Justin Houston gets better each week.
The Kansas City Chiefs are 1-8 and in last place in the AFC West. Their season is over and they are playing for pride and a paycheck.
In Week 11, the Chiefs play a game against a team. Does it really matter which team? Okay, it’s the Cincinnati Bengals who just put a beat down on the defending Super Bowl Champs 31-13. That hardly makes anyone feel better about the upcoming game.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anything on the Internet that doesn’t have the Chiefs as the absolute worst team in the NFL. The Jaguars might steal that title eventually, but they aren’t there yet with seven games left.
Primary Talking Point for Week 11
How long is Clark Hunt going to remain quiet? Will he fire Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel or is he hoping for a magical turnaround in the second half? Pioli has taken the brunt of the problems on the football field, but leadership starts at the very top.
Star players shouldn’t be saying they would give back their millions just to get out of Kansas City. Pretty soon Kansas City will have a negative reputation around the league and be unable to attract the top free agents.
It’s starting to feel like Hunt is the owner from the movie Major League and Matt Cassel is the “Wild Thing” that can’t throw a good ball, but when he does, the other team is the one celebrating.
It’s funny because Hunt does share some other similarities with the iconic character in the movie. Hunt and the character named Rachel Phelps inherited their teams. I also don’t see a big difference between being a Las Vegas showgirl and marrying a former beauty queen.
If you were like me, you probably quoted the movie unintentionally on Monday night.
Owner’s Assistant: “Vaughn (Cassel) has been looking good out there today.”
Owner: “Don’t worry. He’ll blow it.”
Sure enough, Ricky Vaughn...I mean Matt Cassel blew it.
In the movie, the owner wanted the team to lose so she could move the team. In this case, Hunt might be delaying any moves in hopes of securing the top spot in the NFL draft.
Joking aside, it should only be a matter of time before regime change comes to Kansas City.
Brady Quinn hasn’t been cleared for contact as was previously reported, meaning Cassel will start again at quarterback, according to Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star.
Wide receiver Jon Baldwin and offensive guard Jon Asamoah missed practice on Wednesday according to an injury report posted on NFL.com. Other than about a dozen injuries that we all know never get reported, the Chiefs are actually pretty healthy for this stage of the season.
Player on the Rise
Outside linebacker Justin Houston seems to get better each week. In Week 10, he probably had his most complete game of the season when it comes to pass rush, pass coverage and run defense. Houston is even producing better than Tamba Hali.
If you had said Houston was going to perform better than Hali prior to the season, people would have looked at you like you were crazy. Now Houston seems like the better player to build the defense around.
Houston had a sack and a forced fumble against the Steelers and now has seven sacks on the season. He’s a well-rounded player that can drop into coverage, play the run or give the Chiefs an outside pass rush. Houston has been Pioli’s best draft pick and along with Derrick Johnson has been the heart and soul of Kansas City’s defense.
Stat Trends – Offense
The passing and turnover statistics pretty much tell the whole story. The Chiefs are last in fumbles lost and interception percentage, which also makes last in total giveaways. The Chiefs are also last in passing touchdowns. Things didn’t get any better in Week 10 against the Steelers.
Despite playing the Steelers tough into overtime, the offense is still trending downward. The Chiefs still have a solid running game, but that’s all the offense really has going for it at this point. The Chiefs are 30th in points per game scored.
As it turns out, the Chiefs’ production on third down might have been a fluke and dropped four spots after going 2-for-13 on third down on Monday night.
Stat Trends – Defense
The defense was a big part of the reason why the Chiefs were able to hang around for so long in Pittsburgh. The offense was putting the defense in tough spots all night long and for the most part they handled Pittsburgh’s passing and running games.
Kansas City’s defensive rankings jumped in many categories this week like yards per game, completions and yards per carry, but the formula for beating the Chiefs’ defense remains. The Chiefs still have trouble stopping the run, and teams shift to passing in the red zone.
There was some good, bad and ugly from the Chiefs' Week 10 overtime loss the Steelers. The Chiefs certainly showed they can play with a lot of teams if they aren’t turning the ball over, and that’s a good sign that there is still plenty of talent on the roster.
Unfortunately, the loss makes them 1-8 and the Chiefs still didn’t do enough to be considered a team that is rising from their early-season ashes.