I Was Wrong … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

This is a tough one to write, but it’s necessary.

I was wrong about the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs. After watching the team work through the off-season and then training camp, I pegged them as a 6-10 team, 8-8 at their ultimate best. There was no way it was a season where the Chiefs would win a division championship or slip into the playoffs. The roster had too many holes and QB Matt Cassel was still too iffy.

But here we are in the first week of January and the Chiefs are still playing. They finished the season with a 10-6 record. They won the AFC West and they host a first-round game in the playoffs this coming Sunday against Baltimore.

And even if their trip to the post-season ends this Sunday, it’s been a remarkably successful season for the franchise.

They were able to overcome what I felt back in the summer was their greatest deficiency – a lack of talent. Now, 16 games later, I still think the ’10 Chiefs have a shallow pool of players it can rely on to get things done. They are most definitely overachievers and any post-season success they have will be icing on the cake.

So what happened that made my prediction so wrong? There are four major reasons in my mind the Chiefs were successful this year:

  1. They stayed relatively healthy, losing not a single starter for the season, or even half the season.
  2. A weak schedule that included four games against the awful NFC West (4-0) and games against struggling AFC teams Buffalo and Cleveland (2-0).
  3. Coaching staff additions in Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Emmitt Thomas and Mike Clark that gave the Chiefs a veteran group that had been through the football wars. That’s especially true with Crennel, as the defense has made the biggest strides from the ’09 to ’10 season.
  4. Development of holdover players from the Peterson/Edwards/Kuharich regime that have driven the success on offense and defense.


The NFL is in the collision business, despite the league’s attempts in this season to reign in some of the harder and tougher hits. Players are always hurt, and sometimes they get injured. The Chiefs have had a host of players hurt this year. But the injuries have been few and far between. Not a single starter has ended up on the injured-reserve list. With 22 starters over 16 games, that’s 352 starting assignments.

The Chiefs lost 13 games to injuries out of that 352 starts; that’s less than four percent of the starts lost because of injury. That’s an incredible number, almost hard to believe. Even if the five games missed by WR/RB Dexter McCluster are added and the five games lost by T Ryan O’Callaghan, and the four games where FS Jon McGraw didn’t play, and that still sits at less than 30 games lost.

Credit for that goes to the players, who were nearly perfect in their attendance at the team’s off-season conditioning program. New strength coach Mike Clark put together a program that worked well with the goals established by Haley. Heaven knows the training staff probably pulled off a few miracles during the season to get guys back on the field.

Don’t expect this to be a regular occurrence for the Chiefs. They’ve had a little bit of luck.


Part of the NFL’s plan for parity that’s ruled the league for many decades now is that the worst teams from the season before get the highest draft choices. They also get to go first when claiming players off the waiver wire.

And the schedule is set up so they face similar teams when it comes to victories and spots in the standings. By finished in fourth place in the ’09 season with a 4-12 record, the Chiefs got the last place schedule. There are just two opponents different in the schedule of the four AFC West teams. Everybody had each other for a total of six games, and the NFC West and AFC South for four games. The Chiefs got Cleveland and Buffalo (9-23 on the season). The Chargers faced New England and Cincinnati (18-14). The Broncos played Baltimore and the N.Y. Jets (23-9), with the Raiders facing Pittsburgh and Miami (19-13).

The Chiefs got four games against the worst division in the league – the NFC West finished a collective 25-39. They also got four games against the worst division in the AFC – that was the South with a 30-34 record.

The Chiefs are the only division winner, and only team in the playoffs with a losing record in their division. In fact, the other 11 teams in the playoffs averaged a 4-2 record in their division. The Chiefs were 2-4.

By the time the season was over, the Chiefs played two games against teams that made the playoffs – Indianapolis (lost) and Seattle (won). They played only three games against teams that finished with a winning record (Indianapolis and twice against San Diego). Combined, their 13 opponents were 85-123, a .409 winning percentage.

We already know the Chiefs opponents for next year and they had a combined record of 112-96, or a .538 winning percentage. Those 13 opponents include six teams that are in the playoffs: Pittsburgh, New England, New York Jets, Indianapolis, Chicago and Green Bay.


Crennel, Weis and Thomas did a terrific job of pulling together game plans all season, especially the first two and especially Crennel. The starting defense added just two new faces to the starting lineup from 2009 to 2010 – rookie safeties Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis. Nickel back Javier Arenas was in the equation as well.

For the most part using the parts and pieces that he inherited, Crennel helped put together the best overall defensive season the Chiefs have had in the last five years. They finished No. 14 in yards allowed, giving up 330.2 yards per game. The season before under Clancy Pendergast the defense finished No. 30 and allowed 388.2 yards per game. The year before in ’08 with Gunther Cunningham as defensive coordinator, the defense finished No. 31, allowing 393.2 yards per game. That’s a 63-yard difference from ’08 to ’10.

