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: Monday Night Gut Punch
by Jeff Herr,posted Nov 13 2012 12:00PM
I didn’t expect to feel any different today. Correction, I expected to feel a lot different in August. A possible victory against a quality Pittsburgh Steelers team was supposed to solidify the Chiefs position as the top in the AFC West and show them capable of making a run at the playoffs and possibly more. My, what a difference just a few months makes. After the first two months of the season leading to a 1-7 record, I knew this is exactly how I would be feeling.
Yet, right at that moment when you think this Chiefs team has punched you in the gut in more ways than you thought possible, they find another way. This team came out and grabbed their first lead of the season. That’s right, we all know the stat by now, but it still bears mentioning that the Chiefs took eight full games and over six minutes into the next before they had their first lead with time on the clock.
But fortune seemed to be smiling even more on this team as, not only were they able to get a lead, but at one point extended it to 10 points! That’s two scores! This Chiefs team has performed awful enough to make us thankful they get two scores in a game, let alone in the first quarter or lead by said amount.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and just like Todd Haley’s tenure as the Chiefs head coach, this lead was not long for this game. After allowing the Steelers to take back control of the game the Chiefs had the ball with precious little time left to drive and tie the game.
Anybody who has watched the Chiefs this season knows that this offense, trailing in the two-minute drill is just asking for disaster. But as the Chiefs always do--good or bad--they find a way to surprise you.
Against all odds this putrid offense was sputtering its way down the field. As the fourth quarter was coming ever closer to an end, the Chiefs kept finding a way to matriculate down the field. Dwayne Bowe drops a catch, then makes another spectacular one a few plays later. Jonathan Baldwin drops a ball, but Tony Moeaki steps up. Matt Cassel makes an awful third down decision, throwing the ball into the dirt at Dexter McCluster, then throws a spectacular dart to Bowe on fourth and long to save the game (for the moment).
Ryan Succop, who missed a 30 yard chip shot earlier in the game, came on to attempt a 47-yarder in the swirling wind and suspect ground conditions. And wouldn’t you know it, the kick was good, time expired, and the Chiefs found themselves in overtime. They won the coin toss and looked poised to ride their momentum right into victory number two on the season.
Then we were all reminded why Cassel is who he is. A solid backup quarterback thrust into a situation with expectations he can’t possibly live up to and most likely tries too hard to achieve. After making some fantastic throws down the stretch, Cassel gave a punch to the gut of this fanbase one more time as he placed a pass right into the waiting arms of a Steelers defender who took it back inside the ten yard line. The Steelers wasted no time and kicked the game winner on 1st down.
There are two things I’ll never question about Cassel, even as cliche as they might be. The first is his heart. The man competes no matter what and he wants to win. The second is his class. I’m not sure of any other athlete in a similar situation that would handle this particular scenario as well as Cassel has. He didn’t choose to have these expectations thrust upon him (remember, he was franchised and traded for). I’m not going to play a violin for Cassel though. The man has $60+ million dollars in his pocket, setting he and his family up for a lifetime, and he still has a future in this league as a backup.
But none of this makes up for the fact that Cassel simply isn’t a starting caliber NFL quarterback. The most important position on the field is the Chiefs biggest deficiency. While most certainly not their only one, it is their most glaring. Perhaps Brady Quinn will be healthy enough to play next week and maybe this will be the last gut punch Cassel gives this aching fanbase.
Unfortunately, the face may change, but a rose by any other name--forget it, Quinn is just as bad. The point here is that there is a fundamental flaw in this organization. Their logic is backwards, they don’t have a clue, and their ripping this fanbase apart with each gut wrenching loss.
Looking at teams like the Washington Redskins and the Indianapolis Colts reveals a truth the Chiefs have been far too myopic to see: the quarterback is by far and away the most important piece to any franchise. Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck have proved that awful teams that looked hopeless can be completely turned around with just a QB. The Colts have already won three times as many games as last season. They were 2-14 and are 6-3 now. And Luck is just a rookie. His best years are ahead of him.
Now, Luck is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, but the fact still remains. Other teams with young quarterbacks like the Vikings and Buccaneers are getting the job done as well. Much like the Colts last year, this Chiefs team could possibly have a unique opportunity ahead of them. As they currently sit, they would have the number 1 pick in next April’s draft. While this years crop of college QB’s continues to see their stock plummet, one of them will most certainly be successful in the NFL. It’s just playing the odds.
The biggest and saddest part here is how little faith the fans seem to have in organization. There is a large percentage of the fanbase that is even doubting if general manager Scott Pioli would even pick a quarterback with the number one pick, let alone the right one.
It’s this fear that his this fanbase rooting for this team to lose. Not to get a high draft pick and take Matt Barkley or Geno Smith, but to make sure that Pioli gets as far away from this organization as humanly possible. Unfortunately, I’d say the odds are less than 50/50 he goes. But either way, this isn’t right. This isn’t why we are fans. Nobody likes a team so they can root against them, its just unnatural. And this is what its come to. The franchise has spun so wildly out of control that the fanbase has completely flipped on this team and is rooting against it. As much as the Royals have been through in the last 27 years, it says a lot when Royals fans look across the parking lot and think “well, it could be worse.”
I understand that not all the fans are rooting against the team. However, I do think there is a large amount that are, even if they are the vocal minority. This is beyond nitpickers and contrarians now, many normal fans are starting to believe losses are the only way to fix this organization.
As a Chiefs fan I will eternally hope for the best and think that they can bring a championship back to Kansas City. As a realist, I understand its a long ways away. The longer this goes on, the less change I believe will happen. As a Kansas City sports fan I know that the gut punch from Monday night won’t be the last.
I was embarassed by the chiefs celebrations, penaltys.
chiefs need to lose to get better
how does getting the first pick in the draft and getting rid of scott pioli hurt the kansas city chiefs? it doesnt, it can't. so yes im rooting for the team to lose. it has to get worse before it gets better. these guys are paid to much to suck this much.