Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NFL season. This team-by-team preview details why your favorite franchise might have to start looking forward to next year — and highlights at least one reason for you to be hopeful. Today: we examine the Chieftains from Kansas City.
Things can’t get any worse than last year for this team. Here’s the Chiefs’ highlights from 2012:
-Fans forming an organization called “Save our Chiefs,” which wore black to games and paid for a plane to fly over Arrowhead Stadium with a sign reading “Restore Hope: Fire Pioli.”
-Cheering when starting QB Matt Cassel was injured, making way for the great Brady Quinn to step in.
-Being the worst team in the league headed into a draft with no franchise quarterback.
Let’s make this clear: The Chiefs are not going 2-14 two years in a row. They were a much better than a two-win team last year. Kansas City was plagued by a terrible coach (Romeo Crennel) that failed despite having a team with six Pro Bowlers. There’s undeniably talent on the team and they made some nice additions through the draft and free agency. But there was one major problem with the Chiefs’ offseason moves — this guy:
Scott Pioli had one last laugh before he faded into Kansas City folklore. He hired Andy Reid.
Do you enjoy watching coaches that screw up simple in-game decisions? Than the Chiefs are the team for you. Andy Reid’s signature move when he’s behind late in a game is calling a timeout while the clock is already stopped, followed by a running play to burn the last precious seconds. Do you think Arrowhead’s deafening crowd noise is going to help Andy think through these crucial decisions? Reid’s game management skills are going to reach a new low this year.
The Chiefs need to take Reid’s challenge flags away from him, handcuff his hands together and only let him call plays for the first three quarters. Then give an intern chart of logical coaching decisions and let him run the team for the fourth quarter. It can’t possibly go any worse than an average Andy Reid game.
Don’t believe me? Ask any Eagles fan and you’ll find out what kind of coach Andy Reid is. He’s just good enough to break your heart every year. He doesn’t suck enough to get himself fired, but he’s not good enough to put a ring on one of those chubby little fingers. With Andy Reid at the helm, the Chiefs are now in NFL purgatory, doomed to finish between 6-10 and 10-6. They’ll make it through the first or second round of the playoffs some years, while other years they’ll finish a game or two under .500. At first Chiefs fans will like him, but after seven or eight seasons the fans will get sick of his middle-of-the-road outcomes and call for his termination.
Why you might not be screwed: They upgraded the most important position in football, quarterback. They traded the 33rd overall pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Alex Smith, a great value for a team desperate for a quarterback during a shallow draft at the position. All reports about Smith say he’s off to a strong start. However, the bar is very low for quarterbacks in Kansas City — it will be hard to do worse than what the quarterbacking trio of Matt Cassel-Brady Quinn-Ricky Stanzi put up on the box score last year.
The Chiefs also have a sneaky good defense. They have three Pro Bowlers in their linebacking corps (Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston), another at strong safety (Eric Berry) and two solid cornerbacks in Brandon Flowers and former Dolphin Sean Smith. If defensive coordinator Bob Sutton can do a half-decent job and the offense keeps the chain moving, the Chiefs will improve on their 20th-ranked defense.
The Chiefs also have the seventh easiest schedule in the league. Outside their own lack luster AFC West (excluding the Broncos), they play the AFC South, NFC East and then round it all off with tilts against the Browns and Bills.
Actual season prediction: 8-8, 2nd in the AFC West, miss the wild card. Welcome to the Andy Reid zone.