The defense was No. 14 against the run and No. 17 in passing yards allowed. Both were among the highest rankings in those areas in the last five years for the Chiefs.

On offense, the Chiefs finished No. 12 overall at 349.7 yards per game. They led the league in rushing at 164.2 yards per and finished No. 30 at an average of 185.5 yards. The average yardage per game was the highest since ’05, the rushing yards per game was the highest average for the Chiefs since 1981 when they averaged 164.6 yards per game.

The ’10 offense scored 40 touchdowns, most by that side of the ball since 2005 when they scored 43 TDs.


The bulk of the key contributors on this team were drafted by Peterson/Edwards/Kuharich and that fact can’t be ignored. The leading rusher, leading receiver, leading sacker and leading tackler all arrived before 2009. In all, six starters on defense and six or seven on offense, depending on whether Mike Cox is starting at fullback, were in the building when Pioli/Haley walked in the door.

Same with contributors like DE Wallace Gilberry and OLB Andy Studebaker, who sometimes are mistakenly credited to the new regime. They arrived during the 2008 season.

The cupboard was not bare. Where Haley and his coaching staff deserve credit is getting several players to play the best seasons of their careers – Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Brandon Carr.

Those four factors combined to create a division champion and an improvement in the victory column of six games. There’s no way I thought that was possible in the 2010 season.

But credit must go where it is deserved, with the players and coaches of the ’10 Chiefs. They were better than anyone could have reasonably expected.

I was wrong.


  • BENGALS – signed head coach Marvin Lewis to a two-year contract extension.
  • BILLS – signed reserve futures contracts with OLB Jammie Kirlew and OT Jason Watkins.
  • BRONCOS – signed reserve futures contracts with RBs Jeremiah Johnson, RB Brandon Minor, WR Eron Riley, DE Mitch Unrein, LB Dominic Douglas and S Nick Polk.
  • BUCCANEERS – signed WR Ed Gant, OL John Malecki, OL Marc Dile, FB Redrick Taylor, DE E.J. Wilson, S Vince Anderson, LB Simoni Lawrence and LB J.D. Folsom.
  • CARDINALS – signed reserve futures contracts with RB Alfonso Smith, WR Isaiah Williams, LB Brandon Sharpe, LB Pago Togafau, DE Jeremy Navarre, OT Cliff Louis and G Tom Pestock.
  • 49ERS – hired Trent Balke as their new general manager; signed reserve futures contracts with RB Xavier Omon, WR Lance Long, WR Kevin Jurovich, K Fabrizio Scaccia and OL Nick Howell.
  • PACKERS – signed ILB Desmond Bishop to a 4-year, $19 million extension through the 2014 season.
  • PATRIOTS – signed DL Atiyyah Ellison, last with Chiefs for one week; activated ILB Brandon Spikes from the reserve/suspended list.
  • RAIDERS – will not pick up option on 2011 for head coach Tom Cable.
  • RAMS – signed reserve futures contracts with RB Chauncey Washington, WR Joe West, WR Greg Mathews, OL Ryan McKee, OL Drew Miller, DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, LB Maurice Simpkins, QB Thaddeus Lewis and CB Marquis Johnson.
  • REDSKINS – signed reserve futures contracts RB Shawnbrey McNeal, WR Taurus Johnson, WR Maurice Price, OT Selvish Capers, OL Xavier Fulton and DT Rashaad Duncan.
  • SAINTS – placed RB Chris Ivory on the injured-reserve list (foot)
  • SEAHAWKS- placed TE Chris Baker (hip. RB Chris Henry (leg) and G Chester Pitts (concussion) on the injured-reserve list.
  • TEXANS – signed reserve futures contracts with WR Paul Williams, RB Chris Ogbonnaya, C Cody Wallace, OT Cole Pemberton and S Antonio Baker.
  • TITANS – signed S Myron Rolle, RB Herb Donaldson, G Ryan Durand, OT Jeff Hansen, DL Pannel Egboh and TE Riar Geer.

18 Responses to “I Was Wrong … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • January 5, 2011  - bhive01 says:

    Right there with you Bob. I wish the weak schedule wasn’t true, considering next year we won’t be so lucky to play such weak teams. I guess we’ll just have to get better as a team and beat those top tier teams. I don’t know about you, but I suggest we start doing that this weekend.

