With Saturday’s loss to the Oakland Raiders, the 2011 Chiefs were officially eliminated from playoff contention. In the grand scheme of things, this is meaningless. The 2011 Chiefs were officially eliminated from Super Bowl contention on September 11, when they chose to begin yet another season with Matt Cassel at the helm. You’d think by now I’d be done criticizing a guy that hasn’t played since mid November. Well, I’m not. I want to root for a winner.
I remember a fair amount of minutia from many Chiefs games of the past decade, but I only have vivid visual recollections of a few. I wish I only remembered the wins, but I don’t. While I, like you, would love to erase the memory of the Vermeil era Colts Wild Card game, the Damon Huard/Brandon Carr shutout by the Panthers, and the 2003 loss to the Bengals that shattered the Chiefs’ undefeated record as well as Mike Maslowski’s knee, the one I’d least want to relive was the 2002/’03 Week 17 Monsoon Bowl scoreless outing against the Raiders.
This week was a lot like that week–a late season loss to a division opponent starting a quarterback I wish they didn’t have, ultimately leading to postseason elimination. Still, in a division stricken by mediocrity from top to bottom, the Chiefs still hold significant stock as a spoiler. At this point, I’m doing something I haven’t done since Bo Jackson wore pads and cleats: I’m rooting for the Raiders. It’s a terrible, awful feeling, but I’m prepared to justify my position with the following six points:
I don’t hate Carson Palmer. He’s a good/borderline great player who got a raw deal when he was drafted to one of the most poorly managed teams in professional sports. He hasn’t been in the division long enough for my opinion of him to have changed. Quite frankly, after the whole Rich Gannon debacle 11 years ago, I just haven’t developed the same ire toward an Oakland quarterback that I nearly automatically do toward a Denver quarterback (it helps that they haven’t bothered trying to use anyone good in the interim).
I don’t like Tim Tebow. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others…. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6.
I like John Elway even less. This cartoonish charade Elway has been forced to put on, praising the accomplishments of a quarterback who, in essence, is a novelty in the vein of Kordell Stewart, is going to come to an ugly head sooner or later. I vote for sooner. At some point Elway will have to choose to protect the future of the Broncos franchise. En route, he’s going to piss off a whole bunch of Coloradans that don’t understand football well enough to grasp that a team cannot be successful by running the option for three quarters and hoping the defense can hold the opponent to 10 or less. Everyone loves a quality train wreck, and this one looks like it’s gonna deliver.
3rd place is better than 4th. Most years this actually isn’t the case. 3rd place teams seldom make the playoffs, but the following season they draft lower and play (theoretically) tougher competition. Next season is an exception. The Bengals, despite ranking 3rd, are likely playoff bound, which would actually lend credence to the whole tougher competition thing. The Chiefs play the entire AFC North next season anyway, however, so it’s a moot point. Thus (assuming this weekend’s games play out as I expect them to), the question is this: do the Chiefs want to play the Colts and Bills next season, or the Jaguars and Dolphins? Call me crazy, but I’ll take the two teams with no head coach, major quarterback issues, and impending voids in their pass rush.
I want Romeo Crennel to be successful. I’m making no secrets about the fact that he’s my personal top pick for head coach next season. I like his demeanor, and I like the fact that Kansas City’s defense is no longer a perennial pushover. The Green Bay win alone gives him a decent shot at coaching somewhere next season. If not here, that somewhere could be with the Jaguars or Dolphins. See above, then review recent history against ex-Chiefs coordinators. Don’t forget to take into account the guy calling in offensive plays for the Raiders.
Kyle Orton too. Unlike Crennel, Orton isn’t a long term solution. He’s not even all that great of a short term solution. He is, however, a real NFL quarterback. If you doubt that, take a look back at the perfectly executed lookoff on the Terrance Copper completion. That, to me, is a requisite skill. When Matt Cassel develops that skill, I’ll call him a real quarterback too. I’ll spare a rehash of the revenge storyline, but if a win helps Orton exorcise a few demons, I support that. Let him embarrass Von Miller the way Derrick Johnson embarrassed him at Mile High two years ago.
On that note, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Don’t drink anything I wouldn’t drink (cheap wine, cheap tequila, anything that comes in a plastic bottle, and any beer labeled Light or Lite). I personally will be welcoming 2012 by launching a barrage of fireworks of dubious legality in my county whilst blasting “Don’t Speak (I Came To Make A Bang)” by The Eagles Of Death Metal through a stereotypically 1980s boombox. Please send bail money to my father’s PayPal account.