End of the Road: 2012 Kansas City Chiefs
Let's review what happened with the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs, the first team eliminated from playoff contention.
As each NFL team is officially eliminated from postseason contention, the Eye on Football crew will whip up a review for that team's 2012 season. Today we look at the Chiefs, the NFL's first eliminated team.
What Went Wrong: Hooo, boy. Where do we start? How about the quarterback position, which is, quite clearly, the Chiefs' biggest issue. Matt Cassel was acquired in a trade from the Patriots, and he simply isn't a franchise-level quarterback. There is a ton of talent around him, particularly in the form of Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, and yet the Chiefs can't score. Well, they can score; they just don't do it often, totaling two touchdowns in November.
Using the franchise tag on Bowe and letting Brandon Carr walk looks like absolutely the wrong move. Bowe is good, but he's not a franchise-changing wideout. Carr has played great in Dallas.
There's possibly nothing more maddening in all of the NFL than Kansas City's refusal to utilize Charles. Peyton Hillis gets carries, and it just makes everyone angry. Brian Daboll must own him in fantasy football or something.
Romeo Crennel has made some very questionable in-game decisions, but his inability to decide on either Cassel or Brady Quinn as quarterback is just puzzling. Kind of like his inability to answer questions related to Charles' usage. Why isn't Steve Breaston playing, and why does Jonathan Baldwin look so bad?
What Went Right: Not a whole lot. Justin Houston emerged as a legitimate additional pass-rushing threat along with Tamba Hali. Those two have 13 of the Chiefs' 17 sacks this season. Charles at least looks healthy enough to dominate, even though he wasn't used properly. Dexter McCluster could do some damage in the right situation.
Brandon Flowers is a very good cornerback and has played outstanding at times this season.
Fallout: The result of this dumpster fire should be a full-blown house cleaning, provided the Chiefs don't suddenly win their final five games. It would be stunning if any of GM Scott Pioli, Crennel (and his staff) or Cassel remained with the Chiefs in 2013. Pioli's gamble on Cassel flopped. Crennel looks overmatched. Cassel isn't the answer.
Bowe seemed like a trade candidate at the deadline, and it might be hard for a new GM to justify paying him north of $10 million on another franchise tag.
The good news for Kansas City is that there's a ton of young talent on both sides of the ball. Simply adding a competent quarterback isn't going to fix everything, but it's a start. And there should be someone either at the top of the draft -- Geno Smith? -- later in April -- Mike Glennon?? -- or even via free agency -- Mike Vick??? -- who can step in and improve the position. The key is simply making the right selection. Which sounds easy when you put it like that.
Look for a pretty big overhaul in K.C., though.
Draft Outlook: There's going to be a ton of pressure for the Chiefs to take a quarterback with their first pick. Think 2011 Carolina Panthers pressure, and then think about how much of a lock Cam Newton was to be good (hint: he wasn't). It should be terrifying for fans, and they need to be patient with the franchise quarterback acquisition. Not doing so results in Matt Cassel ... or worse.
Provided the Chiefs have a new regime in the front office, they'll have an interesting decision between appeasing fans who want a quarterback and properly using the top pick to maximize their draft position. Hitting on the first two picks of the 2013 draft are critical for a quick rebuild.
2013 Will Be ... Interesting. And that's a compliment considering where the Chiefs are now. If they're operating with a retread quarterback under center next year, it could be tough to get expectations up. If they've got a youngster under center, it might be tougher to win right away.
But there were folks out there who thought the Chiefs could win the AFC West this year. They're the worst team in the NFL in 2012, but they might not be too far off from being a contender in a very weak division. There should be hope for Chiefs fans who look at the 2012 Buccaneers and see how quickly a good draft, a strong free agency run and a good coaching change can flip things around.
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