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Winter Solstice & Sateen Dura-Luxe
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On December 22, 2008 @ 10:27 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
The winter solstice is the day of the year where the hemisphere in which you reside is tilted furthest away from the sun. It is, consequently, the day with the least sunlight – the shortest day of the year. For those of us in the northern hemisphere the winter eclipse occurs between December 20th and 23rd. In 2008, that day was today.
To Chiefs fans this was probably the longest shortest day of the year in recorded history. Six days of jubilee over the season’s end departure of GM Carl Peterson served as a much needed distraction in a season filled with distraught, but in that distraction the collective fan base lost track of something important: Carl is still here. This is the house built by Carl, and today the Dolphins shook the foundation.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Bluebeard the main character, Rabo Karabekian, is an abstract expressionist painter who recounts how he became an unfortunate humorous footnote in the annals of modern art. He had painted several of his most famous works using a new synthetic paint called Sateen Dura-Luxe, which was purported by the manufacturers to last forever. After about 15 years, however, the management at a major financial institution whose front lobby was adorned by a multi-canvas work of his contacted him because the painting was falling apart. The paint was literally peeling from the canvas, sometimes in flecks, sometimes in sheets.
I think that’s where we’re at today. The paint is peeling away from the fabric of Peterson’s and Herm Edwards’s creation. What we discover is that it didn’t lack artistic vision, just artistic skill. The overwhelming majority of the fan base is on board with the youth movement now, provided its conceptors are shown the door. But while said conceptors are on their way out, they’re doing what everybody in their position does: trying anything and everything in hopes that something will work a little bit. So now the painters are fast at work at their canvases. There’s no time to paint a masterpiece, so they’re trying to paint tiny miracles instead.
Which leaves the rest of us to watch paint dry. Maybe that’s why this solstice feels more like an equinox.
Today’s game itself was like an abstract expressionist masterpiece. Nothing about it was clear, so each observer is free to draw their own opinions as to what it meant. Some will see that Demorrio Williams and Derrick Johnson looked very natural playing in the current alignment of the month. Others will see that, for all these good players Kansas City supposedly has, they still gave up 5.6 yards per carry. Some will see that Larry Johnson had a banner day with 9.0 yards per carry. Others will see that he isn’t and probably never will be a natural fit in this offense. Some will see that Tank Tyler and Jason Babin know how to knock around a quarterback. Others will see that they don’t get there often enough to change the game or even alter its course a little. Some will see that Tyler Thigpen had a rough day playing in cold and wind the likes of which he’s never been exposed to prior. Others will see nothing but a stat line that shows 21 incomplete passes and three interceptions.
Here’s what I saw. I saw an offense and its coordinator acknowledge that they’ve been missing their 5th gear: Mark Bradley. I saw a team that realized it had shelved the deep ball in his absence, and that in doing so they had made themselves woefully predictable. Then I saw a team try to force that deep ball, disregarding extreme adverse weather conditions. Then I saw the weather win.
That was the part I saw clearly. Sometimes, however, when viewing an abstract painting, one looks hard for something that isn’t there. I found myself doing that as well. I was looking hard for an answer as to why Kansas City put the ball in the air 41 times when the running game was actually working for once. At 9.0 yards per carry, one would think the smart money would be to just keep running. By smart I mean Lane Kiffin, and by money I mean Al Davis’ money, because that’s exactly what Oakland did at Arrowhead a few months back when, like Kansas City today, their quarterback couldn’t find his rhythm. I kept looking and looking, but, like the fat kid in Mallrats, I just couldn’t find the yacht.
On the subject of the Raiders, I’d like to discuss another game against them that came to memory while I was watching this one. I am speaking of the Monsoon Bowl, 28 December 2002. As with today’s game, I saw in that game an unusual commitment to the pass on the part of the Chiefs, even though the weather plainly dictated otherwise. In the 2002 game there was a mitigating factor. In the game prior the team had lost Priest Holmes and Tony Richardson, leaving Mike Cloud as the starting tailback, with virtual unknowns Jamar Julien and Derrick Blaylock to back him up. So Trent Green lobbed up 32 soaking wet poorly aimed passes, more than half of which failed to find a target.
Today Thigpen also lobbed up an unnecessarily high number of windblown wobbles, more than half of which failed to find a target, but in this case there was no mitigating factor. Kansas City had three healthy tailbacks, one healthy fullback, and all the blocking tight ends a man could ask for. If this were you and you did think to ask for more, you might ask for something like…. say…. an opposing linebacking corps that doesn’t want to make a proper hit because it’s so cold? Oh, that’s in the painting too.
So now once again I go back to my good friend Rabo Karabekian. When Rabo’s wife accused him of not being able to actually draw or paint anything normal, he proved her wrong by drawing on the kitchen wall a true-to-life portrait of their children, entirely from memory. When she asked why he never painted that way, he said “because it’s just too damn easy.” I don’t know if that was the process at play here or not, but if so I don’t like it. The team has proven that it has a lot of weapons at its disposal. Just once before we shut the door on this miserable season I’d like to see a cohesive, balanced gameplan built around those weapons. Chan, you’ve got one shot. You may or may not be back next year. Audition for your job, be it here or elsewhere. Come out next week and run up the score like a college homecoming game. Maybe then they’ll interview you for Herm’s job.
So chalk today up as another indication that the plan as being executed right now is not satisfactory. Chalk today up as another indication that the coaches are failing the players, not vice versa. Chalk today up as another indication that Clark Hunt’s spring clean is as warranted as any spring clean in the history of spring cleans. And while you’re holding that chalk, put this up on the board: Fire Mike Priefer.
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