Monday, January 25, 2016

2015 chiefs in review, part uno ...

“If I bent,
Like you said was best?
Would that change a thing?

If I spent
Myself ‘til nothing’s left --
Would you still leave me here?

So sorry about it all?
Now that it’s over?
Should I thank you for that dear?

You're so sorry about it all?
Then I hope you’ll always be! …

… So good night!  And farewell!
Is this everything you wanted?
Is this everything you wanted?

Good night!  Farewell!
Is this everything you wanted?
Everything you wanted now?

You’re so sorry about it all!?!?!?
Now that it’s over!?!?!?
Should I thank you for that dear?

So sorry about it all!?!?!?
Well then I hope you’ll always be --
I hope you’ll always be!!!! …”

-- “Bent” by Matt Nathanson.  I picked it for more than one obvious reason, only one of which you'd think ...

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Well, peoples and peepettes, if the (very overdue and not even remotely finished yet) "Annual Column" is my favorite post to write each year, then this one is the worst.  Because the only reason, the only way, this post can possibly, uuh, post ... is if the Chiefs season is over.

Yes, it's sadly time to post the Chiefs Season in Review.  As I begin this, I am not sure if this will post as one long column, or if I'll split it up into a couple sections.  (Hint: at least three columns ... and probably four, as the next two weeks unfold.)

At some point -- either in this post or in the next ones to come, you will get:

* The Bests and Worsts of the 2015 season (This Post!)
* Stevo’s 2016 Dream Schedule For the Chiefs (This Post!)
* Professor Stevo's Grades for each Chiefs coach.
* Professor Stevo's Grades for the GM and Owner.
* Stevo's NFL Coaches Power Poll -- Offseason Ratings.
* Professor Stevo's Grades for each Chiefs player.
* How I Would Target the Offseason and Draft.
* And anything else I feel like pontificating on (This Post!)

Here we go.

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The Bests and Worsts of the 2015 Season.

* Best Moment: Eric Berry is introduced, vs broncos, Week Two.  This doesn’t even need explanation.

* Worst Moment: Jamaal Charles goes down, vs Bears, Week Five.  Again, this doesn’t even need explanation.

* Best Game: Chiefs 30, at Texans 0, AFC Wild Card.  It's really, really tempting to put Chiefs 29, broncos 14, given my hatred of those people and especially their “fans” – one in particular * ... but come on.  If you pick any game other than the first playoff victory in 22 years, then you need to put down the medicinally legal herbal product and exhale.

(And since it's pretty much the only recap you got this year, you can read my thoughts on the victory by clicking on this link.)

* Worst Game: Chiefs 24, broncos 31, Week Two.  Every single thing about this game sucked -- the parking nazis, the late rally, the idiotic fumble, the heart-breaking (and AFC home field advantage costing) defeat.  I hate it when my team loses; I hate it a million times more when the loss is to those people.  Dishonorable mention to Chiefs 17, Bears 18, Week Five.

* Best Tailgate: vs raiders, Week Seventeen.  You only turn 39 once.  (I'm working on a recap of the weekend ... along with about six other posts at this point.  Bear with me!  (Or skip ahead to the very end of this post, to understand why.)  

To get to do my 39th (that's what she said!) with so many of you, on a shockingly pleasant January afternoon, is damned near about as perfect a way as I can think of, to enter the "last great year of your existence".  Honorable mention to vs Steelers, Week Seven, which would easily be the best tailgate in nearly any other season.

* Worst Tailgate: vs Titans, Week Fourteen.  It rained so damned hard that the roof on the easy-ups was collapsing.  It rained so damned much that our spot turned into a freaking lake by 9am.  And standing in the rain during the game, I caught a bad head cold that took me nearly a month to shake off for good.  Let's just hope that's the last rain game we have for a very, very long time.  Dishonorable mention to vs Browns, Week Sixteen.  That's about the coldest I've ever felt at Arrowhead.  Let's all hope and pray that bone-chilling weather never invades our fine metropolitan area again.

* Best PR Moment: the video as Eric Berry was introduced, vs broncos Week Two.  (Note: I tried to find the link on YouTube!, and failed.  I'll link when / if I find it.  But I have to be honest -- a godd*mned LARGE part of me is glad, it isn't out there.  It meant that f*cking much.)

The Chiefs made some serious PR blunders this year.  But they nailed this moment.  One of the very rare moments in life when the moment exceeded the hype.  Job extremely well done with this one.  Honorable mention to whoever picks the opposing team's music as they are introduced.  Some very, very creative and hilarious choices this year, none funnier than the Chargers taking the field to "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" by Wham!  #laheretheycome

* Worst PR Moment: "Crossing the Rubicon", vs broncos Week Two.  To the Chiefs credit, this one blew up so predictably and horribly in their face, that they did a complete 180 by the next home game, and enforced no regulations for the rest of the season. 

