Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Kansas City Blessing, Part III

My cousin, the die-hardest of die-hard Chiefs fans, sent out a Facebook notice shortly after the Chiefs latest playoff debacle, a simple but impassioned declaration that it didn't much matter any more. Yes there was much more depth to the message than that, but the thrust was something every Chiefs fan feels every time after time after time after time after time we refuse to win a playoff game that is ours for the taking.

Oh believe me I feel the same way. In my last post I'd spoken about the galaxy of hope we have if and when John Dorsey waves his wonderful wonder wand and does what he must this year -- however dramatically disruptive it may be -- to get the Chiefs to put a playoff team on the field that will nfncknking win a playoff game for once. But I do realize that in my exuberance I may have been a bit hard on some of our better players.

Don't get me wrong, the essence of what I said still holds. I'm hearing that the Chiefs are going full-throttle to ink Eric Berry, and that's perfectly fine, really -- but let's face it, arguably the best safety in the NFL still loses to good quarterbacks in the playoffs. Berry's been the lesser player four times -- Flacco, Luck, Brady, and Roethlisberger have all schooled him. He did beat Brian Hoyer (yay!)

But to Berry's credit, a ton of other factors weigh on the Chiefs. The NFL/media/business/officiating/Norse-god military-industrial complex is still consistently destroying the Chiefs chances to advance to games that'll lose too much money should the Chiefs appear in them. And the evidence is clear from one thread raging through the rumor mill I happened to see when one time this past week I peeked at Chiefs stuff.

Yeah, I peeked for just a moment to see if my work colleague's rumor threads had some veracity...

Big mistake.

Right after I'd posted about how splendidly awesome it was to have John Dorsey at the wheel driving an organization that is scorching up the player personnel development highway, I see that everyone is convinced he's slipping off to Green Bay after this year.

You are nfcknghfcncghkcking kidding me.

This is precisely the kind of thing that verifies everything I've said about how much the complex is crushing Chiefs fans hopes to enjoy some decent measure of postseason joyfulness. You know, I like looking (when I do which is rarely) at Arrowhead Pride and Arrowhead Addict and any number of other Chiefs sites and blogs, because the articles are indeed for the most part optimistic. That's a nice thing, an encouraging thing -- really, not being facetious at all, it is good to read good things about good Chiefs things happening often enough. There's a place for that.

But then there are my cousin's sentiments, and frankly, how many other Chiefs fans not only feel this way but know why they do?

How many Chiefs fans look at this gathering storm projecting Dorsey going the Packers and know that this is precisely the kind of thing that justifies the abject despair Chiefs fans feel all the time? That there is no reason in the world Dorsey should be going there except that the complex is loathe to see him continue to do great things for a team they simply do not tolerate being successful?

The best that happens is Dorsey likes the stability and purpose of the Chiefs organization right now and wants to see his work to its end -- a Super Bowl championship by 2023. Really, this is the way it should be. There is no reason in the universe the Chiefs are any worse than the Packers organization-wise -- at least that I've seen, no reason. So yeah, maybe Dorsey will see that the Chiefs Kingdom at every level appreciates everything he does here and he'd make no more money and have no more accoutrements in Green Bay than in Kansas City.

The second best is that after Dorsey is gone to the Packers, we can pray his replacement will take what he's done and do almost as well, hoping what we'll have from Dorsey's work and his successor's will propel us to that success we've all been so longing for.

Thing is the precariousness of that latter scenario, oh how familiar are we with that, is precisely why smarter Chiefs fans like my cousin legitimately, justifiably, and teleologically feel the way they do.

This is why in the face of knowing exactly what we're up against, seeing it, beholding it, being honest about it -- one of the main elements of the Kansas City Blessing is simply the fortitude any Chiefs fan has in the face of the impediments. I mean, what if the blessing at this exact moment in time is that being so sought-after means John Dorsey is as good as we all know he is? Maybe Dorsey stays after all, or if he's gone his replacement will be even better?

There is always that one thing I've shared a few times before -- that the horror of all the playoff horrors gets Chiefs people to do that much more they know they must do to win championship football, and that when they do it will be that much sweeter.

So yeah, I'll still blog about each game, however much that is. I'll still be one of the faithful -- through the pains and thrills and likely even more pains, but knowing there are those like me, that's cool.

The best of the Kansas City Blessing, however, is really in that image of the Chiefs fans at the top of this blog post. A random image from an event the Chiefs had at an elementary school --

Those kids are the Kansas City Blessing.

Hopeful still, enjoying the delights and wonders and beauties of the Chiefs Kingdom which is much more than football -- that's awesome.
__

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Kansas City Blessing, Part II

I wasn't planning on putting up a new post. I'd figured the most recent one would be the last for the 2016-2017 pro football episode, but I felt compelled to write about a few more specific things, for a few more quite significant reasons. There had been a number of other things on my mind that I didn't get to last time and I won't be revisiting them here, though a thread that ran through this latest postmortem to the Chiefs season is still quite prominent.

Yesterday a colleague of mine came in to my work area, someone with whom I converse about sports items at times, and while he knows I am a bit of a sports celibate, as it were, I indulge him and we have moderately engaging discussions. I don't contribute much except for whatever my sports-attuned radar has picked up from news or other sources.

He is, by the way, the gentlemen who mentioned a number of weeks ago that he felt the Chiefs are the only team with five game-changing players on the team, five of them (Hill, Kelce, Berry, Peters, Houston), and that he could think of no other NFL team with any more than two or three. Game-changers mind you, players who can almost single-handedly win games merely by their extraordinary talent and persistent will.

Which is why what he shared with me on Friday afternoon is something I felt I simply must address here in this blog. It starts with this still resounding truth every Chiefs fan knows so well and is so painfully familiar.

There is no way this team should have lost yet another playoff game, this one to a far less talented Steelers team.

This truth simply cannot be lost on wise insightful Chiefs management, it simply cannot be.

Here is what my colleague told me, and again, I know nothing about any of this, I have not in any way pursued discovering more about these possibilities, I haven't the faintest idea the veracity of the things my colleague divulged. I know nothing other than what he said, except that I do know

What these things mean for the Chiefs Kingdom.

He said the Chiefs are jettisoning a lot of high-priced guys, in surprising fashion. Any of us can think of anyone the Chiefs could do without, but some of the names were surprising. He mentioned Albert Wilson, but that's not a surprise because he simply could not run open routes underneath coverage and he dropped far too many passes he should've been able to grab.

He mentioned Jamaal Charles, but that's not really a surprise either except that Jamaal was such a valiant Chiefs player for so long, and really, so damn good. But you know? When you think about it, how well did Jamaal do for us in getting us to promised-land glory? You know, when you think about it, really very little.

In 2009 the Chiefs were poor. In 2010 Charles did well to get us the playoffs, but the rest of the team was not up to his ability, so that was really not on him. He was injured for the year in 2011, and 2012 was a catastrophe for everyone. There was 2013, but he got injured early in the Colts playoff game so that wasn't really on him either. In 2014 he was again spectacular but you know? He simply was not spectacular enough, because we inexplicably lost games to Tennessee, San Francisco, Arizona, and Pittsburgh we had no business losing. And then in 2015 there was the second ACL tear -- worse than the first because even today he has still not fully recovered from it, so yeah, not on him, but if he's not out there on the field, then he can't be employed as we need him to win postseason football games. Thing is, everyone has been pretty certain Jamaal, as great a Chiefs player as he will always be, is gone. Not much of a surprise.

