|Ronde Barber's interception two weeks ago exemplified some of the bad-luck turnovers the Chiefs endured this year. (US Presswire)|
Three weeks ago against Baltimore, Matt Cassel stood 1-yard away from Kansas City's first lead in regulation. But when center Ryan Lilja went to snap the ball, it never got to Cassel. Instead, the ball sprayed forward into the hands of Ed Reed.
It's been that kind of season for the Chiefs. No one in their right mind would dispute that they're a bad football team -- four of their five losses have come by at least 16 points -- but it could be argued that they are one of the unluckiest teams in the history of the game.
Against Tampa Bay, Brady Quinn had a pass intercepted by Ronde Barber that nearly hit the ground but first bounced off Dexter McCluster's elbow, and before it almost hit the ground again, Barber snatched it out of the air. Against New Orleans, McCluster caught a pass from Cassel and proceeded to fall awkwardly on his elbow, letting go of the ball, which the Saints recovered. Peyton Hillis fumbled against the Bills when he was simply trying to reach the ball into the end zone. No one touched the ball; Hillis just dropped it.
Through bad fortune and some mistakes that are definitely their own, the Chiefs are chasing the wrong side of history.
Six games into their schedule, Kansas City's turnover ratio is minus-15. Only six teams in the history of the NFL have started a season with a worst ratio. The record for a season is negative-30 by the 1965 Steelers, who finished 2-12. If the Chiefs continue their current pace, they will finish at negative-40. The '65 Steelers were at negative-7 through six games.
The record for the most giveaways in a season is 68 by the 1961 Broncos. The Chiefs, who have 21 giveaways, would have to cover the football in Vaseline to reach that mark.
Cassel has accounted for 14 of the 21 giveaways, and if there is a hope that the Chiefs can cut down on their turnovers, it's that Cassel is no longer the quarterback. Quinn, who will start his second game on Sunday against the Raiders, threw two interceptions against Tampa Bay, so it's not like he's off to a careful start. Quinn also had 10 turnovers in 10 games in 2009 with the Browns. Those Browns, also coached by Romeo Crennel, had 31 giveaways and a negative-12 turnover ratio. They finished 5-11.
The lesson here is that bad football teams find a way to give the ball away, and typically the blame falls on the coach and the quarterback.
Here's a look at the teams with the worst turnover ratio in the NFL in the last 20 years. Teams in bold made a coaching change in-season or after the year; teams that made a QB change are italicized.
Crennel, Cassel and Quinn could be out the door unless the Chiefs somehow turn this season of giving around. At the very least, the belief in Kansas City is that the Chiefs will finally draft their franchise quarterback. They have gone longer than any NFL team between drafting a quarterback in the first round -- Todd Blackledge in 1983 was the last.
If there is a sliver of hope for Chiefs' fans who choose to endure Sunday's game against the Raiders, it's that the football gods could finally take pity on Kansas City. The last time a team went six games without leading for a single second on the clock was the Texans in 2005. They finally scored first in Week 7 against the Browns, a game they won. And who coached those Browns? Crennel.