At least with the Royals, it takes 10 games or so before the fan base gives up on the team for a season.
With the Chiefs, it appears one is enough.
As if Sunday’s 41-7 season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills – THE BUFFALO BILLS!!!! – at Arrowhead wasn’t enough of a blow, the Chiefs said this afternoon that safety Eric Berry, one of the bright spots on last season’s 10-6 team, is lost for the season because of an ACL injury.
I know a lot of Chiefs fans were excited for this season, to see if the team could build on its 10-6 playoff season from a year ago. But I also know a lot of KC fans were apprehensive about this team based on its regular-season ending loss to the Oakland Raiders last season and the playoff blowout loss against the Baltimore Ravens.
Was that 10-6 built on the foundation of a weak schedule? Yes, some of it was. With a much more difficult schedule in 2011, it was reasonable to expect something like an 8-8 or perhaps a 9-7 season.
Now, if you listen to the gloom and doomers, the Chiefs might as well check in their equipment and go on a cruise until 2012.
Berry, certainly, is a big-time player. His loss is huge.
But Kansas City can’t just check it in. The Chiefs, and especially Coach Todd Haley, have something to prove. Whether you believe last season’s record had a little bit of fluke in it, it was 10-6. And there were obvious signs of improvement, starting with a beefed-up offense and better play on defense.
But the success didn’t earn Haley many brownie points. Chiefs fans were eager to see what had been done to shore up the areas that were exposed last season when the competition level increased.
In the preseason, those same fans were disgusted and bewildered by what they say. The Chiefs were vanilla on top of boring in their four preseason games. It didn’t appear as if Haley wanted to show anything that might help future regular-season opponents. Kansas City played uninspired football and if there were people who thought they could just turn it on once the regular season started, they got a strong rebuke to that opinion Sunday.
Buffalo looked like a well-prepared, motivated football team. The Chiefs looked like they could use another month on the practice field.
Nothing clicked. The offense that was so dynamic for much of 2010 was sluggish and slow. The defense had no answer for Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who despite his Harvard education had to be scratching his head as to how the Kansas City defense offered so little resistence.
What looked like one of the few easy wins on the Chiefs’ much-tougher 2011 scheduled turned into one of the most disappointing losses in recent history. It was reasonable Kansas City had a chance to win its first nine games: Buffalo, at Detroit, at San Diego, Minnesota, at Indianapolis, at Oakland, San Diego, Miami, Denver.
Now not so much. Going on the road to Detroit and San Diego the next two weeks looks like a recipe for 0-3. And after those first nine, this is what awaits the Chiefs: at New England, Pittsburgh, at Chicago, at New York Jets, Green Bay.
Where do the Chiefs go from here?
Obviously, nowhere but up. Kansas City has players. Jamaal Charles was an All-Pro back last season. Matt Cassel has had big games. Dwayne Bowe caught more touchdowns than any receiver in the NFL last season.
You would hope the Chiefs aren’t feeling sorry for themselves after the blowout loss and the subsequent loss of one of their best defensive players for the season. You would hope Haley can get his team ready to play Sunday in Detroit against what looks to be a much-improved Lions team.
It’s usually ridiculous to make too much of one game in the NFL, especially a season opener. But if there’s some panic in Chiefs fans, it’s understandable. That performance by Kansas City on Sunday was scary.