The Atlanta Falcons came into Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in week one of the NFL season. Kansas City ended up losing this game 40-24. The first thing that needs to be addressed is the score, itself. But 40-24 isn’t that bad, right? Well, there are times in sports when the score tells the whole story and then times when it just doesn’t. The latter is the case, this go-round.
The score was 20-17 in favor of the Falcons going into halftime. The Chiefs played a pretty good game in the first half, keeping up with the Falcons nearly score-for-score (in fact, nobody punted in the first half). Quarterback Matt Cassel was playing some pretty respectable football and the running game was firing off some fairly nice runs. It felt as if the Chiefs had found their rhythm and that this is who they truly were the entire time, despite their less-than-impressive preseason. Even though the defense was about as bad as expected (keep in mind all of the injuries), the Chiefs were able to hang around for the entire first half. I thought they were going to be in position to win the game.
Then the house of cards came down. The first half was pretty mistake-free. While it wasn’t perfect, it was firing on nearly all cylinders, offensively. In the opening minutes of the second half, though, the Chiefs started making some errors, which quickly led to Atlanta points. Then, before we all knew it, the Chiefs started committing mistake after mistake, some leading to turnovers, and the Falcons were quick to capitalize each time they got the ball back.
In the second half, the Falcons were able to raise the score from 20 to 27 to 34, before letting off the gas, settling for field goals, allowing the Chiefs to score a touchdown during the ‘garbage period’ via their 3rd running back, Shaun Draughn, late in the fourth quarter. (The ‘garbage period’ is when a team is up by so much, their defense starts letting up, on purpose, showing the losing team some sportsmanship, likely allowing some scoring). If Atlanta had wanted to, they could’ve put up 54 without blinking.
So what is the major problem with the Chiefs? Well, the defense was astoundingly bad. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a day and a half to throw the football and the receivers (not to mention, former Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez) were poorly covered throughout. For anybody wondering, the lack of defensive ability on this football team is a pretty big indictment on Chiefs general manager, Scott Pioli. Yeah, I know he didn’t know some of these guys were going to get hurt. But that’s the nature of the NFL, guys are going to get hurt. I understand you can’t spend foolishly on players you don’t know are going to be any good.
Here’s the deal, though. Other general managers are making it work. Some aren’t, I know. But he was brought in because he was thought to be one of the best general managers in the business. The end of the Carl Peterson (and former head coach, Herm Edwards) era brought about the promise of a great future. Things are supposed to be better than ever in Kansas City.
Needless to say, they are nowhere close to that. The Chiefs are still in the top three teams in the entire NFL when it comes to room below the salary cap. This means they have the third most money in the NFL to spend to do what they need to do, which in this case, is to acquire players. So, then, I want to know why in the world the Chiefs were put in to this horrible position. One figure has the Chiefs something like a full 26 million dollars under the salary cap. This is money they could have used to bring in better talent to shore up that defense, so embarrassing outings like this don’t happen nearly as often.
Now, you can make the argument that spending money doesn’t always equate to championships, and I’d listen to that. But let’s take a case example. The New England Patriots are perennially one of the best teams in all of football. Do you know that players on that team have been willing to take pay cuts so that their organization can keep bringing in talent?
Their organization is constantly looking to sign guys and finding ways to make things work so they can constantly be competitive. I’m not saying the Chiefs players need to do the same thing, but that gives you an idea of what some teams are doing that have experienced success. You may not agree with that, but keep one thing in mind: The Patriots made the Super Bowl last year, the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game since the early 90′s. There’s a way to do things and there’s a way not to. Refusing to spend money on quality talent (like *ahem* at the backup quarterback position), is inexcusable.
What can the Chiefs do going forward? Hope for the Chiefs defense to come back, fully healthy, because as things are right now, they stand to get torched by any team that can adequately pass the football. Keep crossing your fingers for good offensive production out of Cassel and company and keep an eye on the rest of the division. Keep rooting for the Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, and Oakland Raiders to take losses. However, if things keep going south, I’m going to go on-record and say that the Chiefs organization is going to look quite different next year, from top to bottom.
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