It’s not just that the Kansas City Chiefs got pasted Sunday for the second straight week, this time 35-17 at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, who coincidentally were in danger of losing their own fan base after getting humiliated 48-28 in their opener the week before.
Maybe Chiefs fans can accept the fact their team followed up a 40-24 loss at home last week with another complete dud in week two. Maybe those same fans can accept the fact that their defense, allegedly the strength of the team, looked helpless and overmatched.
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And maybe the Chiefs faithful can even accept the fact its team more resembles the equally pitiful Oakland Raiders than either of the AFC West division challengers, Denver and San Diego.
What is most troubling, what is most exasperating, to Chiefs fans is the team’s complete lack of urgency.
Last week, Chiefs fans grumbled on talk shows and in comments sections that the Chiefs seemingly gave up in the fourth quarter against the Falcons.
Down 40-17 with 10 minutes, 33 seconds remaining last Sunday, the Chiefs started a drive with two running plays, and then a short completion. Worse yet, the Chiefs huddled before each play, consuming almost two minutes off the clock.
It wasn’t until just over eight minutes remained that the Chiefs finally went into a no-huddle mode. And then, with seven minutes left, the Chiefs actually punted on a fourth-and-9, much to the dismay and disbelief of the Arrowhead faithful.
That was last week.
Again this Sunday, the Chiefs demonstrated no sense of urgency as they fell further and further behind the Bills. The Chiefs refused to employ a hurry-up offense even after they fell behind 28-0 and then 35-3.
Incredibly, the Chiefs were still huddling with possession of the ball and down by 32 late in the third quarter.
The Chiefs got the ball back on their own 20 with 3 minutes, 45 seconds left in the third quarter, and continued to huddle as they began to move the ball against the Bills.
That drive began to sputter early in the fourth quarter and the Chiefs then faced a fourth-and-14 at the Buffalo 34 yard line.
The Chiefs punted.
Down 35-3, the Chiefs punted.
Granted, the odds weren’t exactly high on converting such a down and distance. And granted, the odds of an actual Chiefs comeback were almost astronomical.
But here’s the deal: You have to try.
You have to go down, even in sure defeat, firing everything you have left in your holster. You have to do this if you want to maintain the morale of your fan base, not to mention your locker room.
The white-flag mentality sends an awful message. It encourages a losing culture, and it’s a virus that can permeate an entire organization.
Even Kendall Gammon, the Chiefs’ sideline reporter for the team’s radio network, reported that the Chiefs’ sideline showed almost “no life” in the second half.
Of course, the Chiefs had plenty of other issues beside their approach on Sunday. Quarterback Matt Cassel again lost a fumble after getting sacked with the game still in doubt. Fullback Peyton Hillis inexplicably fumbled inside the Bills’ 1 yard line (even though he wasn’t really hit). And linebacker and defensive savior Tamba Hali, back from a one-game suspension, registered zero tackles and zero sacks (those aren’t typos).
But those are issues somewhat out of a head coach’s direct control. Preaching a fight-till-the-finish attitude is something fully within a coach’s command. And ordering the offense into a hurry-up approach is also completely within the coach’s control.
Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel repeatedly said after Sunday’s game he and his staff need to figure out what is wrong with this year’s team. He might best start with why he and his staff seem so willing to accept defeat when his team begins to fall behind.