My father watched the Royals religiously, every single game with passion. Now I'm not a big baseball fan, so I never got it, the passion I mean. Then I sat down with him, and tried to understand it. It was not the player’s performances he would get excited about. It was not the pitching, the fielding, or the hitting he was concentrating on. It was the game management he was so into. When do you go to the bullpen? Who do you bring out? When do you steal? When do you bunt? I still don't like baseball. The pace is too slow. The players are soft. It's all about the money, and any sport where players can wear jewelry isn't a sport in my book, but I get him now because that's how I am with the Chiefs, and he was too. We are not armchair quarterbacks. We are couch coaches.
I love football because on any given Sunday anything can happen. In my opinion the talent of the skill positions is not the most important factor in consistent winning. While it is a factor, the guys wearing the headsets and the offensive and defensive fronts are far more important. To quote my dad, "You can manufacture runs without homerun hitters." This point is not my main point, so I will only cite one team in recent memory, and that was Dick Vermeil’s Chiefs. We did not have Faulk, Holt, Bruce, or Warner not even close at the skill positions, but that offense was still a juggernaut. My point is all the talent we added these past few months is great, but the thing that will make us winners again is what we let go. Let us recap the past three years from a couch coach's perspective.
In 2009 a short time after the Chiefs hired Todd Haley I remember reading an article in the newspaper about a disgruntled and offended Brian Waters. He went to 1 Arrowhead Drive to introduce himself to the new regime, and the encounter did not leave him with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Flash forward a week after Haley was hired by the Steelers and Big Ben was commenting on how he hadn't got so much as phone call from his new coordinator. This was a foreshadowing of things to come and the first red flag for me.
Dwayne Bowe started the 2009 training camp fourth on the depth chart for no other reason than to prove a point. A point that was apparently more important than getting the best and only receiver synced up with his new quarterback. After a disappointing offensive showing in the preseason Haley fired Chan Gailey weeks before the start of the regular season. Chan Gailey was and still is a respected offensive mind around the league, but he was not Haley’s guy. He already was handcuffed to a quarterback he did not want. I guess since Haley was the one accountable, his words, scrapping the offensive scheme the team had spent the entire offseason practicing right before the start of the season made good football sense to him.
In week one of 2009 against the Ravens Derrick Johnson was benched and only started 3 games that year. One was the last game against Denver where he intercepted 3 passes returning 2 for touchdowns. Many people want to credit benching him for his improvement, but I say that despite his struggles converting from a 4-3 OLB to a 3-4 WILB Derrick Johnson would have made plays all season because that is what he had done since being drafted. He made plays that potentially changed the game. Benching a game changer did not make good football sense to me.
Despite starting as the #4 receiver and serving a 4 game suspension in weeks 10-13 Dwayne Bowe managed to start 9 games in 2009. I think the contradiction there for Haley was better than losing the best player on his side of the ball. I got that because that is how felt about Derrick Johnson, but Bowe was only the best offensive player before Larry Johnson yapped himself out of a job and made way for Jamaal Charles. Before then Charles had doubled Johnson’s per play production in Haley’s offense, but still Haley elected to watch Johnson run into the backs of his offensive linemen and refuse to pass block for the first half of the season. Good football sense tells me to give the guy averaging over 5 yards per carry more carries than the guy averaging 2.
In 2010 Scott Pioli brought in 2 renowned coordinators on both sides of the ball. Two guys Hailey would not dream of challenging for supremacy. The result was a productive 2010 campaign that produced an AFC West title, but sadly ended with a playoff loss to a very good Baltimore Raven team. A game I thought was lost by turnovers in the first half and panicked play calling in the second. I know we were behind, but Jamaal Charles had nearly 100 yards in the first half and was barely used in the second. Instead of staying composed and doing what we did best we turned the game over to Matt Cassel, his only receiver in Dwayne Bowe, and a questionable offensive line in regards to pass protection. Listening to the media give credit to the Ravens for shutting Charles down in the second half was maddening salt to my wounds. That was my only complaint that year.
Finally there was last season, an offense scheme that had 2009 and Todd Haley written all over it. A three coach play calling system that not only caused delay of game penalties and added pressure by taking up precious time, but allowed Haley to put his stamp on every play, and had Jim Zorn acting as Matt Cassel’s handler. We all were there. We saw the injuries. We also saw the transformation under Romeo Crennel. What I saw as couch coach was game planning and play calling that made good football sense in those last few games. I credit those games to the coaching staff not Kyle Orton. The only Orton factor that made a significant impact to me was the decision to start him over Palko. That is also why I knew that if it was not Peyton Manning, no one was going to replace Matt Cassel. I knew there would be no quarterback taken in the draft. I do not think Cassel was ever given a fair chance to succeed with the exception of 2010 given the talent of the line in front of him, and the chaos around him. My only hope is that Brian Daboll is not an offensive genius, but a football coach capable of creating game plans not philosophies, so I did a little checking(on YouTube).
In Miami Daboll used a lot of single back sets. He uses a lot of 2 TE, in fact the TE rarely came out which explains the interest in a third TE like Dallas Clark. Daboll also used a single back with 3 WR, 1 TE, and 1 HB. The TE sometimes lined up tight, other times the TE split out wide, and they even motioned into an empty backfield with that personnel package. Usually when the offense was spread the QB was in shotgun. He also used a 3 HB 2 TE formation splitting one back out wide. My football sense tells me that one might become my favorite considering the backs we have and their skill sets.
One of the things I noticed was his offensive look changed every year depending on the weapons he had at his disposal. The one thing I particularly paid close attention to was the number of players going out into routes on pass plays. That number was consistently 4-5. I’m guessing that is what he meant by an attacking offense. That tickles me especially because if I had to watch our offense run one more 2 route pass play my TV would end up broken because unless you are inside the five that one makes no football sense to me. He ran 469 times and passed 469 times in 2011. I am guessing he favors the ground game because had the Dolphins been winning in more of their games the number of runs would have gone up. I hope he comes up with some 4-5 wide receiver formations because after the draft I like our depth there, and I think it makes good football sense to use that to our advantage.
All in all I am encouraged for no other reason than Todd Haley and his ego are no longer things that will ruin my Sundays. Given the chaos and instability he created particularly on the offensive side of the ball I think this team, Matt Cassel included, is just getting started. I completely understand the "SWAG" the Chiefs organization is displaying that was recently questioned by members of the media. In fact I find it contagious. I am buying in, all in, because so far there has been no foreshadowing or red flags about the 2012 Chiefs. When asked what it is like under Coach Crennel Brandon Flowers gave a telling answer to the past and what is to come. He said "It’s just a positive spirit all the way around. He gives his coaches the leeway to just go out there and just coach without anyone standing over them watching them."
I pray we stay healthy because the stage is set. Call it Cinderella, call it a dog’s day, call it whatever you like because my football sense is tingling and telling me it is our year.
Sorry no pretty pictures. I'm still working on my blogging sense.
What are your senses telling you?
Chiefs stink. (2 votes)
I'm allergic to generic quarterbacks. (23 votes)
I still have the taste of 4 decades of decaying broken hearts in my mouth. Only a Super Bowl will clense my dirty rotten shame, or Orbit gum. (45 votes)
It's always gravy. I heart gravy. I am a sucker for gravy. (26 votes)
Smells good and I can't wait to taste it. (245 votes)
No matter how good it tastes now, it always turns to crap in the end. (16 votes)
I eat what I'm given, or I'll just get it again for breakfast. (20 votes)
377 total votes