Sunday, September 14, 2008

KC Chiefs Rebuilding or Sinking the Franchise?

During the off-season I watched the Chiefs dismantle a geriatric team that finished 4-12 in 2007 and start "rebuilding" the team around young players. "Young teams are supposed to struggle" we were told by head coach Herm Edwards and GM Carl Peterson. They succeeded in lowering my expectations for this season from my usual 10 win prediction to 6-10.

Draft day rolled around and I watched all the pundits laud the franchise for their solid draft and remembered a very young Green Bay franchise went to the NFC Championship Game last season. Suddenly images of a 10-6 team started to come into view if I squinted hard enough at the easiest schedule the Chiefs have had in recent memory.

I was doing it again, I was hopeful when all the same pundits previewed the Chiefs at no better than third place in their own division. Somehow they were wrong and the Chiefs might be the AFC's Packers in 2008.

Two games later and boy do I feel foolish. After Week One's near miss in New England I had as good a taste in my mouth as you can have after a loss. Lots of 'coulda, shoulda' in week one that had me dreaming of a pasting of the pathetic Raiders.

Reality hit me around 12:30 central today. A hapless Raiders team that is the model franchise of what not to do with personnel and management came to town after getting their tails whipped 41-14 by a Broncos team most people thought wasn't much better than an 8-8 squad. With Huard behind center I felt confident that despite my desire to see the Chiefs develop a young QB with Croyle that he probably gave us the best chance to put more than 10 points on the board.

Sadly I forgot that the rebuilt offensive line is still a patchwork mess with a rookie left tackle and an immobile mess at right tackle and right guard. The same Raiders team that seemed so hapless a week ago was suddenly in our backfield like the old Tecmo Bowl game as if they picked our play. Larry Johnson still looked a step slow and lacked the vision he once had, but in his defense it's hard to find holes and cutback lanes when your linemen are shoved into your lap. The offensive game plan then took a turn for the worse when Damon Huard suffered a mild head injury (is there such a thing?). We used three different QBs in this mess of a football game. A practice squad WR/QB Haggans, a 35 year old 'never was' in Huard and a third stringer 'never will be' in Tyler Thigpen. It was an offensive disaster. The Chiefs couldn't run, couldn't pass, and couldn't fool them with trick plays.

What the Chiefs lacked in experience they made up for with a lack of discipline or talent. In the second half with the Chiefs surprisingly only down 6-0 we allowed a 95 yard drive of nothing but run plays. How does that happen in the NFL? What adjustments were made at halftime that the Raiders so confidently knew they could run the ball seven straight times from their own five yard line and score?

It was now 13-0 and I knew it was game over. How bad is your team when 13 points is too much to overcome with two quarters to play?

The Chiefs are supposed to be rebuilding and I know there are going to be rough games in this process but do they have to be so embarrassing? We have three Pro Bowl calibre players on this offense with Waters, Gonzalez and Larry Johnson and none of them did anything to make me think they deserved a spot in Hawaii. How does Herm go into that locker room and talk to his team after this mess? How do you possibly inspire any confidence in a team that was shellacked in a home opener to a hated rival and showed very little passion in doing so?

The Chiefs have drafted a lot of first and second round picks on that defensive unit that was gashed for 300 yards rushing despite no threat of a passing game. I don't care what scheme you are running you'd be hard pressed to give up three hundred yards to a team with no passing attack just based on sure talent and hustle. The Chiefs are either missing on their draft picks badly or they are badly coached. Young team or not this was inexcusable.

The Chiefs may be rebuilding in name but look like a sinking franchise destined to be mentioned in the same breath as the Lions, Cardinals and Raiders. The difference is the Raiders have three Super Bowl appearances since the Chiefs last saw one in 1969.

There are two things you need before anything else when you rebuild a team: an offensive line is number one and a quarterback is number two. The Chiefs are lacking both and yet continue to build a defense with draft picks. I understand defense is important, I just got finished watching the Greg Robinson/Dick Vermeil era Chiefs, but watching a team finish 9-7 with a punchers chance of putting 40 points on the board weekly is a hell of a lot more exciting as a fan than watching 8 points put on the board against a team that is likely going to only win 3 more games all season.

I am on board with rebuilding but after watching certain teams "rebuild" for two decades I'm starting to seriously wonder if we aren't headed down that slippery slope. The Chiefs are at a serious fork in the road of their franchise. Do they go the way of the Lions or the 2007 Green Bay Packers?

I am rooting for the latter but early evidence leans toward the former.

1 comment:

Aaron said...

The Chiefs are becoming to the NFL what the Royals are to MLB... Irrelevant.