Monday night, a national audience will witness the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that has seen hope and promise wither into comparisons to some of the worst teams in NFL history.
Many league observers, including this one, expected the Chiefs to win the AFC West. However, they have been an abject failure. Kansas City is 1-7 and has looked undeniably horrible as it prepares to face the heavily favored host Pittsburgh Steelers on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
Instead of talking about a team that could be January-tough, we will be looking at a team talked about in the same breath as the 2008 Detroit Lions, the only team ever to go winless in a 16-game schedule
Harsh? Perhaps not. Kansas City has been spectacularly bad.
The Chiefs haven’t led in regulation at any point this season. The last time that happened in the NFL through eight games was in 1929. These guys don’t wear leather helmets.
Kansas City has committed 29 turnovers. The next-worst team in the NFL is Dallas, with 19.
There has been a quarterback change and coach Romeo Crennel has fired himself as defensive coordinator.
The Chiefs have had a monthlong stranglehold on the 32nd and final spot in ESPN.com’s NFL Power Rankings, and fans are calling for the firings of general manager Scott Pioli and Crennel.
This was not supposed to happen.
Yes, there have been injuries -- and the failure of quarterback Matt Cassel has not helped this team. But Kansas City has looked lost on both sides of the ball and has been incapable of competing much of the season.
Crennel and his coaching staff have not been able to make a positive difference. This season is lost.
What is the answer in Kansas City?
Owner Clark Hunt will have to decide whether he thinks Pioli and Crennel are worth keeping. I get the feeling that Hunt would like to retain the two, but fan disapproval is high. Fans could revolt by canceling season tickets if the current leadership returns.
The Chiefs still have a decent talent base. It is clear they need a new quarterback -- and Kansas City is on pace to get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The Chiefs will look at quarterbacks such as USC’s Matt Barkley and West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Still, there are no guarantees either player is ready to carry a franchise.
In short, there don't appear to be any easy answers in Kansas City, only change and tough decisions facing a franchise that expected to make major steps forward just a couple of months ago.