NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Chiefs stink and, really, that’s not enough to say right now. Because they stink out loud and they stink out so loud that we should probably say STINK in all caps and, really, even that’s not enough unless reading this comes with the soundtrack of wrestling fans reacting to Hulk Hogan’s NWO heel-turn.
They stink so hard that whatever part of this team you want to rip deserves it, and whenever you’re done they deserve to hear it again from your neighbor.
The Chiefs lost 27-3 to the Titans here on Sunday against an OK team coming off a short week and what should have been an emotional disadvantage. The Chiefs did this despite spending the last few weeks acknowledging that, yes, their backs are against the metaphorical wall, and that this has been when they play their best.
They responded with their worst, getting blown out and watching their unicorn quarterback take a vicious hit on a desperate fourth-down pass attempt.
It would be impossible to overstate how awful of a day this was for the Chiefs, and how quickly the season itself is going off the tracks.
The defense gets no pressure, no turnovers, no stops. The offense can’t protect and the quarterback remains on a season-long turnover binge. The Chiefs are now 3-4, with all four losses coming to teams now looking down on them in the AFC standings.
But even mentioning the AFC standings implies thinking about the playoffs, and the Chiefs do not deserve to think about the playoffs.
Right now, they deserve to be thinking about the shame of a season they publicly and credibly presented as Super Bowl or bust.
Because now they’re the team that falls behind in a game by 27 points, and then, having just passed midfield in the third quarter for the first time all day, walks off the field whining to the refs after settling for a field goal.
The players who clap back on critical fans online will have busy nights and tired thumbs.
A snapshot: The Chiefs put their punt team on the field down 27-3 toward the end of the third quarter, changed their minds and put the field goal team on, then called a timeout to avoid a delay-of-game penalty before trying a 57-yard attempt. After the break, the kick missed, because that’s what the Chiefs deserved.
They are the two-time defending AFC champions and won the Super Bowl less than two years ago, so some of this still comes with a sense of shock, but at the moment we’re seeing all the familiar symptoms of a defeated and dysfunctional team.
The hangover from a Super Bowl loss is a reliable story, and one that’s claimed many victims over the years. Even if one were to charitably say that some element of this current limpness is a result of the NFL’s natural calibration, nobody could argue that bigger problems are not afoot.
Andy Reid has dealt with family tragedy and personal health scares. Is his work diminished?
The defense does not do anything particularly well. Has Steve Spagnuolo lost the room?
Patrick Mahomes is supposed to be the NFL’s ultimate cheat code, but he now has 11 turnovers in seven games — some of them fluky, but more of them somewhere between careless and reckless.
Is the league’s highest-paid player not up to the challenge of lifting a group that needs it?
The Chiefs won’t give much away publicly. They will talk about accountability and about how they all share in the problems. They will pledge to stay together and keep working and fix what’s going wrong. And maybe they will.
Crazier things have happened than the NFL’s winningest team over the last seven years pulling itself out of an ugly seven-game stretch.
But pointing out that history is on the Chiefs’ side is a different thing than claiming that the moment is on their side, or that this particular group of players and coaches in this particular season have earned the benefit of the doubt that previous groups have created.
This group has shown itself to be capable of brilliant moments. It’s also currently too disorganized and disjointed to achieve real success.
They have developed the habits of bad teams: penalties at the worst moments, way too many turnovers and individual bursts of hope that are buried under cumulative failures.
The defining problem of this team is not the league’s worst defense, or that they get no pressure while also not covering well. The problem is not that the offense has lost its spark, and can’t quit its turnover addiction. The problem is not that they’re buried in the AFC standings under teams that have beaten them (and look wholly capable of beating them again).
The problem is all of that, with a group that has shown many signs of in-fighting and fewer signs that they have any specific reliable strength to deploy against a playoff contender.
The problems keep stacking. The promises about solutions keep coming.
But time is running out.Internet Explorer Channel Network