It’s The Same Sad Story … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

Romeo Crennel knew it was impossible. He’s been coaching way too long to believe in Santa Claus, elves and fairy tales.

After spending Christmas Day with family, Romeo was whimsically hoping that when he came to work on Monday morning and turned on the tape of the Christmas Eve loss to the Raiders, that there would be something different on his screen. He walked away from the 16-13 overtime loss on Saturday afternoon with a pretty good idea of why the Chiefs were beaten.

And there it was again on tape, unchanged over 48 hours. All the mistakes, all the failed opportunities, all the problems that brought an end to the Chiefs hopes of repeating as champions of the AFC West and going to the playoffs again.

It was unchanged, just like the previous eight defeats suffered by the 2011 Chiefs. Here was Crennel’s analysis when he spoke with the media:

“We did some good things. The fact we were able to come back and tie the game and have a chance to win at the end, all of that showed some character. All of that was good, but the fact we didn’t win it, that was bad. As you look at it, when you open the game with a 91-yard kick return, that’s not a good sign. Offensively, when you’re in the red zone and only can get something done once, that’s not a good sign. Defensively, when you let them throw the ball over your head two times that led to 10 points, that wasn’t a good sign.

“All of that is hard to overcome when you’re in the game like we were in on Saturday. It was a tight game and you could see that it was going back and forth a little bit – not a lot of points were being scored – so any score applies a little bit more pressure to your thinking and guys feeling like they have to make plays sometimes, which gets them out of position and out of character. As much as I wanted to see something different, I didn’t see anything different.”

That was Crennel’s description of the loss to Oakland. It could have easily been Todd Haley talking about all the other losses. There is a common theme to what has happened to this team in the 2011 season, and Crennel touched on it with his first defeat in red and gold.

The 2011 Chiefs try hard. They work hard, they don’t give up, and they play like there’s something on the line each and every game. They’ve played that way for 15 games now and its one part of the package that hasn’t changed. Through the leadership within the team and the direction of Haley, they’ve showed strength of character that teams with losing records don’t usually display.

They’ve got the “want too”. They just don’t have the tools to get it done. That could be a matter of talent, or lack of same. It could be a situation where coaching is not getting the job done. There’s a very good chance that too many of the players are trying too hard and that does nothing but make it more difficult for everyone to do their jobs.

We’ve hammered away on the issue of talent all season, going back to the first days of training camp. GM Scott Pioli dropped the ball in putting together the roster for this team. He has become so caught up over three years with this concept of “culture” that too many talented players have been missed, forgotten or never considered.

Here are but two examples – the second leading sacker in the NFL this year is DE Jason Babin. He was on the roster that Pioli inherited, about to become a free agent. There was no attempt by the Chiefs to re-sign Babin and there were not a lot of teams knocking on his door, so it would have been a deal he readily accepted.

Watching the Monday night game between the Saints and Falcons there was another guy, doing a heck of a job for New Orleans, where he’s started 11 of 15 games this year for head coach Sean Payton. That would be Brian De La Puente, who spent time with the Chiefs and was in training camp in 2009. He never really got much of a chance to show himself there and he was released in August. Today, he’s getting ready to start with a tough New Orleans teams in the playoffs.

But it’s not just the talent. Some of the coaching must be called into question here, because there are too many mistakes being made again and again. Players are either not talented enough to do things the correct way, or the coaching isn’t working with them to make things right.

Here’s just one example that came against the Raiders. As typically happens, Oakland’s penchant for penalties dragged the Chiefs into the gutter as well; that’s not a good sign for the players or coaches. Late in the first half, QB Kyle Orton was hit with an intentional grounding call that was appropriate, despite the quarterback’s complaints. The Chiefs called a timeout there.

They got back on the field and as the play clock wound down, the Chiefs were not ready to get off a play. Orton tried to call a timeout, but that’s not something allowed under the rules, so the Chiefs ended up getting flagged for delay of game. When they finally got out of the huddle in decent time, the snap was stopped when RT Barry Richardson was penalized for a false start.

They started 2nd-and-10 at the Oakland 23. They finished after the penalties 3rd-and-31 at the Oakland 44. That’s simply dumb football and that doesn’t just fall on players; the coaches have a share of that as well.

Crennel agrees.

“Yeah, exactly, and that’s where coaching has to rectify some of that,” he said. “Making guys understand the discipline needed at their position. Not to run from the back side to the front side and let the guy get out the back door on the kickoff return, being able to take the right steps on my block so that the guy doesn’t get across my face and affect the run that we have going on, not to force the ball in when they’ve got the guy covered, not to let them throw the ball over our head in the situation where I’m supposed to be a deep-field defender.

“Those things, as coaches, we have to do a better job of.”

