Friday, October 12, 2012

the week six picks: when intentions aren't good enough


“Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over.
Part of me believing it was always something I had done.
But I don’t want to live that way, giving in to every word you say,
And I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody you used to know.

But you didn’t have to cut me off!
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing!
And I don’t even need your love,
But you treat me like a stranger,
And that feels so rough.

No, you didn’t have to stoop so low!
Have your friends collect your records, and then change your number!
I guess that I don’t need that though,
Cause now you’re just somebody that I used to know.

Now you’re just somebody that I used to know.
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know …”


-----------------------

Last Week SU: 7-7-0.
Season to Date SU: 40-37-0.

Last Week ATS: 4-11-0.
Season to Date ATS: 35-41-1.

Last Week “Screw You Pete King” Upset / Week: looked good until RGIII went down.
Season to Date “Screw You Pete King” Upset / Week: 2-3 (both SU and ATS).
This Week’s “Screw You Pete King” Upset / Week: Packers over Texans.

The Non-Chiefs, Non Jets Prognostications:

* byes: Bears, Saints, Panthers, Jaguars.

* at Falcons (-9 ½) 45, raiders 3.  Hang on, let me scout the slate of games really quick … nope, not a designation game.  But damned close.

* Bengals (-1) 28, at Browns 10.  Well, hang on, let me flip a coin … and let me check something on Entertainment Weekly’s site … she’s still not voted off.  OK then.  HIT IT!  (cue “Sanford and Sons” theme song in honor of this week’s “Sanford and Sons” Game of the Week!)

* Lions (+3) 28, at Eagles 20.  One of these two underachievers is about to go on a roll.  I hope I picked the right one.

* Rams (+4) 13, at Dolphins 10.  This game is anything but (clap!) Dy-No-Mite!  HIT IT!  (cue “Good Times” theme song in honor of this week’s “Good Times” Game of the Week!)

* Cowboys (+3 ½) 31, at Ravens 24.  Wow, I’m all over three road dogs to win outright through five games?  This could be one wacky week!

* at Cardinals (-4 ½) 27, Bills 21.  If I had a third designation game, this would be it.  Maybe we can start a … hang on, I gotta come up with a shitty yet lovable 70s sitcom … I got it!  This is it! (This is it!)  This is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball!  Yes, we’re adding a “One Day At a Time” Game of the Week, this game is so crappy!!!

* at Seahawks (+3) 31, Patriots 21.  Do you realize this is highly likely to be Tom Brady’s only appearance in Seattle for his career?  Unbelievable.

* at 49ers 17, Giants (+7) 14.  This opened at -2 ½ SF.  When was the last time a line moved 4 ½ points in five days when significant injury wasn’t involved?

* at Redskins (OFF) 24, Vikings 20.  OFF due to RGIII’s status, which it appears he’ll be a go.  I’ll treat the off as a pick ‘em for ATS purposes.

* Packers (+3) 48, at Texans 13.  I’m sorry – the Houston Texans are NOT the best team in the AFC.  They’re not even close.  They’re due for a major course correction, and they’re about to get taken to the woodshed by a fired up, pissed off Packers squad that inexplicably blew a three touchdown lead last week.  Plus, aren’t we about due for the inevitable “Matt Schaub lost for the season” injury?  Usually that bad boy delivers by week three.

* broncos (pick) 41, at Chargers 13.  Speaking of course corrections, who do you bet on in prime time: peyton manning, or Norval Eugene Turner?  Yeah.  With two happy outcomes (a denver and KC win this weekend), Chiefs fans?  We’d control our own destiny.  How frightening is that?

The Jets “It’s Tebow Time” Projection:

* at Jets (-3) 27, Colts 17.  If the Jets lose this one to drop to 2-4, with a roadie to Foxboro on tap?  Start playing “Taps”.

And allow me a brief side rant: if you have never been to the Indy 500?  Then you will fail to grasp why this so moves me.  The twenty minute stretch from driver intros to Mary Hulman George gasping for air as she attempts to eke out "Start Your Engines"?  Is twenty of THE coolest moments you'll ever get to witness.  Put it this way: my buddy Dusty is anything but a racing fan.  Even HE loved Indy.  You gotta go at least once.  And ideally more than once.  Because as great as Jim Nabors is, as awesome as "Taps" is (seriously, 300,000 people turn deathly silent in a nanosecond, and you simply don't have a conscience if reading the list of Indiana's finest who made the ultimate sacrifice in the previous twelve months as "Taps" plays doesn't at least get you a little choked up)?  ABC never shows you the best part of the prerace.

