Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Breaking Points
by Jeff Herr,posted Oct 29 2012 12:20PM
I’m sitting in my driveway. It’s darker than usual after a Chiefs game. The first 3:00 game at Arrowhead in quite some time will do that. Both hands on the wheel and my head down all I can do is listen to the calls of angered and tired fans pour into the post game show. I’ve got two dogs and a cat, a house I’m trying to sell, a girlfriend waiting for me and I still can’t stop listening to the deserved negativity on the radio. I couldn’t help but wonder, where’s the breaking point?
I’ve resigned myself to my fate that I will never be broken of my fandom of the Chiefs. While maybe I can’t be saved, this organization still can. As the results continue to get worse, there has to be a breaking point to start that mending process.
Let’s start with head coach Romeo Crennell who refused to give up who the emergency third quarterback was for this game. Even though it was almost necessary to use him, Crennell didn’t give up the information for fear of giving future teams an advantage (as if they didn’t have one already). Frankly though, based on the evidence we have I’m not even sure we should have any confidence Crennell even knew who the emergency quarterback was.
This situation is just an amalgam for how far in over his head Crennell is. He has repeatedly said that he doesn’t know why his team is playing so poorly. He said after this past Sunday’s game that he didn’t know why the teams best player, Jamaal Charles, only got five carries.
Forgetting the fact that football isn’t a normal business, or at least isn’t run like one in practice, in any walk of life it’s never acceptable to claim ignorance to your responsibilities. A coach should know these things and if he doesn’t like them, should change them. There’s a reason the head coach has all the power.
General Manager Scott Pioli’s track record of ineffectiveness has been documented ad nauseum but if this game reminds us of anything, it’s that the one player responsible for the Chiefs last 18 of 25 points on offense--kicker Ryan Succop, formerly known as Mr. Irrelevant--may be the biggest feather in his cap. This is unacceptable.
Admittedly, I bought into the hype of this team in the preseason. I failed to recognize the holes of this roster and coaching staff. Pioli and Crennell need to be held accountable for these failings.
This isn’t a once-a-year, making-the-local-media-rounds-to-give-a-condescending-10-minute-interview-on-radio-accountability, either. There needs to be an objective showing of how the decision makers in this organization are being held responsible for what’s gone wrong and what they’re going to do to fix it, whether internally or externally.
The status quo just won’t cut it in Kansas City any longer. We’ve heard the cliches, we’ve heard the excuses, we’ve heard it all. We already know the coaches need to look at the game tape. We already know that this teams putrid and embarrassing play on the field ultimately falls on the GM. These are a part of their respective jobs and come with the territory. It’s not enough to talk the talk anymore, it’s time for this franchise to do some walking.
As fans we can never truly understand what its like to run a football team. The pressure, the hours, the scrutiny, everything involved surely makes it tougher than the majority of us have to deal with. What we can understand, and is exceedingly simple, is that no matter what goes into building a team they are graded by their wins and losses. When the losses pile up, something isn’t being done right. From there, two options are available: either an organization looks at itself with a truly critical eye and decides to change from within, or the hand is forced and the change comes from the outside.
Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of this franchise over the last 4 years is that they have no desire to look inside. The front office is so eager to prove everybody else wrong and not admit their mistakes that they have hung on to a quarterback in Matt Cassel who has never consistently displayed above average skills. They fired their “wildcard” coach, that they themselves hand-picked, to prove it was him holding them back. And it’s gotten to the point now where they continue to feed us an inferior product, helmed by an in-over-his-head coach, with worse results week after week.
Owner Clark Hunt very well could be a part of the problem here, as well. We have no idea if the narrative is true on Hunt and if he truly only wants to make money. He could be a very passionate football fan. Could be. As fans, his refusal to speak to the masses and make his opinions and theories known mean all we have to go on is the evidence. That evidence shows us someone who doesn’t live in Kansas City, has a hands-off approach that has allowed Pioli to spin this organization out of control, and typically hasn’t had football as #1 on his priority list as a sports owner. It also shows us someone who, while he does spend money, could spend more and chooses not to. As poorly as his team performs, he still rakes in the money just like all the other NFL teams.
Yet, as a business man, Hunt has to have a breaking point. Money may keep coming in, but that money will decline. Successful people in any walk of life aren’t just satisfied with maintaining the norm. Those that are the best at what they do are always looking for ways to improve and get better. You can’t cheat your way to the end game. There are no shortcuts.
Remember, this was part of the reason that Carl Peterson was fired. The Chiefs were tired of the status quo and wanted somebody who could help them take the next step. This is why Pioli was brought in to begin with. He was pulled by three Super Bowl trophies that we now know he had increasingly less to do with than we first thought. And it was a carriage that long ago was turned back into a pumpkin and, at this point, most likely lays rotting on the side of One Arrowhead Drive.
I counted no less than three separate banners flying over Arrowhead on Sunday. These are things that only make the Chiefs look more hapless to outsiders. It’s something that these fans, some of the most civic-minded and prideful fans in the country, embrace because they want so much better.
While the banners show an unprecedented level of fan frustration, the day could soon come when there are no banners because fan’s don’t even care enough to fly them. The time for change in this organization is now. Many of the fans have reached their breaking point already and many more are close behind. The question remains to Hunt, when will he reach his?