Yea though I walk through the valley... Psalm 23:4a
So here we are. Once again we look up from the valley of despair, however, this year's view is a lot different than the '12 campaign. The year of dysfunction and trauma gave way to one of cautious optimism. The promise built through a stunning but not surprising accelerated re-birth. Yet, just as Icarus we flew to close to the sun and were brought back to earth on Saturday. Now every fan has a theory about what went wrong this year or who to blame, and while these debates bring a sort of catharsis for some, the sting of this year is magnified by a couple of stark realities.
Better to be lucky than good. - Lefty Gomez
Losing to the Colts in the way we did bruised Chiefs' fans deeply and it really falls along a couple of lines. First is Andrew Luck. The elite prototypical quarterback of the future, who most Chief's fans hoped we would be in a position to draft in 2012. Luck, so far, has proved to be everything most football fans want in a QB. He has proved to be clutch and able to overcome his own mistakes and he has already built the aura that encompasses so many of the all time greats. Now what Luck did to us on Saturday was two-fold. He made us to realize that Alex Smith, while a good QB especially the second half of the season and most of the day Saturday just isn't at that level. Alex hasn't had that moment where he is able to convert the big play with the game on the line. Alex played incredible on Saturday. 30-46 for 378 yards, 4 TDs, 0 ints 8 carries for 57 yards all while the rest of the structure of the offense was dropping like flies. However, we've seen this before this year notably verse Denver and SD in KC. Just like the Denver game, Alex had a chance at the end of the game and he made a great throw but again Bowe was defended. And just like the SD game, Alex had put KC in a position to win but too much time was left for a great QB.
Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This brings us to the second stark reality. The once venerated defense became as Samson without his hair. For a unit where we have invested most heavily, one with 5 pro bowlers, and 5 first rounders you expect better. Defense is so ingrained into the fabric of Chiefs football that visions of DT and Neil Smith came to mind with watching Hali and Houston at the beginning of the year. After a promising start, this defense morphed into the 2003 version of our beloved Chiefs. Just as that team finished 3-4 in it's last 7, this version faltered at the end to a 2-5 finish although the last San Diego game should carry an asterik. It's not just that this defense faltered, they fooled us all. Where we dare not give Alex Smith the benefit of the doubt because of the ghosts of Chiefs' QBs past, we gave great leeway to a Defense many heralded as historic due to our deep love of the glory days of Chiefs defenses past. We were willing to fool ourselves by telling ourselves that this Defense would give up big plays because they are so aggressive but it would be alright because we would get takeaways and while we might bend a defense with so many stars surely wouldn't break. And yet it seemed after about the 7th game of the season the stars began to fall from the heavens, yet because we kept winning the alarms didn't sound.
The weakest link in a chain is the strongest because it can break it - Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
What is missed in all of our consternation over Alex Smith's lack of elite transcendence or the defensive collapse is the fact that while John Dorsey pulled a rabbit out of his hat this year with building the roster, it still has miles to go. This was never more evident then late this season, when early season wunderkid Marcus Cooper had his confidence crushed as he was attacked time and time again giving up yards in bunches. Because of this we brought back the broken down Dunta Robinson, who the coaching staff and front office recognized belonged on the bench which is why he was moved there early in the game on Saturday. The problem is Dunta was the best we could do as a reserve. For all of Dorsey's great decisions, this is one that missed. They believed that he could be a stop gap for the next couple years in the nickle and it became painful obvious in the Giants game that Dunta would not be the starting nickle we hoped. This was masked earlier because of Cooper's great play. John Dorsey knew at the beginning of the year that the bottom of the roster was weak, hence the churnning that seemed to be an almost daily occurrence. While he did upgrade from the 2-14 team, our lack of good quality depth on defense, at TE and WR kept us just out of the reach of being great. And I for one believe John Dorsey knows this. I believe that the front office will be ready for this off season with a strong gameplan to upgrade our depth.
These are the times that try men's souls... - Thomas Paine
While there are other areas that can be debated like Andy Reid's overwhelming love of the pass, Bob Sutton's overwhelming disdain for halftime adjustments, or Eric Berry safety/LB but not really either, you have to believe that much can be overcome as long as Dorsey makes the right moves. With the right cuts, extensions, salary cap manuevers, a strong draft and prudent free agency this Chiefs' team will rise from the ashes. For you Alex Smith pessimists, we can only hope he gets that one game where he drives the team to a fourth quarter comeback win. Once this happens his transendence will begin. For you defensive pessimists, an attacking DE to replace Tyson Jackson, along with a high football IQ FS and a strong secondary slot corner can begin the restoration of a mighty defense. If these occur, we will no longer be looking from the valley rather we will be looking from the mountaintop and the pain of Saturday will be a distant memory. Next move, John Dorsey