You gotta go at least once.  If only to be scared sh*tless when the cannons start firing at 6am, as you're in hour two of your "good night's sleep" and awake to think you're on the ground in Syria or something ...

The Chiefs Prognostication … and Attempted Explanation to Explain Why This Team Is Worse Than Terrible Right Now:

There is one phrase in life that absolutely irritates the hell out of me.

"The best of intentions".

Anytime someone invokes that phrase, I instantly think "great, (insert person here) had another great idea on paper that once implemented, created a gigantic sh*tstorm I now get to clean up, while (insert person here) gets off with no damage done."  No, really -- have you EVER heard the phrase "the best of intentions" used in defense of something that WORKED?  Of something that didn't cause one massive screw-up that leaves everyone involved pissed off, angry, mad, outraged, (insert adjective here)?

I mention that, because I'm dealing with a "best of intentions" situation in my life that's been dumped on me through no fault of my own*.  It sucks.

I also mention that ... because if ANY professional sports franchise suffers more from the dreaded "best of intentions" defense, it is the Kansas City Chiefs.

(*: also, ever notice how the person(s) with "the best of intentions" NEVER apologize when their idea blows up in your face?  That REALLY annoys the hell out of me.  I can honestly say, the “best of intentions” person(s) standing there with a “what do I have to apologize for” look of arrogance?  Pisses me off more than the fallout from their “intentions”.  You just want to cold cock the arrogance out of them.  Or at least throw down, Peter and Ernie style.)

Let’s walk through this, from how “the best of intentions” four years ago, has turned into (arguably) THE most hated by the fanbase Chiefs squad of my lifetime.  And it’s only week six!

(*: my personal most hated Chiefs teams I can recall: (5) 2002 (the most frustrating Chiefs team of my remembered life), (4) 2004 (the most disappointing team of my remembered life), (3) 2009 (the biggest waste of a season), (2) 1988 (sparked wholesale revolution), and (1) 2000 (the most unwatchable team of my remembered life.  Conversely, my most adored Chiefs teams I can recall: (5) 1991 (first playoff win at Arrowhead, over the hated raiders to boot), (4) 2010 (unexpected division title), (3) 2006 (the things that team overcame to get into the postseason still blows my mind), (2) 1999 (the great “could have been”, and (1) 1995 (will never be topped until a Chiefs team brings Lamar’s Trophy home).  Shockingly left off?  1997.  The ending was too bitter to overcome.)

In case you’ve forgotten what rock bottom was, let me refresh your memory.  The 2007 Chiefs lost their last nine games.  The 2008 Chiefs lost all but two games, meaning they went 2-23 over a season and a half.  The only positive was the victory over denver in 2008 that cost the donkeys the division, and led to mike shanarat’s termination.  The era closed on a pathetic low, getting smoked at home by the Dolphins in a game where there were maybe 10,000 people in the stands.  (Note: I was not one of them, that’s how wretched that team was.  Also, it was like negative 15 that day.  I ain’t showing up to sit in that for an (at the time) 2-12 team unless denver is the opponent).

Four years ago, at the conclusion of that 2008 season, twenty years after his father finally reached the end of his patience with Jim Schaaf and Jack Steadman, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt reached his breaking point, and fired long-time GM / CEO / VP / "Badass Negotiator" Carl Peterson.  Chiefs owner Clark Hunt took up the fans on their demands, and threw a boatload of money, power, and prestige at the most highly sought-after general manager I can recall in my lifetime, at least in football, in Patriots GM Scott Pioli.  Chiefs owner Clark Hunt then signed off on Mr. Pioli firing head coach Herm Edwards and most of the coaching staff, despite nearly all the coaches having multiple years left on their contracts.  He then showed incredible trust and faith in his new GM, by allowing Mr. Pioli to wait until after the Super Bowl to hire one of the bright young football minds, Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley (always affectionately known as "Coach Asshat" on this site.)

Now, with his front office and coaching staff in place, Mr. Hunt authorized Mr. Pioli to fix the quarterback position.  (Our quarterbacks under contract were Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen.  See, Chiefs fans?  It COULD be worse!) 