To the Chiefs detriment?  They thought screwing over their fans, and destroying twenty plus years of tailgating tradition, was the right thing to do.

* Best Play, Offense: Alex Smith throws the perfect deep ball to Jeremy Maclin for six, vs Bills Week Twelve.  If ANY play dictated the incredible, “holy f*cking sh*t, this is real, and it is spectacular!” close to this season, this was the play.

The Bills have just scored to take a 16-7 lead on a frigid, rainy day at Arrowhead, in a battle between 5-5 squads tied for the two Wild Card slots, with six games to play.  After a short completion to Jeremy Maclin, and a fortuitous pass interference call on the Bills, the Chiefs have 1st and 10 at the Bills 41, out of the two minute warning.

Forty one yards later, Jeremy Maclin had reeled in the deep bomb, the Chiefs had cut the lead to a very manageable two points, and the tone was set not just for the rest of the game (which the Chiefs won 30-22), but for the rest of the season.

* Worst Play, Offense: Jamaal Charles' fumble, vs broncos Week Two.  An inexcusable mistake to be sure ... but also an indefensible play call in that spot.  If "Fat" Andy was content with overtime, then kneel the damned ball and go to overtime.  Don't risk your team's season needlessly.

* Best Play, Defense: (tie) Josh Mauga and Marcus Peters intercept derek carr, at raiders Week Thirteen.  Truth be told, this was the game when I bought full in to what this team was selling.  To go into oakland, for the biggest game that team has played in at least five years, and not just rally to win, but to do so by obliterating the raiders offensive line and battering derek carr was just a thing of absolute beauty.  Gun to my head, I'd pick Mr. Mauga's play as the best ... but Mr. Peters' pick six to seal the win is a damned close second.

* Worst Play, Defense: Jamell Fleming gets toasted, vs denver Week Two.  As indefensible as Mr. Charles' fumble a few minutes later was, giving up bomb after bomb to satan and emmanuel sanders is worse.

* Best Play, Special Teams: Knile Davis, at Texans, AFC Wild Card.  The beauty of this return is that you knew the instant he left the goalline, he was taking it to the house.  The blocking by the Chiefs’ front wall was that damned incredible.  The opening shot of a day, and a celebration, twenty one years, three hundred fifty eight days, in the making. 

* Worst Play, Special Teams: The 65 Yard Attempt, vs Bears Week Five.  This not only was the worst play on special teams this season, this is arguably the worst decision in franchise history.  Who in the hell thought Cairo Santos (affectionately known as "Pedro!" in Section 132) attempting a 65 yard field goal into a 40mph breeze was a smarter idea than having your $18 million quarterback attempt to complete a Hail Mary (or draw a pass interference) to your $11 million receiver?

This play is so wretchedly awful on so many levels, it's amazing to me that a reasonable football mind like "Fat" Andy would even contemplate it, let alone call for it.

(The kick didn't even reach the 20.  The wind was that brutal.)

* Best Development: the pure unadulterated hatred between the Chiefs and donkeys has returned!  Did you people read Twitter, read Sam Mellinger’s report from the scene, following denver’s 20-18 victory in one of the best football games I’ve ever watched, to take the AFC for the second time in three years **?  The utter hatred, contempt, and pure disgust and disrespect the donkeys – especially their defense – showed to the Chiefs?

To quote Jim Mora Jr.: “it was really neat!”

Admit it – life is better when donkeys and Chiefs (and their fans) are ready to throw down at the site of each other.  The sheer rage and hatred of the 1990s is back folks!  Also, sorta related to this:

* Another Best Development: you can all but guarantee that for the fourth straight year, the Chiefs and donkeys will stage at least one of their get-togethers in prime time.  (2013 at denver, 2014 at Kansas City, 2015 at Kansas City).

And since there is no “Worst Development” to that last set of, uuh, developments, and this is a natural transition stage, let’s move on to Stevo’s Dream Schedule for the Chiefs, shall we? 

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(*: left unsaid, is my favorite moment from a tailgate this season, vs Bills Week Twelve.  It involved “The Voice of Reason”, myself, my buddy Tyler, “bts”, and Tyler’s girlfriend (most prominently).  I will just simply say, I have never embraced pure hatred of a human being, like I did in that moment.  Other than to note, I have never meant a statement more in my life, than when I said, “I didn’t say I wouldn’t!”, in response to “bts”’s observation of Tyler’s girlfriend.)

