Another one bites the dust.
And another one gone, and another one gone. And another one ... oops, I got distracted tallying up Justin Houston sacks again.
Worst day of the calendar year - The day after the Chiefs season ends. That's right, today. After all, today is the day furthest away from the next meaningful Chiefs game. It is officially hibernation season.
However, this may have actually hit me last Monday, when I couldn't even hand in my article after Arrowhead Pride officials ruled that I was doubtful with an emotion. The pain was real, my friends.
But yesterday helped. The Chiefs fully dismantled San Diego. I mean really Ndamukong'd their ass. And this time there would be no missed Ryan Succop field goal or fake punt or missed fumble call to save the Chargaggers, who really lacked intensity for a game where they had everything to play for. They should consider firing Norv Turner again.
We even got our hopes up one last time, for a majestic five minute stretch when the Chiefs were actually the sixth and final playoff team in the AFC and everybody was having flashbacks to New Year's Eve, 2006. But then Connor Shaw and Blake Bortles happened.
Yesterday also served as a nice segue into next season. And just to spite the newly formed movement claiming momentum doesn't exist in sports, I'll even suggest the Chiefs have some momentum going into the offseason and on into 2015. Suck it, Bill Barnwell.
Lets throw this thing around like a school teacher...
The Best & Worst w/ His Dirkness:
Worst woulda/coulda/shoulda - Andy Reid muffed the play calling down the stretch, with yesterday helping further cement that case. He needed to run the ball more, plain and simple. Over the five games prior to yesterday (Chiefs: 1-4), they ran the ball the second fewest number of teams in the league. This is a team built on their running game and pass defense. That's what makes them good. This is a team that has deficiencies at the QB, WR, and OL positions. That's what prevents them from being great. This was a team that put itself on the NFL map by beating the 2014 Super Bowl Champion / 2015 Super Bowl favorites by calling 16 pass attempts in the game. It worked. It's documented. And yet, in the Arizona and Pittsburgh games, the Chiefs called 101 passing plays and 25 running plays (adjusted for sacks / QB scrambles). That's insane in Andy Reid's membrane. And it cost this team their rightful spot in the playoffs.
Worst news for Chase Daniel supporters - I didn't come away thinking Chase was any better than Alex Smith. Boy, I sure did after those first two drives though. I do think Chase does a few things better than Alex: He seemed more confident in his reads, which led to the ball coming out quicker and with more certainty. He was more aggressive in going down the field. He actually threw the ball away a few times, which Alex does at a pet-peevingly low rate. He even does a better job of keeping his eyes down the field when he starts to scramble. Oh, and picks his nose. As for the things Alex does better: There's, uh. The uhhhh. Well. Ummmm? Just kidding. Based off the small sample size, he's better in the red zone, first and foremost. He's more ready right now. More complete. He's safer. Would throw fewer INTs. Maybe a slight upgrade in accuracy and pocket presence. Great with the media (part of the job). And we know he can handle everything the position requires. He's a grown man that does his job.
Worst news for Alex Smith supporters - I didn't come away thinking Alex was any better than Chase Daniel. Here's the problem with that: Yesterday was Chase's first time starting with legitimate NFL starters. He stands to improve a lot with actual experience (while the NFL stands a chance to stifle him with actual tape to study). Meanwhile, Alex has logged 105 career starts and makes $17 million a season. Look, I've been nice to him all season because I can tolerate Alex Smith the quarterback. But it's the offseason now. And I DESPISE Alex Smith the contract. An absolute atrocity of a decision from John Dorsey. And the timing was the worst part. There is no defending when the Chiefs signed him. Alex would agree to that same contract right now in a heartbeat. The Chiefs had a free 16 games to further evaluate their decision, and they chose not to take it. That's Andy Reid late game decision making type incompetence right there. That's a painful paragraph to type, but it needed to be said.
Best way to handle QB situation - Bring back Chase Daniel. Yes, I realize the team saves $3.8 million by cutting him this offseason. But I'm finding a way to make it work. I guarantee he'd be willing to work with the team. He doesn't want to go anywhere. Half the fan base here loves him unconditionally and he plays for Andy Reid, the Backup QB Whisperer. Plus, I think he's a competent QB. Those don't grow on trees. Basically, I don't want the 2015 season to be Alex Smith or bust. I'm not confident enough in him for that. Nor am I confident enough in Tylon MurBray. And I could see the wheels falling off next season. Alex has avoided any real heat because the team has started off well the past two seasons, but as soon as they don't, they'll point the finger directly at him. And people are already starting to turn on Alex. That 50/50 split is now something closer to 70/30, best I can tell. Alex Smith is here for the next two seasons and he has done nothing to lose his job as of yet. But I want Chase Daniel here as the security blanket.