The real surprise was who my colleague also mentioned, Eric Berry. Yeah.

Eric Berry.

I'd thought we'd surely be keeping Berry and likely letting Dontari Poe go, but ya know? As I think about it, if Berry is going to ask for the moon, I'd say good-bye too. How come?! Well, here's the thing, and this will give you a hint of what I think is going on within the inner workings of the Chiefs Kingdom.

Those playoff games.

In 2010 we got smoked by Baltimore. Berry was a rookie, and the team just wasn't as good as the Ravens, so that's fine. But Berry wasn't a world-beater in that game either. Then there was 2013 when Andrew Luck torched us in the last quarter-and-a-half of that nightmare game. Even though our D-backs were hurting, Berry was still back there letting the Colts get quick huge plays when stopping any two or three of them would've won us the game. That's a big one on Berry.

Then there was 2015 when Berry blew key coverages that allowed the Patriots, a team with absolutely no running game, to beat a better Chiefs team. And then there was this year, when Berry again blew critical coverages allowing the Steelers to get into field goal range one too many times.

Yes, Eric Berry is a hero, to everybody, always will be, always will be one of my favorite players no matter what. But I'm sure John Dorsey is going to go to Berry and say, "Look, it's about dubyas, and you didn't get it done when we needed it -- a number of times when we really needed it, in a big way. We still like you and would like for you to be a Chiefs player forever. Here's our offer, we'd love to have you return to play for us." Again, if he doesn't, then you know what?

I trust John.

My colleague mentioned there were other guys with their heads on the chopping block, he couldn't recall any, but he said one might be Eric Fisher. Eric Fisher?! Well, you know, Fisher is a fine offensive lineman, and last year we did sign him to a long term deal, but you know what? He still could've easily not held that Steelers guy when we really needed him to just play even modestly like a No. 1 overall pick.

The first item my colleague brought up, however, was about quarterback. He said that the Chiefs are going hard after Tony Romo. Now my first thought is, oh no, yet again we're going after some veteran who'll be around for maybe three years -- it's the Chiefs standard practice ::sigh:: But then I thought, good, the Chiefs are finally wanting to really take care of business.

Sorry, but Alex Smith, let's face it, you haven't done the job. You've actually played okay in the playoffs, really, you have, but please -- you haven't won us playoff games. You're good, but not winning-playoff-games good.

So if the Chiefs get Romo, cut loose Smith and all these other high or overpriced players, draft a fine quarterback for the future and stockpile a slough of other selections (some with compensatory picks -- oh do I like John Dorsey more and more), and with a ton of saved cap space snatch an undervalued free agent here and there...

We're in business.

Thinking about these things my colleague shared actually gave me a glimmer of hope. No, actually, it is giving me a galaxy of hope.

John Dorsey wants a team that will win playoff games and he'll do what he does really well to get it.

I like it a lot.

The strategy is simple, and he's got the skills to pull it off. We already have the game-changer pieces in place. I'd like to believe Dorsey has already told Andy Reid, we like you, you're a fine play-maker and strong team-leader, let me get the guys you need. Now some may wonder why Dorsey doesn't consider getting rid of Reid too, but please, finding good, solid coaches is much harder. Yes we can justifiably blister Reid about his inability to adjust or failure to be much more organic or refusal to manage late-game clocks or whatever, but he's still a terrific coach.

I'd also like to believe that Dorsey's gone to players like Tyreek Hill and Chris Jones and told them, look, you are the future, we really like you, and we will put a winning team around you.

And I know he's going to go to those players like Romo et al and share with them the vision for winning Chiefs football by bringing them on board to do the great things the Chiefs can do. Regarding someone like Romo, Dorsey's got a feather in his cap and something the Chiefs have really never had: a core of three terrific wide receivers in Maclin, Hill, and Conley, as well as the best tight end in football.

And I know he's going to run the table on draft day because he's already shown he's got the eye for nabbing talented players where he can get them.

A key takeaway in all this is we know he means business because he's going to toss anyone who isn't going to be serious about winning Chiefs football. He summarily did it to his third-round pick, Keivarae Russell, right in the middle of the season, and everyone was stunned he did that. Why though? Why so surprised? If he's no good or doing nothing to show he'll get better, get rid of him.

Oh my do we need bosses who are serious about lighting a fire under the ass of guys when it counts the most. No more spells, curses, deer-in-the-headlights looks from Chiefs players on the playoff football field. We're so sick of seeing that, every Chiefs fan wants to puke.

Get the job done, dammit.

Who cares who anybody is, who cares how much money someone's making or how special anyone thinks anyone is or what anybody thinks one way or the other?

We need a winning Chiefs football team, and that means winning postseason football.

Period.

This is the delightfully wonderful thing about hearing what my colleague shared with me yesterday.

John Dorsey means business. He's going to get guys who will win and if you're not one of those guys, you're outta there.

Wow. Wow, how many times have you felt the way you do now about this?

Now again, I can't say whether or not any of this is veritable or the extent to which things will change or whether we even have a legitimate shot at Romo or not. The veracity of any particular thing one way or the other is not even what really matters.

You know what matters.

I can't wait until next January.
__

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Kansas City Blessing

September 30, 2014.

That was the day the Shuttlecock Curse silliness was finally put to rest.

You remember, being a Kansas City sports fan. Apparently in 1986 or something, shortly after the Royals won their first World Series title, the Nelson Gallery put a big honkin' shuttlecock on the front lawn. The thinking was since it was there, the Chiefs and Royals have stunk in postseason play, or worse, not even been there at all.

Seemed like eons. It was all the fault of that stinkin' shuttlecock.

Well, on that brisk September day, the Royals annihilated that sucker.

As every red-blooded Kansas Citian knows so well, the Royals defeated the A's in the American League Wild Card Game in one of the craziest fashions imaginable. Then they dispatched the Angels who only led the majors in wins that season. Then they disposed of the Orioles who some said were better than the Angels. Then they were 90 feet away from putting it to Madison Bumgarner -- who was only having the greatest pitching performance in World Series history -- and damn well winning the World Series outright.

Never you mind. For the Royals came back with a vengeance in 2015, first storming to the AL Central title, then taking down the Astros, then the Blue Jays, then the Mets to finally win it all with the greatest display of clutch hitting in major league postseason history tallying seven wins across that span in games they trailed by two or more runs.

Kansas City major professional sports team, World Champions.

Now yeah, it wasn't the Chiefs. And while there are likely a few Kansas Citians who care little about baseball, it was still a sign.

It was a major sign that a team with exceptional on-field talent, strong front office leadership, and the heart of a champion could overcome the gargantuan non-$$$-generating non-media-darling impediments and not only win it all but

Win it all being real and true and courageous.

You just saw it all over the Royals for two straight years. And if you are someone who likes the baseball Kansas City team and followed them through that delightful run, you know how phenomenally exhilarating it was. And everyone knows that much of that joy came from the what-seemed-like-an-eternity feeling of excruciating despair when the Royals were the absolute dregs of major league baseball.

I share this because I think this is a key component to what is happening with all this Chiefs stuff. I don't think there is any question there is something, something beyond anything we can explain that is keeping the Chiefs and their fine team from winning anything meaningful once they get into the playoffs. The Chiefs have been too talented far too often for there to be any other reason.

