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Yes Missouri, there is a Santa Claus
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On December 16, 2008 @ 12:07 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled
The funny thing about procrastination is that sometimes it pays big dividends. My report cards in high school disagree with this statement, but my budding career as a sportswriter is quickly showing me otherwise. By postponing writing this week’s game review by a mere twenty-four hours, I got an early Christmas present. Rather than rehashing many of the same points I’ve been making for weeks, I got something far more alluring to discuss. The Chiefs Nation just witnessed the spearing of their own white whale. Yes Missouri, there is a Santa Claus: Carl Peterson has been fired.
Let’s hone in on that last word: fired. He wasn’t really fired, right? He tendered his resignation, right? Right.
So did Greg Robinson.
About five years back a good friend of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had been treated for prostate cancer a year before and was thought by his doctors to be in good health. Unfortunately cancer is a real son of a bitch, and it has a bad habit of sticking around long after you think it’s gone and showing up in unexpected places. The tragic twist in this case is that this friend was a trumpet player. That’s a poor vocation for somebody who needs a lung removed. At 53 years old, two days after surgery, having never done anything else in his life, and being told by his doctors that he would never play again, he had a mutual friend sneak him in a mouthpiece. Still lacking the strength to walk unassisted, he started playing trumpet. He played for three more years on three quarters of a lung before succumbing to an inoperable brain tumor. Post-diagnosis, the tumor was supposed to kill him in less than a month. It took it two years to beat the old bastard.
Long before Henry died he picked his successor for the band he had played in for fifteen years. He picked his best friend, as many people do when faced with similar circumstances. Said best friend, however, was considerably less gifted of a musician than Henry. His band mates were none too pleased with his selection, but out of deference to the man who gave so much of himself to them and to their audience, they had no choice but to give the hand-picked replacement a fair shake to grow into the role.
Clark Hunt did much the same. With the unfortunate passing of his father two years ago, out of deference to the man who gave so much of himself to the city and to the sport, he had no choice but to give his father’s hand-picked head of operations a fair shake to grow into the role of a player-oriented GM. Carl Peterson did not grow. Years of pallid, uninspired, poorly assembled and woefully unbalanced teams had long since inspired disdain and resentment in the fan base. Two more years of Carl’s special blend of increased ticket prices, contract negotiation antics, and free agent repellent moved the base from resentful to apathetic. As it turns out, apathy isn’t a big revenue producer.
So what happens next? With King Carl gone, what direction will Kid Clark choose for the franchise? From interviews it appears that he will maintain the sea change youth movement of the past two years, but has made no guarantees that anybody at any level in the organization will still be employed in thirty days. Will we now witness a curious scene where the sea change is kept but the changer of the sea is cast away? Clark isn’t beholden to Herm Edwards. Clark is beholden only to the memory of his father, who was beholden to Carl, who still is beholden to Herm. Clark cares about Herm as much as you care about your third cousin. Without Carl as an intermediary, Herm’s job security is filmy and fleeting. Those circumstances don’t bode well for a coach who as of late has lost far more than he has won. Football is an economic actualization of Darwinism: only the strong survive. Herm isn’t petitioning for his job from a position of strength.
Actually what Herm is doing is petitioning for his job from a position of utter embarrassment and disgrace. In this season alone the team has set a franchise record for most points allowed, a franchise record for most games with 300+ rushing yards allowed, very likely an NFL record for least sacks, a 20+ year franchise record low in attendance, and possibly a franchise record for worst season record.
Yeah, that’s right. This could be the worst season ever. The team’s only two-loss season thus far came in 1977, the last 14-game season. If both of the remaining games are won, Herm is spared of that particular embarrassment. If one game is won and the other lost, 1977 will still be the worst season in terms of winning percentage, though 2008 will still be the franchise’s first (and hopefully only) 13-loss season. If both remaining games are lost, Herm will win the popular vote and the electoral college. What a feather in his cap that will be!
What a feather in his cap it will also be to have effectively terminated the career of yet another coordinator. Of the five coordinators Edwards has parted ways with, only one has risen again above the rank of position coach (former Jets DC Ted Cottrell, now recently ousted in San Diego). Chan Gailey will be immune because their time together was so brief, but Gunther Cunningham will not. Gunther will never work again as anything other than a linebackers coach, and maybe not even at the pro level. I have spent the last month agreeing with the growing sector of the Chiefs fan base that believe he is ineffective. Sunday’s game swayed my opinion back in the other direction.
I’m not here to defend Gunther as blameless in this mess. I only ask that if you taped the game, review these four blitzes in the 1st quarter–13:43, 13:10, 4:19, and 3:35. Those four plays effectively shut down the San Diego offense. That begs the question: why didn’t we stick to the thing that was working? Why did we pare down to generic corner and safety blitzes only in the 3rd quarter? Why didn’t we blitz at all in the 4th when the Chargers were posting 12 unanswered points? Could it be that Gunther, the blitzing coach, isn’t given the freedom to run blitzes? Just as it is apparent to most fans that artificial limitations have been placed frequently on our offense, it should be equally apparent that the same thing happens on the other side of the ball.
I’ll put this in very plain terms. We have a head coach who never once worked at any level as an offensive or defensive coordinator, but still has the audacity to override the playcalling of two career coordinators (both of whom, incidentally, have a more winning record than Herm as NFL head coaches). I have friends that paint. Under no circumstances would it strike me as a good idea to grab the brush out of one of their hands. I have no need to extrapolate on that analogy.
Herman Edwards, be scared. Your time is limited. You are at the mercy of Kid Clark. He may like your ideas, but that doesn’t mean he likes you. My advice to you is to shut up and listen to your coordinators for a change. I have as much experience as a coordinator as you do, and that’s how I would approach the situation. Understand that nothing short of winning out will be acceptable to even the most patient of fans, and with Lamar Hunt gone, Kid Clark is beholden now to them.
And while I’m on the subject of offering advice to people who don’t read my column and make far more money than I do, let me offer a bit to Clark himself: Fire Mike Priefer.
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