Ever since the pole-axing by the Bills on Sunday, and the doubts about Eric Berry’s availability were confirmed, I’ve been thinking of one thing.
Look it, the easiest thing in the world to do after an ass whipping like Sunday was, is to go into full-fledged panic mode. Who amongst us hasn’t said some variation of the phrase “sweet Jesus, are we REALLY this bad?!?!” at some point in the last 48 hours? God knows I have. And who amongst us hasn’t ripped the gameplan, ripped the effort, and flat-out declared Matt Cassel “dead to me”, pure mafia style, in the last 48 hours? OK, so maybe I’m the only one to go that far with Cassel. But still.
If you’re ready to panic, jump ship, give up hope, because two of (arguably) our five most important players are out for the season*, I offer two words of comfort to you.
(*: I’d argue our 8 most important players, in order of least to most important, are Moeaki, Justin Houston (who draws his first start on Sunday*), Flowers, Carr, Cassel, DJ, Berry, and Charles. If you want to make it a top ten, toss D Bowe in there at 9, and Kendrick Lewis, who I believe is the answer now at safety, at 10.)
(*: and yes, I put Houston ahead of Hali. Hali is rock solid no matter what. Houston, we need to make Tamba even better.)
I’m sure some of you at this point are asking three questions, having read this far:
1. Who the hell is Troy Brown?
2. Why isn’t Stevo in full fledged panic mode like I am? And
3. Who the hell is Troy Brown?
Savvy NFL fans will recognize that name. A Pro Bowl wide receiver for the New England Patriots, a vital contributor to their offense throughout the Super Bowl runs of the early and mid 2000s, and a borderline Hall of Fame candidate who’ll probably eventually get in sometime in the late 2010s / early 2020s.
He also started, at cornerback, for the Patriots in all three postseason victories in 2004.
Yes folks, a freaking wide receiver played cornerback, that’s how beat up the Patriots were in that final Super Bowl winning push. He covered (or at least attempted to) TO in that Super Bowl. Let that sink in – a freaking wide receiver is not only playing both ways (that’s not all that rare – Deion Sanders did it for years in Dallas), but a freaking wide receiver is starting at cornerback! In the Super Bowl!
The defensive coordinator who made this (at best) ludacris idea work?
Folks, why are you panicked? Why are you ready to bail on this season after one freaking game? If Romeo Crennel is smart enough to figure out a way to win a Super Bowl with a freaking wide receiver starting on his defense, I’m pretty damned sure he’ll figure out a way to scheme around Eric Berry’s absence. Hell, I’m not pretty damned sure of it, I AM damned sure of it!
So the offense looked like dog crap on Sunday. So what? For as bad as they played, everything that was seriously screwy is EASILY fixable. Ball security is EASILY fixable. Cassel, to his credit, never once tried to force the issue – his only “questionable” pass attempt I saw, was perfectly fine in my book, a bomb to D Bowe on 3rd and 16 that, if picked, is no worse than a punt. That’s when you take risks, is in a no-win spot like that. For all my b*tching about Matt, he did complete 60% of his passes, he didn’t turn the ball over until the outcome was already known (the INT occurred at 34-7), and he didn’t do anything stupid. He managed the game, and isn’t that what we ask him to do?
Jamaal Charles averaged nearly 6 yards a carry. Isn’t that what we ask him to do? It isn’t Jamaal’s fault that our offensive playcaller only called 10 rushing plays for him.
The offensive line didn’t get Cassel killed. I counted two penalties on them – one declined (a hold on Asomoah, again, long after the outcome was known).
As bad as Sunday was, it wasn’t 2008. It wasn’t pull-your-hair-out time, it wasn’t “take a flame-thrower to this place” awful.
And I am going to make the next statement in this posting with every ounce of conviction my years of watching this sport, and my years of loving this team, can allow me to muster.
Sunday is not going to be a competitive football game. The Chiefs are going to dominate this game from start to finish, and are going to blow the Lions out of the building.
For all the fear and loathing setting in, the Chiefs STILL aren’t in that bad of a position. This is a VERY winnable game, and I fully expect that between Todd Haley* and Romeo Crennel, two rock-solid game plans, one on each side of the ball, are going to be cooked up and unveiled come high noon five days from now.
(*: I think we can effectively bury the Bill Muir experiment after one week, can’t we? I mean as a play caller. As an offensive line coach, he’s one of the best, and he’s not a bad coordinator either. He’s just clueless at getting a rhythm going once the game kicks off.)
After this week, not one, not two, but three very winnable games before hitting the bye. The Chargers damned near lost at home to a Vikings team that passed for 38 yards on Sunday. No, that is not a typo, that is not net passing yards, that is the actual amount of yardage Donovan McNabb threw for, and they still nearly won. (To put that in perspective, if you were to walk / jog / run 38 yards, starting at one sideline on the 20, and run along the 20 towards the other sideline? You wouldn’t make it to the other sideline if you only moved 38 yards. Pathetic). Then we get those Vikings, at home, followed up by a (now) extremely winnable roadie at Indianapolis.
And I haven’t been this convinced of a Chiefs road victory, despite ALL evidence to the contrary, since I cleared $300 plus dollars off clueless friends, family, and fellow degenerate gamblers when the 0-3 2004 Chiefs rolled into Baltimore for a Monday night showdown with the 3-0 Ravens. A game highlighted by the final shot, Gunther screaming “f*ck you!” at the Ravens coaching box next to him in sheer triumph at our victory. We ARE winning this game on Sunday. And we’re winning it in woodshed fashion.
I’m curious – do you think Steeler Nation is in full on panic mode this morning? They looked even worse than we did on Sunday. Do you think the Falcons fanbase is quaking in their seats? They got their ass whipped every bit as bad as we did. I would hope they aren’t – both teams are exactly what the Chiefs are: talented teams that are competently coached, competently run, and nowhere near as awful as they looked two days ago.
Some of the changes enacted over the last two days, have me extremely pleased. I LOVE moving Justin Houston into the lineup. As p*ssed as I still am that we passed on Ryan Mallett at 70 … well, if the worst thing I ever compare that decision to is the choice to draft DJ over Aaron Rodgers, you know what? I’ll still be p*ssed. But much like as with Carl’s lowest moment as a GM in my book* … I can live with it.
(*: it’s also the one moment, even in hindsight, that I was TOTALLY smarter than “The Voice of Reason”. Even he has to concede that for one brief flickering moment, that light bulb in my head was shining at full wattage.)
I also have no doubt that Todd Haley will be resuming calling plays. And in the two words that have me avoiding a full on meltdown at this point after what I witnessed on Sunday, “Troy Brown”. Romeo Crennel will have his unit ready to go. (Romeo, some free advice: move Kendrick Lewis into Berry’s spot. He’s not as good, granted … but the kid has great instincts, is always around the ball, and can more than adequately cover the tight end or slot receiver in a surprise passing formation. But please, feel free to ignore me – if you can win a Super Bowl with a freaking wide receiver starting on defense, you are infinitely smarter than I am, and I think when it comes to basic football knowledge, I am much smarter than your average bear.)
Let that sink in, Chiefs fans. Our defensive coordinator submitted a Super Bowl winning (arguably dominating) game plan … with a wide receiver covering the other team’s primary target in the passing game. And you actually have doubts over whether he can overcome the Eric Berry injury to deliver a kick-ass, season-calming victory on Sunday? I still believe. And if you don’t, well, read my thoughts from another time the Chiefs faced a “crisis of conscience” in the fanbase. I was right then. (Chiefs 48, Dolphins 30). I will be proven right again on Sunday.