Mr. Pioli had three routes to fix the position: the draft, free agency, and the trade market. 

A quick scan of NFL history (aka "Google search"), shows that there were three first round picks used to take a quarterback in 2009:

Matt Stafford, Georgia -- picked No. 1 by the Detroit Lions.
Mark Sanchez, USC -- picked No. 5 by the New York Jets (pick acquired via trade with Cleveland)
Josh Freeman, K-State* -- picked No. 17 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Chiefs were drafting third in the 2009 draft.  Meaning that unless Mr. Pioli wanted to mortgage a couple years' worth of picks to move up two spots, Matt Stafford was unavailable to the Chiefs.  The other two options were available.  It should also be noted that only one other quarterback was selected before the fourth round in the 2009 draft, Pat White of West Virginia (who went at No. 44 to the Miami Dolphins). 

Mr. Pioli opted to pass on using the draft to fix what is universally accepted as the most important position on the roster to fill.  In hindsight, as well as in the moment, this was an acceptable, defensible decision.

(*: I don't care what their tool of a university President wants, you'll take the "derisive nickname" and like it on this site, sir.)

With the draft route now blocked due to a lack of talent, and a desire to hold onto high round draft picks to build the roster, that left free agency and the trading market as the two remaining options for Mr. Pioli to acquire a quarterback.

The three primary free agents, meaning their 2008 team held no rights over their ability to sign with another team (aka "they're unrestricted"), were Kurt Warner (who resigned with the Cardinals), Kerry Collins (who resigned with the Titans), and Brett Favre (who signed with the Vikings).  All three of these quarterbacks were at least 37 years old on Opening Week 2009.  Mr. Pioli opted not to sign a one or two year fix to the problem, which is all these options presented him, and thus, with the draft route closed, and the free agency route out of the question, Mr. Pioli had no choice.  Again, like with the draft route door slamming shut, both in hindsight at in the moment, this is a justified and defendible decision.

He had to trade for a quarterback.  And this, fellow readers, is where the wheels on the bus started to fall off, in my opinion.

And so, with all his other options exhausted, on the eve of free agency dawning in late February of 2009, Mr. Pioli sent a second round draft pick to his former employer, the New England Patriots, for LB Mike Vrabel, and the rights to QB Matt Cassel.  Mr. Hunt then authorized Mr. Pioli to sign Matt Cassel to a 6 year, $62 million dollar contract upon his arrival in Kansas City.

So ... in case you're falling asleep, let me set the scene of where we are, come mid-spring 2009:

* Clark Hunt has fired GM Carl Peterson.
* Clark Hunt has hired GM Scott Pioli.
* Scott Pioli has fired head coach Herm Edwards.
* Scott Pioli has hired head coach Todd Haley .
* Scott Pioli has traded for QB Matt Cassel.
* Clark Hunt has signed off on signing QB Matt Cassel to a long-term contract.

Let me ask you, Chiefs fans and random people drunk or stoned who stumble upon this site: is there ANYTHING in those six transactions, in March of 2009, that you could legitimately object to?  Even I, despite my intense dislike of the Matt Cassel trade*, even I have to concede that given the Chiefs situation and circumstances (obvious rebuilding mode, not a contender in 2009, coming off worst season in franchise history), even I have to concede that EVERY SINGLE MOVE that was made, was the correct move, if not the only and obvious move, at the time.

It was truly "the best of intentions".

(*: to be honest, my opposition wasn’t the trade itself, which the Chiefs won handily, even with Mr. Cassel stinking up the joint worse than … well, a joint loaded with crappy weed you paid $30/ounce for.  (pause).  Not that I’d know.  My issue was with the contract.  You controlled Mr. Cassel via the franchise tag slapped on him.  Why not let him play the season under said franchise tag and see what you’ve got?  Why hand him a contract before he takes a snap that virtually ensures he’ll be starting for four years, win or lose?  This was idiotic at the time.  It looks even less defensible now.)

And it has truly been the worst of results.

Flash forward three years later, to today.  Todd Haley is gone as head coach, fired over a pissing match with his boss Scott Pioli.  Matt Cassel is still the quarterback, but has played so poorly that Chiefs fans cheer when he suffers a concussion.  Romeo Crennel has taken over as head coach, and the Chiefs have trailed by at least 18 points in four of their first five games.  They have now lost four straight at home.  They have not led for even 0:01 in the 2012 season.

