Nitpicking a 22-point win by a team nobody expected to be this good
This Chiefs team is real. Revisionist history will allow every fan in this city to claim to have believed all along, the white lie right of every man, woman and child.
For the record, my mind began to change during the Indianapolis game. Feel free to claim Monday night against the Chargers.
Anyway, wrote plenty about the good in today’s column, primarily about the artist formerly known as D-Bowe.
There are all sorts of reasons to be happy today, many more than the reasons to be skeptical. But just like there was confidence to be taken from parts of losses at Indy and Houston, there is worry to be taken from at least one part of the win against Jacksonville.
Specifically, it’s Todd Haley’s bizarre decision to go for a 4th-and-3 instead of a 42-yard field goal that would’ve given the Chiefs a two-possession lead in the fourth quarter.
Haley gave a non-explanation about it in the postgame, something about not wanting to give away his thought process for competitive reasons, but saying that it was a well thought-out decision and that decisions like this are based on many things, some short-term, some long-term, and, well, none of that really explains a decision that’s about as black-and-white wrong as it gets in football.
Maybe Ryan Succop is hurt, though there’s no real indication of that. And the extreme stat-nerd crowd has already written in about why coaches should go for more fourth-and-shorts, which I actually agree with in general, but not in this case because of the game situation.
Look, this isn’t a place where the coach looks like a genius if it works and a moron if it doesn’t. There was some of that in Indy, when the Chiefs went for the onsides kick to open the game* and a fourth down in the first quarter**.
* I liked the call, even though it didn’t work, and even though Haley gave a bizarre explanation for that one, too, saying that a high percentage of teams that’ve tried it ended up winning the game, regardless of whether the actual onsides kick worked, ignoring a ridiculously small sample size and all sorts of common sense.
** I didn’t mind going for it, but the play-call was questionable.
There are a million choices football coaches have during every game, and while debating them is part of the fun, there is often a reasonable-people-can-disagree element to it. But not here.
It doesn’t matter because the Chiefs went on to score 42 points and win by 22, so the decision shrinks from front-page column to blog post, but it does highlight Haley’s self-recognized gambling nature.
It’s one of the Haley’s endearing qualities, honestly, at least most of the time. He doesn’t bow to conventional wisdom, which is probably part of the package necessary for Haley’s unique path to NFL head coach.
But this is one place where the line crossed from gamble to reckless. Haley and the Chiefs got away with it yesterday, but that it’s something to at least be concerned about going forward.