But that's where the Kansas City Blessing comes in. I shared a couple years ago that "Winning is a curse." For a number of reasons, it really can be. One of the things that makes losing a blessing is that when your team does win, it is that much sweeter. I am looking forward to the day when the Chiefs win the Super Bowl again.

For one, it will be that they deserved it. They certainly aren't getting any help from the officiating or the NFL business/media interests or any of that, but that's the way it should be. I don't even want there to be any charmed plays or any of that going our way. I'm looking forward to the postseason games the Chiefs gut out, battle to the end, get the clutch win, and captivate the nation by their merits both in their talent and their character.

And for two, it will be overwhelmingly joyous because we've been faithful to the team. My heart breaks for all the fans who took on the ice storm effects and got to Arrowhead early this year only to have their hopes crushed yet again. I feel it when I think about the Charlie's Saloon patrons in Philadelphia who are so devoted for no reason other than the owner one time looked at the Chiefs and thought, "Yeah, that's a team worth rooting for."

What is so encouraging is that none of them will give up on the Chiefs. And right now, in spite of this season's woeful turn in the playoffs yet again -- right now is the best time to be a fan. It can't be said enough, Clark has brought stability and purpose, John has brought wisdom and insight, Andy has brought inspiration and industry, and the players know it, feel it, and consider their teammates as family.

It'll happen soon, I believe it will.

But you know? I don't care if it's 2039 when Joe Montana's grandson, five-year Chiefs veteran and original D&D! quarterback Jedidiah Montana leads the team to their first Super Bowl win since IV, I'm good with that, really.

As long as I know they're on the right track as they are now.

It's a blessing to be a Chiefs fan, it really is.

You may know I am a Christian man, and after our season ended I had read from the 51st chapter of Isaiah in my devotional time. It was good to be assured there is a God who restores, who honors those who seek righteousness as it says there in the first verse of the chapter. The third verse is the one that is most meaningful for now, and I'd like to share it with you here.

Yes, there will be a time when Chiefs success will be deliriously glorious. It's great to talk about Chiefs things anytime, whenever, about whatever, but I've said everything about this season for now. There'll be much more for next year, certainly.

To conclude this one, a promise from God. Yes, this particular message was for the Israelites, I know, but He cares about Chiefs fans too.

"The Lord will surely comfort Zion, and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing."
___

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Quarterback Project 2017

I must confess, I peeked at Chiefs stuff. I peeked in complete violation of my vow to be sports celibate. Tonight I looked around at some Chiefs stuff, including the discovery that Alex Smith, Dustin Colquitt, and DJ Alexander were added to the Pro Bowl team (to join Berry, Peters, Hill, and Kelce). Nice to see them there. Of course it'd be better if we saw them in the Super Bowl, but, well... next year...

(Ahem, I just noticed in the photo to the right, the AFC is in all Chiefs colors. Hmm. Maybe it's a sign...)

I also looked at Arrowhead Pride, the best Chiefs blog there is (except, of course, The Chiefs Game Today, of course) and noted two key articles that relate to the subject of this post. One that I still did not read much of -- not that it wasn't quite thorough -- was about Alex Smith's responsibilities for the playoff loss to the Steelers. The other that I read none of at all -- at least not right now anyway -- was about the Chiefs very very very real possibility that they finally select that fine available quarterback high in the draft.

It is nice to see some people treating seriously the importance of having that thing I think I've emphasized no fewer than 57,209 times over the entirety of the blog effort --

Getting that drafted and developed winning quarterback.

What I've argued is something I'm seeing confirmed in more and more sources, such as this one that popped up in a somewhat unusual place, but it is still quite veritable. Without an elite quarterback, you're not going to the promised land.

I started this effort with a blog post I made right in the middle of an abjectly abominable stretch of Chiefs history known as the "2007-2009 Abjectly Abominable Stretch of Chiefs History". I did much more with this thread starting with this post, and detailed the horrific history of quarterback selecting in the draft. In fact I'd say that's being kind because calling it "horrific" implies that there was actually any real quarterback selecting at all.

Needless to say, the hypothesis that teams have long stretches of Super Bowl absences explicitly because they do not have strong long-term drafted and developed quarterbacks is being proven each year the Chiefs don't make it. This year they should have, they really should have, they had the team to do so, and yet -- and yet.

There are indeed a number of solid reasons the Chiefs simply cannot get past the first stages of post-season play. Those reasons have been bled to death in the blog. There're the charms-curses-lucky-bounces that always go against the Chiefs. There're the NFL/business/media/whoever-doesn't-get-a-dime-because-of-Chiefs-success machinations making the burden on the Chiefs much greater whenever they're fielding a fine team. There're the inexplicable ways Chiefs' weaknesses expand and strengths dissolve every time we put our feet on a playoff-game field.

But one of the most stunningly profound aggravations related to all of the supernatural -- as I've been calling it, and I think appropriately so -- is the Chiefs situation with drafting quarterbacks. Their "luck" -- shall we say -- at being at that right spot to snatch that guy who'll be our drafted and developed winning quarterback for many years has been the absolute worst in all of any professional football across the universe in every dimension of existence. Let's face it, we all know it is true.

And we all know how that "failure" -- shall we say -- has resulted in the absolute worst record in the NFL for reaching the AFC Championship Game since the merger. As I pointed out in the first post-Divisional-Game post, the Chiefs have a "record" of 1-13 for times making the AFC Championship Game and times in the playoffs not making it.

And a major major major component of that non-success is -- now for the 57,210th time -- our not having that D&D guy at the helm.

I've thought about updating the posts from 2012, the ones in which I do detail the horrors of our interminably painful quarterback situation, but I'm just not going to. No need to. The only thing that has happened since was we picked up Alex Smith (more on him in a minute that's not a whole lot different than what we know about related to The Quarterback Project) and that after the horrific 2012 season when we amazingly had a No. 1 pick there was, yep, no No. 1 quality quarterback for us. Oh there was one in in 2012 (after the 2011 season), and in 2011, annnd in 2010, annnnnnnnnnd in 2009 -- all exceptionally good quarterbacks for their teams, all still around playing well. (Just FYI they were, respectively, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford, and Matthew Stafford.)

So, what the situation for now? What has to happen?

Please, because I actually do practice my sports celibacy with some stalwart rigor, I do not know any college quarterback coming out. Actually, forgive me, I do know of a couple, but only because I saw stuff about them long ago when watching some small bits of college football. I know about Chad Kelly, is he any good NFL-wise? All I know is they said good things about him on the television broadcast back then. I think I'd heard Deshone Kizer from Notre Dame was okay, but again, I know nothing about their prospects for the NFL because it is too painful to flail about trying to project any of this.

A long time ago I did pay rabid attention to it all, every year, got all excited -- "Brodie Croyle! Wonderful! We're going to the Super Bowl now for sure!" -- and was only crushed every single time these guys failed. So why go through the agony, why put yourself through that.

No more. Please don't get me wrong. I'm hoping this year we do get that good guy where we're at in the draft. Notice too I didn't mention Deshaun Watson, because while some thought he'd drop as far as the Chiefs draft spot, I'm sure he got catapulted up in the upper regions of the draft with his performance in the college football championship game where he had the exact kind of clutch super-important post-season game type of play the Chiefs desperately need.

