Thanks to Sunday’s loss to Houston, the Chiefs have started a season 0-3 for the first time since 1980. In my mind, there are two possible scapegoats for the loss…
(If you blame coaching, begin reading the red colored text below. If you believe that bad officiating was more to blame, skip down to the blue text)
Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders (O-coord.) were probably kicking themselves Sunday evening after they both made critical errors in judgment. Vermeil’s gaffe occurred when he passed up a chip-shot field goal for a 4th & 2 attempt, which failed miserably. Coach V was upset with himself following the Carolina game for twice not going for it on 4th & short. He reminded me of the guy at the card table who gets dealt several blackjacks in a row on five-dollar bets, only to lose the very next hand for one hundred.
(Buying my point? Continue reading the red text. Love Vermeil’s aggression? Skip down to the blue text.)
Vermeil’s second mistake happened near the end of the 2nd quarter. Dick chose to call timeout after a modest gain on first down by Houston. His thinking was that his defense would hold, and the Chief’s could get another opportunity to score points before the end of the half. This plan blew up in his face as the Texans drove down the field for a field goal. Vermeil wants desperately to believe in the D, but reality has to set in for the man eventually. Putting your faith in the “32 defense” (as in 32nd ranked in the league last year) is like believing that George Bush knows what he is doing in Iraq.
(Still with me? Keep reading red. Think I’m way off, and should leave the political commentary to CNN? Scroll down to blue.)
I find it interesting that Dick would contradict himself by his coaching moves as obviously as he did in this game. By going for it on 4th down (and bypassing an easy 3 points) he is saying that the offense needs to score as many points as possible due to a porous defense. However, in the same game, he decides to stop the clock with Houston on offense because he wants to believe the defense will hold. Talk about mixed messages! Which way is it going to be coach? Players go in slumps, officials go in slumps (surely the officials in this game aren’t always so awful!) and coaches also go in slumps. Let’s hope Coach Vermeil’s slump is over now.
(Think Dick messed this one up, and are curious to see why I put some blame on Al Saunders as well? Read the red. Think they were good decisions that simply didn’t work out? Forget the red, and go down to the blue.)
Al Saunders had his “senior moment” when he called for a pass play on 2nd & goal from the two. Uh, hello? Hey Al, remember #31 in your backfield? You know, the guy who scored an NFL record 27 TD’s last year? Just give it to Priest next time, pal. Al’s blunder resulted in a 102-yard interception return for a TD, plus a two-point conversion, which equaled a 15-point turnaround. I realize that Trent never should’ve made that throw, but it was Al’s play call that enabled the disaster.
(If you agree that coaching cost the Chief’s heavily Sunday, proceed below the blue text to the final paragraph. If you disagree, but are too tired to read my rant against the officials, I’ll sum up the blue text for you… THEY SUCKED!)
Yours truly had a bird-eye-view of the Houston game Sunday in the upper-deck of Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs were called for so many ridiculously bad penalties that I’m surprised KC wasn’t penalized 5 yards on the opening kickoff due to a false start by the B-2 bomber flyover which arrived just before I could yell, “CHIEFS!!” at the conclusion of the National Anthem. I have always been very hesitant to blame officiating for a loss by my team, but these guys were simply pitiful.
(For continued zebra bashing, proceed with the blue text. If you believe that blaming officials is a lame excuse, stop here, and go up to the beginning of the red text.)
On two occasions Sunday, the Chiefs were called for two utterly insane roughing-the-passer penalties. Don’t ask me exactly how these calls (or any of the others that ticked me off!) affected the game, just know they hurt KC. Next on my list of grievances, Will Shields was flagged for an asinine phantom hold when slow motion replays on the jumbotron showed he hardly touched anyone! To top things off, Ryan Sims was furious when he felt he had David Carr stopped; yet Carr was allowed to throw the football away. Conversely, Trent Green looked shocked when he was whistled, “in-the-grasp” even though he was standing completely upright, and barely touched at the time. The combined weight of these poor calls broke the Chiefs’ back.
(If you’re reading this, you agree that the officials contributed mightily to the Chiefs’ defeat. Continue to the last paragraph. Know this though, the coaching was awful too!)
The thing I loved about choose your own adventure stories when I was a kid was that your choices would lead to different outcomes. Half of them good, and the other half death or imprisonment. Unfortunately, the only possible outcome of this adventure was a Chiefs’ defeat. The only question was where to lay the majority of the blame. Our boys are now 0-3 and, barring a miracle, out of the playoffs. Let’s hope Tony Gonzalez is right, and this horrific start will only turn out to be the tragic first three chapters of an amazing turnaround story. The season starts Monday, boys!
Priest-O-Meter 2004 projections:
1872 rushing yards & 21 TD’s