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The Chiefs And The Element Of Surprise

That game was awful. It was ridiculous. It was painful. It was disgusting. It was gross. Like I said to AP commenter NaNz, I felt like I was watching my oldest son get beat up by a girl.  I mean, it was almost amusing at a certain point. So we'll throw that word in there too: amusing.  Also strange, and blah.

One thing that game SHOULDN'T have been, though, was... surprising.

Why on earth were we surprised? Why was I? Why did I keep waiting for Matt Cassel to unleash our powerful offense?  Why did I keep waiting for Jackie Battle to start running over Dolphin defenders?  Why was I waiting for someone to help Tamba Hali out with the pass rush?  Why was I stunned every time our offensive line was overwhelmed by the blitz?  Why was I surprised that our defense made Matt Moore look like a Pro Bowler?

Honestly, all the God-awful things we saw on Sunday, we've seen before. More than once, in most cases. Don't believe me? Fine, I'll explain to you why we shouldn't be surprised (even though I was. I'm more of a "do as I say, not as I do" kinda guy) by what happened on Sunday.

We shouldn't be surprised at terrible play calling

Look, I like Todd Haley. I want him to stick around. But why are we surprised week in and week out by absolutely terrible play calling? Sure, it's interspersed with some calls that are good, but there's ALWAYS at least a dozen or so plays called that make you scream at your TV, "Why?!  WHY????!!!!  Why would you give the ball to Dex close to the goal line???? You have a strong FB and RB, ram the freaking ball in the end zone!!!!!!!!"

This happens every. Single. Week. But yet, for some reason, I keep getting surprised. It's like my brain chooses to, every week, forget about the previous week's at-times-terrible play calling and I expect something better.  Yikes.

We ALSO shouldn't be surprised to see our team get blown out

Again, I like Todd. But what is up with the multiple blowouts every year? And why am I surprised when it happens?  No more. From here on out if we go down by 10 I'm going to fully expect a blowout.

Now, to be fair, the Colts game gave us hope that we'd learn to come back.  But let's face it.  The Colts are an absolute joke, and we had to overcome a 17 point deficit to beat them in the 2nd closest game they've played all year.  Are we going to often be playing a horrible team missing its franchise QB that has been getting blown out on a weekly basis? Nope. So until that particular circumstance repeats itself, I'm not going to hold my breath on comebacks.

"Chiefs Will.  But when they won't, they won't even make it interesting"

Just an idea for a new team motto.

We shouldn't be surprised that Jackie Battle isn't blossoming into our version of Jerome Bettis

Look, Battle's done a fine job for us in tough times. He's the best RB we currently have on the roster. But as a fan base we (and I) may have SLIGHTLY overestimated his ability. Yeah, he's pretty fast for a guy his size. Yeah, he's got good power.  But his lateral movement is roughly the equivalent of a tank.  He's not LeGarrette Blount.  He's just not athletic enough.

I'm happy he's on the roster and I think he'll be a great complement to JC when he's back, but clearly the Colts game isn't going to be the norm for him.  He, like most backs, is mostly a product of the blocking he gets. It's not his fault.  it's ours, for expecting greatness or even "good"-ness from a back who is likely best described as "average overall, with exceptional power once he gets going."

On a side note with Jackie, can't we as a team recognize this about him?  Why aren't we running him out of the I-Formation more often, with Le'Ron McClain paving the way?  Why are we running him out of a single back formation when he's clearly a guy who's better suited for slamming into a hole made by his FB?  Why? WHY? I demand to know the answer to this!

We shouldn't be surprised that our defense looked horrifyingly bad

We've got talent on defense. Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Tyson Jackson, Kelly Gregg, Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Kendrick Lewis, and Glenn Dorsey all range from slightly above average (Dorsey, Gregg, and Lewis) to elite (Hali, DJ).

The talent is there. Yet, every few weeks, our defense makes some quarterback look like the 2nd coming.  Why?

Honestly... I don't know.  There's a few theories out there.  That Brandon Flowers secretly sucks.  That our line is weak.  That our scheme is flawed. 

My theory is twofold... our scheme doesn't fit what we're trying to do.

For the type of coverage Romeo is looking for, there needs to be a pass rush from four guys (generally speaking).  Yet outside of Hali, we don't have a pass rusher.  Wallace Gilberry has batted a pass in the air but other than that has gone the route of Chris Chambers circa '10.  Justin Houston hasn't provided much and is put in coverage all too often.  T-Jax is vastly improved and a good DE, but doesn't get after the passer.  Dorsey's regressed.  Gregg is a prototypical NT.  In other words, we've got NO PASS RUSH. 