And please know I'm great with Alex Smith having his career-year next season when he plays great enough to win post-season games too.

Now notice I said great enough. Much of the thread of that Arrowhead Pride piece Alex Smith vs. the Steelers was a reiteration of what I'd been sharing, that Smith was pretty damn good actually. Several of our players were pretty damn good. It's just that it was so typically not good enough, in the most perverse way imaginable, as usual.

When will it get to a point when the Chiefs play a string of post-season games with that vigorous confidence that tells you, that slams you with the truth that -- for a switch -- we're going to win this game no matter what. Yes we've got the talent, but when will it be for that good, slugged-out, close playoff game, against an opponent with a very good quarterback themselves, with several clutch plays going our way because we willed it to happen.

Again I'm very great with Alex Smith winning Super Bowls in each of the next two years he'll be running things for us. That is, should the Chiefs make that happen because again, I'm not sure where he stands with his contract and all. My presumption is he's got two years left.

But then, that's why this draft thing is so critical right now. I will always hope the very best for the Chiefs, as always, but I'm not sold we'll get to the Big Dance simply because, yes, we don't have that D&D guy which is so undeniably essential. Alex Smith? I like him! I want him to have rings, I really do!

But I'm not holding my breath.

I will hold my breath, however, if we can get that guy. Watson, Kizer, Kelly, whoever else there is who the absolute perfect fit at No. 26 or wherever it is we draft, and then -- hey, here's a thought --

Watch Andy Reid to use his skills with quarterbacks to mold and shape him into The Drafted and Developed Guy.

I've said many times before in this blog effort, "This is the time". And while indeed it may have been the time way back then, each and every time it hasn't been. That's The Quarterback Project for you, in bright living color. So yeah, now it's about looking forward to 2022, 2023, when the guy we get this year will be fully ready and able to get Chiefs rich, wholesome Promised Land delightfulness.

You know what's also great about that, and this is a good note to end this post on. It is that John Dorsey and his personnel team have shown they really do know what they're doing out there, making great calls on players. Damn, if we can have a draft like this last one where we snatched two first-rounders way out in the 2nd round (Chris Jones) and 5th (Tyreek Hill), then we're well on our way to complement that D&D QB.

It's also very encouraging that Clark Hunt has gone a long way to establish a secure, stable, and strong organization -- fully willing to scour it clean of any of the toxicities of the Scott Pioli incompetencies and the Carl Peterson abrasions and even, yes, with the greatest deepest respect, the Lamar Hunt ineptitudes.

There is great hope for the Kansas City Chiefs -- truly fully authentically so, and we all know it.

Now we just need to enjoy seeing that fine QB drop into our draft selection spot...
__

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Achilles Team of the NFL, Part III

I know I can pound out a blog post and save it in case I can't get the vast smattering of Chiefs thoughts down here right now. I really don't think I'll be able to get much down here but I feel like hammering away on the keyboard a bit more on Chiefs things. I actually have a moment.

We had an in-service day at work, which means we have meetings all day and my afternoon obligations are dispensed. In and around the meetings I'd gotten in the midst of some football conversations, ones in which I'd like to allow you to partake right now.

One gentleman was regaling us with his appreciation of the 1986 New York Giants, pointing out that the team really got it in gear when Bill Parcells allowed quarterback Phil Simms to call his own plays. I'd never heard about this and don't even know about its veracity, but I wouldn't doubt it. Parcells had a phenomenal feel for the game and how to win it with the best that he had, and Simms was good, and very smart.

Kind of like Alex Smith.

See, that's what I thought when he said that. Hmm, why the heck doesn't Andy Reid just do that. Let Alex Smith and his versatility and athleticism and smarts go out and take care of business.

The other conversation involved the news that the Steelers have about had it with Mike Tomlin.

Guhhh?

I'd just seen Tomlin school Reid -- well, not exactly, really, Tomlin was helped by the idiotic things that always happen to the Chiefs in the playoffs, but still. I'd made the point in this blog thread that Tomlin's organic approach allowed him to get his team matching up well against the Chiefs throughout the game, while Reid's cerebral obsession unnecessarily constricted us.

Turns out, apparently, the Steelers were upset that Tomlin's rigidity against the Patriots cost them yet another playoff game to those guys. Um, no, I can't see how anyone would not know the Patriots are a lot better than the Steelers -- I know nothing about the game but I'd have to say the Patriots just flat-out beat them. Yeah, I did think the Chiefs were the better team and should have been there anyway, giving the Patriots a better game on the face of it.

But then, there ya go.

Against any team the organic approach wins. Yeah, you need the cerebral too, but I'm sorry, I've been told over and over and over again that Alex Smith is probably the smartest quarterback in the NFL.

Um.

Okay.

Now what are you going to do with that, Kansas City Chiefs brass?

Sorry, but I'm going to belabor the point.

The Chiefs had no business not being in the AFC Championship Game.

They did make several fine plays to show they should've. We screech about Smith not hitting Tyreek Hill when he was wide open, but Smith also did things like hit Jeremy Maclin on a rope to get a 1st down on 3rd and 20.

Thing is, is Smith getting the clutch pass to Maclin merely a fine result of the exceptional Reid proficiency, or is he simply unable to best utilize his best weapons like Hill, Maclin, Kelce, Ware -- these guys are terrific players -- simply because he's not allowed to let go?

Or, is it possible Smith just doesn't have it in him to do that?

I mean, why can't we see the Alex Smith we saw in New Orleans (with the Niners) in that amazing 2011 Divisional Game, or in Indianapolis in the 2013 Wild Card Game (yes, he had a terrific day in spite of the horror)? Indeed Smith has never had a really bad playoff game, except that we're 1-3 in playoff games in the Reid-Smith era. That's a .250 winning percentage in the playoffs, while at the same time we've been sporting a .672 in the regular season (43-21).

I mean, what would happen if our top on-field decision-makers genuinely combined the organic with the cerebral, with this talent -- really?

Last night I happened to turn on CBS to see if 60 Minutes was on, the time was 6:57. No 60 Minutes, instead I came in right as the television people were going to officially crown the AFC Champions, the Patriots, and sure enough, right then -- you know --

They were being awarded the trophy.

I literally watched two minutes of it, that's it, two minutes, and heard them mention the name of the trophy three or four times.

::Whimper::

You know the name of it. You know what it is...

The Lamar Hunt Trophy.

Ya know, I was thinking about that one stat, about the Chiefs, one of the several that shows how good we actually are -- the one about us beating Super Bowl teams in the regular season.

Five times.

Well, I was thinking, which Super Bowl teams have we not beaten in the Reid-Smith four-year tenure? I thought. And discovered...

None. There have been no others. Only five teams have even been in the Super Bowl over the past four years.

Yeah, the Chiefs have beaten them all. 

Just so you know, in 2013 it was Seattle beating Denver. We beat Seattle in 2014 and Denver in 2015. Yes, I know the Denver win was two years later, but it was still very much the same team, quarterbacked by Peyton Manning who did take his Broncos to the Super Bowl that year.

In 2014 it was New England beating Seattle. We blasted New England that same season.

In 2015 it was Denver beating Carolina. We took down Carolina this season.

And this year it's going to be New England playing against Atlanta, and of course we beat Atlanta on that 2-point conversion return by Eric Berry.

Oh, and three of those five wins were on the road.

