Take away the wins and losses for a moment and examine some of the ancillary aspects of being a football fan, and you’ll discover that following a bottom rung team is a double edged sword. You’re not likely, for instance, to be watching all that many national broadcasts. As such, you’ll never have to listen to Tony Kornheiser, which is undoubtedly a positive. You may, however, find that for several weeks of the season, you’ll be subjected to the likes of Rich Gannon and Ian Eagle.
I love Rich Gannon. I’m too young to have seen Len Dawson play. Thus, for me, Rich was the first good quarterback I saw wearing my team’s colors who wasn’t past the age at which a signal caller should be put out to pasture. Rich speaks well and knows a lot about football, and his knowledge isn’t limited to the scope of the position he played. His traveling companion, on the other hand, may or may not know a lot about football. I honestly don’t know, because I have yet to reconcile myself to the idea of listening to a man hellbent on using the word “ath-o-letic.”
I’m down to discussing the trivial because there isn’t much of substance left to discuss, at least as it pertains to the Chiefs. Stay tuned for my article next week on whether or not Brett Favre should play another season for the Packers. That’s as relevant to Kansas City sports as anything I could say about Sunday’s game, because it sheds exactly as much new light on the subject as any discussion of Matt Cassel, Josh Cribbs, or any other facet of the Chiefs’ systematic undoing by a should-be inferior opponent.
My job, however, is to give you a game review, so that’s what I’m gonna do. Better yet, I’m gonna give you the best damn game review about the worst damn game I’ve ever seen.
To begin with, I will offer yet another blame deferment to one of my least favorite Chiefs. Matt Cassel, despite his persistent ineffectiveness in the 2nd half (9/22 this week, compared to 13/18 in the 1st half), did plenty to put his team in a position to win. He will never be good, but sometimes he’s good enough. With the return of Dwayne Bowe, Cassel has most of the tools a quarterback needs to succeed.
Save, of course, talent and coaching.
These are subjects I’ve exhausted already, but the subject can’t be dropped. Todd Haley can’t do anything about the former. Talent is God given, and Haley lacks deity status. His approach to coaching, however, indicates that he may not be aware of his own mortality, and as his mortality manifests itself in new and unusual ways each week, his offense slowly dies.
Meanwhile, as the offense dies via inattention, the defense dies via inability. Fans who swore at the conclusion of last season that no defense could perform worse than a Hermcuffed, blitz-free Gunther Cunningham-directed squad heavily reliant on the considerable ability of middle linebacker Pat Thomas, find themselves retracting their prior position. Clancy Pendergast’s mismanagement rivals that of Greg Robinson’s. Worse yet, he has more talent at his disposal than Robinson, and the result is still lesser.
This should come as a surprise to no one. Robinson had one of the league’s better defenses during his tenure in Denver. As we have since learned, that success was predicated largely on the talent of the players – Robinson never had fewer than five Pro Bowl caliber players on his Broncos squads. Pendergast had roughly the same number in Arizona, but was unable to achieve even pedestrian results. Thus, while Haley has failed to bring to Kansas City his prior level of success, Pendergast has replicated his quite well. He is exactly as advertised.
Thus, as with weeks past, the blame for this loss falls squarely on Clancy’s shoulders. Clancy has made yet another overnight celebrity out of a benchwarmer, giving Jerome Harrison the opportunity to dethrone the great Jim Brown as his namesake’s franchise’s single game rushing record holder. He also supplanted Corey Dillon for the number three spot on the league’s list for the same record. Harrison is in excellent company, with only Adrian Peterson and Jamal Lewis ahead of him. With significant yardage in only one other game of his four year career, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have Dillon’s staying power, let alone Brown’s. It’s entirely feasible that after a few more weeks, Harrison will cease to be a starter altogether.
Pendergast should be fired for this alone. All of his other failings, Miles Austin included, are far more excusable than this one. Public perception of Haley’s capacity as a head coach will likely hinge on his handling of Pendergast, and rightfully so. Todd, for the sake of your own career, fire Clancy Pendergast.
… and Matt Cassel.
… and Mike Brown.
… and Wade Smith.
… and Bill Muir.
My MacBook’s keyboard will run out of ink before I finish this list, so I’ll stop now. Cassel’s contract may make him a necessary evil, but the remainder are expendable. Deliver us, o Toddly one, from Ian Eagle, and hire yourself an offensive coordinator too. Do something to demonstrate your worth. Give me something to write about that isn’t so damn depressing.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.