Stillers-Chefs Post Game Analysis & Grades:
There's not a whole lot to analyze after this pitiful team lost its 6th straight game, 35-19. The Chefs, who are only a marginally better team, played disciplined, error free football, and took advantage of the Steeler soft spots to seize the relatively easy victory. 3 plays epitomized this downward freefall for the Stillers: a 3d and 20 KC toss sweep -- basically called to garner a few yards before bringing on the punt team, netted 25. A reverse that should have been stopped for a 3-yard gain gets turned into an 82-yard jaunt in which nearly every member of the defense flailed badly at the ballcarrier. A 10-yd TD run --- up the gut --- late in the game by Bum Morris, in which unbelievably he was never touched by a single defender.
QB: As I've insisted all season, I'm not going to waste any time evaluating an over-the-hill QB who has no business whatsoever getting PT on any team, especially one in desperate need of rebuilding. F.
RB: Contrary to what my esteemed colleague Mark Madden thinks, Bettis did not "lay down and mail it in", nor has he done so at all this season. Bus ran hard and broke many a tackle, including 1 when big Chester McGlockton had him wrapped up for a loss but Bettis rumbled right out of Chester's grasp. Huntley once again shone brightly, showing good quickness and tough-nosed second effort. Hunt also grabbed 3 passes for 33 yards, which is a far higher YPC average than Courtney Hawkins or Will Jackwell. B+.
FB: Just another day of slop and lethargy by the do-it-all Wonderboy, Jon Witman. H had a few good blocks, mixed in with a plethora of shoddy ones in which he either got little push or failed to "keep at it" after the initial hit. Witman did have 2 receptions and miraculously didn't drop any, but the 1 reception was a deceiving 2-yard gain on an 8-yard out that LB Jerome Woods whiffed on the INT attempt, thus allowing the bootfooted Witman acres of room to slowly plod upfield for another 12 yards. C-.
WR: Troy, the man who wasn't allowed to start until week 11, had another strong showing, grabbing 5 balls for 58 yards. He also threw a nice downfield block on 1 of Shaw's catches. Ner the end of the half, he had a nice RAC on a short reception. He left the game in the 2d half, when he pulled his groin chasing down a poor Prozac pass that was too long; he'd beaten not one, but 2, Chief defenders deep on the play. Ward had 4 grabs, but --- as it has occurred about 4 other times this season --- made a feeble-assed attempt to go UP and after Proazac's lob in the EZ, which was INT'd by the DB. Yeah, yeah, I saw the replays and Ward slipped a smidgen --- and he went so far as to discuss that slip after the game --- but I grow weary of Ward's inability to go up and after "50-50 balls". If this were an isolated incident, I could understand, but it's happened far too many times this season. Shaw had a solid game, grabbing 3 balls for an impressive 69 yards, plus a nice TD in which he, unlike Ward, went up and after a ball and plucked it for the TD. Shaw did drop 1 pass that was nearly INT'd. Stewart ran 1 end-around pitchout on the game's 1st play, and then minutes later was used similarly but as a decoy on Troy's TD catch. He was barely heard from again, catching just 2 balls for 21 yards. He was called for holding late in the game on a very questionable falg. Malcolm got a lil' PT was was thrown only typically inaccurate passes by Prozac. B-.
TE: Breuner caught 1 piddly pass for 6 ayrds, before then getting hurt and leaving the game. Lyons had 2 grabs for 16 before getting hurt on a late KO return. Lyons also committed a foolish false start and hold. Cushing allowed the only ball thrown to him to hit him squarely in the gut and plop out onto the ground. D+.
OL: The overall blocking was often acceptable. Sure, there were some leaks, like when Wayne Candy got abused 1 time by Thomas, or when Pourdanesh took a beating a few times. But overall, the pass protection was ok. The run blocking was spotty, but there were some holes created when we eschewed the whaleshit counter and blasted away with quick hitters. The penalties, however, were disgusting. Brown committed 2 false starts. Shar Poundyerass replaced him, and not wanting to be outdone, committed 2 more false starts. Stai committed his weekly hold. Duffy was flagged for tripping. Candy was flagged for a hold and a false start. C-.