We are staring at an offseason in which the quarterback issue must be addressed -- again.  The head coaching situation must be addressed -- again.  Mr. Hunt must listen to his irate, frustrated fanbase and make change, if only for the sake of change, to at least some of the front office -- again.

Three years later Chiefs fans, we are right back where we started. 

Despite "the best of intentions".

That is why some fans (in the interest of full disclosure, that included me) cheered Matt Cassel’s concussion on Sunday.

Was it classy?  Nope.  Respectful?  Absolutely not.  Poor sportsmanship?  The textbook definition of it.

So then why did I participate, and why do I defend it?

For one simple reason: the ONLY chance the Chiefs have to win a game, right now, is with Matt Cassel not on the field.  He has no arm strength to speak of.  (I have a theory on this, by the way: I think coming back so soon from his appendectomy in 2010 has damaged him somehow.  Let's face it: Matt Cassel hasn't been the same since.)  The gameplan is designed to keep the ball out of his hands, that's how little faith this coaching staff has in its quarterback. 

Fellow Chiefs fans, if it took a concussion to finally get Brady Quinn on the field?  Then hand me the damned HHH Memorial Sledge Hammer and let me start swinging.  Is Brady Quinn the answer?  More on this in a moment.  (readers voice: sweet Jesus, how long is this prediction section going to be?)

But as I noted to everyone at the postgame tailgate last week: how can Brady Quinn POSSIBLY be worse than Matt Cassel is right now?

Here's Mr. Cassel's stats line, by the way, for all five games played so far this season:

Week 1 (vs Falcons): 21/33, 258 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, sacked 3 times, 1 fumble lost; Cassel's three turnovers resulted in 13 Falcons points.
Week 2 (at Bills): 23/42, 301 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, sacked 5 times, 1 fumble lost; Cassel's two turnovers resulted in 14 Bills points.
Week 3 (at Saints): 26/44, 248 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, sacked 3 times, 1 fumble lost; Cassel's two turnovers resulted in 7 Saints points.
Week 4 (vs Chargers): 24/42, 251 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, sacked 2 times, 1 fumble (recovered); Cassel's three turnovers resulted in 10 Chargers points.
Week 5 (vs Ravens): 9/15, 92 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT, never sacked, 2 fumbles lost (1 recovered); Cassel's four turnovers resulted in 6 Ravens points.

Average: 21/35, 230 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, sacked 3 times, 1 fumble lost; turnovers cost Chiefs 10 points.

How, pray tell, can Brady Quinn do WORSE than that?  We literally are giving away 4 points per game (10 allowed, 6 scored) every time Mr. Cassel takes the field!  And folks?  When you haven't held the lead while there was time left to play on the clock since 2011?  You simply CANNOT have a quarterback who is costing you points.

Which leads me to the final “best of intentions” I want to examine, in the hopes that maybe, just possibly … oh hell, who am I kidding, only I’m delusional enough to make this connection … maybe Matt Cassel’s concussion is going to present this organization its best opportunity to acquire, develop, and start a quarterback who can win at Baltimore, or New England, or denver, in January?  Since they blew their one golden opportunity of my lifetime fifteen years ago.

Following the 1996 season, which saw the Chiefs anointed in August as the Sports Illustrated pick to win the AFC, and ended when a 21 yard field goal sailed wide right in Jacksonville in the final day of the regular season, it was time for change.  Steve Bono had been run out of town (warning: do NOT defame Mr. Bono.  I will defend his tenure against any attack(s) you can throw at it) barely ahead of the angry mobs.  The Chiefs HAD to upgrade at the quarterback position (stevo sighing … yeah, even I have to concede that point). 

So the Chiefs went out and signed the best option available on the free agent market, the San Francisco 49ers backup, Elvis Grbac, signing him to a deal that essentially tied him to the team for the very foreseeable future (sound familiar, Chiefs fans?  *cough* Matt Cassel *cough*).

And to Mr. Grbac’s credit, he started out well, as the Chiefs stood 6-2, one game behind the broncos, as a beautiful early November Monday night dawned, and the Chiefs prepared to face the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Where one play changed EVERYTHING.

