Picking your way out of trouble?
Trying to account for the Chiefs disastrous season so far is a bit like trying to find an honest man in politics – hard to do and over ripe with choices.
Having got egg all over my face (not the only one I may add) in predicting a break-out season, what has gone wrong?
Obviously, if I knew that I'd be the General Manager or Coach or both.
But, I think I've got a handle on something that might go some way to explain the terrible smell coming out of Arrowhead at the moment.
You will remember that General Manager Pioli has long advocated building the team through the draft. His special talent is (or is supposed to be) identifying talent and signing the right players. That's the way to success on the field, he says.
So, how has he done and, more importantly, how have the Chiefs done in the draft in general?
Lets go back to 05 for the starter. Pioli wasn't around then but it's just 8 years ago and by now something should have happened? Surely? I could have started in 09 when Pioli came on board but the picture would seem depressingly similar – or even worse.
Starting on 05 allows some comparison with what came before Pioli and what came after. And, all the first round picks since 05 are still on the KC roster. So, it makes sense that they should be the basis of the team and the team should be winning a lot of games – at least that was the Pioli plan.
In 05 the Chiefs went for Derrick Johnson, a line backer. Is he in the starting line up? Yes, quite regularly. Is he making big plays and stuffing the run and intercepting passes? A bit. Yes, just a bit. Give him a C+.
In 06 we got Tamba Hali – originally a defensive end but now a line backer in the 3-4 defence. He has made the pro-bowl and regularly features in the sack count. Give him a B.
In 07 the Chiefs drafted Dwayne Bowe a wide receiver. How's he done? He's made pro bowl appearances and regularly leads the team in receptions and yardage. He drops too many balls, everyone will tell you that. Can get a B-
08 was a big year – we had two picks in the first round. Glen Dorsey and Branden Albert both came on-board. Dorsey is a bit player, He starts at defensive end – when he's fit. He has never shook off the number one pick disease and gone on to stardom. He's barely adequate and gets a D.
This, incidentally, is the start of the Pioli reign. Branden Albert is a starter on the O-line and has done quite well. He's solid and dependable. His pass protection is generally good and he can run block. He's a good player. Is he a great one? No. He can have a B-.
In 09 Tyson Jackson was drafted in round one. He's opposite Dorsey on the D-line. He's adequate. He may get better. He is only a D+ on present form.
In 10 Safety Eric Berry was picked at number one – fifth overall in the draft. He was going to be the lynch pin around which the defence would solidify. Before he had a serious knee injury and sat out all of last season he was living up to the hype. Now he may struggle to regain the momentum. He's a good player but the jury is out on whether he can be the world-beater we hoped for. At present he's a C-.
Wide receiver Jon Baldwin was the 11 pick. So far this is a disaster happening before out eyes. His numbers are poor. His play is poor. He has never really recovered from a chequered start to his NFL career – as the speculation about a pre-season injury never was cleared up satisfactorily. I had Bowe and Baldwin as a real twin receiving threat. This has never happened. He can only get an E.
Finally we took Dontari Poe, a real nose tackle, in the 12 draft. I thought he'd be the final piece in the puzzle. Now with three first round picks on the D-line, the pieces all fit together. No-one could run the ball on us and we'd get pressure on all QB's. Not happened. He may be a rookie but he seems not to be a factor. He can only manage a D-.
Something really depressing is building up. The Pioli picks are all bombing.
That's why we have never led in a game this season and why we are 1-8.
I'd like to see the way back, but I can't.