Did you catch that? Did you see that just there? It is just another evidence that

There - is - no - way - we - should - be - losing - a - single - playoff - game.

Don't worry. I'm good. There're very good reasons why I'm good, and I'm going to get to them as we continue this endeavor. There is more, look forward to joining you for it.

Very good Chiefs things, too, coming up...
__

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Achilles Team of the NFL, Part II

I'm back to continue the thread I started yesterday. I know I won't be able to get this all done today, either, so I'll most likely finish it up next weekend. That's cool. Therapy only works if you meet regularly in group, and the Chiefs Kingdom, what a group!

We've got time, don't we?

Here's the currently considered premise: That the Chiefs are just like Achilles, with all due respect to Derrick Johnson who has had two Achilles injuries. The first was in the first game of the '14 season when we lost to a terrible Titans team and missed the playoffs that year by one game. The second was this year when his loss adversely affected the Chiefs run defense.

In fact, late in the season the Chiefs elected to bring Justin March-Lillard off the injured reserve list, with the readily accepted reason that our run defense needed a nice spark with D.J. out. It sure seemed like the right move, because by NFL rules we were forced to give up on bringing back Jamaal Charles.

Now assigned run stoppers like Ramik Wilson played their hearts out, they were indeed stalwart Chief crusaders.

But it just wasn't enough. Le'Veon Bell still had something like 170 yards rushing. Ouch.

Now maybe Charles simply wasn't ready for this game -- ahem, yet another crazy Chiefs handicap to hurt our playoff chances -- he'd had his ACL tear over a year-and-a-half ago and still wasn't ready. But here's the Justin March-Lillard thing: Where was he?

Except for a handful of quick things I peeked at right after the game, I'd only looked at any information about the Chiefs-Steelers game since last Sunday one time -- really, I'd actually been pretty good about being sports celibate -- I didn't want to see anything, it's just too painful. But I did look at what happened with Justin March-Lillard, I mean, I just don't remember seeing him out there on the field! Turns out he was in for one play.

Are you kidding me.

From what I remember, he had some hand injury. Now please, I don't know the extent of the injury, I'm not trying to presume anything, but in my cynicism I wonder. It wasn't any leg injury to keep him immobile or anything, and as far as I'd been told the Chiefs were really high on him -- we all had been given the idea that he was a pretty good player. Sooo...

What happened? Was he just that much not in game shape? Was it that significant? And why was that? Oh my could we have used what-we-all-thought-was his fine run defense ability out there on Sunday.

In my view, to remind you, it is just yet another contribution to all the standard unusual horrificness that happens to the Chiefs the instant they enter the playoffs. I already overwhelmed the Chiefs Kingdom with all the things that are part of this ugly spell the Chiefs come under that keeps them from winning playoff games, I've belabored it to death. Forgive me.

But I do want to add here another aspect in all this, and this one revolves around Travis Kelce. Needless to say, Kelce had a subpar game on Sunday, and there are general reasons for why I think that happened I'll get to later. For now, Kelce.

I believe the most critical officiating call that cost us was not the Fisher hold but the Kelce non-call when he was interfered with on a medium deep pass play -- yep, it was the typically Chiefs-destroying PI non-call. Yep, the officials do call the hold on Fisher, but miss the PI on the Steelers linebacker.

It was a play very much like that one that cost the Lions the game against the Cowboys a couple years ago. Pass is thrown, and just as the receiver is about to catch it the defender runs into the receiver neglecting to look back as he obviously impedes the ability of the receiver to get the ball.

When it happened it was such a bang-bang play that I couldn't see it clearly. But they showed the replay, and the ball was catchable -- Kelce merely needed to reach back to get it, and the defender plowed into him keeping him from doing that. The announcers even pointed out that it was pass interference, but the officials kept their flags in their pockets.

See, with all the technological advances for video reviews and all that, officials can still change the outcome of a game based on how they personally interpret holding and pass interference calls. This liability won't change until the NFL decides to do the one thing that would make all of this actually work: have officials in the booths with monitors and when they see something that should or shouldn't be called, they radio down and insist they make the right call.

Hey, they already do that at the end of games, last two minutes and so forth. Why not do it all the time?

Thing is, the entire NFL business/media manipulation oligarchy would also have to abandon the idea that they must do what they can to keep teams like podunk small-market non-$$$-generating teams like the Chiefs from advancing very far into the postseason, and I don't really think they're going to do that anytime soon.

That non-call kept the Chiefs from continuing a crucial drive, the first of the 2nd half by the way, and one that easily could have eventually had them in field goal range to kick for their margin-of-victory three points. Instead it was one of the five drives the Chiefs got nada. It was truly the killer.

This also presents one of those other supernatural things that reveal themselves in the behavior of the stakeholders, in this case Travis Kelce. He seemed to be so upset about this that later he went off on a Steelers player, earning an unsportsmanlike that didn't directly hurt us at the time, but I can't believe didn't affect the team spirit. Kelce was humbled, got his head back in the game, but only after a blistering upbraiding by people like Justin Houston.

After the game Kelce went off on the officiating, standing up for his boy Eric Fisher. Most of the team supported Fisher, good call, really. But Kelce tearfully shredded the officials. Yes, they deserved it, they did, it is true the Chiefs definitely got the worst of it yet again. But the truth related to much more robust Chiefs playoff viability is that Kelce needed to shut the heck up about it. As much as he feels it -- that is awesome, it really is, gotta give him that -- the truth is for the Chiefs to be respected as the fine team they are, Kelce or any other Chiefs player or coach or whoever need to let it go.

We the fans can see it, we can point it out in spades. Please, Chiefs organization people, we fans see it, we get it, we're with you! This is part of why I do this blog, I can see it for what it is in all its living color, call it out. As far as the Chiefs players and whoever goes, as much the irreparable harm is painfully veritable they just have be above it all.

And that's the key thing. It is about the maturity. Travis Kelce is a terrific player, a terrific team player, a terrifically vibrantly intensely competitive player. I think the Chiefs go farther towards being that team people want to see contend if they reeeeeally make sure there is a team maturity that is an essential component of warding off any future effects of this playoff spell. I believe at this point Chiefs leadership could accomplish a lot by stepping up and instilling in them a much deeper sense of respect by, for instance, dialing back those insipid dances they do after scoring. Great: have spontaneous celebrating with high-fives all around. But I've always felt the Kelce in-your-face-ism kind of antics will only come back to haunt you.

Play with the greatest, richest, fiercest passion, but be the respect too.

Before getting more into the direction of this team from here and a bit more of an overall regarding this "spell" stuff (Yeah, I mean, so what else is there to think or do something about it? Hmm...) I want to share one more thought related to the finding out what's really going on here.

I thought the other day, wow, if I had the time, I'd actually fancy making a documentary about the Chiefs playoff woes. Sorry, but they are more grisly than any other teams, and they are interminable -- lots of documentary material, that's for sure! Could be interesting! Now, I never will do that, but I further thought that a significant part of such an effort would reveal quite a lot I think about what happened. A documentary feature would include, of course, interviews with Chiefs players, but what they say wouldn't matter as much what is shared in the interviews with their opponents.

Really, documentary or not, if the players the Chiefs played against in all those games, all 15 losses since 1970, shared their thoughtful observations... I wonder...

What exactly would they say?

