Press the pause button, if you can reach it. Breathe deep. Grab a cup of coffee (or a beer, depending on how early you start) and just enjoy this chance to take a step back. Now that it's the bye week, it's time to get a bit of distance.
The reason I say that because it's essential to get some space - from all of the emotion, the opinions, the slurs and drama. Forget every questionable coaching call, the carousel we call player acquisition and the newest addition to the VH-1 Divas program in Larrieta Johnson. Because - believe it or not - we're exactly where we thought we'd be at this point in the season.
And that's really the only reason I can take this '09 version of the Chiefs in stride - because I knew it'd be this bad. We knew it would be this bad. That was the talk before the season. Sure, some were saying weird things like "Chiefs will go 10-6" but those are the same people who get ready for the comet every time it passes overhead. And if you don't believe me, see if some of these sound familiar:
1. Todd Haley's Coaching - The questions in hiring Todd Haley right after he rode the Cardinals hot streak into the playoffs are the same questions Chiefs fans (and maybe players) still have today. Is there the right amount of experience? Why Haley over so many other proven head coaches and promising assistant coaches? Will his emotional approach work or will he be too hot-headed? And can he make the jump to head coach effectively, seeing as it's not just a quick step up from a coordinator position?
Here we sit at the bye week wondering the same things. To Haley's credit, he's definitely held his tongue in recent weeks. But some of the head coaching decisions have been questionable from the outset: taking over play calling right before the season? Hiring Clancy Pendergast as the defensive coordinator, who had just been fired from his own team? I would definitely credit the conditioning program to lose so much weight in Chiefs camp, but is it okay to keep that intensity and lose your players with a militaristic approach? It seems the best teams enjoy an ebb and flow to things.
2. Team Clancy - Speaking of, eyebrows were raised at this hiring as well, wondering what would happen with our defense under a coordinator previously unwanted. And here we are wondering why our secondary is regressing (seemingly) from last season, why Derrick Johnson is a Scooby Doo spirit who appears and then disappears and whether we're making many strides at all. One week, we hold our own on the road against the 'Skins only to get fleeced at home by San Diego.
3. The Roster-Go-Round - We saw this one coming. Scott Pioli was famous for turning over the New England roster to acquire every sort of draft pick or other players as he saw fit - and that was with one of the NFL's greatest dynasties. What did you think he'd do with one of the league's doormats? So we knew that we'd been seeing a lot of former players walk and new one come through. And this will continue to be the case for the next 9 months (and then some) as the season progresses and off-season looms.
4. The Record - Ultimately, this is what was most predictable. Sitting with one win in the first half was the reality before us. Some refused to believe it, sure, but I think most of us realized the Chiefs were just a bad team. And bad teams - the really, really bad ones - don't get better overnight. Sure there are "overnight" success stories in the NFL but the reality is those teams were waiting to burst through with a couple offseasons of solid player acquisitions and stars at the right roster spots.
The Chiefs, however, have questions all over the field - and even on the sidelines. This is going to take a while. We might even steal a couple more wins in the second half. But ultimately, you are what your record says you are and I've a feeling it won't get much better, if at all, in 2009.