With the Chiefs out of the playoffs, we decided to look back at the entire season: the ups, downs, and outright bizzare moments. The review will be posted in three parts, this being part 3. If you missed part 1, check it out here. If you missed part 2, check it out here.
The Chiefs had put themselves in a position to potentially win the AFC West. Since Denver had lost, if the Chiefs would have won and then beat Denver, they would have been in the playoffs. In a game that saw an NFL record 28 penalties committed between the Chiefs and Raiders and a complete lack of offensive firepower, the Raiders in the end had enough to edge the Chiefs 16-13 in overtime, a loss that knocked the Chiefs out of playoff contention. Kansas City had a chance to win the game in regulation with a 50 yard field goal from Ryan Succop, but it was blocked by Oakland.
The Raiders went on to win the always important coin toss, and on the first play from scrimmage in the extra session, Carson Palmer hit Darius Heyward-Bey on a 52 yard bomb to set the Raiders up for the game winning field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
For all intensive purposes, the Chiefs season was over. They were eliminated from playoff contention, but the Chiefs could bounce rival Denver from the playoffs with a win next week at Mile High and a Raider win at the Coliseum against San Diego.
The Chiefs had played some ugly, unwatchable games throughout the course of the season, but the season finale definitely was the worst of the bunch. Neither offense could muster anything; with the only touchdown of the game scored by Dexter McCluster on a 21 yard scamper at the end of the 2nd quarter. Tebow and the Broncos offense were held to only 3 points as rookie Justin Houston recorded 7 tackles and a couple sacks in a 7-3 Chiefs victory.
Despite the Denver loss, they still managed to sneak into the playoffs as AFC West Champions at 8-8. They’ll host Pittsburgh in the Wild Card round.
However, the final game provided some hope for the Chiefs and their fans. The Chiefs have a very young, talented core of players especially on the defensive side of the ball led by Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Justin Houstin, Brandon Carr, Brandon Flowers, and Kendrick Lewis. The defense as whole, even with the loss of Berry in the season opener, made huge strides under Romeo Crennel.
The Chiefs ranked 11th in total defense, and Derrick Johnson ranked 10th in the league in tackles with 131. While the defense adjusted well to injuries, the offense had a tough time doing so. They ranked 27th in total offense averaging just over 13 points per game.
There are several questions surrounding this team heading into the off-season, but the most important one revolves around the head coach. Who will be the head coach of this team moving forward into 2012? Many around the organization believe it will be interim coach Romeo Crennel as he has done a fantastic job of guiding the team to a 2-1 finish down the stretch including a stunning 19-14 victory over Green Bay in his debut. Some believe Jeff Fisher or Kirk Ferentz will be the next to dawn the red and gold, but my money is on Crennel. He’s familiar with Pioli and his “Patriot way” and won’t ask for too much power as far as personnel is concerned.
The quarterback position is also an area of uncertainty for the Chiefs. Should the Chiefs go with Orton who impressed down the stretch, or should they stick with Matt Cassel? Perhaps they trade up to acquire highly touted prospect Robert Griffin III, but it seems unlikely. The Chiefs will be 50 million dollars under the cap heading into next season, so don’t expect Kansas City to sit pat. Offensive line, defensive line, quarterback and linebacker are all areas in which the Chiefs will likely improve via free agency or even the draft. With money to spend, Charles, Cassel, Berry, and Moeaki returning, the Chiefs should be chopping to the playoffs in 2012.