DL: Another day of woe for this subpar d-line. Roye led the way with 3 solos. Everyone else stood around the entire day with thumb up anal crevice. Steed had 1 tackle before leaving with an injured knee. Henry had 1 solo, as did Staat. Jeremy, as usual, did nothing but get pushed around like a little girl at a Ted Nugent concert. The line got almost no push at all on pass plays, and were often getting blown badly off the line on ground plays. Both Henry and rookie Smith flailed badly and missed on the Alexander 82-yard TD jaunt. Vrabel was caved in by WR Joe Horn on the 3d & 20 sweep that netted 25 yards. D-.
LB: A pretty shoddy showing by all involved. Kirkland and Holmes did turn in a afew nice plays, such as Holme's sniffing & stuffing a screen pass and Holmes quickly stepping up to pound a RB on a ground play. But, Kirk weakly missed on his infamous "diving flail" (that he loved to do) on the 3d & 20 sweep. Kirkland was also bullied on the Bum Morris late TD 10-yd. run. Holmes was beaten by Gonzo for a nice gainer just before Gonzo's 2d TD, but it's a jackassed scheme that asks a run-stuffing ILB to cover the man who is unquestionably the NFL's premier TE right now. The ILBs play was hindered a lot by the totally woeful line play, which did almost nothig to clog the middle or occupy blockers. As for the OLBs, the stench emanating from Arrowhead Stadium from the play of these 2 pathetic little turds, was enough to warrant an EPA investigation. Sure, Gildon recorded an earned sack --- although against perennial superstar RT Victor Riley, who was probably as stunned as anyone in the stadium when Gildong broke off his wide loop rush and veered inside toward the QB. It's also easy to look on the stat sheet, and say "Hey, 4 solos for Gildon -- great game." Nothing could be further from the truth. On 1 short dumpoff in the flat to Cloud, Gildon had his jock juked off, allowing a 6-yard gain to swell into a 12-yard gain. LAte in the 2d quarter, KC tried a little misdirection pitchout to TB Cloud, and Gildon -- totally untouched and unblocked -- made a nice play to stay at home and make the stop. Whoopee!! On 1 gut run early in the 2d half, a totally unblocked Gildon came down the line for the easy stop on a 3-yard gain. Whoopee! The stench really began in the 2d half. Gildon was totally fooled & sucked in on a play-action roloout, though Holmes and Lee stopped the receiver for no gain on the catch. Then, there's the 82-yard TD run by Alex. First, Gildon was sucked in on the play-fake like a bread crumb sucked into a Shop Vac. However, Chad Scott made a very good play to stay at home and maintain outside contain. This caused Alex to have to slow down considerably, and then to have to jitterbug a lil' and cut back a bit behind the Chief who was shielding Scott. All of this time-wasting monkey business gave Gildong AMPLE time to come running over to make the stop at the 20-yard line, for a 3-yard gain (assuming some forward lean by Alex). In fact, this should have been than a mere "stop" -- this SHOULD have been a devastating hit on a 210-pound WR who was slowly cutting back, by a 245-pound linebacker who had 15 yards of full steam. Instead, as is his nature, Gildon pussyfooted when he got near Alex, and rather than laying the guy out for a stay in the hospital, meekly and weakly dove at his legs and whiffed badly. Meanwhile, on this same play, Emmons was literally getting blocked by barrel-chested WR Kevein Lockett at the Pittsburgh (NOT KC, but Pittsburgh) 46-yard line, and then, with a good angle to make the TD saving tackle and Lockett no longer engaged, clumsily stumbled and allowed Alex to dash by for the TD. This play epitomizes the entire lack of success by our '99 defense -- when your one OLB gets badly faked, then has a chance to make the stop, and your other OLB is 38 (THIRTY EIGHT) yards downfield playing grabass with a receiver --- this is why our defense isn't worth a rat's pitooty this year. Lest we forget, Goldong got caught in no-man's land on Gonzo's 2d INT, neither covering Gonzo nor rushing the QB, but futiley standing at the line of scrimmage and weakly jumping up and trying to deflect the plopped Grcoc throw. Emmons was also abused by Alex on a 3d & 4 on KC's 1st drive, which resulted in a 20-yard gain. And, on the play just prior to Alex's long TD run, TE Gonzales totally caved Emmons in, from 2 yards outside the KC LEFT hash, to inches from the JC RIGHT hash. Richardson was nearly stuffed on this play, but then ran around his left end for an 8-yard gainer. I don't think I've EVER seen an OLB get shoved this far inside by a tight end. Presented with a "Can't lose on this -- may as well try something" 2d & 2, KC decided to try the reverse, and the resulting TD sealed the win. Porter got a little PT and had 1 solo. ILBs: B-, OLBs: F-.