It keeps comes back to this for a team that keeps shooting itself in the foot with mistakes – either the players don’t know what to do, or they can’t physically do what they are being asked to do.

No matter how it gets rectified, there are two major areas of where improvement must be made for this franchise moving forward – better players and coaches.

And that falls into the hands of Scott Pioli.

20 Responses to “It’s The Same Sad Story … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • December 27, 2011  - Milkman says:

    Good article, Bob. While watching the game last night, I saw yet another familiar name on the Falcons starting offense. How many years did the Chiefs try to develop Will Svitek into an offensive lineman? They even sent him to play in Europe to get more experience. I remember hearing Tim Grunhard commenting once what a great prospect he was. So the Chiefs give up on him and now he is starting on a legitimate playoff contender. At left tackle, the most important position on the line. And he was a low draft choice. So many of these misses on personnel is part of what keeps this team from moving forward. I hope Clark Hunt has a watchful eye on Mr. Pioli and his decisions with a finger not far from the trigger.

  • December 27, 2011  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Good take Bob. I’m glad we watched the same game and I guess we’ll see in another long off-season what type of decisions he makes. Hopefully the injured players will return strong and we’ll have a great draft and pick up the best free agents available and doves will fly over Arrowhead as a new day dawns. Call me cynical but one thing that seems clear is this. Pioli may have purchased a pass this time with Haley’s firing but if the same flaws you point out continue to plague the Chiefs going forward security will be escorting him out with the next fired coach. At that point Clark Hunt will be anointing the next club savior and expressing his lack of patience with mediocrity and concern about establishing consistency and a winning franchise.

  • December 27, 2011  - Chuck says:

    This team really missed Eric Berry. Thats one thing that is really apparent. Throw Charles and Moecki in there and we are a different team completely. We are just missing too many key pieces.

  • December 27, 2011  - ED J says:

    Its mix bag. We do need get more players no question. But some of it falls on coaching. We need a more accomplished offensive coordinator. Plays getting on time, back to back timeouts seen Cassel do that, and then don’t get me started on special teams coach. Guys using bad techniques to block punts. NOt making adjustments to block field goals. Seriously need shake this coaching staff up in offseason even if Crennel is back. We need go guy more talent coaches at those key positions. In offseason must fix oline, depth tight end, and safety. Sick of seeing Pope get holding penalties. Same with Barry if he isn’t getting blocked he’s getting false start and holding penalties.

  • December 27, 2011  - Denverchief says:

    Bob, for a midweek article could you update all of us on the status of our injured stars. How are they coming along? Working out yet? Do they expect to be ready for camp? How sure are the doctors on their recovery’s or do we need to look for a replacement? Just being out of town we don’t get all the radio talk & the like & would like to hear something as we start looking to next year.

  • December 27, 2011  - Blake says:

    Bob, I liked Babin when he was here, I think I was one of the few that wanted him back, but the reason that he wasn’t resigned was because he couldn’t play in a 3-4 defense. He tried in Houston and he just didn’t fit. Maybe they did just overlook him, at that time he wasn’t a MUST to get resigned and like you said all the other teams had a shot at him and missed out too. So it wasn’t like the Chiefs were the only one that overlooked him…

    The penalties scare me, that is probable the biggest thing that pops up, in these last two games under Romeo, it seems like the penalties have gone out of control and I don’t want to see that in the future if RAC is hired full time.

  • December 27, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    I think Bob hit it with “Oakland’s penchat for penalties dragged the Chiefs into the gutter as well”. They didn’t play smart and they didn’t coach smart. Six days after the Green Bay game.Sucks. Only saving grace was Saturday was a really nice day in KC. Didn’t even need a coat on last home game.

  • December 27, 2011  - napahank says:

    What is “wrong” with teams, including KC, has been diagnosed too simplisticly. I watch (and re-watch) about 20 teams play each week and there is really not THAT big a difference in overall talent.

    When it comes to talent, the difference is in a few playmakers with extra ordinary talent. Face it, there are only a few outstanding QB’s, RB’s, WR’s and throw in pass rushers and there are 32 teams.

    Now when you add in coaching ability, scheme, injuries, depth, chemistry, discipline, conditioning, effort,continuity of coaches, continuity of players, schedule (playing a team on the rise or in decline), officiating (huge difference between some officiating crews), and just more good luck than bad luck you have the ability to turn ANY game from a loss to a win or vise-versa.

    Granted the better a team handles the factors they can control the better shot they have of a victory. But the saying “any given Sunday…” still holds true.

  • December 27, 2011  - el cid says:

    Bob, i am starting my Pioli watch for the new HC. When does free agency start? I figure we will lose Orton no matter what but if we do not have a HC in place with time to sit down and think about what he considers mandatory, Pioli could skip Free Agency for the third year running. Anyone know the date?