(**: assuming the satanic era ends next Sunday, win or lose, for the donkeys, let’s just acknowledge and admit the Captain Oats in the room, Chiefs fans: we would KILL for denver’s last four years.  Four division championships.  At least twelve wins every season.  Six home playoff games (going 4-2 in those six).  Two AFC Championships.  One Super Bowl defeat … and one Super Bowl win or loss pending.

I’d happily pay good money to watch that over four years.  Christ knows I’ve paid more than great money, to watch far, far less than that.)

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Stevo’s Dream 2016 Chiefs Schedule.

* Preseason:

Week One: at Cardinals, Saturday, August 13, 7pm CT (KCTV).
Week Two: vs Vikings, Saturday, August 20, 7pm CT (KCTV).
Week Three: vs Packers, Saturday, August 27, 7pm CT (KCTV).
Week Four: at Rams, Thursday, September 1, 7pm CT (KCTV).

Reasoning / Rationale: the only possible “Double Header Day” is Week Two.  Royals host the Twins that weekend.  Here’s hoping the Chiefs and Vikings work this out; DHDII in 2003 is still one of the funnest sports days of my life.

I kept the Rams in the last preseason slot because I honestly don’t know if our arrangement with them was year-by-year, or a multi-year contract.  Either way, it provides some closure against those people, who I remind both Chiefs and Rams fans, won exactly ZERO games that count, against the Chiefs in their St. Louis existence.  (Chiefs W 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014.)  It’s been fun guys.  You’ll be missed.

* Regular Season:

Week One: vs oakland raiders, Sunday, September 11, noon CT (CBS).  Just once, I’d like to host the raiders when my South Dakota friends can all come in, and still enjoy the pool.  Let it happen in 2016.  Plus, this is a very, very intriguing opener between two teams that you can write in permanent marker at this point, as legitimate AFC Wild Card contenders – if not division championship contenders.

Week Two: at denver broncos, Sunday, September 18, 3:25pm CT (CBS).  Look it, denver is highly likely to open at home, either against the Panthers (with a Super Bowl win) or the Patriots (with a Super Bowl loss), with either game to appear on NBC (Thursday if it’s Carolina, Sunday if it’s New England).  I’d prefer the all-but-certain prime-time matchup with these guys be at Arrowhead.  Let them have the stand-alone afternoon national slot at their place.

Week Three: vs New Orleans Saints, Sunday, September 25, noon CT (FOX).  I’m not sure whether I’d rather face Mr. Brees for (likely) the final time at Arrowhead early in the season, or late.  Since I lean early, let’s set this one for Week Three.

Week Four: vs New York Jets, Monday, October 3rd, 7:30pm CT (ESPN).  A very interesting matchup to close the first quarter of the NFL season.  Two Wild Card contenders, two legitimate divisional threats, two ten-plus win teams in 2015. 

Week Five: at Houston Texans, Sunday, October 9th, noon CT (CBS).  Not only a very makeable (and all but guaranteed to happen roadie, under the “I always make the road trip to Houston” corollary I’ve lived my life by for the last ten years) … but Royals / Astros five miles away at Minute Maid three hours after the final play, for Game Four of the Divisional Round?  (Or, do you flip the order of events – Royals / Astros at noon for Game Four, build in the five mile / two hour commute south on 288 … and then Chiefs / Texans at 7:30pm CT as the Sunday Nighter?  Either way, does any Royals / Chiefs or Astros / Texans (or combine the four) complain?  Other than about the obvious (traffic!)?)

Week Six: at San Diego / Los Angeles “Super” Chargers, Sunday, October 16th, 3:05pm CT (CBS).  If this schedule actually occurs, and the Chiefs are worse than 4-2 after this game?  Then someone has some serious explaining to do.  They’ll be favored in five at this point (all but denver).

Week Seven: bye.  A slightly division-heavy start (3 of the 6, 2 of the 3 away), facing each foe once.  An AFC heavy start (5 of the 12, 3 of the 6 away).  And a very, very doable start, with the bye hitting about where I prefer it each year – right as the World Series begins.

Week Eight: vs Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, October 27th, 7:30pm CT (NFLN).  I know, I know – I always schedule our Thursday Nighter to be broncos at Chiefs on Thanksgiving night … but I am 100% confident the finale is going to be broncos at Chiefs, so I’ll slate our Thursday nighter for a scheduled off-day during the World Series … against a rapidly up-and-coming opponent.  Very interesting game.

