Anger turning to apathy as Chiefs churn along toward 1 of worst seasons in franchise history
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The most turnover-prone team in the NFL has two banged-up quarterbacks who are struggling anyway, a head coach who appears out of touch with the offense and a defense that just gave up 26 points to the Oakland Raiders.
Is there any surprise the Kansas City Chiefs are 1-6?
Now, they don't even have a chance to ruminate over their dismal showing Sunday. The Chiefs have to be back on the field Thursday night at San Diego, where they'll try to end a four-game skid that has positioned them well to have the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
"When you lose, it gets tough on you, mentally, you know? You wonder about who you played, what you could have done differently, why things are happening the way they're happening. You get down a little bit," coach Romeo Crennel said Monday.
"When you have a whole week to recover, as the week goes on, you have time to put the game behind you," he said. "We have to get them to put this behind us."
That's not exactly going to be easy.
For one thing, the Chiefs aren't sure who they'll have under center after Brady Quinn took a blow to the head and Matt Cassel got banged up late in the game against Oakland.
Quinn was being evaluated for a possible concussion on Monday, and Crennel said he'll remain the starter if he's cleared to play. Otherwise, Cassel will be back under center after losing the starting job last week due to his own poor performance the first five games of the season.
"I'll be ready to go," Cassel said. "Whatever the situation is, I'll be ready to go. I don't know what the situation is with Brady — we'll find out more — but I'll be ready to go."
Quinn was just 2 of 4 for a single yard before getting hurt, either on a sack by Rolando McClain or on the ensuing play, when he threw an interception. Cassel didn't fare a whole lot better, throwing for 218 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the 26-16 defeat.
"There's always a sense of urgency," Cassel said after the game. "As I said before, I'm going to be the same guy, I'm going to continue to work hard, I'm going to continue to prepare, I'm going to continue to be diligent about what I do."
The two interceptions thrown by Chiefs quarterbacks, along with two fumbles, ran the team's league-leading total to 25 turnovers this season. One of the fumbles came late in the first half, when Javier Arenas was trying to fair catch a punt, and led to Oakland's first touchdown.
Then there was the Chiefs' inability to get the ground game going.
Jamaal Charles, who ran for 233 yards against New Orleans in the Chiefs' only win, only had five carries for four yards against Oakland. When asked why Charles got so few attempts, Crennel said, "Now, that I'm not exactly sure either."
"In the case of Jamaal from the running back position, he had the most touches of any (Chiefs) running back in the game," Crennel said Monday, when pressed about the subject. "We kind of know what's happening and then we adjust the game plan to what's happening to get something done."
Still, Charles only had eight touches in the game. By comparison, the slow-footed Cassel led the team in rushing with seven carries for 35 yards.
"When you're ahead, you can run it more," Crennel said. "When you're behind, generally you try to throw it to get chunks of yards and move down the field a little faster."
Therein lays another one of the Chiefs' problems: They've never played from ahead.
All season long.
The Chiefs are the first team since at least 1940 that has gone through its first seven games without holding a lead in regulation, according to STATS LLC. Their only victory came when Ryan Succop kicked the winning field goal against the Saints in overtime.
"All the time we go in planning to get a lead, or planning to score so we can have a lead, but here again, 3-0, 6-0 and 6-3, that's not even a touchdown's difference there," Crennel said. "So even though it might not be a lead, you can still catch up really easily from that difference.
"Now as soon as it gets to be a 14- or 21-point lead, then it's a different deal."
There's been plenty of those deals this season, too — blowout losses to the Falcons, Bills and Buccaneers. It's little wonder that two more banners, paid for by fans, were towed by an airplane over Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday pleading for general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.
The Twitter handle (at)saveourchiefs, which had a hand in the banners over the stadium, went over 100,000 followers over the weekend.
Anger has turned to apathy. Cynicism has set in.
"As a player, you get tired of losing, and that's where we are now," Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "We have to stick together. We do more together than apart. It's one of those year's It's going to be a tough year, and we have to stick it out."
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