Whereas the previous post is my favorite post I type each year, uuh, well … this one is always my least favorite to write. Because typing, composing, (somewhat) proofing, and (ultimately) posting this piece? Means the bracelet is no longer on the wrist, and the Chiefs season is over.
At least it ended on a somewhat high note, as the Chiefs won a really god-awful game at fake mile high on Sunday. So, here you go, my look back at the 2011 season, and somewhat of a look forward to 2012, split into multiple parts. Because nobody wants to read a 30 page post.
Here is part one: the highs and lows of the season that was ... as well as the smartest "gamble" the Chiefs could possibly make this offseason. Hint: it involves a phone call at 12:01am on March 4th that would reveal once and for all what we have in Matt Cassel, since there's not a shot in hell in the phone call would result in a new quarterback. And no, that phone call should not be placed to the 317 area code ...
* Best Game: (tie) Chiefs 19, Packers 14 week 15; Chiefs 23, Chargers 20 (OT), week 8. The first might be the second biggest upset in the NFL this season (sorry, but the Saints getting tuned in St Louis ranks higher on my “how did that happen?!?!”-o-meter). The second was the culmination of one incredible month of comebacks, incredible finishes, and for one shining moment, gave hope to the Chiefs Kingdom that 2011 was salvageable.
* Worst Game: raiders 16, Chiefs 13 (OT), week 16. Yes, we lost five games by at least 27 points. Yes, we got tebowed out of the building against denver. But this one is the reason why the Chiefs aren’t playing at 3:30 on Sunday, and the broncos are.
* Favorite Play: The Phumble, vs Chargers week 8. Sometimes, this game delivers a magical moment when you least expect it. Phyllis Rivers fumbling a center exchange for the first time in his career, after the Chargers had seemingly just clinched victory, is one of those moments. Honorable mention to D Bowe’s circus act touchdown catch at Indy week 5, and Kendrick Lewis’ sideline touchdown return at oakland week 7.
* Least Favorite Play: timmy tebow to eric decker, 6 minutes to go, vs denver week 11. denver leading 10-7, the Chiefs have forced third down, and 56 yards later, on a perfect bomb down the sideline, the broncos had sealed victory at Arrowhead for the second time in three years. Dishonorable mention to the opening play of overtime vs raiders week 16, the palmer to darrius heyward-bey bomb that set the raiders up in field goal range.
* Favorite Ongoing Storyline: the emergence of Jackie Battle. No, he’s not a bona fide starter in this league, but given the mess the kid’s personal life is (search the Star for Mellinger’s story on Battle’s mom’s fight with end-stages Alzheimer’s disease), it’s nice to see the little guy succeed.
* Least Favorite Ongoing Storyline: that Romeo Crennel pretty much has sealed the head coaching job. I think this is a colossal mistake. I pray I’m wrong.
* Most Valuable Chief, Offense: RB Jackie Battle. The offense went straight down the crapper even before losing Tony Moeaki, Jamaal Charles, and Matt Cassel for the season, but at least Battle stepped up and provided some semblance of a running game.
* Most Valuable Chief, Defense: CB Brandon Carr. Resigning Carr to a long-term deal had damned well better be Priority Number Two at One Arrowhead Drive right now, behind the coaching hire. And both better get accomplished before free agency begins on March 4th.
* Least Valuable Chief, Offense: QB Matt Cassel. What an absolute waste of a season. And I would have said that before he broke his hand against denver in week 11 and was lost for the season. Dishonorable mention to both of his replacements (Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton), as well as backup Ricky Stanzi, who apparently sucks so bad that he can’t get onto the field after Tyler Palko sh*ts his pants in the huddle. Oh boy Chiefs fans, do we have a GAPING hole to fill under center. (That’s what she said! (rimshot!))
* Least Valuable Chief, Defense: S Sabby Piscatelli. If I try to rationally dissect his season, this paragraph will basically be nothing but creative variable uses of the word “f*ck”. Since I still gotta give him a grade later on, let’s save it for that paragraph, ok? (Plus, it gives you a reason to keep reading. I’m a sneaky bastard like that.)
