It’s a good thing the Chiefs wore their throwback helmets against the Chargers on Sunday. Otherwise, someone might have mistaken them for the team that eked out a victory over the Redskins seven days earlier. That team was mistake prone but mentally tough; athletically challenged but physically commanding. Apparently Tank Tyler was that team’s muse. His absence was the only change, but the shape of the team was radically different.
I’ll admit that I was among the foolhardy few that predicted a Kansas City win. I felt that the win over Washington would serve as a catalyst, sparking the team to more similarly opportunistic wins over similarly underachieving opponents. I overestimated the chemistry, however. This team clearly has none. They are an experiment gone wrong.
What they lack in chemistry, however, they make up in novelty. Scott Pioli brought the concept of Patriot Way, which he attempted to implement by hiring as much of New England’s second string as he could. Todd Haley brought the concept of 22 guys off the street, which he attempted to implement by awarding starting jobs to castaways like Terrence Copper and Bobby Wade. The result is a gut-wrenching, cartoonishly bad squad that approaches the unthinkable combination of a Greg Robinson-influenced defense and a Mike Solari-influenced offense. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Pioli & Haley Lamest Show on Earth.
1. Behold the Incredible Inside-Out Offense! The blockers can run, and the runners can block! Branden Albert rather famously dropped 30 pounds in the offseason. He shed a lot of it running laps. It made him fast. It also rendered him unable to throw a decent block, apparently. Presently he’s on pace to allow 13.5 sacks this season (provided he gets healthy soon), up from 4.5 last season. Larry Johnson, meanwhile, threw the best block of his career in the 2nd quarter on Sunday. He’s got a promising career ahead of him as an AFL2 fullback. I wish him nothing but the best of luck.
2. Experience the Unfathomable Movable Backfield! See the star cornerback play nickel and the scrub nickelback play corner! Under no circumstance would it seem advisable for a coach to put a rookie defensive back with fewer than 20 snaps in man coverage on one of the league’s fastest receivers while putting a Pro Bowl caliber player in open space, ostensibly to cover a tight end that broke loose from a linebacker. Then again, advice probably doesn’t play into Clancy Pendergast’s plans a whole lot. If you’re trying to cull positives from the game, however, consider this: the receiver contending for a career best game was an established, respected player, not a scrub. That counts for something, right?
3. Witness the Incredible Shrinking Coaching Staff! Two men can (attempt to) pull the weight of five! It will probably occur to Haley and Pendergast at some point in time that not having an offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and defensive backs coach might explain in some part why the play calling is piss poor, the quarterback can’t make reads or complete passes, and opposing receivers keep making the SportsCenter highlight reel. The question becomes this: will they notice before Pioli and/or Clark Hunt notices for them?
4. Observe the Amazing Disappearing Defensive Line! Now you see them, now you don’t! Say whatever you like about the 2008 Chiefs defensive line, but at least they were consistent. Jason Babin would make two good plays a week. Tamba Hali would make two a month. The remainder might have combined for two over the course of the season. This year, the consistency is gone. I’ve been fooled repeatedly into thinking they were on the cusp of dominance. Shame on me. I won’t get fooled again. Maybe.
5. Uncover the Ancient Art of Hypocrisy! See better players with smaller contracts ride the bench! Matt Cassel and Larry Johnson have worked hard starting in the preseason to verify fans’ suspicions that their backups might be more suited to start. While Johnson may have tweeted his way out of a starting job (or maybe just a job in general), there appears to be nothing that Cassel can do to lose his position. No number of errant throws and poor reads will cause him to be unseated. Pioli has picked his pony, and he’ll ride it until it wins or dies trying. The season, the support of fans, and possibly the career of Todd Haley will die with it. Haley may lack the authority to bench the failing passer – it’s not uncommon for a General Manager to exercise authority over a head coach in that regard – but if he does have that authority, he should exercise it immediately. Dwayne Bowe and Bobby Wade are not Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and Cassel can’t succeed without two top five receivers.
So if they’re going to make this into a circus, I propose a new play. I call it Little Miss 1565: burn the whole thing to the ground. If a win wasn’t enough of a catalyst to change this team’s stars, it’s time to bench the stars and start checking the backups for untapped talent. Fans must reduce their expectations too. This season is nothing more than an extended preseason, and Haley’s elusive goal of winning three games may not be realistic.
But hey, they can’t lose this weekend, so that’s a bonus.