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: Where to Look, Who to Blame
by Jeff Herr,posted Sep 17 2012 12:29PM
Well in a city where ‘worst case scenario’ is about as commonplace as Matthew McConaughey rom-com’s, the Chiefs have found themselves, right in the middle of worst case scenario. Last year, the Chiefs first two games were so awful they elicited the response of “at least it can’t get worse.” While it hasn’t gotten worse in 2012, its most certainly just about as bad.
Last season the Chiefs led us to believe that the issue was Todd Haley. The dysfunction of the organization was blamed on the head coach, as was the lack of preparedness. The Chiefs were so intent on putting everything on Haley’s shoulders that they fired him with three games still to play in the season.
Romeo Crennel was installed as interim head coach, the Chiefs beat the previously undefeated Packers, and they led us to believe all the problems were solved. After an offseason with no lockout, a team that was better prepared and a coach the players enjoyed playing for, this talented-on-paper Chiefs team was supposed to be ready to break out.
After being outscored by a total of 75-41, this team is only slightly better than their 89-10 start from last year, especially when you consider that 14 of their 41 2012 points were scored in the last minutes of mop-up time. Sounds a lot like the same problems they had last season.
This team could not look more disorganized at this point. They are undisciplined (and I’m not talking about penalties here), unprepared and their body language is as poor as I’ve seen a professional team have. As soon as this team goes down by two scores, they slump over, look at the ground and all but give up on any prospects of winning the game. The idea of something as simple as “keep your head up” shouldn’t be a concern at this level, but it appears to be with this team.
And now after two games the apathy has started to set in like its May in Royals season. The “civil unrest” from the fans is reaching record highs. After an embarrassing display, most are looking for where to turn. The convenient excuse of having three of the defenses best players out last week is no longer there.
Kendrick Lewis was still missing but Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali were back. The majority of this teams problems were supposed to be solved. Yet, there was still no pass rush and they still couldn’t defend the pass. So what does this all say about the team?
It says there are multiple places fans can look. The first and most obvious would be the coaching staff. Firing a coach in midseason is a very bold move and often one reserved for desperate teams. The Chiefs weren’t supposed to be desperate last year. Yet, they fired Haley anyway and pretended like it was going to save the franchise.
We were told this team was going to be more prepared. Effort wasn’t going to be an issue and they wouldn’t look like they weren’t ready as they did in some games last year. Well, fans can look right at this coaching staff for this teams troubles so far. If there’s a team that looks less prepared I haven’t seen or heard of it so far this season. If there’s a team who’s effort can be questioned and preparedness scrutinized, it’s this one. While some of that comes on the players (and we’ll get to that later) the majority of it falls on the coaching staff.
Crennell is supposedly a “players coach.” Haley was a “non-players coach.” All this basically means is that perception is Crennell is nice and makes things easier on them while Haley was the opposite. Part of the Crennell decision was supposed to be based on the idea that these players would play harder for him than they did for Haley. Yet, after two weeks we have a team that has given up on games after going down two scores. Last week it was the second half, this week the first. But with an error such as that, timing is the smallest factor.
Effort and preparedness are things that are 100% within the control of all parties involved and shouldn’t be an excuse, but we have heard them for two weeks now. The coaches are as much to blame as anybody else to this point.
Fans can also look at the players. On paper, this roster is one of the more talented in the league. There were a lot of good free agent pickups and with the players returning from injuries things were only going to get better. After two games, we might just have to look at these players and entertain the idea that maybe they aren’t as good as we thought they were.
Tamba Hali is an elite pass rusher but can disappear from time to time. Brandon Flowers is a top tier corner who can be elite but is wildly inconsistent and injury prone. Eric Berry has had a tough time living up to the hype and with his injury has taken a couple steps back from a promising rookie year. Jamaal Charles doesn’t quite have the same burst he once did and maybe never will.
Even so, regardless of their true talent level, these players were supposed to play for Crennell, and they flat out haven’t. With this, you can look at the front office. GM Scott Pioli insists on taking all the credit for football decisions and he must take the blame as well. Pioli was supposed to make sure that Crennell was the right man for the job. He was supposed to make sure he picked up the right players in free agency. He was supposed to evaluate the current players the Chiefs had and make sure they were still the right men for the job. If any of that occurred, it appears to have not been done as well as needed.
The ultimate point is that there is no one person to blame and no easy fixes. After two games there is plenty of time to turn things around, but changes will need to be made. In the fourth year of the Pioli regime I don’t know that I have the confidence this ship will be righted.