Column: This Boat Has Sprung A Leak

From Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan

In the more than three decades that I’ve covered the NFL, I don’t think I’ve seen a football team blow the effect of an appearance in the playoffs the year before like the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs.

They’ve gone from AFC West champion to AFC chump. Last week, we said they weren’t the worst team in the league, they just played like it. In week No. 2 against Detroit, they are the worst team in the league.

A team goes 0-2 and that happens in the NFL. Victories are hard to come by in this league and the Chiefs knew that the 2011 season was going to be a tough one. The schedule alone was evidence of that.

But what has happened over the last eight days is so unexpected, so jarring; it’s leaving a lot of people in the Chiefs locker room speechless.

“I don’t know what to say,” said veteran SS Jon McGraw. “It’s hard for me to have a big picture view. I just know things are not good. They aren’t good at all.”

No, they are bad. They are very bad, like six turnovers and eight penalties bad. Those turnovers and a roughing the punter call against the Chiefs that returned the ball to the Lions set up 41 of the 47 points.

The sad thing is that if none of those mistakes had happened, the Chiefs would still have come up short, 7-3.

What’s especially troublesome for Todd Haley, his staff and the locker room is the there’s more to this than simply stopping the turnovers. Even when the offense keeps the ball, it can’t sustain anything. They actually came out running the ball against the Lions to some success. Haley and offensive coordinator Bill Muir cooked up a game plan with a lot of misdirection plays that took advantage of the over enthusiastic Lions defense. It’s a problem Gunther Cunningham defenses have always had – they are so aggressive, they can be taken advantage of at times with end-around runs, traps, bootlegs and the like.

But once Jamaal Charles went down with his knee injury, and they fell behind 14-3, then 17-3, 20-3, 27-3, 34-3, 41-3 and 48-3. There’s not a lot of running that’s going to happen in those situations.

Over on the defense, they can’t stop anybody, especially the opposing quarterbacks. Last week, Ryan Fitzsimmons threw four touchdown passes. This week, Matt Stafford throws four touchdown passes. The Lions hit big play after big play in the passing game and here’s the kicker: Stafford wasn’t sacked. He was barely touched. One of the few times the Chiefs got a hand on him, he threw an interception.

Special teams aren’t helping either. Ryan Succop missed from 44 yards; he can’t be missing those types of kicks. He’s now 0 for 2 between the 40 and 49-yard lines. They got nothing on kick returns; as usual.

There are so many holes in this boat and there are not enough fingers to plug them all. So far at least, credit the locker room with saying all the right things about working harder to turn the season around.

But how can a team that already is one of the hardest working groups in the league, work harder?

“We do work hard,” said Dexter McCluster, who had his second fumble in two weeks. “We just have to do more. We have to solve the problems. The only people who can solve them are us.”

Ahead is a trip to San Diego, to face a 1-1 Chargers team. In the last seven years, the Chiefs have won in southern California just once. Without Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki, they are without three of their top players.

If they are going to solve their problems, the Chiefs – both players and coaches – had better hurry up.

Right now, they are the worst team in the NFL.

And by the way, I actually did see a team get less carryover from a season in the playoffs – it was the 1987 Chiefs. That was after they made the playoffs in 1986, losing in the first round to the Jets and head coach John Mackovic was fired 10 days after the team’s first post-season in 15 years.

15 Responses to “Column: This Boat Has Sprung A Leak”

  • September 18, 2011  - Dave71 says:

    Ed J- you seem hell bent on blaming ALL of our problems on Cassel, but there are more problems than that. I agree with you; Cassel is not the answer at QB- he is simply not a franchise qb & is not accurate enough. The coaches love him because he is very coachable, but it was pioli’s mistake to give him that huge contract before seeing what he had. We now have 3 major injuries, something we were lucky to avoid last year. No pass rush whatsoever. Our new big contract CB Flowers getting torched for TD’s now how many times in the last 2 games. I do think we need a franchise QB, though. No doubt.

