As if reading from the worst script in history, the Chiefs dutifully played their sad, sad roles and lost in humiliating yet all-too-predictable fashion to the Denver Broncos 38-3 to close out a miserable 2-14 season.
To illustrate just how repulsive this season has been, remember that one of the few bright spots — the only win at Arrowhead Stadium — came the day after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend and then himself in one of the darkest nightmares that professional sports in general has ever experienced.
Now, I don’t generally write about sports for an entire post except in extraordinary circumstances. And the Chiefs being bad isn’t exactly extraordinary. They’ve been scarcely mediocre since the 21st century began. After twelve seasons, they are 30 games under .500 and have lost all three of their playoff appearances during that span. The record of 2-14 isn’t even extraordinary. The Chiefs hit that previous low-water mark back in 2008 – the worst season in more than a decade – but it was different. Those Chiefs seemed to at least be trying, and lost by an average of 9 points.
The 2012 Chiefs lost each game by an average of almost 14 points — two touchdowns — did not win a single game in their division (The AFC West being one of the weakest divisions in the NFL for years, by the way) or even in their conference, and didn’t hold a single lead in regulation until their Week 10 overtime loss to Pittsburgh. That, my friends, is extraordinary.
Perhaps the most curious and frightening trend has been the loss of our homefield advantage, a phenomenon once feared across the league. Even in our off-years, teams like the Elway-led Broncos or the Favre-led Packers could not rule out some late-game heroics spurred on by the thundering fans at Arrowhead Stadium. In the last five seasons, the Chiefs have won only 13 of their 41 games on their own turf. If there was a sign outside that once said “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” it should now read: “Not in the face!”
I couldn’t begin to tell you what happened to a franchise that — while certainly no powerhouse — was at least a contender for most of the 1990s. Statistics merely highlight the symptoms, they can’t diagnose the illness. The GM, Scott Pioli, is a popular choice for the title of “Plaguebearer,” what with his insistence on keeping the hapless QB Matt Cassel under center for so many years. Romeo Crennel, with his laughable 28-54 record as a head coach, will almost certainly be fired sometime this week, if not by the time you’re reading this. Lamar Hunt, who had founded the Chiefs, died in 2006 and left the team to his son, Clark. That, more than anything, might be the cause of such rapid deterioration.
But the firing of a coach, or a GM, or even the shiny promise of a #1 draft pick in April (The NFL’s Reverse-Super Bowl Trophy to the league’s worst team) can’t change an organization’s fortunes overnight. Even if this is rock bottom, and ownership vows that we’ll see the light of glory again, it still means there’s a lot of digging to be done. More than new management or coaching or a competent quarterback (all of which we need)