In KC "D" means disaster
If ineptitude is contagious, the state of Missouri should be quarantined.
On one side of the state, the bungling bats of baseball's St. Louis Cardinals went down in a whimpering heap of ham-fisted futility last month, getting overrun in the World Series by the Boston Red Sox without firing a single shot.
But that flaccid display of impotence pales in comparison to the disastrous contagion of incompetence emanating from the western edge of Missouri, where the 3-6 Kansas City Chiefs are plagued by a disfiguring disease called defenselessness.
Blame the chief Chiefs – head coach Dick Vermeil and GM Carl Peterson – for failing to administer first aid in the offseason to an ailing defense lingering on life support.
Last year, Kansas City jumped out to an inspiring 9-0 record, helped in no small part by a vigorous defense that surrendered a mere 16.7 points per game. Only four teams finished the 2003 season with a stingier defense.
But the vital signs for the Chiefs' defensive unit flatlined at the end of the season. Kansas City's electric offense averaged 31 points over the last five games of 2003, but the Chiefs lost three times thanks to a inept defense that gave up 45 points twice in losses to Denver and Minnesota and then famously failed to force a punt in a 38-31 playoff loss to Indianapolis. After a 9-0 start and a 13-3 regular season, the Chiefs were one and done in the playoffs. The cancerous tumor called the Kansas City defense killed the team's postseason dreams.
A competent front office would have looked at the medical history and determined that the KC defense was in desperate need of new vital organs (a little heart and some gonads would have been a good start). Vermeil and Peterson instead opted for a facelift – and a poor one at that – in the form of Gunther Cunningham, who was brought out of the cryogenic chamber of Chiefs history and given the task of coordinating the team's defense in 2004.
We turned to the surgeon general of gridiron medicine, the Cold, Hard Football Facts, and examined Kansas City's defensive vital signs last year and again this year under Cunningham. You don't need a Ph.D in footballogy to realize that the Cunningham experiment has blown up in the face of Kansas City's fandom.
.................................................2003 (entire season)....2004 (year to date)
Total defense.......................29th (356.7 YPG).............26th (352.3 YPG)
Scoring defense..................19th (20.8 PPG)...............28th (26.4 PPG)
Pass defense.......................20th (210.2 YPG).............26th (235.9 YPG)
Rush defense.......................30th (146.5)......................16th (116.4 YPG)
Opponents YPC....................32nd (5.2 YPC)................30th (4.8 YPC)
The numbers don't tell the true futility of the story. Kansas City's offense continues to light up opposing teams this year, to the tune of a third-rated 28.6 points per game. Yet the Chiefs have managed to muster but three wins, while losing to 4-5 Houston, 4-5 New Orleans, 3-6 Tampa Bay and 2-7 Carolina. The defense yields an awesomely awful average of 6.9 yards per first-down attempt.
Why the recurring nightmare? Nine of the 11 defenders who took the field for Kansas City in its playoff loss to Indy started again in a 34-23 Week One loss to Denver this season. Compare that failure to administer a talent infusion to KC's ailing defense with the way things are run in New England. Earlier this season against Buffalo, special teamer Shawn Mayer missed a tackle on a kick return that ended in a touchdown. He was cut the next day. Needless to say, he hasn't missed anymore tackles.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts have examined all the test results and the diagnosis is clear: Kansas City's management should be fired for ineptitude. Or maybe sued for malpractice.
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