No Arrowhead Edge … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

Yes, they’ve now lost two of their best players. Yes, not a single part of their team performed at a winning level in the season opener.

But the Chiefs do have something going for them when they play Game No. 2 of the season this coming Sunday:

They will not be at Arrowhead Stadium.

Whatever home-field advantage the Chiefs built at the New Arrowhead during the 2010 season has been frittered away. After going 1-1 in the ’10 pre-season and then winning their first seven home games last year, the Chiefs have now lost five straight at Arrowhead, and three of those have been games that counted: to Oakland in the ‘ 10 regular season final, to Baltimore in the playoffs and then this past Sunday in the ’11 opener against Buffalo.

The Chiefs not only lost those three games that count at Arrowhead, they got blasted, losing 31-10, 30-7 and 41-7. They failed on offense and defense and special teams provided no extras to help overcome the deficiencies in the other areas.

Any one of those defeats, by what was an average of 26 points, could be forgiven. But two is troubling and three is a cause of concern. In those three games the Chiefs were:

  • Minus-78 in point differential.
  • Minus-174 in offensive yards differential.
  • Minus-61 in rushing yards differential.
  • Minus-113 in passing yards differential.
  • Minus-6 in turnover ratio.
  • Minus-3 in sack differential.

The Chiefs did not have a single runner or receiver that topped 87 yards and QB Matt Cassel did not top 120 yards in passing. No points, no yards, no production, no excellence – it all adds up to no victories.

In winning their first seven home games during the 2010 regular season, the average score of those games was 26.7 to 12.4 – a two-touchdown difference in favor of the Chiefs.

In these last three games, the average score has been 34-8, with the Chiefs at a nearly four touchdown per game disadvantage.

That leaves us wondering why? What’s the explanation for this remarkable reversal of fortune? If only the cause was as obvious as the outcomes. It can’t be blamed just on the offense, or just the defense. It can’t all be blamed on bad coaching decisions or player mistakes.

There’s evidence of multiple meltdowns on offense and defense. None of the three opponents they faced were among the best offenses in the NFL. None of the quarterbacks they faced was part of the game’s elite. None of the running backs or receivers would be part of anybody’s list of the league’s top 10 catchers. Certainly, Baltimore’s defense would rank among the NFL’s elite units. Not so much for the Raiders and Bills.

Start peeling away the football onion and it comes back to the core factor – not enough talent. It always returns to that central point in the game – the players on the field. The Chiefs just don’t have enough talented performers and they haven’t added enough in the three years under the rule of personnel maven GM Scott Pioli to legitimately advance the product up the NFL ladder.

So many of the key contributors for the Chiefs continue to be players left in the cupboard when Peterson/Edwards/Kuharich were shown the door. With Eric Berry now out and Jon McGraw apparently in as the starter at strong safety, that’s 10 of 22 starters that are holdovers. The last three years of drafts has produced just four starters: DE Tyson Jackson, OLB Justin Houston, FS Kendrick Lewis and RG Jon Asamoah. Make it five with rookie free agent ILB Jovan Belcher in the starting group.

Whatever talent there is on the roster must be put to use by the coaching staff. Todd Haley and his assistants have done a good job in putting many of their players into roles where they can make contributions, however small that might be.

But the margin for error is so slim, that any crisis of confidence, lack of focus or inability to deal with pressure, will make success that much harder to achieve.

Is it possible that the team that works so hard on conditioning simply ran out of gas at the end of last year, and were too tired from their training camp experience to be ready for the 2011 opener? Sounds like an excuse that doesn’t hold much water, but then it’s hard to produce any reasons it could not be a factor.

The answers will come not when the Chiefs return to Arrowhead in two weeks to host Minnesota. They will be visible over the next two Sundays in Detroit and San Diego. If they suddenly raise the level of their performance and find ways to win games against the Lions and Chargers, then the bad streak at Arrowhead can go down as just a major coincidence. If they drop these games, then the losing at home will be just part of a bigger picture of a team that has disintegrated from division champion to also-ran.

14 Responses to “No Arrowhead Edge … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 14, 2011  - Josh says:

    There’s a lot to be said for talent, but how many times have winning teams helmed by the likes of Parcells or Belichick played exceptionally well with utility personnel at key positions? Players come and go, but winning remains, and that’s primarily due to the desire of the overall organization to win, and to win consistently. What was shown on the field on Sunday was a single team prepared and eager to win. That team wasn’t the Chiefs. Is Buffalo chock full of talent? No, but they had no trouble dismissing KC. This team needs leadership, confidence, cohesion, consistency, and depth, not just of talented players, but depth of pride, depth of a decent playbook, and depth of recognition of the finer points of the game.

  • September 14, 2011  - RW says:

    The fish stinks from the head down.

  • September 14, 2011  - Chuck says:

    Lets just say if we win at Detroit there will be a ton of shocked people out there. When is the last time we actually won “at San Diego”??? Thats one place we “rarely” win.

  • September 14, 2011  - ED J says:

    I’m chalk last game up to lack of playing time in preseason by the starters. All this panick over whether we lost our home field advantage edge or season is lost is little too soon and over the top. Steeler got doors blown off. So did Giants and Falcons. All are good organizations and teams. We knew going in the lockout would effect some teams going in. Sorry to inform Chiefs fans it effected us. Bottom line we need to at least go into the bye 3-2. Its enough talent on this team once everyone gets a few games under their belt to still win this division. I mean Raiders look sloppy. Broncos are a dumpster fire with all the Tebow controversey and Chargers looked bad they just beat a team in Vikings who QB threw for only 36 yards. So all is not over as some may write or think.

