So far, Kansas City Chiefs fans have little to celebrate in 2011.
Team icon Brian Waters received his release papers. First-round pick Jonathan Baldwin busted his thumb on some part of veteran Thomas Jones. Star players limped off the field and onto the injured reserve, and the only good thing to say about the preseason is that it wasn't as bad as the home opener.
Did I say Kansas City fans have little to celebrate? It's more like The Grapes of Wrath in the city of fountains and barbecue.
For crying out loud, Job had more going for him.
Okay, so maybe that's taking it a bit far, but have the Chiefs already fallen so far from their 2010 AFC West title that they've entered the Andrew Luck lottery? With 15 games remaining in 2011, isn't it too soon to ask owner Clark Hunt to clean house with a howitzer and cross his fingers for next year?
What happened to crush the hopes and dreams of fans so quickly and definitively, and is there any chance of salvaging respectability out of this season?
By far, the most shocking events to date revolve around season-ending injuries for Kansas City. Losing free agent Brandon Siler to a torn Achilles tendon represented merely a stumbling block. The belief that Kansas City could match last year's offensive production took a solid hit with the loss of Tony Moeaki.
Eric Berry's torn ACL, though, beat Chiefs fans' playoff hopes to a bloody pulp and left them for dead in a ditch.
Kansas City lacks the stellar depth Green Bay employed to win last year's Super Bowl despite losing 10 starters to injury, particularly at tight end and safety. Moeaki's 556 yards from 2010 fall on Leonard Pope and Jake O'Connell's shoulders. Pope's best season came in 2007, a 238 yard five touchdown performance with Arizona.
The taller order is to compensate for losing Berry. Fans and coaches alike consider Berry as the crucial piece to Kansas City's new defense, and veteran Jon McGraw simply does not measure up by comparison.
The injuries wouldn't be so disheartening if the Chiefs showed anything worthwhile on the field, though. Instead, Kansas City fans witnessed an entire preseason of lackluster play. While Chiefs fans could write those games off to a simplified game plan or player assessments, the self-destruct last Sunday against Buffalo left no such excuses.
This is where the true indictment of the Chiefs resides. If Kansas City allows the AFC West's perennial whipping boy Bills to annihilate them at home, then what chance do they have against any of the NFL's other teams? Losing Berry and Moeaki provide material witnesses, but the evidence that the Chiefs belong at the bottom of the pile comes from that 41-7 drubbing.
Someone has to come to Kansas City's defense, and attempt to explain the unexplainable natural disaster that the Chiefs' season has already become.
Kansas City faces an uphill battle with the loss of Berry and Moeaki. However, Pope and McGraw represent solid, if not standout replacements. Additionally, the majority of Moeaki's looks will likely go to veteran Jerheme Urban, a 2010 free agent from Arizona similarly lost to injury last year.
Urban is the epitome of a team player with a positive attitude and solid receiving skills. Urban will do whatever it takes to make a play, and will keep the Chiefs from relying solely on Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.
Speaking of Charles, Kansas City still has one of the NFL's most dynamic rushers on their team, and arguably the most complete backfield in the league. Dwayne Bowe led the league in receiving touchdowns last year, despite a pitiful 68-yard passing performance by the Chiefs in Week 1. And on defense, defensive leaders Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Brandon Flowers remain healthy and able. Both sets of players will step up and play better in coming games.
Likewise, look for an improved game plan from Kansas City next week. In offensive coordinator Bill Muir's first game calling the plays, the Chiefs rarely looked downfield or took risks. That should change in Sunday's game in Detroit. Todd Haley earned his head coaching job stretching the field in Arizona; expect him to remind Muir of that when looking at passing situations.
Kansas City took quite a beating this last week, no matter how you look at it. But the season is far from over, and no team is doomed by the end of the first game. The Chiefs have plenty still going for them.
And if none of that convinced you that Kansas City isn't the weakest team in the league, watch Indianapolis in the coming weeks. Without Peyton Manning, the Colts should at least give Chiefs fans something to feel good about.