How would they answer, not even as much to questions like what was your game plan that allowed you to defeat this fine team, but rather what did you see in the Chiefs out there on the football field? What specific kinds of things happened with what they did or didn't do that got you the dubya?

If they were perfectly honest, what kinds of things would be among their observations, from the Dolphins of '71 to the Steelers of '16, I just wonder...

What kinds of commonalities would there be? Would we get any answers as to why this stuff so horrendously afflicts the Chiefs?

Some of those things are the legitimate on-the-field kinds of things that the Chiefs can indeed do something about. Let's go with that, let's talk about those things. Let's start at third-from-the-top, with Andy Reid. The top is of course Clark Hunt, but I can't see anything he's doing wrong except working hard to establish that firm stability and professional excellence the Chiefs have needed for eons. Second is John Dorsey, and there is one critical aspect of his role I want to address, but it is so important I'm saving it for later. For now...

Andy Reid. Here's my impression of the Andy Reid factor in all of this. What I'm sharing may already have been shared. Maybe Chiefs pundits of all stripes have said this, plus a bunch of other valuable critiques, that's cool. Here's mine.

A contrast: Andy Reid vs. Mike Tomlin last Sunday night. What did you notice looking at camera shots of the two? We take it for granted that Reid has his face in his laminated playsheet all the time. Tomlin, not as much so. How on earth did Tomlin call a winning game when he was going up against the incomparable technician playcalling master himself?

The answer is two-fold. Tomlin was actually getting his psyche into the game, letting the game come to him, becoming an organic part of the flow of the game. Reid? Not so much. And that's what cost us. With Tomlin being more observant about what to get his players to do in response to what was being given him by the Chiefs, Tomlin could adjust, then readjust.

Andy Reid -- ehhhnn, not so much. This was one of the things I remember jotting down a few games ago, I maybe even made mention of it in a blog post. For the Chiefs to win in playoff game action, Andy Reid has not only got to adjust, but then adjust to their adjustments, and I'm sorry, I really don't think Reid did that. He's that skilled incisive technician, but what did Reid have for the Steelers when Tomlin was organically forming his game plan to best take on the Chiefs in the moment?

A precise example of how this played out could be elucidated with one play -- the 2-point conversion attempt right after the Fisher hold. Remember, the score is still 18-16 and even though we had the 10-yard penalty assessed against us, we still had a chance to tie. Now we just have to do it from the 12.

We could get that, any team could as long as the right play is drawn up.

But the spell had its way with us. Reid put in some vanilla play, Alex Smith just stepped back and flinged the ball somewhere into the middle of the end zone -- I think it was supposed to go to Jeremy Maclin -- and it was predictably batted away.

Erghh. There's that hideously familiar despondent feeling starting to overcome your Chiefs-fan soul.

At the cost of being tarred the worst Monday morning quarterback ever, here's the play.

Have Smith very quickly take a couple steps to his left, then have him roll back right. He's quick enough to get around the defense, get the blocking to make that happen, and get that not-much-above-average Steelers defense to bite and overpursue, and bring a key receiver back the other way across the middle. How about Hill, with his speed?

How about with all the splendidly imaginative playmaking he did over the regular season (can you say Dontari Poe?) why didn't he do something like a hook and lateral? Throw the ball the ball to Kelce near the goal line but have Spencer Ware trailing for the pitch -- if Ware is taking on some defender staying home, I'd give that battle to Ware.

Why wasn't Reid prepared to do something like that?

You know, in some ways I just don't even think Reid had to do anything fancy.

Just intuitively know the right play to employ with the talent this team has and the advantages you could have over this particular opponent at this time.

Thing is, Reid can do this. The Chiefs can do this.

All this blogging is a lot, and I've got to take a break. There is more to all this. Yes more! Some of the most important factors that should be addressed preparing for Chiefs 2017. Haven't quite gotten to the Dorsey factor (Can you say "The Quarterback Project"... I thought so...). There's also the whole overall meaning of it all, I'm eagerly looking to address that. Talking about spells and Andy Reid detrimental efficiencies is a bit depressing, but the best is yet to come. There are good Chiefs things to write about.

For now, as I write this, the Falcons are hammering the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. At this moment they are leading 44-21 with two minutes left in the game. When the Falcons go on to win, and head into the Super Bowl, that will then make five Super Bowl teams the Chiefs will have defeated in the regular season over the past few years. (You remember we beat Atlanta this season, at Atlanta no less.)

As despondent the feeling of despondency is that we can't watch Chiefs football right now like we should be, there is the fact that the Chiefs are a good football team. More of that in the next blog post, but for now it is with great pride we can say with real hopefulness...

Go Chiefs!
___

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Achilles Team of the NFL

You do know that we live perpetually in a Greek tragedy.

Wouldn't you know that Derrick Johnson's Achilles heel injury against -- yes, if you remember, against the Raiders back on December 8 -- was such a profound symbol of the Chiefs as a team through the ages. Not only was that injury itself one of those crushing blows you just knew would come back to hurt us, and it did against Pittsburgh --

It is emblematic of everything Chiefs.

We are the Greek tragedy of pro football. You do know that, being a Chiefs fan.

In fact, this Kansas City Chiefs unit is such a fine pro football team that they are just like the Greek hero Achilles. They have everything going well for them, strong and wise in every facet of the game, winning game after game after game...

Except that they have that heel.

And sure enough, any time they get into the playoffs when they can truly show the world how strong and wise and talented and clutch they are, that heel kills them.

Every single time.

Please, there has been no other time. None. At least since the merger -- I know we won the Super Bowl once, yeah -- but since then, there's only been that heel.

What about last year, that wonderful playoff game win over Houston? Ahem, let's just be ruthlessly honest: that Texans team was tired, they had no quarterback, and their premiere defensive player was ailing. What about the time before that when we won, against the Oilers in 1994? That team was a catastrophe waiting to implode, and their dysfunction was exposed in the last quarter of that game when the Chiefs easily put them away. What about the Steelers win just before that? We were down 24-17 late and needed a miracle play ourselves and then one last display of Joe Montana magic just to eek out a win. What about the win over the Raiders two years before? Um, we were playing against Todd Marinovich -- need I say more? And we barely won that game.

Annnd, right there are our successes.

That's it.

Two 21-year playoff win droughts -- two of them. Yes, I'd love to regale you with all the horrors, but it's been done, we all know what they are, but for sure they do make the tragedy especially gruesome. Sure there're four wins, joined by 15 losses. That is just unfathomable. Another of these most wretched figures is the ratio of playoff appearances to AFC Championship Game appearances. I painstakingly looked at all the numbers for AFC teams, and sure enough, my hypothesis was proven.

The Chiefs are statistically the worst team in the AFC (and likely the entire NFL) in making their conference's Championship Game since the merger.

See, it really should be the case that teams good enough to make the playoffs should be reasonably successful once there, at least often enough. The hypothesis, statistically speaking, is that a given team should at least reach its conference's championship game a quarter to a third of those times. Some teams may have a bit more going for it, the Patriots, the Steelers, while others don't -- the Chiefs.