  • January 5, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    Great column! Pioli and Haley also put an emphasis on locker room leadership and that started with Vrabel and Cassle. Thomas Jones, Casey Weigman, Ryan Lilja, the drafting of team captains…there was a plan that put a premium on developing talent here and bringing in talent that was coachable. The Chiefs got more out of their talent because that’s what they do, that’s part of the plan— a very well thought out plan. That helped lead to better off-season conditioning attendance, more film study, etc…

    The Chiefs desperately need more talent going forward if their collective arrows are to continue to point upward. They got the players to buy in, now they just need better players.

  • January 5, 2011  - Chuck says:

    BOB; Do you have any “feel” for who the Chiefs might give to Offensive Coordinator job to??? Also thru out the season I was very “unimpressed” with Mike Cox and Tim Castille, do you think that would be a position to upgrade in the offseason???

  • January 5, 2011  - Rick says:

    Bob, What do you expect of course they developed the left over talent. I credit Haley and coaches for getting the most out of the talent they have. If we had a different coach in two years we could say he developed this years rookie class. I for one am glad Peterson and Edwards are gone. Peterson did a good job when he was here but really after Marty left how many consistent years did we have? I would like to give them credit like you but I just can’t.

  • January 5, 2011  - RW says:

    Count me in as well in being wrong about the chances for this 2010 Chiefs team. After it’s all over but the crying, you have to go with an overachieving team short on talent than the opposite to that (SD comes to mind).

  • January 5, 2011  - aPauled says:

    “The starting defense added just two new faces to the starting lineup from 2009 to 2010…”

    Plus Derrick Johnson, Jovan Belcher and Shaun Smith for 5 new starters on D. This was actually a pretty major overhaul…at least in the opening line-up.

  • January 5, 2011  - Justin says:

    Bob, enough with the weak schedule. Everyone in our division played the same other divisions and the 2 other contenders could not win against them or they’d be in post season and not us. They lost to Jacksonville and Seattle and St Louis – all victories for us.

    Buffalo and Cleveland were no easy wins either. One of them gave the Pats one of their 2 losses and the other hung 30 on them and 31 on our next opponent.

    I am not saying we are world beaters – far from it. But discounting the the quality of opponent as a weak schedule is short sighted.

    As you said, we clearly need to continue on the path of developing and acquiring more talent in many areas as well as continue with the “coach’em up” factor.

  • January 5, 2011  - jim says:

    aPauled, I think what Bob was saying is that all but Lewis and Berry were already “in-house”, just not necessarily starters.

    Also, early in the process, Haley put an emphasis on ‘being available’, which I equate to playing thru pain when you’re hurt. Injured is another thing, but playing thru pain is equal to the mental toughness he demands of his players. Cudo’s to the staff, especially Haley, for giving the direction and stability needed to get to Sundays playoff game.

    Unless, of cource, you’re Jason Fatlock and only YOU understand that Coach Haley is so terrible, inept and difficult to work with/for. What a jerk!!!!! Compare the two equally in their respective jobs and Whitlock could’t carry Haley’s sweaty, smelly jock strap.

  • January 5, 2011  - Chris says:

    So I have a question regarding all these future contracts. Granted they can do them now because all of those teams seasons are over…but can teams in the playoffs still sign them if they want? Or does it lock them to that team?

  • January 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    If I could have written a article, it would have been one like this. Lots of crow to go all around. I would have had to add, I thought Weis did a less than good job, what do I know? As the regular season ends and the playoff season starts, I still want to hold my final congratulations to those who knew more and did more with less. Got to say good job to those who before the season started were talking 10-6 and playoffs. How they figured it out is a mystery to me. “Good job, folks”

    Got to say, Bob, ESPN, and NFL Channel all say “it turned out to be a weak schedule for the Chiefs”, Justin. That takes nothing away from what the Chiefs achieved, they did what they had to do but if you think schedule means nothing just wait til we play the NFC North, GB, Vikes, Chicago, etc. They play at a different level than StL or Sea.

  • January 5, 2011  - Gerardo says:

    Ok, weak teams perhaps but winning consistently to weak teams is the key, in the NFL any team can beat any other team no matter what, KC beat the Steelers in Pittburgh last year isn’t it?. So weak schedule or not is not a given win.

  • January 5, 2011  - Justin says:

    Cid, First of all I never said it meant nothing but it does not mean everything either. I live in Chicago and see the NFC north play. I go to games when I do not travel to KC for Chiefs games. The teams I saw play at a “different level” still got thumped by “weaker” teams and thumped some “stronger” teams.

    Like I said before: football is like investing past performance is no guarantee of future return. If we do not continue to improve we will lose – if NFC north teams do not continue to improve they will lose.

    Look at their schedules: Bears barely beat the Lions (bad call?) Got killed by the Giants and lost to Seattle (at home) then killed the Eagles. We killed seattle in their house… kinda changes things.