* Most Improved Chief, Offense: RB Jackie Battle. From preseason star(ter) and special teams backup, to being a competent second option at the running back position. Helluva season for the little kid that could.
* Most Improved Chief, Defense: DT Amon Gordon. Did this guy come out of nowhere or what? And man did he deliver when he was on the field. Helluva bargain bin pickup by GM Scott Pioli this past offseason.
* Best Tailgate: gotta go with the Packers game (week 15), because the fish fry was awesome, the turnout was great, and the Chiefs got the win. But honestly? Uum …
* Worst Tailgate: none. Even my sick game, against the Steelers (week 12), when I was so ravaged by the flu that I could barely emerge from the car for 10 minutes at a time to say hello to people when they arrived? Even that was bearable weather with good friends having a good time. Which reminds me …
* Best Thing To Occur Not On the Field This Season: the weather. How could you beat this? Have we EVER had a season for football like this? Keeping in mind that I avoid preseason games as much as humanly possible (aka “unless it’s a Double Header Day or I have nothing better to do, I ain’t showing up”), you had “shirts optional!” weather for Buffalo, Minnesota, and San Diego (at least for tailgating), “shorts ok!” temps for denver, Green Bay, and oakland, and the Steelers, for being a night game in late November, was perfectly acceptable (save for my 103 degree fever and inability to stop puking, but that ain’t the weather’s fault … at least that night’s weather, anyways.) As for the one game I didn’t cover in that stretch …
* Second Worst Thing To Occur Not On the Field This Season: getting delayed for two hours at Fort Lauderdale, ultimately missing the Dolphins game. Although even this I can’t get too upset about – anytime you can spend a late fall / early winter weekend on a beach in Florida, you have to do it. Especially when it’s a family wedding, and the words “open bar” are a given, not a “God, I hope that’s the case” scenario.
* Second Best Thing To Occur Not On the Field This Season: cheaper tickets! Thank you Clark Hunt and family for lowering my cost next year by $40. I’ve been paying my way into that stadium since 1999, and I have never seen the cost go down. So this is a happy surprise, to put it mildly. A better home schedule (no real duds on there next year – the 3 divisional games, 2 AFC North playoff teams, an Indy team figuring to rebound, plus Cam Newton and Tony G making his (probable) final appearance at Arrowhead as a player), and you LOWER the cost to show up? Sign me up please!
* Worst Thing To Occur Not On the Field This Season: the passing of my seatmate Greg Mitchell. There are people in life you are truly blessed to have met and known. He was definitely one of them.
And because I don’t want to end on a downer …
* My Offseason Top Dream / Wet Dream / “You Want To Sell Tickets? Make the Phone Call Clark!” Fantasy of an Offseason …
Let me state, before I get to part two (the individual grades of each meaningful contributor to the “Fine 53”) that I am perfectly fine with Matt Cassel returning as our starter next year. I know this comes as a shock to most people who know me (and once I post the grades, please – have a stiff drink and / or joint in hand, you’ll need it when I get to Cassel and, more specifically, Orton, given my feelings for at least one of those two gentlemen), but the Chiefs can’t afford to mortgage the next two drafts to move up to the one or two spot and grab Luck or Griffin. It’s not worth it. Sorry. I know, we need a franchise quarterback, and Cassel isn’t one. I get it. I AGREE WITH YOU! So in the words of Carl Peterson, “shut the f*ck up and sit the f*ck down”, and allow me to make my plea.
Because even if he rejects the overtures of the franchise (and he would) … you want to prove you can “cowboy up”, Mr. Hunt? Mr. Pioli? Whoever the next coach is (I’m guessing Mr. Crennel)?
You want to show to a 2.3 million plus metropolitan area that you mean business, that you recognize the growing threat next door to you for the sports entertainment dollars in this town, and just like Carl Peterson 18 years ago ensured the Royals were finished in his tenure as a viable franchise, you want to keep them dead, buried, and hopeless in terms of grabbing the local media spotlight?
