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2009 Season In Review, Part 1
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On March 29, 2010 @ 5:20 pm In Commentary | Comments Disabled
In the words of William J. LePetomaine, sometimes the affairs of state must take precedence over the affairs of state.
That’s the cleverest reference I could think of to explain why I’ve been absent for a while. Mind you, for him, the affairs of state meant getting laid behind the curtains in his office. Mine haven’t been nearly that interesting. Also, my office doesn’t have curtains.
Previously on Nathan Kent’s ever-evolving biopic of the Kansas City Chiefs, the team was systematically getting their asses handed to them by the lower echelon of the AFC. They sucked on offense. They sucked on defense. They sucked on special teams. Clancy Pendergast exponentially increased Jerome Harrison’s 2010 fantasy draft value in a single afternoon, and Todd Haley allegedly flipped off a heckler.
To me, that feels like an eon ago. I suspect many fans feel the same. Somewhere in the interim, that team died in our hearts. Replacing it is the feelgood unit stocked with Super Bowl winning coaches, a pair of returning hometown heroes, and a new veteran running back that embodies everything Larry Johnson doesn’t – dedication, positivity, and, perhaps most importantly, the discipline not to hit a bitch.
So let’s cover some lost ground. To begin with, I owe you two game reviews. Here goes…
Week 16 (@ Cincinnati): Awful.
Week 17 (@ Denver): Brilliant.
Actually neither of the above is true. The Cincinnati game was an almost competitive contest against an almost competitive team, and it was almost watchable. It was a game, however, that the Chiefs were cosmically destined to lose. The Bengals and their fans were still reeling from the tragic death of receiver Chris Henry. They needed that win. I don’t like to see my team lose, but for the Chiefs it would have been a meaningless victory – a mercy win over an emotionally distraught team that lacked the willpower to play anywhere close to their potential. For the Bengals, it was anything but meaningless.
Given the circumstances, I don’t have a whole lot else to say about that.
The Denver game, on the other hand, merits a comment or two. To begin with, even better than the game itself is the viral video that circulated afterward, which very plainly lampooned two of the Broncos’ biggest fans – South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It’s the perfect bookend to the Herm-era Der Untergang viral, featuring a suicidal Adolf Hitler playing the part of Carl Peterson. It’s a brilliant Cliff’s Notes version of the game that glosses over the fact that Kansas City’s defense was yet again getting their asses handed to them by second string receivers and a B-List quarterback.
For obvious reasons it’s not on par with the demoralized Bengals fan base and their desperate need for a win, but nevertheless it was a needed win. It was needed primarily for the fanbase, which was as demoralized as I’ve seen it in my 20 years of watching Chiefs football. In the Marty, Gunther, and Dick eras, a blackout would not have taken place. It was a virtual impossibility. With Herm Edwards it shifted from impossible to plausible, then from plausible to probable.
But it took Todd Haley to actually make it happen – to create an environment so unpopular that it ceased to make sense for the local CBS affiliate to buy the remainder of the seats, as they had done in years past. In the excitement of a very productive offseason, I think it’s paramount for fans not to forget what really happened in 2009: Todd Haley sucked. It’s impossible to gauge at this juncture whether or not it’s a permanent affliction, but one thing is clear: in 2009, Todd Haley sucked. Yes, I’m rehashing old ground here, but the man took a bad team and made it worse, and it took the singular effort of a second year tailback to give the whole situation a happy ending.
Even good teams win games sometimes off of singular efforts, but good teams don’t have to have them to win at all. There was nothing to fear about the Chiefs except Jamaal Charles. Nothing in the offensive scheme gave cause for concern to opposing teams’ defenses. Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe weren’t overwhelming cornerbacks with their unshakable chemistry. Likewise, Tyson Jackson and Demorrio Williams weren’t testing the courage of the other team’s tailbacks – even the second stringers.
The simple truth is that Haley was in over his head, and his consistent poor decision making dug that hole deeper and deeper. His chance for success was predicated on three things: his ability to handle the toughest and second toughest coaching jobs in all of sports at the same time, Matt Cassel’s ability to more or less coach and babysit himself, and Clancy Pendergast’s ability to design a successful defense with limited talent. One and two were untested; theoretically, Haley and Cassel could have both demonstrated an unlikely propensity for the implausible, and in doing so negate all common wisdom on the nature of building an offense. Three was tested and demonstrated to be, for all intents and purposes, impossible. That Pendergast was unable to develop a dominant defense in Arizona with a much more impressive supporting cast should have served as prima facie evidence that it wasn’t gonna happen in KC either.
But I recognize 2009 for what it was, and I’m willing to conditionally excuse it. Haley suffered the consequences of vanity and misplaced loyalty. He thought that he and his boys could do it better. In an attempt to put his personal stamp on the team early on, he cut some of the players and coaches that could have helped him the most. By the same measure, he cut a lot of the fat, figuratively and literally. He did a lot to damage his reputation with moves like cutting Bernard Pollard, who should have been kept or at least traded, but he also did himself a world of good by cutting the single most caustic player this team has known in my lifetime, and doing so at a critical juncture wherein said caustic figure stood a very real chance of etching his name in the team’s record books atop one of the most revered and respected players this team has known in my lifetime.
Thus, it’s hard to call 2009 a wasted season. Fans would have been pleased with a 6-10 season. It would have been viewed as significant progress, and rightly so. Instead, the fans got a 4-12 season with a win in Denver and an unceremonious boot to the ass of Larry Johnson. In terms of playoff standings, 6-10 is no better than 4-12, ergo I’m not entirely disappointed. Painful as it was to watch at times, two of my biggest wishes came true, and the team is better off for both.
Auf wiedersehen, baby. I’m off to get my hands on some vitamin D.
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