Column: Forgetting Must Come Quickly

From Arrowhead Stadium

It’s ironic that Marty Schottenheimer was in the house on Sunday, being honored as the 2010 inductee to the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

Marty had the midnight rule for his team. They could enjoy a victory, or wallow in a defeat only until the clock struck midnight. Then, they had to move on.

Todd Haley has worked with a similar rule this season, although his was for 24 hours. By the time Monday night rolled around, his players need to expunge the outcome from their short-term memory.

I get the feeling there was a rules change on Sunday. After getting crushed by the Raiders 31-10, they instituted a 10-minute rule. That’s essentially how long the Chiefs took to walk off the field, get in the locker room and confront their sorry performance against Oakland.

But then, it’s not hard to put behind you something that obviously wasn’t important. A team like the Chiefs, even one that is still developing, growing, rebuilding, in the process – whatever term you want to use – does not allow an opponent to walk onto the Arrowhead playing field and kick their butts. No way, no how, especially if the game and its outcome are important.

All week the players and coaches told us beating Oakland was important. They were preparing to win, just like they did in the previous 15 weeks. They wanted to go 8-0 at home. They wanted to preserve their No.3 seed in the AFC bracket for the playoffs.

They just didn’t play to win.

 There’s no way that they could say they did, not with the mistakes and effort that was shown on the field. The Raiders dominated the line of scrimmage and won just about every statistical category that was important, whether it was points, turnovers, yards, sacks, time of possession. They even led in penalties – it was the Raiders after all – but that didn’t stop them from winning.

“They beat us,” said LG Brian Waters. “No questions about it, they beat us bad.”

But even as the players faced the media horde and started heading out the locker room door, they were forgetting the miserable afternoon.

“We’ve got to be ready to go and take advantage of the opportunity to play more games, especially having one here at Arrowhead,” Haley said. “That’s what’s going to be critical for us; put this game behind us, move on now, not tomorrow, not in five hours, not in six hours, we’ve got to do that now.

“That’s what we’ve talked about in there. That goes for the entire group, coaches and players alike. If we allow a poor performance to drag our season down it will be the first time that we’ve done it and we don’t want that to happen.”

By sticking their head in the post-season sand the Chiefs won’t have to face the ugliness of their play until preparations begin for next season. What happened against the Raiders is not something that can be swept under the rug and forgotten. It’s the third time in a division game where they were physically dominated by the opponent. The Raiders, Chargers and Broncos all did it to them this year. San Diego and Denver happened on the road. Getting smacked by Oakland happened in the friendly confines of Arrowhead, where the Chiefs were trying to go unbeaten on the season.

Ultimately, you begin the process of becoming a good team by winning in your division. That’s the surest way to build a foundation for the post-season. But the Chiefs ended up 2-4 in the division where they hold first place. Their ticket to the playoffs was punched because they finished 8-2 in their other 10 games. That gulf between the two will have to change if the idea of going to the playoffs is something that will become a yearly exercise.

But Haley and QB Matt Cassel and the other veterans speaking after the game are right – there’s no sense wallowing in getting kicked in the butt by the Raiders in a game that was essentially meaningless. Not with the fact that there’s more work to get done.

“No matter how bad you feel,” LB Mike Vrabel said, “when you wake up Monday morning to start getting ready for a game in the playoffs, you feel better. It doesn’t hurt so much.”

It’s pretty hard to forget about getting beat up in your own backyard. But that’s what the Chiefs must do. They need to walk … no run away from what happened. There will be time to think and scrutinize what went down. Ahead are months to figure out how to keep from getting kicked hard by their division mates.

To bring credibility to what they were able to do over 16 weeks of the regular season, the Chiefs need to show up next weekend, primed and prepared and showing little memory of getting smashed by the Raiders.

“We are going to have to draw on some of the situations we’ve been in this year and show the ability to bounce back,” Haley said. “We are going to have to do it quickly. The season did not end the way we wanted it to end, but there’s a lot of positives with how the regular season went. Obviously, we put ourselves in a position to play more games. That’s the name of the game right now. That’s all that matters.

“The ability to put this game behind us, which I believe these guys will do as they’ve done throughout the year. Multiple times throughout the year they put tough losses, bad losses behind us. We have to do that.”

15 Responses to “Column: Forgetting Must Come Quickly”

  • January 2, 2011  - Tim says:

    Just hope the OL shows up. Cassel was inaccurate most of the day…even on the few occasions he had enough time. Our skill guys need to be able to catch a cold ball cleanly. You really can see the end for Casey “The Iron Man” W. & perhaps Lilja. They just get manhandled too often good big men. What was surprising to me was with all the pressure, there weren’t more quick slants & TE releases. Seemed like we were stubborn about continuing to call plays with routes that had to develop when our OL was clearly being dominated.

  • January 2, 2011  - matt says:

    wonder how much weis’s head was in the game or looking forward to Florida weather?

  • January 2, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Weiss doesn’t throw or block…the issues today IMO.

    We have the Ravens coming to town. It’s going to take a much better effort from the O-line to stop Haloti Ngata and Terrel Suggs than we put up against the Raiders.

  • January 2, 2011  - el cid says:

    Might have been more about raider defenders than shortcomings of OL. Their season was over, if they went crazy no one would remember and now they can go into next year dominating the teams in the AFC West. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. What happened to Chiefs, your guesses are as good as anyones. With a wonderous 10-6 record, anyone think this team is “good”?

    As for Weis, just to bad he gets to coach the playoff game, wish we could send him packing today.