    Quoting the pundits makes little difference if you want to follow the herd mentality -

  • January 5, 2011  - Edward says:

    Let me pound my chest and pat myself on the back because I looked at the schedule and predicted 9-10 wins and a Chargers collapse. I say it before and I’ll say it again Chargers got by under Norv Turner being in a division where all 3 teams were rebuilding. Raiders will fall back to 5 to 6 win seasons next yr and Broncos unless they get Harbaugh and a new QB if they go into next yr with Tebow another 4 or 5 win season. Chargers door has slammed shut for them to become Super Bowl team. Chiefs are on the rise need another good draft and some more free agent aquisitions this is a Juggernaut in the making.

  • January 5, 2011  - Tim says:

    I too felt 7-9 or 8-8 was about right from this team. They definitely exceeded expectations! Kudos to all involved. Our schedule will be much more difficult next year, but we have another year to acquire more talent & our rookies have a lot of experience now… Bring it on!

  • January 5, 2011  - Michael says:

    I figured the Chiefs for 7 to 9 wins this season; so not far off. Basically, I was thinking and hoping they would become a good, respectable team that’s not easy to beat. For the most part, they have come through. And that’s a huge accomplishment coming from where they were. I really didn’t understand why so many fans, including Bob, completely discounted the possibility of improvement from within. Good teams have to do that, as the Chiefs must always continue to do it.

    I’m hoping the huge letdowns against Denver, SD and Oakland were due to youth and inexperience, and just plain poor coaching and scheming from the coaching staff. Hey, the coaches and players were still relatively new to each other, and sometimes things simply don’t go the way you thought they would. I’m not too mad about that because I believe those episodes will become fewer as this team keeps moving forward.

    I’m still a little irked by the free agent signings that the Chiefs didn’t do this year; not real big names but solid gus who were available, but they got to 10 wins without them. I think they have to bring in two or three next year, along with a good draft and more improvement from within to stay in the 10 to 11 win group. We’ll see; KC’s leadership group clearly has a plan it believes in, and they’ve proven to be right more than wrong so far.

  • January 6, 2011  - BigJimInWisconsin says:

    It takes a big guy to admit he’s wrong, and Bob, you’re a BIG guy! I’m the other extreme at the Big & TALL store.

    I will admit that I was wrong in predicting (hoping) for 8-8 this season. I am very impressed with our club and I know there is more work to do.

    The Chiefs took advantage of the opportunites given them with a “weaker” schedule. That did not happen in the last 3 years. The AFC West all played the NFC West and only the Chiefs went 4-0.

    I agree with Bob’s breakdown above. The local football team here got hit badly with injuries and “limped” into the playoffs.

    Go CHIEFS!

  • January 7, 2011  - Nate says:

    BOB i AM DISGUSTED WITH YOUR BIAS! You want to give credit to your old cronies when the
    credit belongs to the Pioli regime! Derrick Johnson and Dwane Bowe were horrible under achievers who would never have performed this good if not for the tough coaching of Todd Haley. Matt Cassels improved play and leadership belong solely to Pioli, Haley and Weiss. All of these things plus the best draft class in the league this year are the reason the chiefs are better.
    I did predict 10-6 for the team this year in writing on your site. I started watching pro football in the mid 50′s – Ollie Matson and the Chicago Cardinals and moved to the Chiefs in the early 60″s been at it ever since.
    I know football and you do too. The difference is you let your emotions get between you and the truth you seek in writing. I predicted 10-6 because I saw the building blocks being put in place with the coaches. I saw the great additions in the draft. I knew that Cassel would develop in his second year because I believe in Scott Pioli!
    Peterson was like Marty Schotthiemer – Just good enough to break your heart! He got rich and Chiefs fans got left every year with broken hearts! Good by and good riddance to Peterson. I’m sorry Scott Pioli doesn’t treat you well like Carl did but if you want to do your best for your subscribers then get over it. Carl included you in his group – Piloli does not. Thats hard for you personally to accept. Your human like the rest of us. But please quit letting your emotions get between you and the truth you seek in your journalism!

  • January 8, 2011  - Jonathan says:

    Bob at least you admitted that you were wrong unlike Whitlock however I have some advice for the two of you i.e. LET IT GO!!!! Both of you are upset with the current Chiefs’ regime and how they operate. If it produces championships and nobody is doing nothing wrong then accept it. Granted the 2008 class was due to Peterson/Edwards but Pioli/Haley coached it up and added some parts. Sure Hali and DJ came before Pioli/Haley but they were not playing up to their potential and you have ripped DJ on occasion. Even Herm didn’t know how good Charles would be. Like Nate said stop letting your biases get in the way of your work.

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