KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel laid out for his team Monday exactly what it will take to end their seven-game losing streak and then questioned whether the solution is even possible.
“We know we have to fight. We have to do everything in our power to be the best we can be, to be perfect,” he said during a break in meetings. “That’s what I told them, we have to be perfect because that’s the only way we have a chance.”
Later, Crennel admitted, “Nobody is ever perfect, you know.”
That doesn’t bode well for a team trying to reach mediocrity, much less perfection.
The Chiefs’ 28-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday dropped them to 1-9 on the season, their lone victory requiring a franchise-record 18-point comeback at New Orleans.
They’ve been ravaged by injuries, lead the league in turnovers, can’t settle on a quarterback and are now dealing with a full-fledged fan rebellion, which has resulted in people dressed in black occupying the seats at Arrowhead Stadium, and fliers calling for the general manager’s job.
The Twitter account for a fan group known as “Save Our Chiefs” recently surpassed 80,000 followers, about 17,000 more than the announced crowd on Sunday and probably twice as many as actually found their way inside the stadium during another disheartening loss.
“We love Kansas City. We’re not upset at our fans,” linebacker Andy Studebaker said. “They have a right to be upset. In the NFL, you have to create a home-field advantage. It doesn’t just show up for you. It’s a two-way street with us and the fans.”
Things certainly won’t get any easier for Kansas City with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos visiting Sunday. After that comes a home date with Carolina that could help determine who has the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next year.
Jacksonville is the only other team sitting 1-9, while Carolina and Cleveland are 2-8. The Chiefs visit the Browns on Dec. 9.
“We understand the fan frustration,” cornerback Brandon Flowers said. “This is the team they love, and they love watching, and they ain’t winning. Who wouldn’t be upset?”
Crennel said he hasn’t decided who will start at quarterback against the Broncos after lifting starter Matt Cassel for Brady Quinn at halftime of Sunday’s loss to Cincinnati.
Cassel was the starter early in the season before sustaining a concussion against Baltimore, and then lost his job permanently when he was cleared to return. Quinn was knocked out with his own concussion in his second start, and wasn’t cleared to play until late last week.
That’s why Cassel got the starting nod and Quinn was brought on in relief.
Things aren’t much more settled on the injury front, where wide receivers Jon Baldwin and Dwayne Bowe are both dealing with head and neck injuries. It’s uncertain whether either will be available this week, though Crennel sounded optimistic that they will be cleared to play.
The offensive line also remains in flux.
Right guard Jon Asamoah is being fitted for a cast after having surgery on his thumb, and he could be back after missing a game. Left tackle Branden Albert has been dealing with back spasms, and center Ryan Lilja has an ankle injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game.
“It’s tough,” right tackle Eric Winston said. “My rookie year (with Houston), we were 6-10, and that was tough. To be honest with you, I don’t know if we were even good enough to win that many games. But that was a different team. It was a young team, a ton of rookies playing, a new regime kind of thing. I’ve never been around something like this, to tell you the truth.”
The Chiefs have only led twice in a game this season, and they’ve been outscored 185-84 during their seven-game slide. They converted just one third down against Cincinnati, two fewer than the Bengals converted on fourth down, and were fortunate to only lose one of their three fumbles.
Things have been so bad this season that Crennel fired himself as defensive coordinator.
Now, he’s wondering whether there are any other strings he can pull to engender change in a franchise floundering hopelessly out of control, or whether the best he can hope for is to be competitive enough down the stretch that he still has a job come January.
“It’s all about the mentality that the players have, because when you lose, nobody is happy about losing,” Crennel said. “Everybody is frustrated about losing, you know? Players, coaches, fans, owners, everybody. What we want and what we need is to try to win a game to make us feel better, give us a little confidence, and then if you win one, maybe we can win another.”