  • September 18, 2011  - Kent says:

    we have a bad O line and a bad D line. that is the foundation for any team. they ignored these areas. some people have said that it was to save money. I don’t know but the fact is some one cannot pick talent for a football team. I don’t know if that is Pioli or Haley. We haven’t have had a good Defensive line for ever. We have two top 5 picks on there and neither is worth near the money they recieved. We are getting beat up and beat badly in the last three games. Casssel cannot throw the ball down field. Look at other quarterbacks around the league, they can throw the ball over fifty yards on a line. Cassel has to throw it like it is a hail mary pass just to get it thirty to forty yards which causes our receivers to slow down or fight with the defenders for the ball because they have so much time to get there. Our secondary is not that good and they are missing assignments because the other teams receivers are always open. We can’t put any pressure on the oppsing quarterbacks even with a blitz, we just get burned . If Clark Hunt was trying to save money, he may loose money because no one will be coming to the games. The product on the field sucks in all areas of the team. Someone weather it is Pioli or Haley cannot pick players that can play. The Chiefs are a horrible team I am very disappointed.

  • September 18, 2011  - ED J says:

    I’m not saying our team is perfect but it seems fans on this team forgot how having a good QB makes up for flaws on a team and they’re looking for this perfect team. Their isn’t one perfect roster in the NFL. We have good enough roster to compete with good teams in the NFL just not a good enough QB. You look around NFL see guys like Cam Newton and REx Grossman giving their teams a chance to win with less talent than we have its shows the importance of the position. I agree huge Mistake on Pioli giving up 2nd rd pick & 60 million.

    Im just challenging Chiefs fans to watch the games and not look at highlights and stats and say oh the defense sucks. I mean defense forced 5 straight punts in the 1st half offense couldn’t captilize. Run game got over 150 yards rushing. At some point you have look at QB and say he has to make a play that gives your team a chance to win. You can’t ask your defense to play 4 quarters on their side of the 50 yard line and keep high scoring team as it is from putting up touchdowns at some point they’re going to get beat.

  • September 18, 2011  - el cid says:

    I believe we are missing the bigger picture. All these injuries, terrible for players and fan, but what an excuse for a major failure by Hunt, Pioli, and Haley. Who would not want fairness for these three poor abused characters? They can write off their unpreparedness, poor planning, and lack of having a clue about the NFL all because of injuries.

    If we get a college QB with the nest draft, we are signing a death warrant for the Chiefs for the next 3 years while he “learns” how to play in the NFL. Forget Bradford, Stafford, or Sanches who started and have know some small success, that is not the Chiefs way. Then in 2014, Hunt can fire them and start over again. Ugly thought but very reasonable.

  • September 18, 2011  - ED J says:

    Secondly o-line isn’t as bad as some make it to be once again we ran for over 150 yards rushing. We got some good shots on Stafford early but at some point defense going to run out of gas being on the field all day. To people say what you want every team in the league revolve on the play of QB. Ask Cards last yr ask the Colts this season. And watch the Chiefs.

  • September 18, 2011  - ED J says:

    Second rookie QB are coming in making impact more than in years past. Look at matt ryan, Flacco, Stafford, Freeman, and even this season with Cam Newton. You can win with a rookie QB. This team is going to need upgrade that position this offseason. Whether its free agency or draft preferably the draft or see what you have in Stanzi. Mel Kiper was very high on this kid coming out. At some point if this keeps up I say put him on the field and lets see what he can do. Palko proved he’s definately not it he’s not even good enough backup.

    All I’m saying is people lets get real here. WE wanted to believe me included Cassel was the answer coming off 10-6 season but we didn’t look at the obvious which was he didn’t win us game he just didn’t lose us any. And in a league full of good and great QBs you need one that can win you games. That can carry your offense or when you play from behind can bring you back. I mean look at what home grown Kansas City star Josh Freeman is doing for the Bucs. Jus saying everyone will see difference in the team once QB position is upgraded.

  • September 18, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    ED J- I take it you are a bit down on Cassel?

    OKAY WE GET IT!!!!!

    Do you have anything else to add?

    Like: Weigmann being b*tchslapped 2 weeks in a row; Flowers being torched for 3 TD’s today; Richardson with another below average performance; McGraw and Piece O’ sh*tti playing like the worst safeties in Chiefs history; Tyson Jackson being well, Tyson Jackson; Aman Gordon not being anywhere near as effective as Shawn Smith was either on or off the field; no Moeaki as a threat; Berry out; a disastrous Pre-season plan by Haley;
    I could go on because I can actually focus on more than one player while watching a game.

    But hey Ed… we get it… you blame EVERYTHING on one player.

