Kansas City Chiefs Mid-Season Report
By Callum Byrnes-Krickl
The 2012 season for the Kansas City Chiefs has been bitter, painful and disappointing, and has fans looking towards next year to the draft,in hoped of drafting a franchise quarterback. The only thing most Chiefs fans are hoping for this season is Clark Hunt cleaning house, General Manager Scott Pioli, Head Coach Romeo Crennel, everyone. Fans have flown banners, and demanded the firing of Scott Pioli, and are even planning to “Black Out” Arrowhead Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals on November 18th, by encouraging fans to wear black clothing or apparel to the game, to signify the mourning of what was once a successful, respected and proud NFL franchise.
In this piece I will give a Mid-Season review of all the key parts of the team, and how they have performed this season, and what role they have had; Offense, Defense, Special Teams, Rookies, Head Coach,Offensive/Defensive Coordinator, and lastly, General Manager.
Fans were given a glimpse of what this offense COULD have been, in Week 1 versus the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Cassel and co. were neck and neck with the Falcons offense until half-time, down only 3 points, 20-17. After that half-time the offense hasn't been the same. Despite Jamaal Charles shredding up defenses for a few more weeks (keeping the Chiefs in the top 3 in rushing yards), the offense as a whole has fallen off a cliff. The turnovers quickly began and haven’t stopped.The Offense has given up a league high of 29 turnovers and league low -20 turnover differential.
Despite beating the lowly New Orleans Saints (OT) in Week 3, the Offense hasn't had a lead, all season, 8 weeks without a lead is the longest time without a lead by any team,since the NFL has begun keeping statistics, in 1940.
Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll, was expected to play to the strengths of the players,but instead has had an abysmal season on Offense, obviously excluding when Jamaal Charles makes a huge play by cutting across the field from a broken play for a touchdown. The plays Daboll calls seem very predictable, to the point where the average fan can often predict what play is coming in a certain situation. Although, despite this situational predictability, some games the running game is the only aspect of the Offense that is used, and some games where the running game is completely abandoned for no apparent reason. For instance, versus the Ravens in Week 5, 50 rushing plays were run, opposed to only 18 pass plays. On the other hand versus the Raiders in Week 8, star Running Back Jamaal Charles was only handed the ball 5 times. After the Raiders game Daboll was asked why Charles only ran the ball 5 times, and replied with“I don’t know”.
The first half of the season has also been a roller-coaster with who is even going to start at Quarter back. After Cassel’s concussion versus the Ravens, Brady Quinn was named the starter for the following week versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers But on the very first play against the Raiders Quinn also suffered a concussion and Cassel was brought back in to play out the remainder of the game. Cassel also started versus the San Diego Chargers the following week and is expected to start versus the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football in Week 10, while Quinn is still out.
Overall, the first 8 games have been more disastrous than not for the Chiefs and has resulted in, as previously stated, not a single lead the entire season.
The defense has been partly given a raw deal by the offense,having never led a game so far this season, resulting in continuously playing from behind and not being able to always being able to play to their strengths.Players like Eric Berry (although he IS coming back from an ACL and a year out of the game. He does seem to be improving as the season progresses though.) and Tamba Hali have not been able to be as dominant this for this very reason, it’s always tough trying to play ‘catch up’ all the time as a defender, constantly needing to bail out the offense due to their colossal amount of turnovers. That being said, some defenders have been just plain out inconsistent, such as Stanford Routt who has been getting beat all season by almost any Wide Receiver that comes his way. Most notably Buccaneers Receiver Mike Williams who had previously not performed outstandingly but had a field day against Stanford Routt. That game ended up being the redemption game for not only Mike Williams,but also for Quarterback Josh Freeman. Routt isn’t the only Cornerback to under-perform for this defense this year, multiple nickel corners have struggled against many Wide Receivers and with the sudden releasing of Routt, Nickel Corner Back Javier Arenus will now be a starter at Right Cornerback beside Brandon Flowers. This switch is just asking for being games by opposing Wide Receivers, as Arenus is now facing teams’ 1st and 2nd string Receivers and to this point he has struggled against 3rd string Receivers so far.
