EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 11: Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets is sacked by Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs during their game at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
The New York Jets had few problems as they deposed of the Kansas City Chiefs, 37-10, on Sunday afternoon at the New Meadowlands Stadium. This loss affirms what many folks have believed for a while -- the Chiefs are not going to the playoffs.
I wrote this this story early Monday morning before the news came down about Todd Haley. It's fitting then that the story line I led with was this:
The fate of head coach Todd Haley. The Chiefs had eight penalties called on them in one drive against the Jets offense and that drive, more than any other moment this year, led me to believe that Todd Haley may not come back as the Chiefs head coach. i know there are plenty of reasons for him not to return but I always felt that, more than likely, he would be back. I didn't have any insider information or anything like that -- it was just a feeling I had. Now, after that drive when it appeared the Chiefs were melting down, I'm shifting gears regarding Haley's fate. I'm just not sure I see him returning. Maybe the decision has been made -- one way or the other -- but I think now I would be surprised if Haley returned. There are three games remaining, so things can change, but this game, as Sam Mellinger wrote in the KC Star, may have made the decision easier.
Yesterday felt different. Maybe I was just starting to feel what many of you felt weeks (or even months) ago. That one drive when Haley got the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was as if the team was melting down before our eyes, a sign of what was to come.
But, getting away from the Chiefs head coach stuff for a few minutes, here are the other story lines I had from the game:
Tyler Palko vs. Ricky Stanzi. Yes, we need another quarterback controversy. No, really, we do. We know exactly who Tyler Palko is and it's not very good. That doesn't mean he's not a good guy or doesn't try hard or work hard, but he's just not an NFL quarterback. The Chiefs would be well-served, in my opinion, to give Stanzi a chance down the stretch. The excuses for not playing him are running out. Playing the final three games won't make or break Stanzi's NFL career but at least it shows the Chiefs are playing for the future because, right now, playing for the present, which means playing Stanzi, might actually be hurting the team in the future.
The Chiefs defense is the future of this team. No they're horrible. Wait, they're the future. Nah, they're not any good. That's what it feels like when trying to figure out what this team does well. You have a defensive unit who, in the last two weeks, played terrific football and gave the Chiefs a chance to win. It appeared that the identity of this team was that defense and the emergence of a pass rush. But can we really say that when this team has been completely blown out in five of their eight losses this year? Five losses by four touchdowns. That's insane and you can't pin the future hopes of a team on a unit that gives up points like that. The Chiefs defense is inconsistent which, unfortunately, is the best thing we can say about them. (It's better than the offense, who isn't even inconsistent because they never show flashes of being good.)
Individual Chiefs still have something to play for. The Chiefs season may be in the tank but a couple of important players still have something to play for. Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr are among two Chiefs without a contract next year and this offseason KC will have to decide what to do with both of them. That means both those players still have something to play for, there's still motivation there. You can tell a lot about a person looking at how they play when there's nothing to play for. I'll be doing that with both Bowe and Carr.
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