The Chiefs finished the 2014 season with a 9-7 record, good for the 8th-best record in the AFC, and just two spots out of the playoffs. It was an up and down season for fans, with plenty to celebrate (Justin Houston’s sack record) and plenty to loathe (losing to Oakland and Tennessee). Below is a discussion of some of the worst things that transpired this season (a look at the best things will come later this week):
Worst Luck: Kansas City had the worst luck this season with season-ending injuries to two starters in the first game (Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito), a life-threatening condition diagnosed in their All-Pro safety Eric Berry, losing a competent run-stopper to an undisclosed illness before the season started (Mike Catapano) and a weekly rotating ragtag group of wide receivers and defensive backs. That awful luck led to a pretty mediocre season.
Worst Butterfingers: In 2014, the NFL team who dropped the highest percentage of passes was your Kansas City Chiefs with 31 drops, good for a 6.4% drop rate. Barf. Only 3 teams had more total drops. In addition, by conservative estimate, the Chiefs dropped approximately 1,000 passes thrown by opposing quarterbacks this season and finished tied for worst in the NFL with only 6 interceptions. Also, the Chiefs had 9 fumbles with 4 lost. It was raining dropped footballs this season and that was not fun to watch.
Worst wide receivers: Not only did the Chiefs receivers lead the league in drops, but they also led the league in fewest touchdowns, becoming the first team in 50 years to go an entire season without catching a single ball in the endzone. This has been discussed in the media enough and GM John Dorsey absolutely must address this issue before next season. And Alex Smith is not to blame as he threw 18 touchdowns, the second most in his career.
Worst offensive line: The Chiefs O-line did a horrendous job of protecting Alex Smith, giving up the 5th most sacks (46) in the NFL, which likely led to the lacerated spleen that kept Smith out of the final game of the season. The Chefs did ok rushing the football, finishing 10th in the league in total rush yards (1918), 5th in yards per attempt (4.6), and 3rd in rushing touchdowns (18). However, those numbers are due to Jamaal Charles being one of the NFL’s best running backs. The Chiefs’ pass protection was just bad. Shoring up the weaknesses on the line is another huge issue that John Dorsey must address before the 2015 season begins.
Worst use of Jamaal Charles: Head coach Andy Reid severely underused his diminutive running back which is extremely evident when viewing the Chiefs record: they were 8-4 when Charles rushed at least 10 times and 0-3 when he rushed less than 10 times (Charles missed the game against Miami in week 3). Charles had 8 rushing touchdowns in Chiefs wins and only 1 rushing touchdown when they lost. He also averaged 10 rushes and 48 yards per game in 7 losses and 16 rushes and 86 yards per game in 8 wins. It is hard to understand why Andy Reid did not give him the ball more.
Worst #1 draft pick: When the Chiefs selected Dee Ford with their #1 pick in the 2014 draft, I was excited because Ford has an explosive first step and he reminded everyone of a young Derrick Thomas. He ended the season with 7 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, and one hilariously play that went viral. Ford did not crack the starting lineup in any game and only had 5 games with at least 10 snap counts on defense. Most of his playing time came on special teams, and hopefully he develops quickly in case Tamba Hali is released this offseason. It was not so much that Ford played poorly that makes him bad draft choice, it was the fact that several players drafted after him had better seasons that could have helped the Chiefs (in particular, WR Kelvin Benjamin and WR Jordan Matthews would have led the Chiefs WR’s in yards and touchdowns and both were selected within 20 picks after Ford). John Dorsey needs to have a better draft in 2015.
Finally, the Worst Losses: In Week 1, the Chiefs were dominated by the Tennessee Titans. And in Week 12, the Oakland Raiders halted the Chiefs 5-game win streak and earned their first win of the season. Those two teams combined for a record of 5-27. If the Chiefs had won just one of those games, they might be in the playoffs. In order to be a successful NFL team, you absolutely must beat inferior opponents and until the Chiefs can do that, they will continue to have seasons like 2014 where they narrowly miss playing in January.
Keep any eye out for my next post on the best of the Chiefs 2014 season. Go Chiefs!