Paresthesia. It's the technical term for the numbness and tingling that happens when a limb "falls asleep." A lot of times, it's benign and goes away within a few minutes to a few hours. But other times, it's long standing. It is evidence of another deeper problem, and can cause much bigger problems in itself. I have had to treat patients with foot ulcers that have developed because of this numbness. I have had to wrap them in walking boots with thick padding to keep the sores from festering, becoming necrotic, and infecting the limb down to the bone. In less successful cases, I have had to help cut off the infected limb, taking off as much of the leg as necessary in order to save what viable tissue is left.
Why this healthcare foray on a sports blog? Because it is a good analogy of how I feel about my team right now. Numb.
I saw the game against the Bucs as a vindication of sorts for Matt Cassel. Actually, let me clarify: I saw most of the game against the Bucs as a vindication of sorts for Matt Cassel. I didn't see all of it as such, because my data connection to the game mercifully went down well before the end. I didn't get to see the Chief's only touchdown of the game because of it, but I also wasn't forced to see 17 points we allowed to follow it. Back to the point though, I think the game proved that, though he is bad, Matt Cassel is not the sole reason for our outrageous failure. I would go so far as to say he is not even the biggest source of failure on this team. With the floundering of Brady Quinn on Sunday, Matt Cassel is proven to be quite incompetent and a victim of circumstance, rather than just totally incompetent.
I wish it were not so. I, like many Chief's fans, was hoping that a change in the most important position on the team would be enough to yield different results. I believed it. I was wrong. Consider: The Chiefs have not held a lead during regulation of any of their first six games. Not one second of any game has ticked by that the Chiefs have had a lead. (aside: for those of you advocating sitting out a quarter of the Raiders game, I would suggest sitting out until our offense is able to get a lead). The 2008 Detroit Lions, famous for their season of futility, never had a six game streak during which they could not get a lead for any length of time. Their season opened up on a five game stretch that their opponents scored first, and that was the longest streak they had that entire season. The Lions had 29 total turnovers that entire season. The Chiefs have 21 after just six games. At the team's current pace, the Chiefs would be about 5 shy of the record for most turnovers in a season, and would shatter the record for worst season giveaway-takeaway margin at -40. The current holders of the worst season g/t margin, the '65 Steelers, had a margin of -30, -10 of which coming in a single game.
Again, like most, I hoped Quinn would make a difference. He has. The team offensively was worse than it was with Cassel. They amassed a grand total of 260 yards, 15 first downs, and three points scored by the offense, all team lows on the season. Jamaal Charles, Mr. 5+ ypc, averaged just 3.3 yards, his lowest since the Bills game, when he had only 6 carries due to a sore knee. Brady Quinn has not had much time to prove himself on this team, and has not had a lot of practice with the first team, but by some objective measures he is definitely not an upgrade over Cassel. Looking at it a different way, the stat lines of their first games as starters with the team. Cassel in 2009 vs. the Raiders, Quinn last Sunday vs. the Bucs, both losses:
Matt Cassel: 24/39, 241, 1, 2, 6.1 y/a
Brady Quinn: 22/38, 180, 0,2, 4.7 y/a
Matt Cassel was playing at home, Brady Quinn had arguably a better team around him. You can debate the color of brown they are, but they are still both horse apples. Brady Quinn is not a better quarterback. He may have potential, he may have intangibles, but potential and intangibles by definition don't directly show up on the scoreboard. What's more, the same problems that have been plaguing Matt Cassel this season, tipped passes and defensive pressure in particular, were also a problem for Brady Quinn.
But why was it- why is it- that I wanted Brady Quinn to perform when Cassel did not? Because, a quarterback is one fix. Not easy, mind you, but singular. If the quarterback isn't the reason this team is stinking-on-ice, there are much bigger systemic problems with the team. Replacing a quarterback is relatively easy with a good draft pick. Replacing a system suggests a rebuild; another rebuild. Romeo Crennel was retained in part to prevent from having to do another rebuild. We have so much talent on this team, or so we are told. I had bought in to the narrative that this team is well built, and is only missing a quarterback. Last year, this team was 7-9 without Jamaal Charles. This year it is 1-5 with him. Last year, we were blown out in five games the whole season, including the four games with Palko as the starter. This year, we have been blown out in four games and were down by as much as 18 in another after just 6 games. If this team has so much talent, and presumably more than last year, why do we keep losing? Why are we bucking for the title of worst in the League? Why do I feel like our offensive game tapes should be set to the theme of Sanford and Son and airing on America's Funniest Home Videos?
This team is numb to success even in the few moments it is able to achieve. It knows that every accomplishment (Justin Houston's interception) will be met by an equal and opposite failure (a Brady Quinn pick off a tipped ball). Every failure is compounded by another failure. Call it snake-bit, star-crossed, cursed, whatever you want. This team has a habit of losing. With each passing game, the evidence mounts that we don't need an episode of Home Again, with Bob Vila, we need an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The leg cant be saved, we need to amputate. Even if most of the players are great and we want to keep them (I'm not sure either way yet), this team and it's system are incompatible with winning.