It is time to put the Chiefs’ 2017 season to bed.
Obviously, the season did not end the way the Chiefs Kingdom had dreamed. It was another early playoff loss in a season full of ups and downs.
The Chiefs did accomplish their first ever back-to-back AFC Western Division titles. The team did also have another 10-win season under coach Andy Reid. But that is now not enough for the team’s loyal fans, Reid and the franchise.
Everyone will perform their own private autopsy on what went right and what went wrong with the season. Everything with the organization is not always as bad as we think, and likewise, things with the organization are not always as good as we think either. The Kansas City Chiefs team is caught some place in between.
They lost five games by less than a touchdown, but they had a real problem beating terrible teams like the Giants, Jets and Raiders. The playoff game against the Tennessee Titans was where the team fit in all year long. In the first half the Chiefs dominated and looked good on both sides of the ball. In the second half the Titans dominated the line of scrimmage and the clock to squeak out the 1-point win. The Titans do not have more talent than the players on the Chiefs roster.
The NFL popularity is built on the ability of any team being capable to win a game. If you are going to win any championship in any sport, you must be good and lucky at the same time. The Chiefs go through inexplicable stretches where they are neither good nor lucky. The team has the total inability to stop the run at key times of the game. The Titans controlled the second half of the game because they were able to control the clock with the running game. All year long the Chiefs defense was unable to get off the field in third down situations. The Titans converted nine straight third downs during the second half.
The team must find a way to improve a questionable run defense to be able to advance further in the playoffs. The aging of past defensive stars Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, combined with the physical problems of Eric Berry, have created a below average defense in the NFL. One huge question mark on this team’s defense is can you live with the bad Marcus Peters to get the good Marcus Peters?
On a positive note, in the Denver game we saw some young guys show that they can play. Outside linebackers Ukeme Eligwe and Tanoh Kpassagnon are quick and have good motors. Inside linebackers Ramik Wilson and Terrance Smith are hitters and have good quickness. Safety Leon McQuay can come up and fill the alley on the run. Cornerback Keith Reaser looks hungry and quick. Chris Jones, in only his second year. is the team’s best defensive lineman. I am not a fire-the-coach advocate, but Bob Sutton has had trouble finding a way to stop the run for three straight years.
The young skill players offer the team a bright future offensively. Everyone seems to be convinced that Patrick Mahomes is the second coming. His ability gives him the look of a young Aaron Rodgers, which is tall cotton. Kareem Hunt is a tough kid who will continue to work hard and get better. Tyreek Hill is the first real home run receiver the team has had in years. The offensive line is solid but needs to continue to improve to become a consistent positive force. Travis Kelce is the best player on the team. He is the guy who makes a difference in the offense. It was obvious following his first half injury. The offense operated like a car with a flat tire after his departure.
All the haters of Alex Smith will probably be happy if he is not with the team next year. The team’s 2018 salary cap will make a $17 million salary unaffordable. Smith has done a great job of getting the franchise back to a playoff level during his time in Kansas City.
The kicking game is good. Dustin Colquitt is consistent and is one of the best in the league. The rookie Harrison Butker was a real find by the Chiefs organization. He did miss a key field goal in tough conditions in the playoff game, but he will learn from playing in those situations.
The return game is good with Tyreek Hill in the punt return game. On kickoff returns about 75 percent are touchbacks with the new NFL kickoff rule going to the 25. We could use a little more pop in that area.
Overall the Chiefs fans are licking their wounds after the very disappointing playoff loss, but it is still so much fun to be a sports fan. You always have the challenge. In every sport only one team is happy at the end. There can only be on champion at the end of the year and fans love the challenge of getting there. Chiefs fans, let’s get pumped up for the 2018 season!
• My quote of the week comes from Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach: “All of us get knocked down, but it’s the resiliency that really matters. All of us do well when things are going well, but the thing that distinguishes athletes is the ability to do well in times of great stress, urgency and pressure.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.