DB: A better effort than last week's stench, but nothing to brag about. Lee was somewhat quiet, and even foolishly slipped on the Alex TD. Davis missed miserably on Alex on the TD run. Lance had solid coverage on Gonzo but gave up the 1st TD. Dewayne missed a few tackles. Shields didn't see much PT and was quiet. C.
Spec Teams: A rather sorry all-around effort for the spec teams. Josh had one of his worst days of the season. Kris badly squibbed his 1st KO, and had a 46-yarder blocked. Kris did have a nice onsides kick late in the game, which was recovered by Porter. The coverage was spotty and the return game netted little. C.
Off Coord: Three major things occurred that add to my dislike of Kevin Gaypride. First, the offense wasted a TON of time at the end of the 1st half. The entire offense was moving with a all the urgency and speed of a glacier, and dozens of seconds needlessly ticked away. Faced with a 4th & 1 on the KC 39 and the clock running, we wasted a good 20 seconds before finally calling a TO to avoid the delay penalty. We also had to waste 2 or 3 other TOs during the game to avoid delay penalties. Second, was the use, or lack of use, of Stewart. He was used superbly in the 1s series --- on an end-around pitchout for 5 yards, and then on the same play but as a decoy on the Troy TD. After this, NOTHING. It was as if Gaypride looked at his clipboard, saw "Use Stewart as a Slash", and then "checked the box" like people do at work whenever they finish mundane chores like backing up data files onto the network drive or cleaning out the coffee pot. After this series, Stewart was never once used for ANYTHING but a WR --- and in a limited role at that, too.
Third, with about 1 minute left in a 35-13 blowout, we have the ball 1st and goal on the KC 1-yard line. What does Gaypride call?? Why, a QB sneak by a 15-year career benchwarmer. This is akin to a baseball team, on Sept. 23rd and 26 games out of 1st place, using a grizzled vet to pinch hit AND bunt late in a game, rather than testing out the moxie of a young rookie. If this were an audible by Prozac (nothing has been said about this, but "if"�), then Pete Gonzo should have been sent in IMMEDIATELY to run a line plunge or a WR lob. There is no reason whatsoever to not get Huntley the ball, and see what kind of plowing or vaulting ability he has near the goal line, or Malcolm or Shaw to be thrown a lob to see what they can do. Running a QB sneak by an over-the-hill QB at this juncture of a blowout is almost as asinine as running screen passes for INTs in 2 consecutive games. D-.
Def Coord: What can ya say about Jim Asslet? He's the king of the give-up on 3d & 20. How many times has this team given up a first down this year on 3d & 20+ ?? 9? 12? And only a complete jackass could assign a run-stuffing ILB (Earl) to cover the league's best TE. Asslet's continues to get beaten by offenses who immediately make adjustments, and he never re-adjusts. It's like a chess game, in which --- instead of moving a piece after his opponent does --- Asslet "waives" his move and allows the opponent to move another rook or knight or queen. C-.
Head Coach: If you're not convinced by now, there is no question at all that Field Goal Bill needs to step down. The '98 Chiefs were EXACTLY like the '98 Stillers -- sloppy, undisciplined, unfocused, prone to game-costing mistakes, and so on. KC made very little big moves in free agency last offseason. Their BIGGEST move was for Shittenheimer to resign and Cunningham step in as head coach. They are now playing focused, disciplined football and own a solid 9-5 record --- the exact antithesis (both in record and level of play) as Bill Cowhead's Steelers. Cowhead clearly has lost control of the team; and he no longer is able to get the maximum from his players. In fact, in many cases, hes' barely getting 80%. F.
Synopsis:Some might write this off as a " 'good loss' against a solid team". That's bunk. This was hardly any more acceptable than the previous 5. Sloppy play, half-hearted (the term "half" is being generous) efforts, poor coaching, and terrible attention to focus and detail, all led to another sorry defeat. What's worse --- and this is very, very important --- is that ONCE AGAIN, we failed to get youngsters some good playing time for development, grooming, and evaluation. Cowher, as stubborn as he is stupid, REFUSES to give youngsters PT, just so he can try to save some face and come out of this miserable season with a respectable record. The only thing he's going to accomplish, of course, is to sabotage the evaluation and development process for the next coach who will be hired when Bill resigns in embarrassment around January 9th.
The Still Mill