Colts vs. Chiefs: Kansas City Can't Outrun Quarterback Issue

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystDecember 24, 2012

226 rushing yards from Jamaal Charles was not enough on Sunday.
226 rushing yards from Jamaal Charles was not enough on Sunday.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have now gone outside what we previously believed was possible to lose a game. You might say the Chiefs are “impossibly bad” because there’s really no other way to describe racking up 352 rushing yards and 507 total yards in a 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Jamaal Charles had 226 rushing yards and Peyton Hillis had 101 rushing yards and yet the Chiefs couldn’t outrun their biggest problem: their quarterback. It hasn’t mattered if the quarterback has been Brady Quinn or Matt Cassel—you could probably stick punter Dustin Colquitt out there to hand off and he’d do just as well.

If a quarterback can’t perform when the team runs for 352 yards and plays good defense, it’s never going to happen. Quinn not only couldn’t perform, but one of his interceptions was returned for a touchdown and the other was downed in the end zone. Quinn’s net impact on the game was approximately -11 points.

There is good news: the Chiefs are a loss away from securing the No. 1 overall pick. With that pick it’s pretty clear that they need a young, promising quarterback. They also need a smart, creative offensive coordinator to pair with their young signal caller and a general manager that can rebuild a roster that has no shortage of talent.  

If the experts are correct, there is not a Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson in this year’s draft. That shouldn’t stop the Chiefs from taking the best one out there. The Chiefs will be able to pair a great running game with their rookie and a solid defense.

The Chiefs have the cap space to retain left tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and be active in free agency and potentially add another impact receiver. A rookie quarterback could enter a pretty good situation considering how bad the Chiefs have been this season.

It seems as though the path to success is there if only the team takes the necessary steps to secure its future. It starts with firing Scott Pioli, Romeo Crennel, Brian Daboll and the rest of the football staff and bringing in fresh blood.

According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Bill Polian could be the Chiefs’ next general manager. Polian would be a logical fit for a lot of reasons, but he’d also been an uninspiring choice considering how poorly the Colts tanked in 2011 without Peyton Manning.

Of course, Clark Hunt went with the inspiring choice with his first hire and he’s flamed out miserably. It could make some sense to go in a new direction entirely.  

The last time the Chiefs rebooted, they hired the “best” general manager candidate, they hired a fiery young head coach and traded for a backup quarterback with starting experience. They replaced the young head coach with a well-respected assistant that failed his first time around as head coach.

Maybe hiring a guy like Polian and making a well-respected coordinator who has never gotten a shot to be head coach makes sense. Maybe drafting a quarterback is the way to go, too. Although, many would argue that the Chiefs shouldn’t be so afraid of repeating mistakes that they don’t hire the best possible candidates and obtain the best possible players.

Whatever the Chiefs decide to do, they know they have one heck of a running back in Charles. Charles is averaging 5.7 yards per carry in his career, which is higher than guys like Bo Jackson, Jim Brown, Adrian Peterson, Gale Sayers and Barry Sanders.

Charles is being overshadowed by Peterson, but he’s also come off an ACL injury to have a huge season. Charles is up to 1,678 all-purpose yards (1,456 rushing) on 305 touches. Basically, the Chiefs are gaining 5.5 yards every time Charles touches the ball this season.

Charles is a great security blanket for a young quarterback. The Chiefs also have a solid offensive line that can block for Charles and pass protect, which is a dream scenario for developing a signal caller because the team can run the ball and use play action as needed.

Defensively, the Chiefs have impact players at every level. Derrick Johnson is the heart of the defense at middle linebacker, Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers anchor the secondary, and Justin Houston and Tamba Hali provide good outside pass rush. The defense line could use an infusion of talent, but rookie Dontari Poe hasn’t played horribly at nose tackle.

With a few additions, the defense could be quite good as long as the offense gives them a little help from time to time. Javier Arenas has also played surprisingly well at cornerback since taking over for Stanford Routt and deserves a chance to start again next year.

Sunday was yet another reminder of how bad the Chiefs have been in 2012, but at least Charles was entertaining and the defense continues to play hard. There is a lot of hope for the Chiefs, and that’s more than you can say for a lot of teams in a similar situation.