In weeks 5-7, the Chiefs had hit rock bottom. They really couldn’t have done much worse. They were outscored 68-10 and averaged only 199 yards of offense in each game. The defense was being gouged and exposed by too many three-and-outs by our offense. Then in the span of just a week, our offense leaped all the way to respectable in weeks 8 and 9. Herm apologists will tell you that this is simply a result of development by the young players and that it is proof that the plan is working and the team is improving (hard not to do when you take the team to rock bottom). But can players really make this leap in just one week? Especially when suddenly reduced to a third string quarterback, a third string running back, a revolving door at the second wide receiver position, and the complete overhaul of all special team components in the span of two weeks?
The simple answer is “No”. The true correlation to the sudden offensive success lies with the complete change of offensive philosophy. More to the point, we completely abandoned Herm’s offensive philosophy, or the so-called “Hermcuffs” for the most part of the last two games. Almost everything this team did represented the antithesis of Herm’s offensive philosophy. Passing when you don’t “have” to, trick plays, passing on first down, keeping the opponent’s defense guessing, running diversions, aggressive play calling, actively trying to win, option plays, etc. All of these things are not in the book of Herm.
Sure, there is undoubtedly some improvement being had by some of our young players and our newly formed offensive line. And yes, the +6 turnover ratio in the last two games sure helps an offense and we can’t count on that to happen every game. But these last two weeks have proven with little doubt that it was Herm’s failed philosophy, above all else, that was holding this offense back. It has proven that when you keep your opponent guessing, all aspects of your offense instantly get better as the defense has to be prepared for anything. Herm’s history shows that the more his teams struggled the more conservative he got, which in turn made the team perform even worse due to predictability. After eight years of failed philosophy, did Herm finally learn something? I doubt it. And even if he did, I think eight years is far too slow of a learning curve for a head coach.
So what caused Herm to suddenly open up the offense (or allow Chan to do so)? Most likely, it’s out of desperation. He really had no other options. Nothing else was working. This is a last ditch effort to save his job. However, it may actually provide the opposite: by proving his own philosophy is fundamentally flawed, outdated, and holds the team back, he is showing that he must be replaced. Throw in the uncontested fact that he’s a terrible game-day coach who can’t manage the clock or make proper in-game adjustments, and his firing is a slam-dunk. But then again, I’m not the owner.
Ownership and other Herm supporters need to learn to separate the coach from the man and just look at the coaching related facts. It seems Clark Hunt and Carl Peterson have such a platonic crush on Herm that they are willing to overlook all his deficiencies as head coach and just hope for the best. Yes, Herm is a likable guy in many ways, and the people who get to know him as a person seem to really, really like him. So what? That has nothing to do with being a good head coach. When looking at just the cold hard facts, I believe most people realize that Herm is not the best option available.
Even if our offense keeps improving, we still have a lot of problems on defense and special teams. Unless our defense improves and can stop people without relying on three or four turnovers a game, we are probably in for a few more ugly games. But given our relatively weak schedule going forward, we should expect a somewhat better second half to the season. The trick will be separating true improvement from perceived improvement.
VLTC’s OTC Grades: Week 9
OFFENSE: Last week doesn’t appear to be a fluke; we are capable. Only one three-and-out, and that was only because of a bad pass-interference call.
- Another solid performance by Thigpen. Everyone’s “QB of the future” hopes are at a 25-year high
- Great deception and catch on the trick TD
- Great game against one of the leagues best run defenses
- First 100-yard rusher against Tampa Bay this year
- Untimely fumble
- Great run game
- Good protection
- Is this group starting to gel, or is it just the improved play calling?
- Bradley looks like he’s solidifying second WR position
- Great throw, Bradley!
- Untimely drops are killing us
- Tony is still one of the best. Fantastic catch to seal the game, until the ref stepped in and unsealed it
- I like the emergence of Cottam (although only one catch this week)
DEFENSE: Like last week, take away the turnovers and our defense was pretty bad. We can’t always count on a +3 turnover differential (and still lose).
- Another game with no sacks and very little pressure and it’s killing our defense
- Much better game against the run
- Injuries really starting to hurt us here… too much Boiman
- We really might need to spend some top picks on LB next year
- Injuries left us with Leggett and Brackenridge on the field and they were exposed
Special Teams: D-
- All the turnover of the roster is killing our kick/punt coverage. It’s getting worse every week
- New kicker, punter, holder, snapper were ok
- Colquitt back next week!
- Way to shake the Hermcuffs for (part of) the second week in a row, Chan
- Way to mix it up and keep the defense honest
- Way to recognize the cornerback cheating on the first direct snap and use that knowledge to throw the TD to Thigpen
- Need to find a way to generate more pressure on opponent’s QB
- Need to transfer success to second half
- Blowing a 24-3 lead while having a 4-1 turnover advantage is bad and part of the blame must fall on the coaching staff