"We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation." -Ivan Illich
Maybe we were all too quick to anoint the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs as true contenders. Maybe we all put too much stock in an overachieving 2014 team that appeared to have gotten better in every phase of the game over the offseason.
Or maybe the team remains in a state of shellshock from the tragic loss to the Broncos - a fortnight of a hangover that's endured itself through the team's toughest stretch of the schedule. Traveling to all the wrong places, collectively carrying a briefcase full of post-traumatic stress along with them.
When "your time" suddenly isn't your time at all. It's still their time. Even though it's seemingly been their time forever.
We, the fans, weren't the only ones who fully expected to beat the Big Brother Broncos when they rolled into Arrowhead Stadium 18 long, miserable days ago. The players also thought it was their time. And they acted accordingly, for 59 minutes. But then everything changed. The season got turned upside down on itself. And I still don't think they're over it.
The Chiefs' expectations for this season have been fracturing slowly, like a thick sheet of ice. A Rodgers crack here, an even bigger Dalton gash over there. But it hasn't all broken through. Not yet.
Next week, Jay Cutler and the lowly Bears will attempt to cannonball through the Chiefs' thinning ice bed of expectation, shattering their 2015 season, and opening the door for all to come splash around in the now temperate waters.
Oh, hey Phil. Sup Teddy? You new around here, Derek?
Until then, we still have hope.
The Best and Worst w/ His Dirkness
Best teams in the NFL - Patriots, Bengals, Broncos, Packers, Falcons, Cardinals, and maybe the Seahawks. That's seven teams. The Chiefs have played three of them. This is important to keep in mind.
Worst teams in the NFL - Browns, Dolphins, Texans, Jaguars, Texans, Bucs, Lions, Bears, 49ers. Wow, that's a lot of awful teams. The NFL is a fickle thing. It's all about matchups. And timing. And everything changes week to week. Confidence is another fickle thing. It's hard to quantify. But I do know the Chiefs aren't playing with any right now. You can literally see it on the field. Like, literally, literally. I've seen multiple instances of a defender with a runner in his grasps while the rest of the defense is just kinda chillin, making no effort to gang tackle, which sometimes leads to an extra yard or three. There's no drive, no tenacity, no "juice" as the great Terez Paylor would say. They aren't finishing plays. They aren't finishing drives (red zone efficiency yesterday, third downs for the season). They aren't finishing games (Donks). And, if they don't beat one of the worst teams in the league next week, then their isn't much hope they'll be finishing this season either. However, when they win next week, they'll get the Vikings, a (hopefully Big Ben-less) Steelers, and the Lions (at 8:30am!!!!) in a much easier second quarter of the season. The new goal is to be 4-4 at the turn.
Worst performance in 2015 - Bob Sutton. What about Bob? Lets begin with some stats…
- The Chiefs didn't allow 30 points or more than 295 yards passing in 2014. They've already allowed each to happen three times in 2015.
- The Chiefs allowed four rushing TDs the entire 2014 season. They allowed four to the Bengals yesterday.
- The Chiefs ranked second in the NFL in scoring defense in 2014 (17.6). They rank dead last in 2015 (31.2)
- Andy Dalton juked Dee Ford in the open field.
- The Chiefs allowed 8.9 yards per play yesterday.
To give you an idea of the ineptitude of that last one, here are some follow up stats: The Cardinals lead the league this year at 6.6 yards per play. The Steelers led in 2014 with 6.1. The highest of the last 12 seasons is 6.7 by the 2004 Colts (Peyton's 49 TD season, 12-4) and 2011 Saints (13-3, loss in the divisional round to the 49ers - led by Alex Smith!). So, basically what I'm saying is, the Bengals were roughly 33% better than both of those historic offenses yesterday.
So what the hell's changed? Derrick Johnson, Eric Berry, and Mike DeVito all came back. Marcus Peters replaced the Cooper / Gaines / Parker trio from last year. Jaye Howard got a whole lot better. The most valid explanation is Dontari Poe's health and Sean Smith's suspension, neither of which are a great excuse for yesterday's catastrophe. I ….I don't understand. It's as if Puff Puff Pass Rush has straight Puff Puff Passed Out.
Last season, the Chiefs key was to get after the QB with four while blanketing receivers with seven in coverage. A brilliant philosophical change from the prior season that put the onus on the defense's strengths, right where it belonged. It was the birth of HeisenBob. This season, and yesterday's game in particular, the pass rush wasn't up to the challenge. But, as we've been prone to see with Bob Sutton, the in-game adjustments never came. Whether it's TY Hilton in the slot, Jamell Fleming against Denver, or Tyvon Branch against Green Bay, Sutton's Plan B's always seem to fall flat on their face. I don't have the solution to what ails them, outside of playing with more intensity. The talent is there. It's on Bob to figure this out. Otherwise, we might be looking at a new nickname for him - Greg Robin-Sutton.
Best thing to come out of yesterday - Jeremy Maclin seems like the real deal. I highly doubt this holds, but Mac Daddy is on pace for an 112 catch, 1,592 yard season right now. He stretches the field. He turns short passes into long gains. And he even helps Alex out when he's lining up to spike the ball on 4th down.
Worst thing you can do on 3rd and 30 - Turn the ball over. Why do Travis Kelce's fumbles always seem to come at the worst possible times?
Best breakdown of exactly what went wrong in or around the red zone - So, I charted all of the plays leading directly to each of the seven (7! 7! 7!) field goals - that is, the plays occurring in the series of downs before ultimately settling for a FG on 4th down. A few observations:
-Negative plays cripple this offense. Two sacks, an offensive PI call, an illegal formation, a delay of game (coming out of a timeout!), and DAT terrible reverse. Here's the yardage the Chiefs faced on those seven third down attempts prior to kicking field goals - 10, 7, 10, 12, 18, 10 and 9. This offense isn't built to pick those up. The failures came on first and second downs in the form of negative plays.
-C'mon, you know what's coming. My first time writing it this season - RUN JAMAAL! Whew, that feels good. The Chiefs called 19 passing plays to four running plays (counting two penalized plays). Charcandrick West had two carries. DAT had the one. And Jamaal had one. One carry. One carry on a second and 16 in which he gained nine yards. I know Jamaal was banged up, and they were losing, and the clock was running low on the final few drives, to which my response is short and sweet - RUN JAMAAL!
Best way to solve an old fashioned A vs. B blame debate - It's both. It's almost always both. Shed those absolutes folks, and step into the gray with me. Alex Smith has terrible pocket presence. He lacks the instincts necessary to buy himself time in the pocket. His eyes drop down toward the pass rush. He tries to scramble out of too many hapless situations instead of just throwing the ball away. This would be easier to digest if it led to big plays (a la Big Ben), but it never seems to with Alex. He's just looking to scramble for five yards, which isn't worth it. Most of this is directly related to the offensive line, which has remained on the back burner every offseason under Dorsey / Reid. It seems to spring a new leak every week, can't handle a stunt to save its life, and does weird stuff like pull Ben Grubbs away from an engaging block to go help where help isn't needed. You could say this particular A vs. B debate is more like Hepatitis A vs. Hepatitis B, only they've combined to create this super disease of horrendous pressure, and the only doctor has no idea what he's doing and he has very little time to figure it out. And this disease has now allowed 19 sacks, five more than any other team in the league.
Best - Did I mention the Bears come to town next week?
Fire Mike Riley,