Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tradition Tuesday: It's In the Way That You Use It

Yes. This most certainly could, perhaps should, be a post that falls under the category of "music and sports," but let's face facts here: We don't collect gigantic paychecks for always travelling down Predictable Parkway. This is, after all, the House of Georges, wherein we lease a rough focus to a tenant known as the rivalry between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. If you've never taken the tour, Cecil and Old No. 7 wave the blue-and-orange flag; I root for the guys two states to the east. The nature of this rivalry, like any in the league, came into what it is like any other annual grudge match(es): bitter hatred and a long history of either-way beatdowns to make that hatred even bitterer. Our contribution? A little something we call The Tradition, wherein we dedicate chunks of our falls and winters to visiting one another's venues, and typically watching a visting-team loss. We throttle our livers with simmering vials of yard beer, cram multiple meals into pre- and post-game tailgates, and of late, we've let the wives have a tiny bit of pull on which games they're "allowed" to attend. That's all about to change, though, and it will in fact be change for the better. Change that capitalizes the "grand" in grand ol' times. That change, my friends, starts with the first Tradition Tuesday -- our often-times weekly state of the rivalry address -- installment of 2009.

Before digging into this post, I looked deep into the HoG archives, almost certain that I'd find very few early-calendar-years TTs, and my suspicions were correct. January, whether or teams are involved or not, is typically twisted with the post-holiday hangover, reflection of our clubs' seasons, and some shifty excitement for playoff football. By the time we're in mid-February, the Super Bowl is over, teams are wrapping up coaching-staff, and in the occasional case general-manager, changes, and before we can say "Jiminy Christmas," the NFL Combine (quickly followed by the draft) has snuck up on us. Coupled with the start of the baseball season, and of course those insane hockey playoffs 'round the corner, we must quickly process a lot of information that we sort of just finished processing for consecutive months. It is a tangled web, but we happily wrap our non-thorax-havin' selves up in it, and for good reason.

Now. Before we move ahead, let's summarize, as briefly as possible, what transpired in the past 10 months.

For Team Denver, 2008 was a chance to accomplish a number of things:

1) Shed any sliver of skin leftover from the Travis "T-Hen" nightmare.

2) Establish a new brand of Bronco running game -- one that, over the course of the season, eventually soaked up one-seventh of the roster -- that was orchestrated by a mix of a new play-caller, a coming-out signal-caller, and a re-tooled, impressive-ish looking offensive line.

3) (Perhaps) fake out the oppositions with said new brand, and go hogwild with the passing game, due largely to the new line and the brink-of-blowing-up quarterback.

4) Bring back the fierce reputation of an orange-crush defense, that, regardless of uniform color, has been, over the years, a big game-day factor.

5) To accomplish number four, great leaps were required both in terms of a still-newish defensive coordinator in Bob Slowik, and, in my opinion, poor drafting in both 2006 and 2007.

6) Regain some respectability on the special-teams front, and certainly not least

7) Foster and take full advantage of the opportunity of the aforementioned signal-caller taking advantage of both his third year in the pros, and his third year under then-Head Coach Mike Shanahan.

Whew. If that wasn't a mouthfull, I don't know what is.

I mean, in all honesty, it makes sense that Denver had the epic collapse that they did. As a Bronco outsider, that is a huge-anic list. It really is. It's really no wonder that their epic collapse of a three-game lead, three-games-to-win-out failure was a failure. They truly had their work cut out for them. Now, when you factor in the bizarre general-manager happenings/non-happenings and the firing of Mike Shanahan, I can't really comment; I'm sure Pat Bowlen, a sound, competent football owner has a much stronger laid-out football-operations agenda than I could ever dream up.

On the other side of this particular rivlary, however, the Kansas City Chiefs also had a number of things to accomplish:

1) Prove that the post-2005 (tampering or not) hiring of Herman Edwards to be the head football coach was either a) a mistake, or b) not.

2) Prove that the continued employment of Carl Peterson as General Manager/Chief Executive Officer/President of Football Operations was either a) a mistake, or b) not.

3) Prove that drafting Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle in the third round of the 2006 pro-football draft was either a) a mistake, or b) not.

4) Show that, by virtue of continuing to employ Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunninghame was either a) a decision based on franchise loyalty, or b) a mistake.

5) Show that the retention of running back Larry Johnson, despite recent injuries and previous off-the-field circumstances was either a) wise, or b) not.

6) Display that the already-mentioned "rebuilding proclamation," regardless of the level of public admittance was either a) something that could be developed under the leadership of Herman Edwards, b) not something that could be achieved under any head coach, or c) a complete waste of time for all parties involved.

7) Display that, regardless of going from 9-7 with a playoff appearance to 4-12, with (obviously) no post-season, that things would in fact turn around for the Chiefs in 2008.

I don't know how more-professional sports bloggers might sum up one through seven, but for me, nothing spells drastic failure more than posting a 2-14 record. Yes, you include injuries. Yes, you include, if you absolutely must, the strength of schedule. And yes, if you really, really must, you include players lost in the previous off-season. The bottom line though, is that nothing excuses a 2-14 season. Not unless your team colors are blue and silver and your team takes the field in Michigan, and your team's field is named after the country's leading automobile maker.

The bottom line is that 2008 was, in its own particular ways, an absolute debacle for both teams represented here inside the House of Georges. They both sucked rotten lemons, yet they both have already, prior to the Combine even, undergone massive changes as clubs of American football. And we, experts that we always have been, shall dive into said changes prior to the week's end.


Dylan said...

The T-Hen nightmare was exactly that..a nightmare..for the boys in blue and sienna.
Including waking up in a pool of sweat and thinking to themselves: "Whew, I just dreamt that I predicted a crazy, hay smokin' back ,who cracked 1200 yds barely once...would charge to 1500.
All in his eighth year of pro ball."
Good things dreams never happen.