  • September 14, 2011  - el cid says:

    I heard form Mellinger of the Star and he (not a dyed in the wool since the 60s fan or a “god how wonderful Pioli and Haley” fan) the team is going in the right direction. I, of course, think he may be as nuts as the mary sunshines found on the Chiefs home site. As for last sunday, he felt it was a case of the team not be prepared, sort of vague to me but he has better creditials than me.

    So bring on the Detroit Lions.

    ONE LAST TIME: Who is replacing Berry on the roster? Are these cheap sobs going to operate short a player sunday? Sorry but only the Hunt Chiefs would not have someone already studying the playbook to try to fit in, go to save that cash.

  • September 14, 2011  - rob vann says:

    The rest of the league has caught on to Pioli/Hunt’s Chiefs. This current crop of Chiefs are the equivalent of boys playing in a men’s league. Consistent winners have a GM that obtains the dominating personnel necessary up front to run the ball and stop the run, even if the opponent knows that’s what you intend to do. Pioli has drafted cute little skill players and made ridiculous draft reaches on lineman. As a result, the game plan has to be trickery versus the imposing of will on opponents. Obtaining personnel pieces like a Safety or WR with the first pick in the draft is a luxury that only already complete teams like New England or Pittsburgh can afford. Consistently winning franchises draft physically dominant players with the ability to impose their will on the opponent, not diminutive little skill players that fumble and get the snot knocked out of them when it counts. Pioli has been exposed. Without Belicheck to guide his personnel decisions, he has been proven utterly clueless about building a winner. Hopefully, Clark is a little quicker than his Dad at recognizing mistakes and fixing them so we don’t have to wait 40 more years for our Championship.

  • September 14, 2011  - el cid says:

    Chiefs brought back Langford to replace Berry. Bannon back to practice squad.

  • September 14, 2011  - jim says:

    Elcid, while I truly do understand your concern for not having backups ready to reload with, the same can be said for a number of teams around the league with various key positions, i.d. Colts. Doesn’t make it right, but it does happen. They had NOBODY in the wings, on the roster, or on PS ready to step in when/if Manning went down. Doesn’t make our situation easier to stomach, but unfortuantely it does hapen. I’m sure Colt fans are as disturbed as we are.

    IF, if Crennell is the genius that many think, he’ll find a way to do ok with what he has.

  • September 14, 2011  - James Braunwalder says:

    not enough talent, you’re right Bob

  • September 14, 2011  - el cid says:

    So many said Carl and his coaches ruined the team, a roster of garbage. Three years of Pioli and we have 10 of Carl’s garbage as starters and something like 16 still on the roster. Three drafts and 3 free agent periods and Pioli cannot replace (or choses not to replace) garbage. Yet, here we are saying “not enough talent, you’re right Bob”. Makes you think, what is going on?

  • September 14, 2011  - Carl says:

    Sure, there’s not enough talent. However, the players are essentially the same as last year, perhaps even with a few upgrades. There certainly isn’t a six touchdown difference in talent.

    The difference is in the coaches approach. Its the coaches job to get the most out of the players they have – getting them better prepared, using them in the best way given their pluses/minuses, preparing the best possible game plans given your opponents and what you have to work with, and creatively adapting the strategy and play calling as the game progresses.

    We definitely need better talent to realistically contend for a Super Bowl. However the talent we have is better than the last game’s result. The primary fault for that game lies with the coaches.

  • September 14, 2011  - leonard says:

    Whoa. It’s wah,wah,wah again. First, it is obvious as Hell that the lockout hurt this team. Haley’s approach deals with a year long process of conditioning, OTA’s etc. That did not happen due to the Lockout. Then factor in the rediculous practice rules, and you can see where this is heading. I think we will see a much better effort
    this Sunday. I look forward to a win this Sunday, and you can bet this team was embarassed, and will play much better.

  • September 14, 2011  - Niblick says:

    A team hving 10 starters from the previous regime in the 3rd year is not unuusual. I only researched the Chiefs, and in 1991, Carl’s 3rd year, there were still 10 starters from the Schaff/Steadman regimes. In my opinion, as Carl stated, the difference is coaching. Marty is probably a HOF coach who knew how to get the most out of his players. Peterson gets an ‘A’ on selecting a coach and an ”A on his first draft choice DT. Pioli gets a ‘D’ on the coach and a ‘D-on Jackson, in my opinion. I am still hoping the Chiefs can at least be competive this year. Unless they get to 7 wins, I think Pioli will probaly fire Haley. I always have felt he was a mistake.

  • September 14, 2011  - Craig says:

    Good comments all. Everyone is forgetting about Weiss leaving. Once that decision was made the offense started to sputter.It seems to me he was the key ingredient. He seemed to have a very positive influence on cassel.

    Also what about losing a Pro Bowl Guard, Brian Waters. He could still help out and even play RT if needed. I think Hunt got rid of Waters cause he was the player rep. I am not a union guy, but my father was, and management likes to get rid of those “trouble makers”. If this is the case, then that would have a very demoralizing effect on the team.

    I think it is more complicated than just a few talented players, because we got some good young talent.

    Go Chiefs!!

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