Throw 7 years, $145 million at …
Saints free agent quarterback to be Drew Brees.
Is it a horrendous contract offer? Absolutely. The only way you make an insane offer like that -- $20 plus million PER YEAR, over 7 years, for a 30 something year old quarterback, is if “you’re in it to win it”, as Randy Jackson will start saying in about two weeks on “American Idol”.
The ONLY way you make an offer that insane, is if the only thing you care about is winning a championship.
There is not one rational reason to believe Drew Brees will leave New Orleans. There is not one rational reason to believe that Clark Hunt would go over his spend-thrift GM and offer the deal of a lifetime to a quarterback very familiar with this division, who has one Super Bowl ring on his finger, might have a second by the time free agency rolls around, and is your current single-season passing leader.
Other than this.
“You’re in it … to win it”.
Even if Brees rejected the offer (and I believe he would), you could still go to your fanbase and say “you know what, we tried. We recognize the weakness at our quarterback slot as it currently exists. We realize it’s holding us back. So we literally made the largest dollar-per-season in NFL history to fix the problem. And we got shot down. So Matt, uum, we’re behind you buddy!”
And if Matt Cassel, in that spot, reacts as I did in a (somewhat) similar spot eight years ago* … he’ll come out en fuego next fall, and make you think “wow, maybe we can win with this guy”. Because if you can’t get motivated by a below mediocre boss hiring your job out from under you … then your name isn’t Stevo.
(*: the difference being, when my job was "hired out from under me", I got a raise and a promotion. Uum, thanks?)
And you don’t have the fire, the passion, the hatred, that I did for ten months afterwards, when an incompetent boss I had thought he’d be creative and move me to a different area of my department when I worked at Transamerica, literally telling me on Friday the new guy started Monday, and “oh yeah, you’re training him, then starting your new job in two weeks”.
To say that move p*ssed off the “locker room” (aka my co-workers), so to speak, was an understatement.
To say it p*ssed me off, is a grouse understatement of Zues proportions.
Within four months, I had my old job back, as “the prodigy” of Leif (the single worst person I have ever worked with in my life, and that’s saying something, and no, I’m not editing his name, that cunt can rot in hell, and I’m not editing calling that cunt a, uuh, cunt either) was fired for (pick one) incompetence / inability to show up for work / lying on his time card / being stoned at work / leaving work early / lying about his wife being sick to explain said leaving work, being stoned, and failing to meet minimum standards / or the convenient "all of the above"*.
(*: sadly, not one word in that previous paragraph is incorrect in any way, shape or form. Other than I left out the fact that he sexually harassed at least two female employees. I think all of that, plus sexual harassment, qualifies Leif as a cunt. (cue every person who worked with him not only nodding in agreement, but clapping in knowing recognition of that fact). Although to be fair, because I strive for that -- being stoned at work wasn't really a fireable offense in that job ...)
Not even six months after Josh was poop canned, Leif was finally shown the door. The lesson? I’m a very patient, laid back person … until you f*ck with me. Then, it’s on like people sitting on “The Couch” hitting a bong.
If Matt Cassel has any intestinal fortitude in him, seeing a 7 year, $145 million offer to Drew Brees emerge? Would enrage him. Would motivate him to do what he didn’t do last offseason – prepare like the upcoming season is the ONLY thing in life that mattered.
(aka “out to screw his bosses and anyone who stands in his way”. And if he had that attitude? You know damned well the roster would have his back, and then some.)
And if he didn’t have that in him, if he shrugged it off? Then you’d know to cut the cord, immediately, if you were the Chiefs front office. Because if you can’t get enraged at a team attempting to upgrade from you, without even telling you they’re planning to do so, then you have no pride in the work you do.
I had my pride, and ensured both the prodigy and the dolt that hired him were drawing unemployment within a year of their attempted replacement of me. If Matt Cassel has pride in his job, he’d take a Drew Brees contract offer as a slap in the face, and a swift kick to the ass to get said ass in gear.
And if Drew Brees actually said “you know what, why not? I accept?”
Then who gives a sh*t what Matt Cassel would think at that point …