Considering the situation the Defense is constantly being put into, statistically they haven’t performed too badly as far as passing yards go(ranked 11th in NFL, 5th in AFC) and total yards (6th in AFC), but have let a total of 240 points scored (28th in NFL),although some of this can be attributed to the offense and their turnovers.
Overall I could see this defense being able to perform much better with improved coaching and with some support from the offense.
The Special teams have been a more positive point among all the disarray that is the 2012 season. Punter Dustin Colquitt has been one of,if the most consistent player on the team. Getting 19 punts inside the opposing 20 yards line (3rd in NFL) and is 1st in the NFL in punts inside the 5. Kicker Ryan Succop has also been as consistent as ever making 16 out of 18 kicks on the season, one of those beating the New Orleans Saints in overtime in week 3. Javier Arenus has also been fairly consistent in the Punt Return game averaging over 10 yards per punt return placing him 9th in the NFL in punt return average and 5th in total punt return yards.
I’ll start with Dontari Poe. Poe has had flashes of good play from the line, but seems to still be in the stage of being built into the Defensive line, sharing reps with Jerrel Powe.
The Chiefs also drafted 2 RBs, Nate Eachus and Cyrus Gray, to accommodate the already plentiful backfield consisting of Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis and Shaun Draughn. Nate Eachus has been integrated into a Full Back role while Gray began the pre-season with split carries with Shaun Draughn, but seems to have dropped in the depth chart behind Draughn.
Wide Receiver Devon Wylie was expected to come in as a possible punt/kick returner and slot receiver but has been inactive for the majority of the season due to a hamstring injury (but is stated as ‘probable’for the game against the Steelers on Tuesday).
Offensive linemen Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson seem to be a work in progress as neither one has noticeably impressed anyone with their play. Jeff Allen has been forced into a starting role due to a season ending leg injury for Center Rodney Hudson. Starting Left Guard Ryan Lilja has been moved to starting Center which in-turn means Jeff Allen is the starter at Left Guard.
Romeo Crennel was the interim Head Coach after Todd Haley’s firing in late 2011, and won 2 of the 3 remaining games of the 2011 season,including beating the undefeated Green Bay Packers. These results as an interim Head Coach, got Crennel the permanent Head Coaching job along with the Defensive Coordinator position. So far it has not panned out; Crennel seems to have lost the discipline of the team and appears to be in way over his head. Being a head coach definitely appears to be too much for Crennel let alone also being the Defensive Coordinator. Finally, Crennel was been relieved of Defensive Coordinator duties, resulting in the promotion of Linebackers Coach Gary Gibbs to Defensive Coordinator.
On the offensive side Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll was hired, expecting him to utilize the offense and play to the players strengths,but instead has made the offense very predictable. There really isn’t any creativity in the play calling.
Coming into the season, this team was seen as one of the most talented in the NFL, the failures and shortcomings this season has to be largely attributed to poor Coaching.
General Manager Scott Pioli has been the most criticized person in the entire organization and has effectively become Public Enemy #1 in Kansas City. The disappointment and poor results of the season, along with the continuous starting of Matt Cassel and Pioli’s seemingly ongoing stubbornness among other things has resulted in the majority of the fan base calling for Pioli’s firing. Pioli has also been nicknamed “Egoli” by many fans due to his apparent big ego.
In between the fan revolt and on field performance the firing of Scott Pioli by Owner Clark Hunt is inevitable, whether it is after what is expected to be a loss to the Steelers on Monday Night Football or whether it’s after the season it’s done.
After expecting this team to be a strong playoff contender this year, the 2012 season thus far has been bitterly disappointing and painful for Chiefs fans, to say the least for. The outlook for the rest of the season looks grim, all fans have left is the hope that the dismissal of Pioli ensues,and the drafting of a possible franchise Quarterback next April.