Breaking Down Why the Kansas City Chiefs Are Far and Away NFL's Worst Team
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The Kansas City Chiefs are bad. Not just normal bad, but epically bad. There is one other two-win team in the NFL, but it isn't nearly as bad as the team in Kansas City. The Chiefs are the worst team in the NFL and in the running for the worst team of the decade.
You have to go back to 2009 to find a team nearly as bad as the Chiefs. The Chiefs are bad from top to bottom. The Chiefs might have the worst combination of owner, general manager, head coach, coordinators and players in the entire NFL. Each and every level of the organization is rotten.
There’s no putting lipstick on this pig, and Chiefs fans have finally figured out that their team is now the NFL’s version of their baseball team. The Chiefs are far and away the NFL’s worst team. As with any bad or poorly performing organization, it starts at the top.
The Chiefs are one of the oldest football franchises. They were founded by Lamar Hunt, son of oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, in 1960 as the Dallas Texans of the AFL. Lamar Hunt was part of the group that started the AFL, and the Chiefs have a rich history thanks to their passionate founder.
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Hunt died in 2006, and his children elected his son, Clark Hunt, to run the team. Clark Hunt stuck with his father’s general manager Carl Peterson for two seasons before putting his stamp on the team. Peterson had been with the team for 20 years and brought the Chiefs nine playoff appearances.
Peterson was far from a perfect general manager, but during his time with Kansas City he became obsessed with the team. Arrowhead Stadium became one of the league’s toughest road venues, but that relationship with the fans has eroded over the past six years.
Clark Hunt has simply not been as successful as his late father. Part of that could be because the team hasn’t spent money on its product. According to Brian McIntyre of NFL.com, the Chiefs were $16.5 million under the salary cap.
That’s money that could have been used to improve a very flawed roster. There’s really only a few ways to look at all the cap space: either the ownership is cheap, the football leadership is incompetent or both.
Clark Hunt has been one of the least successful owners over the last six seasons as far as the on-field product. The ownership must be mentioned as a reason why the Chiefs are the worst team in the NFL in 2012.
The Front Office
Under Peterson, the Chiefs had just six seasons below .500 in a 20-year span. Clark Hunt hired the highly recommended Scott Pioli, and he has three such seasons in his four years as general manager. This certainly lends itself to the incompetent football leadership side of the spectrum.
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Peterson’s final two drafts are (or were) the Chiefs’ best players and included Dwayne Bowe, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers, Jamaal Charles and Brandon Carr. Glenn Dorsey turned into a productive player even though he was playing out of position.
Pioli’s drafts have largely been disappointing and include Tyson Jackson, Dexter McCluster and Jon Baldwin among others.
Peterson hired a total of four head coaches in his 20 years as general manager. Marty Schottenheimer turned the Chiefs into one of the best teams of the early 1990s. Gunther Cunningham wasn’t particularly successful, but he also wasn’t terrible. Peterson then brought in Dick Vermeil, and he coached the team for five years prior to his retirement with a playoff appearance in 2003.
In hindsight, was firing Peterson the right move?
Herm Edwards was his least successful hire, but he did lead the team to the playoffs in 2006. Both of Pioli’s hires have been failures. Todd Haley was an abrasive personality, and Romeo Crennel’s staff is almost totally incompetent.
Pioli is the man making football decisions and he’s responsible for letting Brandon Carr leave in free agency, signing Stanford Routt and leaving over $16.5 million worth of salary cap space unspent.
Of course, Pioli’s biggest failure was not finding a quarterback. Pioli went with Matt Cassel instead of drafting one of the many good ones that have come out over the past few years.
Pioli might not be the worst general manager in the entire league (also possible he is), but he’s having one of the least successful fourth seasons of any one in recent memory. The owner might be responsible for hiring Pioli, but it’s Pioli himself that is responsible for the product on the football field.
Romeo Crennel sure seemed like the right guy at the end of last season, but perhaps the Chiefs should have examined his entire résumé instead of just three games.
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Crennel was 24-40 as head coach of the Cleveland Browns with one winning season in 2007. Crennel also assumed both the defensive coordinator and head-coaching duties at the beginning of this season, but that didn’t work out well and Crennel gave up the defensive coordinator duties earlier in the season to spend more time with the offense.
Crennel’s offense has gotten worse since he's become more involved with it. According to a tweet from Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, the offense is averaging 6.3 fewer points per game and 87.2 fewer yards.
Perhaps more damning is that his defense has actually improved since he started spending more time with the offense, according to another tweet by Mellinger. The Chiefs are allowing 39.5 yards per game and 8.8 points per game less with Gary Gibbs as the defensive coordinator.
Would the Chiefs have more wins with Todd Haley as the head coach in 2012?
The Chiefs' point differential this season is minus-172. This means on average the Chiefs have been outscored by over 12 points per game. Kansas City has actually lost its 12 games by over 15 points per game.
The personnel is certainly part of the equation, but Haley was able to have a lot more offensive success with a very similar roster. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is on his third offensive coordinator job in four years and his offenses have never ranked higher than 22nd in yards and 20th in points scored.
The Chiefs are last in points scored this season and have been held without an offensive touchdown several times. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn have been equally ineffective in different ways. Somehow the Chiefs have also seemed to screw up the basic formula of getting the ball to Jamaal Charles and throwing the Dwayne Bowe on third down.
Need more proof? The Chiefs were shut out by a defense that had allowed a league-worst 402 points on the season on Sunday. Quinn was hitting receivers in the facemask, throwing interceptions that seemed to be to no one, and, on one occasion, a common swing pass slipped out of his hand and landed incomplete just a few yards away.
Watching the Chiefs play offense is a comedy show and the only bright spots are Charles and Bowe.
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The Chiefs also have the league’s worst turnover margin, which includes a league-worst 18 interceptions. Kansas City has 16 fumbles, second-worst only to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Chiefs are also tied for the fewest passed intercepted on defense (7), and only four teams have fewer fumble recoveries.
To say the Chiefs have a lack of playmakers would be a massive understatement. The offensive line has played well at times, but what good is blocking when the quarterback can’t find an open receiver?
What is the biggest issue?
The Chiefs are 28th in third-down conversion percentage, which is often a saving grace for teams that lack players that can make big plays. The Chiefs have just eight passing touchdowns, which is also last in the league. Put that in perspective: JaMarcus Russell had 13 touchdowns in 15 games as the starter in 2008, and Ryan Leaf had 11 in 11 games in 2000.
Defensively the Chiefs have a few nice players like Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers. Eric Berry hasn’t regained his rookie form and all the other players could be upgraded.
It was due to these good players that the Chiefs were highly regarded coming into the season, but it’s the other approximately 35 players that are the problem.
The Worst…By Far
A case could be made that the Jacksonville Jaguars are the worst team in the NFL, but consider that the Jags' point differential is eight points better (minus-164) and that their best player, Maurice Jones-Drew, played in just six games. The Jaguars also lost their best linebacker in Daryl Smith.
Imagine how bad the Chiefs would be without Charles and Johnson this season? Sunday, the Chiefs got a taste of life without Bowe and didn’t score. Take away Charles and it’s hard to imagine this team scoring at all.
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