In 2012, football is much more than an American subculture. The Super Bowl moonlights as a chauffeur for TV sales. More numbers are crunched during seven days of fantasy football than finals week. And Xs and Os are now 0s and 1s on players' iPads.
It's not your father's game anymore.
Coaches are addicts of competition, constantly revising age-old blueprints or sketching their own, all in the hope of gaining an advantage on a 120-yard chessboard.
As with anything, football is susceptible to the side effects of perfectionism—where a passion regresses to a job, and thinking eventually defeats its purpose.
When the ball snaps, the Chiefs defense looks like animated panic—11 educated guesses that often backfire at the hands of gunslingers.
Either the defense needs to be simplified, or somebody needs to anoint themselves leader of the pack and solve the communication issues. In all likelihood, a tablespoon of both would prove helpful.
Romeo Crennel will forget more defensive knowledge than the average NSA agent learns in a lifetime. However, it appears that he may have overloaded his players with it, and the bulk of the message was lost in translation.
Still, the players still need to communicate more pre-snap—more words have been spoken by Ben Stein on movie night. Too many times coverages are blown, and receivers are waiving their arms like they're guiding a 787.
The coaches make it clear what the standard of play needs to be on Sundays. As players, we’re not getting it done right now. There are mistakes being made in a game that aren’t physical and they’re not (a lack of) effort. It’s the communication part, (not) playing together as a defense, (not) playing team defense. It’s communication problems between players, myself and other guys on the team. We have to play better and we will. We just have to do it now. (Kansas City Star)
After reading Johnson's comments, it's obvious that he and his teammates know what the problem is. The question is: Who is going to address it?
Typically, the "defensive quarterback" is found within the linebacking corps.
Throughout his career, the aforementioned Derrick Johnson has been a soft-spoken professional off the field. Not much changes on the field—he's an All-Pro playmaker that lets his actions do the talking. Tamba Hali shares a similar demeanor. While his ability awakens quarterbacks in a sweat-drenched panic at night, he normally keeps his emotions bottled up.
Justin Houston is only in his second year, and Jovan Belcher, while being the most demonstrative of the group, is also its weakest link.
Kansas City's defensive depth chart drips with talent, but somebody has to take control and steer the ship in the right direction.
The team needs someone with a mean streak. A vocal leader that talks too much, as opposed to not enough. A field general that's the subject of deleted tweets, and whose sack celebrations make fathers accidentally teach their kids four-letter words.
The Kansas City Chiefs have an array of highly-touted hard-hitters, but the defense has collectively whiffed in the first two games. Maybe Romeo Crennel is throwing too many curveballs his players' way. Then again, maybe it's just because nobody is stepping up to the plate.