Oh yes! The Chiefs are back baby! En route to take the division back from the evil clutches of our unworthy rivals and show the NFL that Bowe, Cassel and the rest of this offense means business! Ok. That was probably a bit much, but this team has me pretty jacked up right now. Crap opponents? Don't really care. Overcoming 17 points on the road is no easy task, I don't care what team you play. Last time I checked, this is still the NFL, and the Colts and Vikes still have pros playing ball, not high school kids. Just had to get that off my chest. That's not the point of this post, and is honestly almost completely unrelated.
The point of this post is to focus on the bye week. For players, it's a chance to recover from injuries and get a chance to regain some energy. For coaches, it's a chance to review the season to this point and make any changes they feel are necessary. And for fans it's a chance to over analyze the season to the point of beating it to death while you wait for your team to resume play. I believe there are three phases to a fan's bye week, and it involves: reviewing the season up to this point, reveling (or revolting) in your team's current status, and looking forward to what the future holds. So... I figured this would be as good as time as any to post about those three aspects, so let's get to it:
Reviewing The Past:
Ouch. I'm no masochist, but I kind of felt the need to think about the start of this season. The despair. The loss of Moeaki, Charles and Berry, all happening so fast we had to cry out to the football gods: "Why?!?! Why us?!". The Suck for Luck freight train that was ready to take us all the way into April 2012. No doubt it was bad. But you know... I think we might have overlooked something from that first quarter of the season. Something that seems to have almost completely slipped our minds: The rib injury to Matt Cassel. Matt Cassel was no doubt putrid for the first few weeks. And I absolutely mean that. He wasn't just bad. He was putrid. He was skittish, he refused to throw for more than 5 yards at a time, and seemed to say "forget this" and would just dump the ball off to any Chief within his 5 yard throw radius.
No doubt it was frustrating. Here was our Pro Bowl QB (please save the argument for why he shouldn't have been a pro bowler, I get it, that's not the point), unable to throw the ball down field and unable to exhibit any kind of pocket presence. It seems we were all ready to throw in the towel and march up to Arrowhead with torches and pitchforks in hand and demand that Haley and Pioli turn Cassel over to us. In hindsight though... we may have been a little premature in writing off Cassel and the season. If you remember, in game 4 of the preseason, this fat bastard ran through the OL unchecked and pancaked Matt:
Is this an excuse for Matt's horrendous play? Yes. Yes it is. The injury was never fully disclosed (fracture or bruise), I don't think, but regardless, a rib injury would have to be a bitch for a guy who's job is to throw a ball around and occasionally get tackled by 300 lb men, and they generally take around 3-6 weeks to heal. Is this an excuse for the play calling? Yes. Yes it is. All of a sudden, to me at least, those constant screens to Dexter and the dump offs to Pope make a hell of a lot of sense when you consider that your QB is potentially being limited by an injury. I guess my main question would be: "why didn't they play Palko or Stanzi if they had to limit their play calling because of Cassel?". And the obvious answer to that may very well be: Palko sucks and Stanzi isn't ready.
And I have some interesting info to back up this claim defending Cassel, so bear with me for a moment:
Looking at these stats is interesting. Against GB, he looked good. I remember he looked calm, collected and was making some really nice passes. He threw for an 88% completion rate, and had 7 yards per pass play. Then the next two weeks came, after the injury, and he looked like crap. Unable to throw down field, skittish in the pocket, etc. Did Cassel just get worse all of a sudden after preseason week 4? I don't think so. I think he was hurt. Because if you look at the difference in his play about 4 weeks later (the MIN game), you can see a huge difference. Is it coincidence that a few bruised ribs can take about 4 weeks to heal up? I don't think so. I think Matt was fighting that injury and Muir and Haley were game planning around it. That's my take. What do you guys think?
Reveling In The Present:
Things are looking up Chiefs fans! Matt Cassel seems to have gotten his head out of his ass (or his ribs are healing up, whatever), Dwayne Bowe is tearing up the NFL, and making defensive backs look like his imported hoes... seriously though, If Calvin Johnson is Megatron, then Dwayne bowe is freaking Optimus Prime. Breaston is proving to be a viable second option, Baldwin is about to actually step on the field... and some dude name Jackie Battle just ran roughshod all over Indy, and helped seal the win for us the week before that. Who? Jackie. Jackie Battle. Say that again? Jackie. Meh... no disrespect to Battle, but the name just doesn't fit. This guy looks to be a viable option to send out to punish a defense. I just can't call him Jackie. Jackie sounds like a guy that is more likely to cook a nice meatloaf, carry your luggage or get you a cup of coffee... he definitely doesn't sound like a guy that's going to lower his shoulder, hit you and stomp a mud hole in your ass, which is what he's been doing the last couple of games, plus in the 2010 preseason.
Now Jack Battle... I can get down with that name. I can just see a conversation between a Chiefs fan and a non-Chiefs fan:
Non-fan: "Who's your RB?"
Chiefs fan: "Jack Battle".
Non-fan: "Damn, that sounds like a name a RB would have. What's he like?"
Chiefs fan: "He'll run you the fuck over, laugh, and look like a boss while doing it"
I'm dead serious. If Jackie went by Jack Battle I almost guarantee you that he would have been playing on offense long before now. You just don't deny a man named Jack Battle a damn thing. If a 6'-2" 240 lb mound of muscle walked into my office and said "Hi, I'm Jack Battle", I'd do one one of two things: A.) Either give him my wallet, car keys and watch, even if he didn't ask for them, or B.) Demand to know where the rest of the Black Ops team was. That's the kind of name that can make a grown man have a mid life crisis. Seriously. Somewhere, a guy named Johnny Smith just broke down in tears when he realized there are names like Jack Battle out there. If Battle is smart he'll read this, take it to heart, and send a notice out to Chiefs Nation that Jack Battle is what he prefers to go by from now on, and he'll be taking 90% of Thomas Jones' snaps and a 12 million a year pay raise now.
Looking Towards the Future:
Beards. Beards are in our future. Todd Haley confirmed it. He refuses to shave, as long as KC keeps winning. I'm joining this bandwagon as well. I may be the cause, too. Before the Vikes game, I shaved clean. Haven't touched a razor since. My wife and boss be damned, I'm going full on hobo along with my team's head coach. I hear a lot of APers exhibiting the same resolve as me and coach Haley on growing out our facial bushes, so I want to give a quick warning. I was originally going to do some in depth research into what beards have done for teams in the past, but now realize that this post is getting kind of long. So I'll just use a quick example to prove my point: Beards hold magical properties for NFL teams that take them seriously. I mean, just look at this guy and try to refute that:
It's no coincidence that this guy's beard was on the NFL's 2nd best defense last year. And Brett Keisel, bless his heart, decided to shave this beast off during Super Bowl Week for charity. And the Steelers lost the Super Bowl. It's like the beard knew what Brett was planning, and said, "you know what Brett... I brought you this far. ME. And now you decide to cut me out before we finish this season?" And at that, the beard cursed him, and the Steelers. So you see, the power of the NFL beard is a very real power. And with great power, comes great responsibility.
So let that be a warning to any that are willing to take on the responsibility, and thus power that a beard can bring. Do not take this lightly. If you decide to do this, you have to reassure your beard that you are in for the long haul. There can be no half assed beard growing. You have to go either all in or none at all. Don't even consider cutting it, because think about it... the beard is attached to your face... It knows what you're thinking. Keep in mind this could go on for quite a while... especially with Matt Cassel all healed up and ready to throw, and Jack Battle chomping at the bit to crush anyone that stands in his way.