Kansas City Chiefs Progress Report: Where They Stand Headed into Week 17

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystDecember 27, 2012

Eric Berry has performed well in recent weeks.
Eric Berry has performed well in recent weeks.Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The 2-13 Kansas City Chiefs head into the final week of misery. It’s been a long, disappointing and sad season for the Chiefs—one that many will try to forget. The Chiefs went into the preseason as a trendy pick to win the AFC West and ended up being the worst team in the NFL.

The Chiefs will play the real AFC West winners—the Denver Broncos—on Sunday in the Mile High City. If you wanted to dive into the slime that was the Chiefs’ season, you would find that Kansas City’s defense performed pretty well against the Broncos in Week 12.

Since this is the final week of the season, this will be the final “progress” report. We all know there has been very little progress made this season and the Chiefs have just continued to regress as the season has come to a close.


Talking Point for Week 17

Somewhere there is someone talking bets on the exact time the firing of Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel will take place. That’s really been the talking point for weeks now. Clark Hunt shouldn’t wait long after Sunday’s inevitable loss to the Broncos to dismiss his general manager and the entire coaching staff.

The Chiefs are in desperate need of a fresh start and until it happens the franchise will have a hard time moving forward. Hunt will have a fan revolt if he doesn’t move quickly to dismiss the symbols of the 2012 season. They don’t call the day after the final regular-season game “Black Monday” for no reason.


Injury Outlook

Branden Albert, Tony Moeaki, Donald Stephenson, Ryan Lilja, Terrance Copper, Tyson Jackson and Corey Greenwood didn’t participate in practice on Thursday according to the team’s official website. Josh Bellamy and Abram Elam were limited.

Stephenson was out with an illness and should be healthy enough to start in Albert’s place on Sunday. Albert has missed the last two weeks and has played sparingly since Week 10. Albert remains pretty iffy to play on Sunday.

Stephenson has performed very poorly in Albert’s place and shouldn’t be considered a viable replacement at left tackle. Albert will be a free agent in the offseason along with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

With Copper missing practice and Bellamy limited, the Chiefs are down to four healthy wide receivers including Steve Breaston who has been stuck in the doghouse since Week 11.


Player on the Rise?

Other than Eric Berry—who was mentioned in this space last week—there isn’t another player that has strung together two solid performances. There are some players that can finish the season with back-to-back solid performances with good games this week.

Some players that had solid games last week are Peyton Hillis, Dontari Poe, Jon Asamoah, Dexter McCluster and Jon Baldwin. The Chiefs surely would like to see Poe and Baldwin finish the season strong.

Ropati Pitoitua may deserve an honorable mention as he has been a force in the run game the last few weeks. Pitoitua has been inconsistent this season and doesn’t provide the Chiefs with much pass rush, but few 3-4 defensive ends are good pass-rushers. Another good performance could earn Pitoitua a job next year.


Stat Trends: Offense

The running game obviously improved after their big showing against the Indianapolis Colts, but for all the yards the Chiefs have generated surprisingly few points from the running game. A good running game helps, but it’s the passing teams that can convert on third down to extend drives and put the ball into the end zone.

The Chiefs’ are 28th in the league on third down and have scored the fewest points. Neither statistic is likely to change much in a single week even if the Chiefs were to have their best performance of the season on Sunday.

Over 500 yards of offense did move the Chiefs up from 25th in the league to 22nd in the league in total yards. Of course, yards are basically meaningless when a team can’t turn them into points.


Stat Trends: Defense

A horrible passing game has really hidden a defense that has only played well in spurts. The Chiefs have been nearly incapable of forcing turnovers and are last in the NFL in takeaways. There is a formula for beating the Chiefs and that’s running the ball into the red zone and then passing to score.

Like most 3-4 defenses, the problems against the run can be traced to the play of the nose tackle. Poe has been very inconsistent as a rookie, and his play often dictates how the Chiefs perform against the run and therefore how the entire defense performs.


Outlook: Rising

The Chiefs keep finding new ways to get worst, but that ends on Sunday. The Chiefs should start making the much-needed organizational changes on Monday and roster changes will quickly follow.

Not all change is good, but the Chiefs can’t get much worse. The Chiefs will have a lot of cap space and likely the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft and should be an attractive destination for top candidates.

Hunt’s ability to make a good hire is the only thing that might give the fans pause before celebrating the firing of the architect of the 2012 disaster. The situation merits watching closely.