    We win aa a team and lose as a team. Right now, today, the Chiefs are not very good as a team. I would suggest our injured might have made a difference but anyone considering Cassel a candidate for the HOF, Moeaki having a entire season un-injured. Charles and Berry will make a difference but the OL, if it remains the same, would not block any better for Charles than for Battle or would the front 7 rush the passer better with Berry in there.

  • December 27, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Bob, good article. I’ll ask again, can you find out who pulled the trigger on cutting Gaither? Did Haley have the power to cut a player w/o Pioli’s approval?

    My guess is Clark/Pioli will keep Romeo as HC; keep the defensive staff; hire McDaniels as OC and new offensive staff. AND they better hire a real Special teams coach. Remember, I said “my guess.”

    One thing we can all agree on is fixing the O-line.

  • December 27, 2011  - ED J says:

    El cid i agree with oline blocking better with Charles back there but I must say a back like Charles makes oline looks good. Remember 2009 season. We complained about how bad line was in 2008 and in 2009 until Charles took over halfway through the season and reeled off 1100 yards that season.

  • December 27, 2011  - el cid says:

    Cy, I doubt the team can fix the OL and acquire an elite QB in the same off season. I agree with the need on the OL but would mean Cassel and Stanzi would be the QBs for next year, something I do not relish. Also it means the HC would want to go the Haley style of offense, again I do not relish the zone blocking, light weight mobile OL, especially if we cannot punch it in from inside the 10 yard line. But we need to fix the OL.

    Then what happens if the HC does not buy into the Pioli NE way. Doubt we hire anyone so independant but hope springs. No way does Norv come here and play the NE way game.

  • December 27, 2011  - cychief24 says:

    Just wondering what elite QB you all think is available?
    Please don’t say any college QB is “elite.”
    Do you remember Ryan Leaf?

  • December 27, 2011  - Merwin says:

    Congratulations to Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson for getting voted to the pro bowl. You both played well and hard and deserve the recognition. Good job.

  • December 27, 2011  - aPauled says:

    Brian De La Puente was out of the league for 2 years before making it with the Saints. Hard to say what’s happened over those 2 years as he developed into a player and the bash the Chiefs for it.

    The Hate Orton and Love Cassel tune is getting a bit old too. On the grounding call, McCluster was cutting to the middle and slipped, otherwise, he would have been in the area of the throw away. It’s not like Cassel never had an intentional grounding call. I don’t even recall any negative comments when the annointed one, Cassel, tried calling 2 time outs in a row. Something that a 7 year veteran with $60M in his pocket might want to know….but we all have to give him a pass…because he’s our 29 year old development project.

  • December 28, 2011  - Jonathan Fortune says:

    Hopefully the Chiefs can hire a HC soon along with a new OC. I think the lockout affected the Chiefs more than some teams because it didn’t give the players and coaches enough time to work with each other. A full offseason should help Stanzi, Powe and some of the other players.

    Also, Pioli knows that this offseason will determine his future with the Chiefs. Clark has said that he is not as patient as his father and has no long standing relationship with Pioli as Lamar had with Steadman. The lines on both offense and defense need to be upgraded as the Chiefs will face the AFC North and NFC South which focus physical teams and top notch QBs. Also, if none of the top notch QBs (RG III and Jones) decide to come out this year then resigning Orton must be an option to compete with Cassell. Hopefully, a healthy Charles, Berry, and Moeaki can help the Chiefs reclaim the AFC West and possibly even more.

  • December 28, 2011  - el cid says:

    Cy, not sure your point on Leaf, are you saying you want to run the wildcat, dump all the receivers and run to the superbowl. Sure there are Leafs but the Chiefs stay away from ANY QB like they have the plague.

    Not sure, who the next Elite QB should be but I am pretty sure Cassel is not one. Orton is a free agent and should run, don’t walk from Pioli. Stanzi may be a guy but it will take 3 more years to know. That satisfy you?

  • December 28, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Hunt family may have a good reason to be afraid of drafting a QB. Remember the draft where Chiefs picked first QB and it was Todd Blackledge. After that four Hall of Famers QB’s and a couple of Superbowl winners were drafted. But little Clark needs to face his fear and go get a first rounder.

  • December 28, 2011  - el cid says:

    When I was about 7, I burnt my finger on a steak plate that was hot off some grill. But at 65, I still eat steak, with mushrooms. The Hunts have not been to the superbowl in how many years?, won a playoff game in how many years?, put loser after loser on the field – because of Blackledge?? We, as fans, cannot keep making excuses for this bunch of millionaires. The Chiefs are crap because we accept it, and the Hunts keep feeding us more every year – currently “work in progress” or “right 52″ or there were no free agents worth it.

  • December 29, 2011  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Yep. Sucks, doesn’t it.

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