Week Nine: at Carolina Panthers, Sunday, November 6th, 7:30pm CT (NBC).  Let’s just be honest: this is THE toughest game on the schedule at this point, and only if satan returns to denver, could anything possibly top it, entering the offseason. 

The first half of the schedule laid out above, means the Chiefs face exactly half of their laid-out opposition:

* 3 of 6 against the division (1 home, 2 road).
* 6 of 12 against the conference (3 home, 3 road).
* 2 of 4 against the NFC (1 home, 1 road).
* 8 of 16 overall (4 home, 4 road).

That’s so fair and balanced, both FOX News and Senator Sanders can’t find issue with it.

Week Ten: vs San Diego / Los Angeles “Super” Chargers, Sunday, November 13th, noon CT (CBS).  One can make a legitimate argument this is the easiest home game on the schedule.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Week Eleven: at Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, November 20th, 3:25pm CT (CBS).  The other roadie me and my crew have circled to attend.  And a very, very interesting game to enter the stretch run – a game with potentially enormous postseason ramifications.

Week Twelve: vs Tennessee Titans, Sunday, November 27th, noon CT (CBS).  A good start to the always crucial six-game sprint to the finish – a very winnable home game, to enter December.  Also ensures yet another Thanksgiving weekend home game, which we seem to have every year (we’ve been home on this weekend for five straight seasons – 2011 (vs Steelers), 2012 (vs broncos), 2013 (ditto), 2014 (ditto), 2015 (vs Bills)).

Week Thirteen: at oakland raiders, Sunday, December 4th, 3:25pm CT (CBS).  And just like the Chiefs always seem to be home for Thanksgiving, they tend to travel to oakland to open December.  Weather should still be solid enough to head up to Sioux Falls for one fun weekend, to kick off Chrismukkah season.

Week Fourteen: at Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, December 11th, noon CT (CBS).  Ugh.  Throwaway roadie nobody other than friends, family, and fans of these squads, gives a sh*t about.

Week Fifteen: at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, December 18th, 7:30pm CT (NBC).  Ooh.  Ooh, ooh, ooh!  Talk about one potentially EPIC late-season Sunday nighter!  Your two divisional round losers, who each nearly rallied to steal their divisions, who should both be (at worst) 8-5 / 9-4 entering this one?  I like it!

Week Sixteen: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Saturday, December 24th, noon CT (CBS).  The NFL will move all but one game from Christmas Day to Christmas Eve.  Tampa at KC ain’t getting the pimp Christmas Night slot.

Week Seventeen: vs denver broncos, Sunday, January 1st, 3:25pm CT (CBS).  With an asterick denoting this game is the front-runner entering the 2016 offseason, to occupy the coveted “final game on the schedule” slot NBC doesn’t announce until six days beforehand.

That’s my proposal.  I think it’s fair, reasonable, and ensures as few freaking freezing games at home in December as possible.  Because if I never have to sit through another Bills / Titans / Browns stretch again, it cannot (not) happen too soon.

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Finally, my first random thoughts of the offseason.  Three of them.

* First …

Today, STM’s got their invoice for 2016.  My seat went up by exactly zero dollars and zero cents for 2016, save for having to pay for ten games instead of nine.  Even my old seat (which I am still contemplating a move back to, although for the second comment to be stated below, I doubt I will) didn’t go up outrageously. 

So thank you to the Chiefs organization, to the Hunt Family, to the front office, for not just continuing to offer amongst the single most affordable entertainment options in the Kansas City metropolitan area … but for not taking advantage of this season like Carl “One Bad Ass Negotiator” Peterson would have, to line the coffers off of the success of 2015.

* Second …

The incredible friend who sits in front of my old seat, is giving up her two seats.  She’s given our group first option to buy her two seats and parking pass, and we’re highly likely to take advantage of the opportunity.  (Mona and I spent a solid two hours today reaching out to our “one-off” friends, who come in for a game or three each year, to secure the seats.  If we can get past halfway, we’re in like Sven.  And considering we haven’t heard from the Moses’ yet, I’m pretty sure we’re buying.)

I know Chris reads this from time to time, so allow me to say, losing you is truly all but the final chapter, in the “132 Experience”.  Nobody faults you; if anything, we’re all jealous that you’ll be watching on a beach in Puerto Rico, enjoying the best thing to happen to you since God felt the need to play eighteen with Greg on a daily basis, five years ago come October (and for all intents and purposes, six years ago).

