Chargers vs. Chiefs: Big Loss Could Prompt Big Changes in Kansas City

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystSeptember 30, 2012

The Chargers couldn't bottle up Jamaal Charles, but they did force him to drop the ball...twice.
The Chargers couldn't bottle up Jamaal Charles, but they did force him to drop the ball...twice.John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

The Kansas City Chiefs entered the season with a lot of confidence. Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki and Matt Cassel were returning healthy after lengthy injury absences last season, and the Chiefs were a trendy pick to win the AFC West.

The Chiefs are now 1-3 after a 37-20 loss at home to the visiting San Diego Chargers. All three losses have been in blowout fashion and any confidence that remained is now gone.

The football operations should be on the hot seat, and the ownership should start thinking about replacing general manager Scott Pioli if the team continues to perform this poorly. Pressure on Pioli will trickle down through head coach Romeo Crennel and eventually result in changes on the field.

One obvious change would be at quarterback, where Matt Cassel isn’t getting the job done. Cassel threw three interceptions against the Chargers and now has five touchdowns and seven interceptions on the season.

Unfortunately, Cassel isn’t the only problem and the Chiefs’ backup quarterback is Brady Quinn. The defense was supposed to be the strength of the team and hasn’t picked up any of the slack, and wholesale changes are difficult at this stage of the season.

Even Charles contributed to the loss against the Chargers with two lost fumbles. Charles and Dwayne Bowe are the strengths of the team, but they have rarely been able to showcase their strengths with the team playing from behind in all of the first four games.

The Chiefs outgained the Chargers by 60 yards which demonstrates just how devastating six turnovers are to a team’s chances of winning a football game. It seems like it’s a different breakdown every week for Kansas City as the pass defense, run defense and the passing game have all contributed to the three losses.

About the only thing that appears to be working in Kansas City is the running game, which is why it was interesting the Chiefs opened the game passing. The Chiefs attempted a pass on eight of the team’s first 10 offensive plays against the Chargers. That type of run-pass ratio doesn’t benefit the Chiefs, and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll needs to tailor the offense to his team’s strengths.

Right now, that’s Charles with help from Bowe on third down.

The Chiefs had the league-worst turnover margin headed into Sunday, and it’s hard to imagine that changing after Sunday’s performance. If the Chiefs are to improve, they need to stop turning the ball over and start forcing their opponents to make more mistakes.

The defense has a total of two takeaways in 2012, which hardly puts a dent the number of giveaways by the offense. The defense is Crennel’s specialty, and they are playing uninspired football. Obviously the offense has put in a tough spot, but no one expected the offense to carry the load.

The Chiefs have failed as a defense and an offense, and that should reflect poorly on the leadership of the team. Maybe the expectations were unrealistically high, but the expectations certainly weren’t this low either.

The Chiefs were hoping to reset the standings in the AFC West with a win but are now at serious risk of a lost season and a high draft pick. Unfortunately, even a drastic turnaround might now be too little too late for the Chiefs in 2012.

Things don’t get any easier for the Chiefs, with a Week 5 engagement with the Baltimore Ravens. The only games on the schedule that look favorable for the Chiefs are the two against Oakland and games against Cleveland and Indianapolis.

If the current regime doesn't make big changes soon, it might be the ownership that decides to make a change at the end of the season. One or two more uninspiring performances and the fans in Kansas City might turn their eyes to college football with hope that whoever is running the front office next year can find an impact player to turn around a stumbling franchise.