Hold your nose when these Chiefs play
BY SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson couldn't watch the final seconds of Thursday's loss.
SAN DIEGO -- Keep in mind the Chargers stink too, guys. Their quarterback turns it over too much, their roster is declining and their coach will probably soon be fired. But the Chargers’ is a more conventional brand of stink.
The NFL smells the Chargers’ kind of stink all the time, and it’s a significant stink. But by now we all know there is nothing quite as putrid as the Chiefs’ reliably rotten stink. We’re part of history here, you know: An up-close look at the kind of relentless, tenacious, opening-kickoff-to-final-whistle, never-take-a-snap-off stink against which all future generations of terrible teams will be judged.
This fireable offense of a Chiefs season made its prime-time debut on Thursday night, every misstep and fumble and failure of a 31-13 loss to the (not quite as) sorry Chargers broadcast in high-definition to what we can assume was a horrified national audience.
This season is so far noteworthy for the historic achievement of going half a season without holding a lead in regulation, and for turning Romeo Crennel from a dignified and accomplished man to one painfully without answers about how he steered a talented team into oncoming traffic.
“Nah,” he says when asked if the team is a week closer to hopelessness.
The Chiefs are not just the worst team in the NFL. They’re building a case as one of the worst in modern NFL history — especially if the overmatched head coach is allowed to keep trying to fix things with silly signs telling his guys to PLAY GOOD FOOTBALL.
The only drama left is whether the Chiefs will ever lead a game, and when owner Clark Hunt will break his silence to fire a coach who looks clueless and a general manager who obsesses over everything but quarterbacks.
Sickening and disgusting. The Chiefs are clearly not gladiators.
You surely know the incredible fact that has come to define this group of underachieving, badly coached and micromanaged losers: They haven’t held a lead in any part of their first eight games, the first team to be so thoroughly overmatched since at least 1929.
That’s nineteen-twenty-nine — the year of the (original) stock market crash. To give you an idea, in 1929, the NFL included teams in Frankford, Pa.; Staten Island, N.Y.; and Dayton, Ohio.
This is achievement of incompetence is at once both stunning and unfathomable. Even the winless Lions of 2008 managed a few leads. Actually, by this point in their flawlessly inept season, the Lions had leads in four games — including three in the fourth quarter. That team had occasional hope. This one squashes such silliness at every opportunity.
To do what the Chiefs are doing requires a perfect conspiracy of unpreparedness, ineffectiveness and whatever is the complete opposite of surgical focus — stoner focus, maybe?
You have to do things like be outscored 61-6 in the first quarter — a pretty good sign the coaches are in over their heads — while still being able to channel your substantial failures at just the wrong times.
You need a quarterback like Matt Cassel to fumble the snap at the goal line with your team threatening to take a lead against the Ravens. You need a punt returner like Javier Arenas to whiff an easy catch at precisely the wrong moment to throw momentum to the Raiders.
And you can afford to have a talented receiver like Dwayne Bowe, but only if the bulk of his production comes on garbage drives at the ends of blowouts — extra credit if he makes a fool of himself by pointing to the name on the back of his jersey — and you can count on him to fumble near the red zone when the score is close against the Chargers.
You need one quarterback who has as many or more turnovers than all but one NFL team (not including his own) and another one who is worse. You need an offense that can put together 17-play drives without scoring.
You need a team in such disarray that the star running back gets 39 touches in one game and five carries in another, the head coach openly and repeatedly says he doesn’t know what’s going on, and the owner stays silent behind the scenes trying to decide when to step in.
You need a team that’s become such a punch line in some football circles that the coach who got fired last year is jokingly called “Vince Lombardi with a dirty cap” by one personnel man while comparing the current carnage.
Kansas City sports fans have taken some misguided criticism this fall, but maybe now the football world can see what drives people to fly banners over the stadium calling for the general manager to be fired.
That’s looking more and more likely, by the way. Hunt doesn’t want to fire Scott Pioli, but he doesn’t like to be embarrassed either. The Chiefs are now nine days from what looks to be an ugly Monday night loss in Pittsburgh as Todd Haley presumably pushes his Steelers offense to score a thousand points.
Remember that a week ago, the Chargers lost to the Browns and the week before that blew a 24-point lead at home. The Raiders lost four of their first six games before beating the Chiefs, and the Bucs lost 12 of their previous 13 before beating the Chiefs.
This isn’t a football team — it’s a slump buster in pads.
The Chiefs, with a thorough, consistent and no-snaps-off incompetence that the league has never seen, can no longer be talked about in a serious manner. Not until Hunt takes serious action, anyway.
Maybe the next coach can call a play with the lead. Maybe the next general manager will worry more about the quarterback than candy wrappers.