Best player that never had as many sacks in a season as Justin Houston did in 2014 - It's gotta be Reggie White. Then I'll take Lawrence Taylor as a close second. Derrick Thomas was pretty good, too. Or maybe Bruce Smith? He was kinda okay. Richard Dent, Chris Doleman, John Randle, John Taylor, DeMarcus Ware will all be Hall of Famers, sure, but they can't match the Minister of Defense (such a good nickname). The fun part of this game is that Fiddy Sack surpassed them all this season. That's an incredible accomplishment. And if Brett Favre hadn't laid his little Chris Weinke down in shame for Michael Strahan, than Houston's name would now be written in the NFL record books.
Worst coaching decision of the season - I was going to list all of Andy's bad decisions from the season here as the lede, but I've been mean enough to him today. Nope, it was Bob Sutton dropping Houston into coverage on the final snap of the season when he was one sack away from NFL history. You can't do that!
Best moment of 2014 - The Streak lives! Everybody saw it coming. Of course Chase Daniel would be the one to break the WR touchdown-less streak. And there it was. Developing before our very eyes. Until the "anti-WR force field" caused Dwayne Bowe to fumble the ball. It was essentially a Madden glitch. In fact, the whole streak was something straight out of SB Nation's terrific Breaking Madden series. I loved every bit of The Streak, except for the whole not really helping the team win games thing.
Best December QB on the road in December - Philip Rivers. Or at least, it was. He was 15-2 in said situation up until yesterday. That's amazing. But the Chiefs never even gave him a chance on Sunday. Rivers was Puff Puff Pass Rushed on five of his first 13 dropbacks, and six of his first 16. All of which led to the statistical oddity at the 3:59 mark of the third quarter, when Rivers had attempted only 10 passes.
Best accomplishment by the defense - No 300 yard passing games allowed on the season. The (other) Streak. Here's a fun anecdote: I was thinking the pass defense had a pretty solid season, so I looked up some 2014 stats. The Chiefs allowed an 86.4 QB Rating on the season. In search of perspective, I checked the career QB rating list and found that Dan Marino's career rating is exactly 86.4. (John Elway's is 79.9! That's worse than Matt Cassel! Here, just marvel at this list.) So the statement I had prepared to celebrate their accomplishments didn't exactly turn out so hot, but here goes anyway: "The 2014 Chiefs defense turns opposing QB's into...Dan Marino." Regardless, major props in the direction of HeisenBob, Emmitt Thomas, Sean Smith, Husain Abdullah, Ron Parker, Eric Berry, Philip Gaines, Kurt Coleman, Jamell Fleming and even Chris Owens (despite what happened yesterday).
Best sign of a success - If you offered me this Kansas City Chiefs season the day before it kicked off, I would've taken it. Without hesitation. Easy decision. And that was before all of the injuries. I expected a down season going in. They lost some key players in the offseason. The schedule was immensely harder. But Andy Reid flexed his mustache by getting this team to 7-3, and thus, raising all of our expectations. For all of his faults, Andy Reid is still one of the best in the business, especially for the 349 days outside of gamedays. (now if he'd just hire me on to assist with clock management ~ Andy, I'd work so doggone cheaply for you!) As easy as it is to be critical of him, just sit back and contemplate where this franchise was just two years ago. In complete disarray. Andy Reid is responsible for turning it around. So while I will remain frustrated with him on a weekly basis as head coach of the Chiefs, time's yours, Andy.
Best move to make this offseason - Trade for Josh Gordon. I'd love to see this team go out and take a chance this offseason. I don't think there's enough talent currently on the roster to take the next step and get over the hump. And they'll have tough personnel decisions to make, without much money available to them. While in Cleveland, an elite WR stands on the brink of war with his franchise. I would guess he's made available this offseason. He's fast enough to be a fit with Alex in a way that Dwayne Bowe never was (needs to show open). You may think of it as a big risk, which I would agree with in terms of locker room chemistry, but not in terms of compensation. Because of his attitude/suspension history, I would think a third rounder is the most Cleveland could fetch in a trade. And his cap number for 2015 is only $1.6 million. The Chiefs have 11 draft picks to mess around with this year, and Andy Reid has experience with a nearly identical situation (bringing Terrell Owens to Philadelphia). Does he want to walk down that path again? I'll trust him with this decision. But I think the potential reward outweighs the risk, and the Chiefs are in a position where they need to get better without much money to do so. Plus, shouldn't KC and Cleveland just be teaming up at this point to end their collective miseries? We'll send you a ring, Cleveland. Dirkness' honor.
I want to extend a sincere thank you to everybody who takes the time to read my stuff or listen to my podcasts, and especially those who pass along their kind words. Every one of them genuinely means a lot to me. I'm truly humbled that Joel lets me write this every week, without much censorship, and that any number of people care what I have to say about this team and sport that I love. I generally disappear into a deep, dark abyss over the remaining winter months to unwind so I'm not sure when I'll be back on this beautiful website. I know we'll be doing our 2014 Chiefs season grades over at AHPKC.com soon, for anybody who remembers Jason Whitlock's back in the day. Anywho, thank you Arrowhead Pride. Adios. Go Chiefs.
Thank you Tamba,