You cannot win in today's NFL without a pass rush.  Not when WR's can't be touched after 5 yards or knocked out after going across the middle.  Not when QB's don't have to watch their legs or worry about a late-arriving lineman smacking him into oblivion.  In today's NFL, you get there fast or you don't get there at all.  And we're not getting there fast.  Speaking of which...

We should not be surprised to see our line get bullied like they did

I don't expect Big Jon Asamoah to have such an awful game again anytime soon.  But really, what happened out there isn't anything new for our line.  It's just relatively different from what we've seen this year.  Miami went all in with blitzes and a "manhandle these punks!" attitude, and our line couldn't deal with it.

Now, in our line's defense, and as Bewsaf has pointed out, many of the blitzes brought on passing plays brought too many guys for our line to block.  And that's where play calling again comes into play.  When you're line is getting overwhelmed, you need to start calling plays to stop the other team from blitzing.  But barring that, it's on the QB to staunch the bleeding.  Which brings me to my final point.

We should not be surprised to see Matt Cassel wilt under fire

Look, I feel for Matt.  He actually held up for a while.  He was throwing the ball with authority early, moving around and trying to make stuff happen, and generally trying to just stay alive out there.  He wasn't completely terrible, and I blame the line and the play calling as much as our QB.  That said... he didn't really do anything to help us either.

It's the eternal question... when the line is failing you and the play calling isn't helping the situation, can you blame the QB for a stagnant offense?  Well... yeah.

Let's not kid ourselves.  Let's not tell ourselves the "Peyton Manning couldn't have done it out there!" fallacy.  You know what Manning would've done?  He'd have started calling out hot reads from the LOS, or even in the huddle.  Same with Brady, Rodgers, Brees, Ryan, or any other number of NFL quarterbacks.

"Hey, Dwayne!  Steve!  Look, they're blitzing every single time out there!  the middle of the field is wide open!  Let's make them pay!"- Is this so hard to say?

You can say Haley wouldn't let him.  You can say that's not under Cassel's control.  But I've seen Cassel audible plays.  I've seen him go to hot reads.  And he wasn't doing it here, now, when it was most needed.

Even worse, it broke him.  He was firing the ball to start the game.  Then the blitzes started getting to him, over and over again.  He made some nice "gamer" plays at first, but then developed "happy feet."  By the end of the game, they weren't even bringing pressure anymore and it didn't matter.  He made at least half a dozen horrible throws in the 3rd and 4th quarter.  They hit him, and broke him.

You can say all you want that any QB would've gotten happy feet under those circumstances.  I disagree.  I say any good QB would've started firing passes at the middle of the field, calling audibles at the LOS, and generally made them pay for blitzing every single play until they were forced to stop.  That's what a QB needs to do.  Lead the team out of a bad spot.  Not look to play calling or the O-line to bail him out.  Yeah, every QB needs some help.  But they also need to be good when things are going wrong, and be the guy who rights the ship.

I ask you, now... do you remember a game in which everything was going wrong, and Matt Cassel hitched us up on his shoulders and tossed us back into the game?  The Colts game, maybe.  Other than that... I'm not really finding it.  Which, after two and a half years as our starting QB, is a bad thing.  And that's why we shouldn't be surprised.

We should not be surprised that on some Sundays we suck, while on others we look pretty darn good

You know what we are?  Average.  We're an average team with some good players, some average players, and some below average players.  We don't have enough elite players to drag us above average and compensate for all the average on the team.  Without Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, and Tony Moeaki, we're average at RB and TE and worse than average at SS.  Those are three CRUCIAL positions that we went from "elite" and "good" to "average at best."

We're average.  And this is what average teams do.  They look good one week, awful the next.  So I'm not going to be surprised if next week the Broncos stomp us.  And I'm not going to be surprised if we take it to them and win by double digits.  Because we're an average team, and about the only thing you can count on from an average team is some form of inconsistency from week to week. 


So stop being surprised!  This is who we are right now... an average team trying to be better than average and not dip down to "terrible."

(I'm laughing at myself even as I type this, knowing that even before next week my homerism will kick in and I'll be trying to justify why I feel like we're better than average... I'm guessing I'll talk myself into it using our WRs to give me hope...)

Here's to hoping three weeks from now I'm looking back and laughing at myself for calling us average.  But honestly?  I'm guessing we've got a couple more blowouts in our future.  Probably a couple of really well played games as well.  But mostly, a lot of what we've seen... an average team with consistency issues.

Bleh.  What a crummy week.  Anyone want to debate on how awesome it'd be to get RG3?

(runs from the room)