  • January 2, 2011  - Petey says:

    Wow Cid, you’ve jumped feet first on the ‘we suck’ train. This season has been a gift, plain and simple. I think this team is good, not great, but good. We won the AFC West and won 10 games, none of which most of us thought was possible.

    Maybe lighten up a little bit and enjoy winning once again, enjoy the playoff game and worry about next year, next year.

  • January 2, 2011  - Edward says:

    Chiefs got caught looking ahead. Not surprised since majority of the team are young, but that’s what happened. They just wasn’t into the game. Now they need to move on get ready to play the Ravens.

  • January 2, 2011  - Edward says:

    El cid please stop. Bengals swept the division 2009 and what good did it do them this yr. Raiders sweeping the divison means nothing for 2011. This is the same organization that is considering getting rid of its head coach. I’m not concerned about us losing because I thought by us wrapping up the divison early this would be a trap game and it was. Moving on we’re in the playoffs and AFC west champs when clowns like you and media didn’t believe it to be possible so that’s all that matter. Sky’s the limit for this organization simply because this young team is getting valuable playoff experience that will payoff in the long run.

  • January 2, 2011  - el cid says:

    Thanks for your insight, Ed. For you all season long it has been about the future. Good for you.

    The playoffs are a different matter than the regular season. I appreciate there is still tomorrow for the Chiefs.

    But look to you 2011 future and the Chiefs have to play all AFC West team twice. This year they could not handle it, period. That must be corrected and to be all warm and fuzzy about your makebelieve future gives “CLOWNS” like me lots to comment on.

    Might add most playoff teams had “trap” games today and played to their potential. Guess you missed that. But everything will be well somewhere over the rainbow.

  • January 3, 2011  - Raiders Crush Chiefs 31-10; Ravens Up Next | Chiefs Football at says:

    [...] COLUMN: Gotta forget this one quick [...]

  • January 3, 2011  - Walter says:

    Bob, do you think the Chiefs stay with the zone blocking, scheme or rebuild during the off season.

  • January 3, 2011  - Justin says:

    Cid, I have gone back and read a lot of your comments and you are clearly a glass half full guy. even wins and domination in games finds you picking or fault finding.

    This season is unexpected – clearly a year ahead of schedule. Complaining about short comings is rather silly. we all know we still lack talent in many areas, if they fail to improve players/ positions in the offseason or fail to address areas of need through the draft then time to b*tch n moan.

    We took a large step back to relevancy this season and that alone should be appluaded. Failure to continue this path should be met with the derision and contempt you most ably put voice to.

  • January 3, 2011  - Flyboy26 says:

    I hope that those of you who criticize those of us who point out the shortcomings of the Chiefs don’t raise your children without pointing out their shortcomings and suggesting the need for improvement and how to make improvement. That’s one of the basic problems of our country.

    You are certainly entitled to your opinions, but so are others who disagree with your line of thinking.

    Admittedly, the Chiefs’ staff probably does not listen to what we say, but it doesn’t mean that what we say doesn’t have merit. Most of us who visit the team related sites do so because we care, and attempt to point out the team’s flaws. We criticize where we feel it’s needed, and compliment when we feel it’s deserved.

  • January 3, 2011  - Petey says:

    No Flyboy, criticism is one thing, but beating the drum over and over about the same things don’t accomplish anything. I hope that those raising children also won’t do anything but pointing out shortcomings, because that doesn’t do any good either.

    Look, our team was good this year, and maybe, as it was pointed out by others that it was the perfect storm…we played in a weak division and got the play the NFC West. My argument to that would be that Oakland and San Diego both lost to teams in the NFC West and don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. So why not us? We have a lot of holes to fill and won’t get all that to happen in next years draft….I fully expect that we are going to take a step backwards next year, but my God, enjoy the ride this year. It’s been so nice in winning some games this year to not have the highlight of the football season be the draft. Live in the now, not tomorrow.

  • January 3, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Good points all. Ed, Justin and Petey I generally agree with you but those with opposing points add reasoned perspectivehave a right to their opinions too. El Cid (even if a glass half empty sort of guy) is a well informed, loyal follower with good insight. I tend to be a half full view guy as well and have been a fan through some pretty lean years going back quite a ways. I will agree with you El Cid in this regard. This is a flawed team but few in the league aren’t. They have had a good season but obviously have a lot to improve on and I don’t know if you all saw the schedule for next year but if you didn’t take a look at it. That should give a sobering perspective of what awaits us if we don’t make necessary growth. In the meantime listen to Petey and enjoy the here and now and let’s go Chiefs!

  • January 4, 2011  - Michael says:

    The Raiders game was a total failure, no doubt. Everything was wrong from player effort, to the schemes and playcalling and coaching. Just a total train wreck, and this team has a had a few of them this year. But, they have bounced back each time. Let’s hope they can do it again. Figuring out why these happened and fixing it, will have to be a top priority for 2011.

    I’m on the half-full, optimistic team, so no matter what happens I will be looking forward to next year with a good vibe. I think that’s what bothers el cid and others the most. They don’t want to hear optimism for next year; they just want to concentrate on this year and “push” the team keep going. As if being optimistic for next year somehow reduces the drive for doing everyting possible this year; like the team will let up if it has an optimistic thougth for the future. I want them to get to the Super Bowl this year, too, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be optimistic for next year and want to talk about it.

    And I don’t mind constructive criticism. In fact, I hope there’s plenty of it within the team itself, even more than from fans. It all good.

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