From Arrowhead Stadium
It’s damn hard work being Chiefs Fan. Of that there is no question.
There’s the now 42-season wait for a Super Bowl to match the trophy from game number IV. There’s the 18-season drought of victories in the post-season that stretches back to January 1994. There are all those times in the previous 20 years where the Chiefs of Carl Peterson and Marty Schottenheimer, even Dick Vermeil’s teams teased the fans with outstanding seasons and big victories that would fizzle away in the hot breath of the NFL playoffs.
And there are now the 2011 Chiefs, just another cross for those wearing the red and gold to bear.
Winners of the AFC West last year and the spot in the playoffs that goes with that, the 2011 Chiefs started the season 0-3, including the worst back-to-back drubbings (89-10) in franchise history. But then they came alive and won four straight and found themselves on top of the division again. From disaster sprang hope.
Yet, in their two most recent outings, both games played on their home field, the Chiefs lost twice and did it thanks to an offense that can’t score points and a defense that can’t stop the other team. That’s a pretty brutal combination for any team.
And that should be the biggest concern for anyone that cares about the Chiefs â€“ they are getting destroyed on the line of scrimmage. In the last two games, the Dolphins and Broncos have been more physical, they have executed at a level far higher than the Chiefs and they have beaten up the guys wearing red:
- QB Matt Cassel was sacked four times, in 32 passing plays by Denver. That’s one every eight plays, and that’s the type of ratio that ranks among the league’s worst in pass protection. Count last week’s battering by the Dolphins (5 sacks in 44 passing plays) that’s nine sacks in 76 passing plays, or one every 8.4 plays.
- The defense allowed only 4.4 yards per carry, but they were hammered 55 times by six different Denver runners, giving up 244 yards. That’s just another example of the problems the Chiefs have had stopping the run in their own division.
- Although they didn’t get much of a chance, the defense didn’t have a sack, after going without one the week before against the Dolphins. That’s nine sacks in nine games, the worst total in the league.
All of those problems happen at the line of scrimmage. After playing good football earlier in the season, the Chiefs offensive line has fallen apart. The defensive front seven is not far behind. They are getting pushed and pulled around. They don’t scare any opposing quarterback looking to throw, or run. They are not creating space for the running game, or a pocket for their quarterback to throw in.
And now Cassel is hurt. He wouldn’t say what got dinged, but Cassel wasn’t allowed to go back in the game. It could be minor or it could be one of those items that hangs on and is debilitating. Only the coming week will provide enough information on that.
What we do know is the Chiefs are now 4-5 and ahead will be the toughest five-game stretch on their schedule, possibly the toughest five-game segment that any team will face this year – New England on the road, Pittsburgh at home, the New York Jets on the road, the Chicago Bears on the road and then the Green Bay Packers at home.
Even before they lost three key players to injury, the talent level on the Chiefs roster was not very deep. Take out Charles-Moeaki-Berry and it’s downright shallow. Play as poorly as they have in the last two games and it appears even worse than we realized.
The Chiefs said there were 72,908 seats sold for Sunday’s game against Denver. Quite a few of those tickets went unused, but it was still a nice crowd in the stands, probably somewhere between 60,000 and 65,000. Of course, it was a glorious November Sunday, the type of day that’s growing more rare as winter waits to unleash her cold brutality on us.
It was another frustrating afternoon for Chiefs Fan. Sadly, there may be seven more of those in the Sundays and Monday nights ahead. What has ailed the Chiefs in the last two weeks can’t be cured in the next few days of preparation for the Patriots.
But then, Chiefs Fan has been here before.