Good evening Chiefs fans. Sorry about the late post, but I was on another thread here at AP commenting and lost track of the time. In addition, let me apologize for last week. (What the heck am I talking about?) It seems that the holiday season got me all turned about and I forgot what day it was. Instead of posting on Tuesday, I posted on Monday. I didn't even realize I had done it until Wednesday evening. What can you expect from an idiot? Chris, Joel, and the Arrowhead Pride readers are getting a level of competency equal to the salary I earn for this gig.
Now that we all know just how sorry I am let's get into this weeks topic so I'll have something to be ashamed of for the remainder of the week. Without further ado : Cheese Wheels and Stereophonic Headphones
*** Just Kidding. Only 1 of you is going to find that even slightly amusing, but that's okay because I wrote it just for you.
Any good Chiefs fan is already well aware that we've employed four offensive coordinators over the last three seasons (Chan Gailey, Todd Haley, Charlie Weis, and Bill Muir). As the team sits today we'll most likely be hiring another one for 2012. With each new coordinator came a new, or majorly tweaked, offensive scheme. Matt Cassel has had more different playbooks to learn in his career than anyone except Jason Campbell, and it shows. No, I'm not about to make any excuses for Matt Cassel, but I am going to imply that the ever swinging door at offensive coordinator is the biggest contributor to the lack of improvement by the Chiefs offense. If I were Matt Cassel I would have handed Bill Muir back the playbook this past off season and told him, "Nah, I'm gonna skip that one, and just wait for the next new one."
Sitting here at my desk, I'm surrounded by stacks of paperwork on all sides piled higher than my monitor stands. Namely, I'm buried in play by play, quarter by quarter, and game by game drive charts for the Chiefs 2011 offense. (Hint: all this information may somehow make it's way into a post sometime during the long off season ahead) Without making things overly complicated (or even remotely complicated), the short story is: The Chiefs offense sucked. Sure, there were bright spots and small success stories. Yes, the outcome was hindered by injuries and play calling; but the bottom line remains. The Chiefs offense is just plain bad. The reasons are many, but the number one culprit is lack of consistency.
Look no further than the a fore mentioned Jason Campbell for the proof. Having suffered three offensive coordinators in three seasons Campbell had to start over again every year with the Redskins. He was eventually traded to the Raiders and yet another new system. Finally, in 2011, he was afforded the opportunity to start a season without starting over on the offensive scheme. Hue Jackson moved from coordinator to head coach, and nothing else changed for Campbell. The Raiders quarterback came out firing on all cylinders, and had the best start to a season of his career; as well as the most consistency from game to game that he'd ever shown. Things were finally looking up for Mr. Campbell. His career looked to be on an upswing that it sorely needed. For all the potential Campbell had shown, he'd never been able to turn the corner from a mediocre quarterback to a true unquestioned starter. Campbell would be secure in his job for the first time in his career, and would act as a mentor to a supplemental draft prospect in Pryor.
And then..... in one hit, it was all over. Campbell was out injured. He made moves to rush himself into surgery so that his recovery timetable could have him back on the field in late November (all things going well) or early December. Campbell underwent the necessary procedures, only to wake up from surgery to the news that the Raiders had traded for Carson Palmer. The now infamous trade all but assured that Campbell's career in Oakland was over. After the team traded away a possible two first round picks for Palmer, there was no need for him to rush his recovery anymore. If Campbell is lucky enough to get another quarterback job in 2012, it will most likely be for a new team, coordinator, and scheme. So much for consistency.
Matty Nice is out injured. He's already had four coordinators with a fifth one on the way. Is it really a shock to anyone that the offense has not been able to make the same kind of strides over the last three seasons that the defense has accomplished? You'll never hear Cassel complain publicly about the inconsistencies in coaching and scheme that he's had to deal with.. so I'll do it for him.
The Chiefs have weapons on offense. Dwayne Bowe is a big talented receiver that can run a slant and make a lot of yards after the catch. He's the same kind of receivers that Todd Haley had a hand in developing for the Cardinals. Bowe's not a speed daemon, but he isn't asked to be one either. Dwayne Bowe is a more talented receiver than Boldin and, I believe, as polished as Fitz. If Bowe ever finds a cure for the dropsies he could set all time Chiefs records. And yet, with another new coordinator and another new scheme Bowe will be forced to spend the off season learning how to do things the way the new guy wants them done instead of polishing the edges on a scheme he's already familiar with.
Breaston and Baldwin will be headed into their second years as Chiefs with new coaches and a new system to learn. Breaston likely came to Kansas City at least in part due to his prior relationship with Haley, and will suffer the same 'new scheme' bumps as Bowe. Baldwin, having had no off-season as a rookie, has the easiest path under a new offensive system. However, he may be asked to throw out everything he's spent a season learning to start from scratch.
An offensive system is more than pass patterns. It's blocking assignments, blitz reads, and stunts as well. Our returning offensive linemen will be coming back to face possible wholesale changes to the system. We'll likely be fielding a new starting center that has to call the protections, and they may not be the same protections he's spent all season learning.
Timing is everything to an offense. Each piece of the machine must be able to quickly and correctly identify their responsibility and then execute it. A quarterback has to be able to trust that the receivers will peel off their routes after reading the oncoming blitz. The running backs must follow the protection calls of the center and the quarterback so they know if they need to block, run, chip, or make themselves available in the flat. And of course, the quarterback and his receivers have to be in tune enough with each other to develop pattern recognition, route timing, and to know each others preferences in any given situation. The icing on the cake is that all eleven players have to be able to trust that the men on either side of them know what to do, and will be able to do it when the ball is snapped. The cherry on the icing is the rapport (see uptman, I do learn) the quarterback and receivers must develop in timing pattern throws
A new scheme puts every player in doubt, and rounds the edges on every piece of the puzzle. Once again, the Chiefs will be starting a season with ill fitting puzzle pieces and less than complete trust in each other. Todd Haley is gone and his base system leaves with him. We will be scrambling to install a new offense during camp, and likely bungling it all up for at least the first quarter of the season (if not longer) before the offense begins to truly gel. In Texas Hold'em terms, the Chiefs are going to bluff their way through the flop while praying on the river card to keep them in the hand, yet again.
The most important decision of Romeo Crennel's head coaching run for the Chiefs is likely the first one he'll have to answer. Who should he hire as an offensive coordinator? Considering Crennel's age, the next few years will probably his last run at a title. The defense seems to have turned the corner and threatens to break into it's stride. The offense, on the other hand, has stalled in the blocks for yet another season. I don't claim to know much about offensive football, but I know this: The Chiefs are desperately in need of consistency at the offensive coordinator position. Romeo's hire has to last longer than one season. The new OC has got to be the horse the Chiefs hitch their buggy to for years, not months.
*** In a completely separate argument: With the entire offense starting over from scratch, will there ever be a better time to put a rookie quarterback on the field to build the offense around?