So....um....I guess having a really bad NFL team in your town is better than not having one at all right? Between the Chiefs horrible showing vs the Buffalo Bills and Painkiller Gate in Columbia, MO it has been and eventful week in the world of football around these here parts.
1. Free Falling:
Holy crap on toast! Did anyone see that lackluster showing from the Chiefs coming? I certainly did not. Hell, I freaking picked them to win the game out right. Who knew Chan Gailey held onto a grudge like that?
The Chiefs start the season 0-2 after another absolutely pathetic performance for the second consecutive year. Clearly there are major issues with this team that need to be addressed by the high level decision makers in the organization. Last season all of the ills that afflicted the Chiefs were thrown squarely on the shoulders of Todd Haley. The Chiefs horrible play last season was blamed on Haley's poor handling of training camp, his feuding with GM Scott Pioli, his feuding with Matt Cassel, and his need to control every aspect of the offense on game day. Well, Haley is long gone and many of the problems and crappy play remain the same.
The embarrassing performance by the Chiefs at Buffalo has lead to a fire storm about the competence level of the decision makers at 1 Arrowhead Drive and rightfully so. This is not a time for fans to be force feed words like 'patience' and 'process' by the General Manager of the team. That did not stop Scott Pioli from doing just that in a recent interview with Kansas City Star Chiefs beat writer Adam Teicher. The time for unwavering trust in what Scott Pioli is building with the Chiefs is gone.
The Chiefs look lost. They lack leadership, direction, and an identity. They look like all of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 at the beginning of the show LOST. They are fractured and are looking like they are going to continue to fracture even more unless something drastic happen. I do not see an easy fix to this problem. In the show LOST what unified the survivors of the plane crash was two fold. One was the inherit desire to survival and to be rescued. The second one was the character Jack Shephard and leadership role he assumed. The survivors were pulling in all different directions and it was the leadership of Jack that helped unify them. The problem for the Chiefs is I do not see a Jack Shephard on this team.
How does something like this happen at this point in Scott Pioli's tenure in with the Chiefs. The survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 at least had the excuse of they just crash landed on a mysterious island. This is the fourth season with Scott Pioli in charge of football operations for the Chiefs yet they still find themselves getting blown out in home openers and embarrassed on the road.
Something drastic needs to happen in order for this team to find its way back to a path of prosperity. Unfortunately I do not see that happening this season for the Chiefs. The GM and the head coach don't think this was caused by anything they are doing wrong. This week they began to spin the start of this season on the lack of execution of the players and totally whistling pass the grave yard on their own culpability. Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel can continue to place the blame on the players lack of execution but who is responsible for gathering this group of players on this team? That blame rest at the top of the food chain not the bottom.
2. Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!
The Chiefs aren't the only football team dealing with a fire storm this week. Mizzou finds themselves smack dab in the middle of one with head coach Gary Pinkel's comments about QB James Franklin unwillingness to play in the game vs. Arizona State due to an injury. Whether or not James Franklin should have taken a painkilling shot in order to play in the game is a side note for me. I am more interested in how Gary Pinkel handled the situation and if it was the right or the wrong way to handle it.
I believe there is a right way and a wrong way lead a group of people and Gary Pinkel did not handle things the right way with his public comments about James Franklin. When you are in charge of a team/group/company/fraternity or whatever like Pinkel is i believe you praise in public and scold in private. When you call someone out in front of the group/team then you run the risk of losing that player for good.
Now, I am not saying that Pinkel has lost James Franklin for good. But he is definitely playing with some fire here.I am not inside that football program and that locker room. I will admit I am an outsider offering up my opinion on how situations like this tend to play out when leading people. One thing is clear and that is that there is that not every player on MU is BFF's with the starting QB. Mainly T.J Moe. Reading between the lines of Moe's comments after the win vs. ASU about how 'TOUGH' QB Corbin Berkstesser was/is is a shot at Franklin and his decision to not play. Moe is a quote machine. He knows it and the media knows it. He is knows his words carry weight and make waves. For Moe to have those kind of comments speaks to the culture surrounding the MU football team. A culture that seems to filter down from the head coach.
All of this stuff swirling around your team as you get ready to play South Carolina in your first road SEC conference game of the season is not the best case scenario for the Tigers. All of the talk about Pinkel vs. Franklin vs. T.J. Moe vs. the needle and the damage done is a distraction. The question is whether or not it is a good distraction or a bad distraction.
3. Apt Pupil:
In the biggest game in the Big 12 of the weekend the #15 K-State Wildcats travel down to take on the #6 Oklahoma Sooners. This game is another match up of former student in Bob Stoops facing the former teacher in Bill Snyder. Last season's game at Manhattan between these two teams was the tale of two halves. The first half of this game was a close contest where OU mistakes help the Wildcats to stay in the game. The second half of that game turned ugly quick for the Wildcats as OU opened up the offense on them.
I look for this game to play out much the same way. Bob Stoops rarely loses at home Did I say rarely? I mean hardly ever. In his time at OU he has lost a total of three (THREE!) home games. One of those losses was last season vs. Texas Tech in a game that had to be postponed while a lighting storm passed. The other two losses came in 2005 to TCU and in 2001 to Oklahoma State. Also none of those team were ranked. Three losses since 1999 is damn impressive. It is clear that Stoops does not lose to ranked teams at home and I do not see it happening this weekend.
4. Sporting some shield:
I had a very interesting moment happen to me the other day. I was listening to Sporting Kansas City Defender Seth Sinovic on The Program With Soren Petro on Sports Radio 810 WHB and the topic of playing for a draw on the road. Sinovic was asked if Sporting KC was going into the match vs. New York Red Bulls to leave with a draw in order to keep their slim points standing lead. Sinovic's responded like I thought he would. He gave a response that I thought was a classic player comment about based on how we play we look to come away with a win in every match etc. Then I watched the match vs. the New York Red Bulls.
After watching Sporting KC win at the Red Bulls 2-0 it was clear that Sinovic's answer to that question was not some cliche thing that athletes say. It is not only something that the club preaches but it is also something they are able to execute. I have applauded Sporting KC in the past for the brand of soccer they play and I should have known that when Sinovic made that statement that is was more than just player speak.
With the when at New York Sporting is in a really good position to accomplish another goal the organization has publicly stated it wants and that is winning the MLS Supporters' Shield. Having and knowing who and what your identity is something I have written about a lot before. That is one of the most important things you need in order to be a successful championship winning team. Sporting KC has a strong one. It is one that is felt top to bottom throughout the entire organization. Man it is awesome having a professional sports team in Kansas City that is actually successful both on and off the pitch.
5. Fighting for relevance:
And the Kansas City Royals are in the familiar spot of the bottom of Five-Orite Friday. It is sad when the closet the Royals come to being involved in a playoff race centers around them playing spoilers against other teams who have real post season aspirations. Even with the expanded playoff format the Royals still find themselves light years away from post season contention.
Also, I refuse to buy into any success the Royals are selling right now. Yes they have been playing really well but I have watched too many September games of Kyle Davies dominating teams to believe anything I am seeing now. I want to see the Royals start the season like this and play this way when the games carry more weight and have more eyes on them than meaningless ones in September.
Follow me on Twitter @craig_a_brenner and until next week peace out!