Reflecting back on the Chiefs

By Steve Sell
January 06, 2014

Monday’s musings...

• CHIEFS COLLAPSE MONUMENTAL — I was at the McPherson College basketball games Saturday while the Kansas City Chiefs were playing the Indianapolis Colts.

Thanks to the wonderful advances in technology, though, I was able to follow the game on my computer while covering the basketball games. Yes, I can actually multi-task despite my limited ability.

When the Chiefs’ lead reached 38-10 in the third quarter with an eternity left to play, I turned to Mac Director of Communications Aric Cherry and told him, “they’re not going to hang on.”

And he agreed.

It’s funny, though, but other people I talked to thought the same thing. It’s human nature that Chiefs fans think the worst and it usually happens. For the Chiefs, no lead is ever safe until the scoreboard turns to 0:00.

We’ve all watched the Kansas City defense get torched over the last two months, but 28 points is such a mountain to climb. It would have helped had the Chiefs’ offense not stalled out, but when you’re down to your No. 3 running back and have lost your No. 2 receiver (from a corps that is sub-standard to begin with), they simply ran out of bullets to fire.

Remember, the Chiefs still scored 44 points without do-it-all Jamaal Charles for all but a handful of plays and Donnie Avery, who caught an early TD pass before going down. Knile Davis was having a fine fill-in game before he, too, went down.

The Chiefs know where they have to make upgrades. The secondary is simply horrendous and you have to wonder how many of those players will be back. Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers are locks to return, but the rest of the unit could be overhauled. I can't see the Chiefs bringing back Kendrick Lewis, whose play fell off dramatically this year. Sean Smith probably will return as will Quentin Demps, if for nothing else his special teams play. Marcus Cooper and Husain Abudullah are probably 50-50 and Dunta Robinson is gone as his skills have eroded.

While Kansas City fans are bemoaning the collapse against the Colts, they should set that aside for a moment and be thankful for the season they witnessed.

The Chiefs were dreadful last year. To go from 2-14 and the No. 1 pick in the draft to 11-5 and a spot in the playoffs was more than they could ask for and nobody will ever forget the 9-0 start that had the NFL buzzing, even if the tissue-soft schedule had a lot to do with it.

 Andy Reid brought professionalism and class to an organization that had been lacking it in recent years and John Dorsey is an obvious upgrade as general manager over the embattled Scott Pioli. They brought in Alex Smith at quarterback, who made everybody forget the follies of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. Jamaal Charles is a superstar and the defense has some nice pieces in the front seven. Yes, there are many holes, but every team can say that.

With Reid and Dorsey as captains of the ship, I don't see the Chiefs sinking deep into the abyss next year, even though the schedule will be upgraded tremendously.

• JAYHAWKS RUDDERLESS — How many people thought the Kansas Jayhawks would take a 9-4 record into Big 12 play?

Certainly not those who bought into the hype that freshmen could step on the floor and continue to dominate as they did in high school.

Kansas' 61-57 loss Sunday to San Diego State wrapped up the most difficult nonconference schedule in school history. KU played the toughest pre-conference schedule in the country, according to those who rate such things.

It wasn't that KU played chopped liver on Sunday. San Diego State was No. 21 coming in, had a veteran team and a wily coach in Steve Fisher, who once coached the Fab Five at Michigan so he knows what it's all about when putting almost an all-freshmen team on the floor.

SDS exposed KU's weaknesses. The Jayhawks are not a good-shooting team and were beat up on the boards, 51-39. Many of those rebounds were because the youthful Jayhawks simply don't understand that they have to block out and that their athleticism that made it so easy in college won't cut it at this level.

Andrew Wiggins continues to collapse under the weight of unfair expectations. He clanked 10 of his 14 shots and the Aztecs were begging him to shoot from the perimeter. His body language, as it has been much of the year, was not good and I still believe he really doesn't want to be playing college basketball. He would have gone right to the pros if not for the rules prohibiting that and they would have eaten him alive. He's got to develop some fire, some passion — and work on the open 15-footer.

Naadir Tharpe has to be the engine to drive this team, but he had another of those head scratching days that makes you wonder "what is he thinking?" A 2-of-10 day from the field and he never got KU into any semblance of offense. 

Where was Perry Ellis? He was 1 of 8 and played incredibly soft. In fact, soft was probably the optimum word of the day.

The Jayhawks are out of time trying to get this thing figured out. Right now, they're probably no better than the third-best team in the Big 12. Sure, there's a lot of alleged talent there, but press clippings and hype don't make shots for you or grab rebounds.

This is going to be the most interesting season since Bill Self has been at the helm and he's going to have to call on all of his coaching acumen to get the Jayhawks where they expect to go.

• TITLE GAME TONIGHT — Oh yes, as we're halfway through the college basketball season, the college football title will be decided tonight in the swan song for the BCS format.

To be honest, I'm almost past caring about the game. It's been so long since either has been on the field that it's escaped my consciousness.

For those like me who don't recall, it's Florida State against Auburn. I rate this a good, but not great, matchup. I'll be surprised if Florida State doesn't win handily, because the Tigers made some dramatic escapes during the season just to get here. They defeated Alabama, but that win doesn't carry the weight it did a month ago. Alabama turned around and lost to Oklahoma, which pushed the SEC bullies around like child's play.

I'll of course watch it tonight, but it's not a game that grabs my attention like it should. Like I've posted earlier, it would mean much more to me if this game would be played on Jan. 1. Stringing out the bowl games just doesn't do it for me.

• GREAT WIN FOR TIGERS — Even though Central Christian College's men took an 11-1 record into their basketball game with Bethany Friday in the Bahama House Shootout in Florida (you'd think they could have found me a spot on the plane), they were regarded by most to be underdogs.

The Swedes were on the cusp of being nationally ranked after rattling off eight straight wins to end December. They feature a potential first-team All-American in Idris IbinIdris and a stable of athletic players who made their bones on the junior college circuit.

But Tony Romero's Tigers grabbed the game by the throat by leading by as many as 13 points early. Bethany would eventually come back to take the lead, but CCC showed incredible poise by retaking the lead and closing it out strong for an 80-76 win, certainly by far its signature win of the season.

CCC also gave a decent account of itself against No. 1-ranked Embry-Riddle in the championship game, in it for better than 20 minutes before losing 82-60.

The 12-2 Tigers certainly will earn some votes in the next national poll. And remember, Romero has an entire new starting five. They open conference play next week and three of the MCAC teams are nationally ranked. The Bahama trip no doubt served CCC well as it begins the conference gauntlet.