Based on what weíve seen in the last month, the fact the Chiefs were ever 4-3 and had a share of first place in the AFC West counts as maybe the biggest upset of the 2007 season in the National Football League.
That was a month ago. Things are so different now in the early chill of December. The Chiefs dropped their fifth straight game Sunday at Arrowhead, losing to San Diego 24-10. Itís now been over 40 days since they last drank from the cup of victory.
Not only is that five straight defeats, thatís now five losses at Arrowhead this season and for the first time in 30 years they dropped home games to all of their divisional opponents. Thatís right, for the first time since the 1977 season when they finished 2-12 and suffered losses to Denver, Oakland, San Diego and Seattle.
How did this team ever get to 4-3 with this offensive line? Thereís no mystery to the major problem the Chiefs have faced in this season. Itís been that group upfront on offense thatís held them back, turned their offense into a predictable, non-producing unit that has managed in the last four games to score 11, 10, 17 and 10 points.
Carl Peterson, Bill Kuharich and Herm Edwards are the triumvirate that runs the football operation around Arrowhead and they need to sit down and figure out how their operation so badly evaluated the talent on hand to play the offensive line. They came into the season with a group they felt was experienced and able to handle the duties in an offense that Edwards was looking for, a scheme that would rely heavily on the running game and play-action passing.
They misjudged this group badly. The Chiefs offensive line cannot open holes for the running game and they cannot protect the passer. Play action passing? Why would an opposing defense even bother to worry about the Chiefs running game.
Right now, after a dozen games, the Chiefs have run for just 1,027 yards. Thatís as a team, not as a running back. They are averaging just over 85 yards rushing a game. That will likely have them ranked among the three worst running games in the league after the weekendís action is complete. That Kolby Smith gained 83 yards to go with his 150 last week is the most amazing 233 rushing yards of the season by any NFL running back.
On top of that, the Chiefs offensive line cannot protect the passer. They have given up 42 sacks, including eight on Sunday to the Chargers who just battered Damon Huard and eventually sent him from the game with a bruised hand, wrist, elbow, arm, shoulder Ö it may take awhile for the bruise on his entire body to heal.
Thatís eight sacks on a day when they had 48 passing plays or every sixth time the quarterback dropped back. On the season theyíve given up a sack every 10.5 passing plays.
This yearís numbers must make offensive linemen of the recent past guys like Dave Szott, Tim Grunhard, John Alt, Willie Roaf and Will Shields cry out in agony of a destroyed tradition. Over the previous 10 seasons (1997-2006) the Chiefs averaged 127.5 yards rushing per game and they gave up an average of 32 sacks per season.
Those days are gone around Arrowhead right now. There is nowhere for Edwards to go on the roster. Because of the communication that goes with playing center, guard or tackle, itís hard to simply reach into the waiver wire and plug in new bodies. Edwards was getting Rudy Niswanger some time at right guard, but Niswangerís season ended on Sunday with a knee injury. Will Svitek ended up stepping in for an injured Damion McIntosh in the fourth quarter but he provides no long-term answer at the position largely because heís constantly dealing with injuries.
With this group upfront, Chiefs quarterbacks and running backs must simply figure out a way to survive these final four games without more damage being done to their body and psyches. For all those fans that wanted Edwards to open up the offense and throw the ball down field, you saw what happens when you do that, Damon Huard and Tyler Thigpen go down for an eight-count.
If the Chiefs were once 4-3, and they were, then they can win their final four games of the season.
Based on what we saw Sunday that just doesnít seem possible with this offense.