Some statistics are meaningless. Passer rating is one of them. Here’s why: Sunday, Matt Cassel posted a 124.5 passer rating. He completed 78% of his passes, including two touchdowns. Kevin Kolb, by contrast, posted a 120.6 passer rating, completing 70% of his passes, also including two touchdowns. Based on those figures, one would conclude that both quarterbacks’ performances were nearly equally matched.
Passer rating, of course, fails to take into account total yardage in any meaningful manner. Yes, Cassel completed 14 of 18 passes, but he gained only 90 yards in the process. Tack on wide receiver Mark Bradley’s 26 yard completion to Bobby Wade, and you’ve still got the least productive air attack for a Kansas City Chiefs team since week 12 of 1997, when Rich Gannon posted 98 yards in a 24-22 win over the Broncos. Gannon didn’t need to do a whole lot that particular week – Tamarick Vanover hustled for 205 yards on six kick returns and two punt returns. Marcus Allen and Greg Hill did their part too, with the former finding the endzone twice and the latter breaking a key 35 yard rush.
Cassel isn’t getting that kind of support. He shouldn’t anticipate that situation changing any time soon either. This team, from the top down, isn’t very good. It’s not the worst in the league – that distinction belongs to the Cleveland Browns – but it’s not far off. And while some statistics are meaningless, others are quite the opposite. Larry Johnson’s 2.8 yards per carry is meaningful. The defense’s cumulative three sacks and one interception is meaningful. The offensive line’s eight sacks allowed is very meaningful – so meaningful, in fact, that I’m resurrecting and updating my mantra from last season:
Fire Bill Muir.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s too early in the season to be calling for a coach’s head, right? Maybe so, but I’m sticking to my guns until the guy gives me a good reason to reverse my position. Here’s why: in a career that spans nearly three decades, Muir has sent a grand total of six linemen to the Pro Bowl. All six were first or second round draft choices. Five of them (Kevin Mawae, Chris Hinton, Ray Donaldson, Brian Holloway, and Hall of Famer John Hannah) were inherited by him from the outgoing regime. Of those five, only Holloway had his first Pro Bowl under Muir. Current Buccaneers RG Davin Joseph is the only truly good player Muir has developed to date, and it’s hard to say at this juncture whether or not Joseph will have any staying power.
At present, he is the architect of an offensive line that, despite what should have been a significant upgrade at right guard, stands to yield 43 sacks by season’s end. Word has it that Nuke Ndukwe will be relieved of his starting duties this week, but his replacement, Ryan O’Callaghan, has given up 5.5 sacks in seven starts over the last two seasons. O’Callaghan was, of course, the guy that Muir and GM Scott Pioli elected to claim off of waivers over Tony Pashos. Pashos has been a bit of an enigma throughout his five year career, but O’Callaghan’s only qualification thus far is that some Patriots fans think he’s better than Nick Kaczur. Be still, my beating heart.
The replacement might not matter at all, however. The rest of the squad appears to have been coached down to Nuke’s level. Brian Waters has been subpar, Branden Albert has failed to deliver on the promise he showed last year, and Mike Goff doesn’t look a thing like the player that made his name opening holes for Corey Dillon and LaDainian Tomlinson. Often maligned center Rudy Niswanger is the only starting lineman who has yet to give up a sack. Statistically speaking, he’s the best of the bunch.
If you still doubt whether or not this plea is warranted, keep this in mind: Muir hand picked and developed Kenyatta Walker into the player he is today.
I rest my case.
On the other side of the ball, I could probably make a case against defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast. Clancy perfected the bend-don’t-break defense last year in Arizona. It worked, insofar as the team was only really embarrassed a few times during the regular season. What Clancy is learning right now is that the lackadaisical approach which worked with Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, Chike Okeafor, Adrian Wilson, and Antrel Rolle doesn’t work nearly as well when he doesn’t have Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, Chike Okeafor, Adrian Wilson, and Antrel Rolle. The Chiefs have been through this before. Pendergast is their new Greg Robinson – a coach who looks fully capable of putting together a dominant squad, provided that he’s gift wrapped four or five Pro Bowl-caliber players at all times.
Is it overly critical of me to compare the new guy to the worst defensive coordinator this team has ever seen? Probably, but I calls them like I sees them, and what I see is a front seven that can’t pressure the quarterback and a backfield that plays soft coverage on every down. I’ve seen that before. We called it the Vermeil era. Back then the Chiefs had an offense that could frequently surmount the obstacle presented to them by a crap defense. Now? Not so much.
For the time being, I’m stopping short of impeaching Todd Haley. He, unlike Muir and Pendergast, is new to his job, and he’s bound to make rookie mistakes. Besides, Jason Whitlock already wrote that article, and there’s no need for it to be written twice. A lot of my opinion on Todd Haley going forward from here will be focused on his handling of Muir and Pendergast. He already made what I believe to be a critical error by cutting loose Chan Gailey. Hopefully his personnel management skills will improve.
Then again, he can’t be all bad. He already made the wisest move of all: firing Mike Priefer.
The oldies are still goodies.