It wouldn’t be an NFL season without an edition of Stick a Fork ‘Em!, where I bid adieu to all the teams whose seasons are pretty much over. I know it’s only week two, but a few teams are dead already and should be looking forward to 2012. What happened, and how did these teams go so bad so quickly? Injuries play a role, to be sure, but sometimes you just aren’t that good to start with. We have a little bit of both her to work with, and let’s get to it! This week’s honoree for Stick a Fork in Em is…..
The Kansas City Chiefs
On average, about five playoff teams from any given season do not make it back the following year. When trying to predict the five for this season, most experts had the Chiefs at or near the top of the list. We are now seeing why. There was a great deal of skepticism towards the Chiefs 10-6 record last year. Their schedule was incredibly soft, with only two games against teams that made the playoffs (and one of those was against 7-9 Seattle) vs. nine games against teams that finished under .500. The best team in their division on paper, San Diego, underachieved and left them an opening at the top of the division. They also got:
- career/breakout years from their quarterback, starting running back, number one wide receiver , and starting tight end
- an 896 yard season from their backup running back
- a career year from their best pass rusher on defense
Now that’s entirely too many good things to line up for you all at once in the same season, so it’s no coincidence that things have gone in the opposite direction a year later. Two of the four offensive players that blew up last season are blown out with season-ending injuries (running back Jamal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki) and their second best defensive player, safety Eric Berry, is gone for the season as well. And the schedule is much tougher, to boot. There are five games against teams likely to make the playoffs this season, in addition to the customary two games against San Diego. They’ve already been blown out twice, giving up 41 points each time and showing little if any life on offense. There has been no sign of any light at the end of this tunnel.
The truth is that the Chiefs were pretty much a fraud last season. Despite the big seasons from quarterback Matt Cassel, running back Jamal Charles, and wideout Dwayne Bowe the Chiefs finished 30th in passing yards per game and 23rd in average gain per pass play. In most other categories beyond the ground attack, they were in the middle of the pack. Defensively, they were in the middle of the pack in everything accept yards per pass play. Where the Chiefs did manage to excel were in the running game (first in total yards and fourth in yards per carry), turnover differential (fifth), and penalty yard differential (fifth). So they ran the ball well, turned it over less than their opponents, and didn’t get penalized as severly as their opponents. You do that against a subpar schedule and you make the playoffs. Beat to beat good teams you have to throw the ball, score points, and play well on defense. The Chiefs were bad at the first two and okay on the third. It’s pretty telling that they were blown out in their lone playoff game and have been blown out in both of the games they’ve played since.
So that’s it so far. The Chiefs are dead for 2011. There are several other teams on life support right now, and they will likely end up in the morgue soon. The Colts, Jaguars, Dolphins, and Seahawks are all hooked up to the machines right now. Another week or two like they’ve endured so far, and they can start scouting Andrew Luck in earnest.