  • September 18, 2011  - ED J says:

    I’m jus saying if you leave defense on field all day what you expect. It all leads back to main position. I’m not down on Cassel I’m just stating facts. Offense not being able produce points early in the game is effecting how defense plays. I mean you force 5 straight punts against high powered offense you’re not going keep stopping them I don’t care if you got Steelers or Ravens defense.

  • September 18, 2011  - An Ugly Replay In Detroit For Chiefs : says:

    [...] COLUMN: This boat has sprung a leak. [...]

  • September 18, 2011  - traumaman says:

    Far be it from me to defend Cassel, but someone needs to point out that today’s nightmare began with Bowe dropping a pass the red zone that turned into an interception. Then on the next series, Urban does exactly the same thing to Cassel. I will grant everyone that Cassel doesn’t have the strongest arm, but expecting the poor guy to throw and catch is a little much.

    Face it, Pioli has blown it for the franchise by not building the lines and or drafting a franchise QB. Here we go KC, four more decades of making money at the expense of championships. Can’t we get a different franchise??? I’d like one that’s committed to winning for a change. Losing must run in this franchises family.

  • September 19, 2011  - tuan says:

    Amen traumaman, is hard to be kc fan right now and is doesn’t matter which sport, its sad

  • September 19, 2011  - ED J says:

    Uh how about the second pick was behind Urban and was too high. I must say McGraw worst safety in the league. Missed tackles, drops picks, and then when he hangs on to a pick he fumbles it away. Lewis looks lost out there. We’re going have to get some safety help upcoming draft. If we’re not at .500 by the bye its going to be time to see what Stanzi can do.

  • September 19, 2011  - Craig says:

    There are more problems than the obvious. This seems to be some sort of management issue to me. Something skinks and Im not sure where to begin but it begins in the planning and that is management.

    Ed J dont worry we wont be 4-4 at break, if we are 1-7 we will be lucky.

    Flowers in not planning that bad, the secondary needs to get used to playing without Berry. He was counted on to do alot of stuffand made everyone look better.

    We need a pass rush. T Jackson is not getting it done. It is time for Pioli to admit he mad a mistake and move on. The 3-4 will not work without a solid NT.

  • September 19, 2011  - RW says:

    Does ANYone need further evidence of this team’s earned status as the worst in the NFL? Anyone? Anyone? Okay, now that the cold hard light of reality has shown itself, it’s what to do and not who to blame because the blame could be pointed in any number of Hunt, Pioli, Haley, (Fill in your favorites here) directions.

    The first step in solving a problem is not denying that you have a problem and resolve to do something DIFFERENT than you’ve been doing in order to solve it. Clearly, the leadership of this franchise needs changing. Start there.

    Pioli is a failure. Haley is lost at sea without answers. Hunt has poor judgment. The fans have to have a new course laid out that makes sense and keeps their interest.

    What to do? If I were Hunt, I’d fire Pioli/Haley today, bring in a proven and savvy NFL man, turn over the keys to him, step back into the shadows and pledge to not interfere. Anything short of that and we’re back to that definition of insanity.

  • September 19, 2011  - brainsmasher says:

    Herm had a reason for going 2-14–he convinced Carl to get rid of all of the dead wood and go with young players. He and Carl paid for it with their jobs. I am not crying for Carl and Herm. You go 2-14 you get the axe.

    Pioli?Haley came here with a clean slate. They didn’t need to do a major overhaul–just add some more talent (Pioli’s job) and coach ‘em up (Haley’s job).

    I am on record as being against the Haley hire from the beginning; but he has gotten major production out of Dwayne Bowe, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali.

    Haley won me over last year; but then he ran off Charley Weiss. This is the second experienced coordinator that he has run off. Twice is a pattern. I like his out of the box ideas; but sometimes he goes too far; and it definitely backfired on him this season.

    The Chiefs have the most salary cap space of any team; but Clark Hunt is rewarding good players for great play.

    Clark Hunt (Moe Howard) begat Pioli (Curly Howard) who begat Haley (Larry Fine). You are what your record says you are. Right now the Chiefs are the worst team in the NFL. As bad as the Chiefs have been at certain times they have NEVER been the worst team in the league.

    Bottom line; I blame Clark Hunt and Pioli. You can’t fire the owner; but if I was the oner I would have fired Pioli the minute he went before the cameras and started talking about the Patriot’s way.

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