Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tradition Tuesday: Time For Change II

Shortly after George W. Bush took office, we started The Tradition. It involves carnal caravanage to the stadiums we don't call home where sometimes the wives come, sometimes it's just the boys, and all the time we dream of having our own personal lavatories. When we're at said venues, our teams usually lose, sometimes there're fisticuffs, and us alumni from THE Fort Lewis College always act like Party Boy.

But today, now that our politicking is out of the way, we can get back to the rough focus of this blog, which -- in case you didn't know -- is the rivalry between the American football clubs known as the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. This, of course, is your weekly state-of-the-rivlary address.

We're past the halfway point of this campaign, and things look bad in our AFC West. And by "bad," I mean to compare that nine weeks to the presidential proceedings of the United States of America between roughly 2000 and 2004. Fact is, we don't know if these two teams will elect to stay the course of relatively shitty for another term, or learn from their mistakes and move on.

On the Chief side of things, I'll admit, I chuckled when Cecil put together this post six months ago. I remember viewing the notion of Tyler Thigpen as the Chiefs starter in 2008 as a joke, another way to fuel the fire that's always ablaze in this House. Then of course, it became a reality, the aftermath of which was anything but humorous.

I'm not necessarily diving onto the Thigpen bandwagon just yet, but the play of Young No. 4 two Sundays ago against the Jets on the road, and especially two days ago at home against the Buccaneers is legions removed from what we saw when KC went to Atlanta. As Adam Teicher of The Kansas City Star wrote in yesterday's paper, Thigpen demonstrated veteran play, and post-loss, spoke like one, too.

"We didn't win, so it didn't matter if I threw three picks," he said. "We had a chance to win and we didn't capitalize." Thigpen's Sunday consisted of a 14-25 pass ratio, netted the team 164 yards through the air, and pushed his season touchdown-to-interception comparison into the positive: 5-4; he tossed one score to Dwayne Bowe and was not intercepted. He also lined up as a receiver in the spread offense twice, catching one 37-yard pass for a touchdown. His performance, coupled with Charles in Charge, who netted 106 yards and a 5.9 YPC average gives ChiefsNation indications of hope, progress.

It could be argued that the tough stretch of their schedule is over, and their chances of winning more than one football contest are finally looking decent again. They travel to San Diego this weekend, then host the Saints and Bills before playing in Oakland and Denver. They'll wrap up December with home tilts against the Chargers and Dolphins and close out the season in Cincinnati, a contest many are saying will determine the first and second overall picks for next year's draft.

Denver, however, is another story.

True, they play the rest of their games at home on primetime television, start each one with a 10-point lead and the ball, and will, by season's end put out the 27th edition of their town's team novel, Still More Home Cookin' With the Denver Broncos (Editor's Note: For some reason the Amazon link to the book isn't yet available.), but they've got some work to do. They face Cleveland, Atlanta, Oakland, the Jets, KC, Carolina, Buffalo, and San Diego, and they have the potential to win every one of those games, but likely will not.

Truth is, I don't know what to make of this team. Jay Cutler came out of the gates shreddin', but something is going on with that Denver passing game. Occasionally his throws are off, but it would seem that lack of synch between him and his route runners are the bigger flaw right now. What's a shame about that is that the Denver offensive line is giving the passing game all-day-Elway time to get the job done. I'm not certain, but I believe Cutler was sacked for the first time Sunday afternoon against the Dolphins, and if memory serves correctly, it was a broken play in which he managed to get back to the line of scrimmage. That of course makes Denver's first pick of 2008 an intelligent one. The pick that is, not the guy.

Then there's the running game. The vaunted put-any-back-in-Shanahan's-system, guaranteed-1000-yard-rusher, heavy-on-the-chop-blocking scheme that for so many years was a delight to fans of the orange and blue, and fantasy owners with Bronco tailbacks as well appears to be a thing of the past. For reasons probably attributed to youth, that element of the Denver attach has diminished considerably. I'm relatively certain that the Broncos netted 17 rushing yards against Miami. Don't get me wrong: the Chiefs have certainly had their occasional rushing woes this season, but they've shown a lot more potential with their ground game than Denver has. As a fantasy owner that drafted Selvin Young, I can't for the life of me figure out why this guy's missed so much action. Duh, he's hurt, but I've continued to expect him back, and been disappointed. Then there's Andre Hall who's looked okay in a few situations, but accomplished little more, and rookie Ryan Torain who spent the first eight weeks injured, only to debut last week and look totally inept. This of course leaves veteran Michael Pittman as the team's leading rusher with 320 yards and four touchdowns. And that ain't great.

The lack of a running game isn't helping when your star receiver is busy worrying about getting reacharounds from opposing defenders, and of course the defense is pretty much despicable. It's led by the fierce duo of brothers, except that it's not because they're hurt, leaving non-white guys named Elvis and Ebenezer to be the heros. Ouch.

But hey, at least their place kicker can boot the thing 170 yards into the wind. That's always nice. Anyway, there're four contests between now and the second Chiefs-Broncos contest of the season. Both squads have their work cut out for them -- granted Denver still sits atop the West at 4-4 -- and fan bases to appease. We can no longer wonder who will emerge as the best SEC/AFC West third-year quarterback.

Ours is done for the year, maybe his NFL career, plagued again with knee injuries. Somehow, in a sick-and-twisted way, that's better than being (at least) the fifth consecutive post-HFCD quarterback to be hearing the mile-high boos when things look a little scary. Either side of that coin, however, yields good, good times.


Dylan said...

I got drunk and made a long bet on a Chiefs sweeping Denver '08, sometime ago.
I think I was rightfully ridiculed at the time.
Is 'o8 , the zero-sum payback for 'o7?

Cecil said...

We won't lose to the Chefs at home.