Without further ado, here're the numbers:

Out of 47 AFC seasons since the merger (ranked by "winning percentage"-- again: times going to the AFC Championship Game for times making the playoffs)

Oakland  11 for 18  .611
New England  13/23  .565
Pittsburgh  16/29 .551
Denver  10/22  .454
Baltimore  4/10  .400  (in 21 years of AFC play)
Buffalo  5/13  .385
New York  4/12  .333
Jacksonville  2/6  .333  (in 22 years of AFC play)
Baltimore/Indianapolis  7/22  .318
San Diego  4/13  .308
Miami  7/23  .304
Cleveland  3/11  .273
Houston/Tennessee  4/16  .250
Cincinnati  2/14  .143
Kansas City  1/14  .071
Houston 0/4  .000  (in 15 years of AFC play)

Yes, Houston hasn't made it but they've been around for only 15 years. For the Chiefs it's been once in 47 years. And they lost that one. I just didn't take the time to do this for the NFC, but I did look at the one team easily considered to be most moribund, and that was Detroit. They have a ratio of 1 to 11, for a percentage of .090.

Still better than the Chiefs.

What this number says is something I'd simply like to spend some time addressing. I'm blogging here on the weekend when we should finally be playing in an AFC Championship Game but aren't, mostly just to do the annual therapy that needs to be done being a Chiefs fan. We all need the therapy at this time, and I have some time this weekend and just feel like pounding out some thoughts that have been ravaging my psyche all week.

I know a blog is supposed to be a series of much more brief posts, and that'd work fine if I actually had the time during the week. Today is a day off, a Saturday, and I have all the time now to spill my guts now. As it is there is indeed so much in my noggin that perhaps I won't get it all done right now, and may have to continue later. That's cool. There're a whole two weeks of Chiefs-less football yet again to do that, so we'll see.

For now, quickly, thank you for your readership and your indulgence, and I only hope that the things you enjoy reading here will help with the therapy. Don't worry, I have many genuinely encouraging things in the mix of my take, so it won't be completely depressing.

To start, I will tell you I'm getting really tired of hearing the standard, "Whull the Chiefs just didn't do enough to win, they didn't deserve it." I even found myself sharing that rote sentiment in my post-game post last week. I kinda went back and saw that I'd done that, yet reviewed how this team played -- indeed I looked back at how the team played in every playoff game they've been in since '70 -- and thought, ya know?

That's crap.

The fact is, there's just something else, and the 1-in-14 ratio says a ton about that.

In and around that inglorious state of affairs I discovered that 13 times in the 39 years since the 16-game schedule started in 1978 (excepting strike-shortened 1982) teams with fewer than 12 wins (as the Chiefs had in 2016) got into the AFC Championship Game and won it. That is, 13 sub-12-win-season teams went to the Super Bowl. 21 times teams with fewer than 12 wins at least got in but lost. Of 76 AFC Championship Game slots (since '78), 34 have been filled by teams with fewer than 12 wins. There were even about a half-dozen appearances by teams with 9-7 records!

Now yes, I understand that several other teams with 12 or more wins have not made it to their respective conference championship games, I get that. It's just...

What is it with the Chiefs never being able to do it???

The Chiefs have had 12 or more wins four times in their history and each of those times they lost the very first playoff game they had. There have been five times the Chiefs played a divisional playoff game at home -- '71, '95, '97, '03, and now '16. During the regular season of those years, the Chiefs were 37-2. People like to point out how in their three 13-3 seasons they had perfect home records, but you must remember that they had a perfect 7-0 record at Municipal in '71 -- then lost to the Dolphins. Their only two losses were this year, those against Tampa Bay and Tennessee.

Still.

37-2 at home, regular season.

0-5 in the Divisional Playoff Games.

Sorry, but that - just - does - not - happen.

It just does not happen unless there are forces at work that deliberately make that happen. Yes, I am going to get into the supernatural, just some of my thoughts anyway, but bear with me. I will, however, also get into the mechanics of the things happening out there on the football field and the things going on in the front office that with my very limited and perhaps I confess a bit stultified perspective, I see are messing with the Kansas City Chiefs in a major way. Again, if you're one to just outright dismiss this perspective, then I understand. But I hope you'll continue reading, if only for the therapy. Hey, I'm just a mild-mannered but passionate Chiefs fan too.

One of the things I'd been doing to soften the blow of experiencing another idiotic chain of football game events derailing yet another Chiefs shot at the AFC title was to re-read C.S. Lewis' book The Silver Chair. I'm not going to get into all the exposition, but I encourage you to read it as I do any of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia books. Yes, it is written for children, but it is a wonderful Christian allegory and delightfully awakens the imagination.

Two key parts to note here. One, the character Puddleglum is a very cynical individual, and I fancy him to be quite like I am. I am cynical to the point of often seeing the worst in things, but I only do so to get to a point of identifying truthful things. I liken my blogging here to what Puddleglum does to get at the reality of things.

Two, the plot device related to Prince Rilian. It is a simple one for the purposes of this post about Chiefs things.

He is under a spell.

He is under a spell put there by a powerful underworld entity who wants to use him for her nefarious ends, and it is the task of Puddleglum and his companions to rescue him, to free him from the grip of that spell.

I'm sorry, but the Chiefs somehow come under the influence of some spell every time they face a decent challenge in a playoff game. For the past couple years I have actually worked real hard to deliberately avoid the use of "a curse" language, of "bad luck" language, simply because it is so awkward, so grievous, so -- here's a good one from the thesaurus -- vexatious.

I do bring it up here because I can't help but notice. I noticed it last Sunday -- I just did! I'm not going to sugar-coat it. When you looked into their eyes there whenever you could, when they were on the sideline, through their helmets -- the camera shot just allowing you to behold their souls bared -- you could just tell... I'm sorry I could tell!

The Kansas City Chiefs just looked like they were under that spell.

I knew it because I could see it in the eyes of any Chiefs participant all the other past playoff games. All of them.

It's that spell that just has them thinking there is nothing they can do to avoid the fate that is in store for them. Sorry, but it was just there, you could see it, and it is brutal. It is brutal over and over and over again, every single time we have these playoff games. And sorry, if you're a Chiefs fan who is honest with yourself, you have to admit you see it too.

We all watch amazing phenomenally talented exceptionally gifted hard-working having all kinds of got-it players -- Eric Berry and Marcus Peters and Justin Houston and Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce and Alex Smith and Dontari Poe and Eric Fisher and Spencer Ware -- and of course sharp astute insightful amazing coaches Andy Reid and Bob Sutton and Matt Nagy -- and of course so many other Chiefs terrific-football-people-in-so-many-ways -- these are incredibly good Chiefs people who should easily be winning games like the one on Sunday except that... You know what -- I could tell as I had so many times before -- you know it...

There was just that thing, that spell. Their expression, their demeanor, their composure -- I'm sorry but it was there. Please, nothing about them as players or people, they're wonderful as far as I can tell, but it's just that dread that that idiotic thing is going to happen to contemptibly derail all their extremely hard work. And it only comes upon them in the playoffs. Regular season? They're world-beaters. Post-season? I've written a number of times before, it's like every Chiefs player goes through some portal into which their strengths dissipate and their weaknesses distend.

Now, what are the elements of that spell? Really, what are they?

I've already racked my brain trying to think of what Lamar Hunt could have possibly done way back in the day, what??? I actually think, did he sell his (and his team's) soul to the devil the night before Super Bowl IV just so he could win that game, at least that one, in order to get back at that Minnesota team for so viciously dissing him when they'd promised to be a founding member of the AFL? I actually wonder, I do. And please know, I don't for a second believe Hunt actually did that, but I still think it, this kind of thing bumps around in the back of my head as I try to figure out something.