Late in the third quarter, Elvis Grbac dropped back to pass, and was sacked.  He landed awkwardly on his shoulder.  Separation, out 6-8 weeks. 

Onto the field stepped the throwaway afterthought from the 1996 season, both regular and off, some journeyman quarterback who hadn’t started a game in three years, had been cut from three teams already, and up until seeing action down the stretch in 1996 (when his season had been cut short by injury), hadn’t taken a snap in the league in two years.

Enter … Rich Gannon.

Mr. Gannon held on to beat the Steelers, took a tough loss at Jacksonville the following Sunday, and then, in one of the biggest regular season games Arrowhead Stadium has ever hosted, somehow, someway, found a way to complete a 7 yard out pattern from the broncos’ 44 yard line with :08 remaining, to give making a 54 yard field goal as time expired for the win at least a shot of success.

We all know what happened – the kick somehow, someway, into the wind, barely made it across the crossbar.  The Chiefs had won 24-22, and went on to win every game remaining in the season, finishing 13-3 and not only winning the division, but gaining home field advantage throughout the playoffs to boot.

Unfortunately, we all know what happened next: Elvis Grbac started the regular season finale against a horrific Saints squad, then drew the start in the divisional round against the broncos.  Marty had to do it – the contract all but guaranteed Mr. Grbac HAD TO PLAY, consequences be damned.  Mr. Grbac’s final drive came up short, the broncos would go on to “win one for john” (a phrase that … hang on, I need to puke for awhile … I’d suggest you cue up a three hour blockbuster on Netflix, I might be puking for a good long while at typing “win one for john” …), and after a catastrophic 1998 season, the Chiefs brain trust had a decision to make.

They chose Mr. Grbac, out of necessity.  His contract made him uncuttable.  Mr. Gannon would go on to win three straight AFC West championships, lead the raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII, and win NFL MVP honors.  Mr. Grbac would spend two more disappointing seasons in Kansas City, move on to Baltimore, and retire.

Just like with Matt Cassel?  The Chiefs braintrust had “the best of intentions” with Mr. Grbac.  And their intentions wound up biting them and the fans in the ass.

Sunday, “the best of intentions” of this current brain trust comes full circle.  Because folks, it’s simple.  If Brady Quinn wins this game?  Matt Cassel cannot be allowed to start another game in this town wearing a Chiefs uniform.

With a win Sunday, the Cassel error is over.  With a win Sunday, the stench that Mr. Hunt and Mr. Pioli and Mr. Baffoon’s intentions have released, diminishes its smell.

Because if the Chiefs win Sunday, and the broncos do what they always do in San Diego (aka “win”) on Monday?

We control our own destiny.

Let that sink in.  This has been a WRETCHED season … and yet, in the words of Michael Corleone from Godfather Part III: “just when I think I’m out? They pull me back IN!”

But -- if the Chiefs lose, especially in embarrassing fashion?  The "best of intentions" done blown up in our faces.  And let's just say, a 3:05pm CT kickoff for the next home game will equal PLENTY of pissed off, well lubricated fans ready to "spread the love" we gave to Matt Cassel last week.

I personally am looking forward to this game.  I actually think Brady Quinn can lead this team into contention.  And before you snicker, laugh, and/or call Charter or Two Rivers to “invite me to my new home”, think back fifteen years ago, as Rich Gannon took the field on that Monday night against Pittsburgh.  NOBODY thought that season was salvageable, including me.

Mr. Gannon came through.

Sunday?  I believe Brady Quinn will deliver the victory that jump-starts this season.

“The best of intentions”.  It’s a phrase I DESPISE.  It’s a phrase that perfectly explains why the Chiefs are where they are.

And one way or another, the shitstorm those intentions have caused are going to get dealt with Sunday.  Win … or start prepping to clean house, if not during the bye next week, certainly when this rapidly sinking ship of a season hit the bottom of the sea.

The ball’s in your court, The Wrong 53 and Coach Baffoon.  With a win?  All's cool at One Arrowhead Drive, at least for a couple week.  With a loss?

Prepare for the b*tch slap of a lifetime from an irate fanbase that refuses to bend over and take it anymore from the children running this team into the ground.  Prepare to be told to "grow up" as only we, the paying public, can tell you to do.

Choose wisely, Coach and 53.

Chiefs (+4 ½) 27, at Bucs 17.

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