”. Haley would say, “I need talent, no more potential types, and if you cannot draft them, I want free agents so get some money out. And I want to win next year, not two years from now”.

  • January 9, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    A disappointing end to a better than expected season. We obviously have our work cut out for us but I don’t expect Pioli or Haley to change the formula for their plan. They will continue to assemble talent but will do so in the strategic fashion they have employed to this point. I think the game may have had a different outcome if we had another quality receiver opposite Bowe, a better right tackle and another pass rusher to pair with Hali. That’s not to minimize the need for additional upgrades but those shortcomings were evident and greatly contributed to the game getting out of hand midway through the 3rd quarter. I think Cassell got to experience playoff game conditions and will be better for it in the future. I also want to see us return to dominating defense. We had trouble getting off the field on third down all year. They scored 30 but their defense won the game. Hopefully the owners and players will get a CBA done and we can move forward.

  • January 9, 2011  - el cid says:

    John, plan on anyone covering TEs next year or kick returner or how about a center with size. LOL there are lots of needs and if Pioli/Haley do not start “thinking out of the box”, it could be a never ending search for the ‘right 53″. At some point in time the team comes together or you are forever rebuilding on a rebuild. I say it was a great year and build on it, insted of the Pioli plan of the “distant future”. The future starts monday.

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