I hope you make it back for a game or three this fall, and certainly, you will always have first dibs on those seats in Row 25.  But if you can’t?  Well … as best I recall our conversation …

(mona) so the schedule is?
(stevo) (off top of my head) denver, oakland, San Diego or LA.  Jets.  Jags and Titans.  Bucs and Saints.
(mona) well, raiders is spoken for.
(stevo) yeah, and Tom and Nicole would grab Tennessee.
(mona) good point!
(stevo) I can talk my former boss into Tampa with no problem.
(mona) true.  She’s the Bucs fan right, her and her husband?
(stevo) yeah.  If anything we’ll need two more.
(mona) Jets?
(stevo) you know my folks are good for that unless the weather is sh*t.  (Pause).  They’re in.
(mona) halfway there!  (Pause).  Then there’s denver. I won’t sit by a f*cking donk --
(stevo) I’ll take those two, if it comes to it.
(mona) really?
(stevo) I owe it to our friends no longer there.  I have to answer to them someday.  If a donk --
(mona) agreed.  Yours.  With our help if you need it.

You have my promise chica, no denver fan will EVER sit in Seats 11 or 12, Row 25, Section 132, for as long as I draw breath on this earth, when those people come to town.

* Finally …

And you all can take this for what it is worth …

I have a friend on Facebook many of you in Kansas City might know.  It’s Dave O, the evening drive-time host on Mix 93.3.  I met him through “The Perpetual Intern” years ago, and I can happily confirm, he is an even bigger Royals die-hard than he makes himself out to be online.  (God knows that’s fact; the first time I met him was sitting through a late-August game in 2005 against some craptacular opponent, as Buddy Bell was noting “I never say it cannot get worse” during the 19-game losing streak.  He’s always had season tickets every year I’ve known him – 11 and counting.)

He posted a, uuh, post, on Sunday night, that literally had me crying, because I could identify myself in it.

A friend, who died of a heart attack at 39, from a literal broken heart.

Because he didn’t know how to vocalize, how he was truly feeling, about all the hurt and pain and emotional unforgiveability in his life.

Reading that post, I realized, I was wrong last August.

The answer to indefensible wrong isn’t to clam up, shut the site down, and go home.

It’s to speak.  It’s to shout.  It’s to yell.  It’s to, in the words of Dylan Thomas, “rage against the dying of the light!”

It’s … to write.

To post.

To … blog.

Writing is therapy to me.  (Cue every person who has ever gotten a “oh Jesus, it’s a 210KB email from Stevo.  Honey?  I need a stiff whiskey, stat!” email from me nodding in reluctant agreement.)

And so, I’m going to reveal something (of all people) my mommy asked me about, fromthe recap of the trip to Houston.

“What exactly was the dream you had that was so vivid, that you knew you wanted it six months ago, and now don’t want to see it happen?”

That dream … is not at all what you people thought, based on other emails and texts.  (Note: the overwhelming majority of you thought it was “The Champ and I make up and end this sh*t”.  My position on that hasn’t changed.  It’s up to him, to act, and end it, not me.  And my position on that hasn't changed: he doesn't possess a pair big enough, to allow him to do that.)

The dream I had, on John O’s couch that nearly sleepless night, was that the final post on this site, would be one final recap, of the Mets / Royals tailgate and game, to open the 2015 season, in barely ten weeks from now (Sunday, April 3rd).  (I’m going – Section 428, row WW … and you’d have to ask the folks at the Double, which seat I’m occupying.  Oh, and yes – “The Bus” is going too.)

I saw myself at the tailgate, at the game.  (Note: if I’m right?  We’re gonna be enjoying an 80 plus degree sunny Sunday to open the season.  Cue every reader hitting his or her knees, to pray said dream is right …)

The dream ended with me hitting the “post” button, and that was it.  Blackness.  Darkness.

The end.

I’ve now decided … I’m better than that.

I’m not ready to quit yet.

Soignore that post from July.  You all can’t quit me yet.  Because I’m not ready to quit you … or quit this site … or quit me.

I don’t want “life” as we know it to end, with the raising of a flag, at a game 92.45 plus percent of you who read that recap, won’t witness in person.

I want it to end with something more meaningful.

Or more specifically?

I don’t want it to end, period.

This site is too much fun to write, to give up on.

And life?  Is too godd*mned amazing, to stop recapping, to stop enjoying …

… to stop living.

Because just like this Chiefs season?

This series of posts isn’t a goodbye.  It’s a beginning.

And to all of you reading this?

I hope you’ll always be!
I hope you’ll always? 


Be …

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also, apologies on the layout ...

Something went bat sh*t crazy when I tried to upload the previous post.  I'll work on fixing it Tuesday.  I didn't change a thing; t...