After a 1-6 start to the season, there is nowhere else the Chiefs could go but up, right? Sorry to disappoint, but it's a stronger bet that things are going to get much worse before they get better.
And this week, Kansas City Chiefs fans - yes, surprisingly there are still quite a few of them - are apt to feel twice the frustration and outrage. Instead of losing once, our red and gold gridiron warriors are likely to go down to defeat twice in less than a week's time.
I've heard some local sports personalities say San Diego on the road is a winnable game for the Chiefs. Perhaps so, but every team Kansas City goes up against this season seems to have its "A" game going when it takes the field against our guys. Heck, they probably wouldn't even have had to put forth their best effort against the Chiefs. A "B" or "C" game would probably would have been good enough.
This year's version of the once proud and refuse-to-lose Chiefs is an outright embarrassment. They can't seem to do anything right this season, and that fact stands out like a sore thumb in the NFL stats in games through Monday this week. About the only major statistical area in which Kansas City has shown any exemplary performance is in running the football. The Chiefs are fourth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 4.8 yards per rush and 155 yards a game, largely behind the work of running back Jamaal Charles, who is currently sixth in the league in rushing.
That's the good news. Now the bad news: The quarterback situation this year - and for the past couple of years, for that matter - has been horrific. The Chiefs are the sixth- worst team in the NFL in passing offense and the second worst in scoring, averaging 17 points a game. That's not going to win many games in the NFL or in any organized league. Not only is Kansas City at the bottom of the league in scoring (only Jacksonville, with coincidentally the same overall record as the Chiefs, is worse).
And that's not the worst of it. Turnovers, which are a measure of how well a team handles or protects the football on offense or, conversely, takes the ball away by forcing a fumble or interception while on defense, is arguably the easiest way to separate the winners from the losers in the game of football, and especially at the professional level. You know where I'm going with this. In its seven games so far, the Chiefs have committed 25 turnovers (13 interceptions and 12 fumbles), and 15 of those have been by Matt Cassel, five alone on quarterback fumbles.
Kansas City is the worst team in the National Football League at turning the ball over. Or, I guess you could look at it a little differently and say that the Chiefs are the best when it comes to losing the football. Kansas City's turnovers-to-takeaways margin is a league-worst -18. When you look at this, and consider that KC's lone victory is an overtime time win in a game on the road that they could have just as easily lost, it's no wonder the Chiefs are where they are, with no real evidence that anything is going to chance that anytime soon.
And to think that the team actually has been working on correcting its fumbling and interception issues since the beginning of the season is extremely worrisome. "We've been working on that (protecting the football) in practice for weeks now," wide-receiver Dexter McCluster said . "We just have to carry it over into the game.
"It's hard to replicate a game situation (in practice)," he said.
You've got to think that stripping the ball from the Kansas City ball carriers and jumping passing routes to snare errant quarterback throws in very much a part of the game planning by the Chiefs' opponents. Kansas City had five turnovers in the first half alone in its first meeting with San Diego several weeks ago at Arrowhead, putting the scoring-challenged Chiefs in a 27-6 hole with half the game still to play.
Keep that stat in mind as you watch the return match tonight with the Chargers. It will be interesting to see what adjustments the two teams make from the first game.
If this isn't a bad enough picture at what is happening with this team this season, here is the absolute killer, if you ask me, and the biggest reason why the 2012 edition of the Kansas City Chiefs is just three points shy of being 0-7 (and 1-10 if you include the preseason games as well): At NO point in any of the Chiefs' seven games to start the season has Kansas City held a lead, except in kicking the game-winning field goal to win in overtime at New Orleans.
This is almost unheard of. In fact, the last time something like this happened was back in the 1930s - I think I heard one of the game announcers last weekend say it dates all the way back to 1938 - before the NFL began keeping such records.
OK, the Chiefs are 1-6. So what, you might say, there's still half a season left to get things straightened out and make a more respectable showing. Anything is possible, right? After San Diego, the Chiefs go to Pittsburgh, have Cincinnati, Denver and Carolina at home, then go to Cleveland and Denver, with a final home date against Indianapolis sandwiched in between.
Cleveland and Carolina are in a class with Kansas City so far this season, although Cleveland defeated San Diego last weekend. The remaining teams on the 2012 Chiefs' schedule are either a game over or hovering just under the .500 mark at present, and I'm not sure - at least not the way Kansas City is performing at the moment - those are winnable games.
If you want to look at the bright side, the Chiefs are assured of not posting the worst record in NFL history. That dubious honor belongs to the 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16) and the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14). But they're certainly going to have to get things going in the right direction pretty quickly if they want to avoid being one of six Chiefs' teams to lose 12 or more games in a single season in the franchise's 50-year history in Kansas City.
As the management of any professional sports franchise will tell you, it's really all about the fans. Without a loyal and passionate fan base, even the best teams in the league couldn't survive. It's pretty simple, really: Teams that are competitive and win energize the community and excite and attract fans who return again and again. Teams that don't are saddled and forced to face up to the opposite problem.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and if you saw the vastly vacant stands around Arrowhead Stadium in the fourth quarter of the Chiefs-Raiders game last Sunday, you know exactly where the majority of fans stand on this Chiefs team.
Not a pretty picture.
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