Thing is, the Chiefs that year, 1969, were truly one of the very best teams ever, they really were. Hunt simply would not have had to do anything so silly to afflict his future team in such a way. They were already going to easily beat the Vikings that day. Did you know that there are nine Hall-of-Famers from that one Chiefs team, do you? Do you know only the Packers of the 60's and the Steelers and Cowboys of the 70's have more, and only by a couple more Hall-of-Famers each? Not the 49ers, not the Redskins, not the Broncos or Raiders or Giants -- yes a team like the Patriots will likely get a few but that's for later.

No, the Chiefs had nine Hall-of-Famers from that team, and no team has ever had more defensive player Hall-of-Famers, none. Yet, only one Super Bowl win. So yeah, I could just as easily say we should've had more, what a rip-off! Look at the Packers Steelers Cowboys they had a bunch!

But sure enough, there it is, and the very valid point that follows is that the Chiefs have been such a good team in every one of those games that they should have had several more playoff wins.

Again, there is that detractor: "Shaddup ya whiner! Ya lost."

How, though, can I make the legitimate case for more Chiefs wins that weren't? See, I can understand when the team is just not as good as they should be to win. Really, losses to the Bills in '91, Colts in '06, and Ravens in '10 are prime examples of this. But what about in years like 2013 when we had, I believe if I'm not mistaken, nine players go to the Pro Bowl? In years like 2016 when we had a high strength of schedule -- a 2nd place team schedule -- and we played in the very competitive AFC West, even going 6-0 there? That's not enough?

Over the past few years the Chiefs have soundly defeated each of the last Super Bowl winning teams in the regular season: New England, Seattle, and Denver, each team with pretty much the same bunch that won the Super Bowl, the Chiefs winning with pretty much the same bunch we have right now. You can even throw in our win this year over last year's Super Bowl runner-up Carolina to augment the impact.

There are so many evidences about how good these Chiefs teams were that should mean at least a few definitively demonstrative playoff wins here over these many years. There simply has to be some times when teams like these actually win playoff games against tough teams.

I'm boldly positing that the Chiefs don't because they just look like they're psyched out, like they're under some spell. And again, I am convinced that something happened, something something something happened after Hank Stram was hoisted on that overcast New Orleans January day in 1970.

You may shrug off "supernatural" as merely comprising the realm of the ethereal other-worldly type stuff, but it also means the insane things people do out of their own pride to affect football field activity. Look at what Stram himself did after SB IV. Every Chiefs fan knows how much his hubris contributed to the unraveling of the team beginning in the early 70's. And who can refuse to grimace every instance where Hunt's distractions kept him making the wrong moves over and over again (hiring and staying with John Mackovic for so long, firing Marv Levy when he should've kept him way longer ::groan::)

See, these are all part of the supernatural influences that hammer the Kansas City Chiefs -- that's a big part of the spell.

How in blazes does that carry over into what continued to happen last Sunday?

Well, let me get back to the key thread I want to emphasize in all of this.

The Chiefs were good enough to win last Sunday. And they should have.

Think about this now. What is this game going to go down as? What is it -- you know.

The Eric Fisher Hold Game.

Should we review all the "Games"? ::Deep breath:: The Christmas Day Overtime Game The Dave Szott Hold Game The Joe Montana Concussion Game The Player Who Shall Not Be Named (Lin Elliot) Game The Elvis Grbac (and not Rich Gannon) Game The No Punts Game The Criminal Indianapolis Turf Taking Out All Our Good Players One By One Game...

Sometimes these games are known by the weather -- there was the classic "Ice Bowl" Packers-Cowboys game from '67. How about the Chiefs? That super cold game against Indianapolis in '95? I mention this because this year when that ice storm had Kansas City right in the its center on the exact day of our playoff game, I do confess that yes, again, I thought, what is going on here? I simply could not help but think of the supernatural -- are we trying to be told something? Because this can't be happening.

No other NFL team ever ever ever has this many of these kinds of Games, with the special names, unless of course they're "The Catch" or "The Immaculate Reception". (::Whimper:: That we'd have any games like those. ::Sigh::)

Okay, back to The Game That Will Unfortunately Very Likely Be Heretofore Known As The Eric Fisher Hold Game -- sorry, but the game didn't turn on Eric Fisher's hold. It really didn't. And again, it didn't turn on any particular thing the Chiefs didn't do or did do poorly. Don't worry, I will get to the reasonable Chiefs inadequacies in a bit.

But this is about the officiating, and the specifics of how the Chiefs were robbed again by lousy officiating. It is indeed almost as if we're being punished by some witch doctor Raiders fans who didn't like that the refs missed Otis Taylor being out-of-bounds on that amazing catch in the '69 AFL Championship Game.

Sure some will say the officiating helps or hurts both teams evenly, that the calls even out, really, and this is an above-it-all, noble thing to say -- except when it is the critical calls that always rock the Chiefs. Even so, when the Chiefs do win a playoff game, I don't want to win on a crappy call that goes our way!

In some ways, this is one of the great virtues of being a Chiefs fan. We're still going to be rooting for a team that will win only when it is earned on the merits. The 1997 Broncos can hoist a trophy and have their name in the record books as NFL champions that year, but the Chiefs still know Denver's offensive linemen willfully and extraordinarily illegally smeared petroleum jelly all over their jerseys in that Divisional Game and the officials stopped the game and allowed them given time to wipe it off. No time-outs, no penalties, no nothing.

So again, everyone is going to rail on Eric Fisher, but they shouldn't. Bless the Chiefs players, coaches, and fans, they really aren't doing that. They know better. They know that even in understanding it could be considered a legitimate holding penalty, that's fine, it was still a major sell-job by James Harrison, and the truth is flops do work often enough in sports.

Then there're the number of holds the Steelers offensive line had against the Chiefs throughout the game. How many did you see that could've easily been called? 17? 18? At least? Those refs call one of them against the Steelers and Le'Veon Bell doesn't get that long run - the Steelers don't get that 1st down in that drive - they don't get into field goal range - they don't get a sixth field goal and ultimate the margin for the win.

Were there holding calls that could've gone against the Chiefs? Maybe, but they wouldn't have made as much of a difference to the Chiefs. Remember, the Chiefs didn't even score a point on five straight drives, so the refs could've called five holds and it wouldn't have mattered.

But it would have mattered if they'd called even one or two against the Steelers. Spencer Ware's runs were not as major as Bell's, so bringing back one of Bell's runs on a holding call would've had a much greater impact.

And of course that is a huuuge part of this, that the calls like these are waaay huger to the Chiefs than they are to their opponents. That one holding call they make, the one against Fisher, was a crusher. Don't call any holds the Steelers used to spring Bell, but call that one on Fisher when we can least afford it...

And the thing is this is the way it is in every playoff game the Chiefs have. Is it just coincidence? Does it just happen to happen that way, just because? I really don't think so, I really don't, and I don't think there is a single Chiefs fan who does.

I so much want to continue this thread, get more into the details of the game, the process, the eventualities, the criminalities, and yes, the standard but very necessary revisitation of The Quarterback Project, but as I figured this is a lot, and I've run out of time today. It'll be a series, but I may have time tomorrow, and next weekend also, to continue the therapy.

Thanks for joining me. Until then...

Go Chiefs! (For next year...)
__