The more things change, the more they stay the same. Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Kansas City Chiefs are in the playoffs, they’re expected to win in dominating fashion. They’re even the home team for the game. Then the Chiefs find a way to lose, and not just any way to lose. They find a way to lose in historically unprecedented and heartbreaking fashion. Yes, you’ve heard it before, you’ve seen that movie before, and you just saw it again this past Saturday as the Chiefs fell at home to the Tennessee Titans by the final score of 22-21 at Arrowhead Stadium. In the entire history of the National Football League only 4 times have teams come back from down at least 18 points in the second half of a postseason game, and 2 of those times have been against the Kansas City Chiefs under head coach Andy Reid. I will spare you reliving the details of this game, because if you’re reading this, they’re definitely still fresh in your mind. I’ll suffice to say this. Changes are coming to 1 Arrowhead Drive. They began today, as Chiefs OC Matt Nagy was hired to be the next head coach of the Chicago Bears. Chiefs assistant head coach Brad Childress announced his intention to retire. It is also expected that more changes are coming to the Chiefs coaching staff. After a couple days to look over the remains of this 2017 Chiefs football season, I’ve come to a few conclusions of my own as to what must happen between now and July.
- Trade Alex Smith for whatever you can get. Smith has been great for Kansas City, but Patrick Mahomes proved against Denver that he’s ready to be a starting quarterback in this league. Smith isn’t getting any younger and the Chiefs will save nearly $18 million against the cap by letting him go. You don’t want to outright release him, because the last place anyone in the Chiefs Kingdom wants him to end up is Denver. There seems to be a lot of interest in him from other teams around the league, he’s been good for the Chiefs, but it is time to move on.
- Cut Darrell Revis. Allow Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali the chance to retire, but if not release them as well. These moves save the Chiefs a ton of money against the cap, and set them up for the future as well to fill these spots with younger players. Hate to see these guys go, especially DJ and Tamba, but it has to happen in order for this team to get better in 2018 and beyond.
- Fire Bob Sutton and hire Chuck Pagano as defensive coordinator. I believe Bob Sutton has coached his last game in Kansas City as defensive coordinator. I think the perfect candidate to replace him is former Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. Pagano made a name for himself coordinating the Baltimore Ravens defense in their Super Bowl run in 2012, which landed him the head coaching job in Indianapolis. Pagano failed as a head coach sure, but he’s a fantastic defensive coordinator whose scheme would fit very well with the Chiefs’ personnel. If I were Brett Veach, this is the person I’d be looking for to take over my defense.
- Release Dee Ford. Ford has been an injury prone under achiever since joining Kansas City in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He was drafted to replace Tamba Hali, and did show some flashes of brilliance when Justin Houston was out at the beginning of 2016; but overall he hasn’t been a good player for this team. His rookie deal is coming to an end and there is no reason to sign him to a second contract. Rookie Tanoh Kpassagnon shows just as much, if not more upside than Ford does, and there’s just not a place for him on this roster going forward in my opinion.
- You have 5 draft picks for the 2018 draft, make them count! The Chiefs need a cornerback to play opposite Marcus Peters, a right guard to solidify the offensive line, a pass rusher to line up opposite Justin Houston, and a nose tackle to plug the middle of the defense. All of those things can be taken care of in a deep draft this year, or via free agency if the other roster moves I mentioned above are made to free up cap space. Get it done.
- Sign either Josh McCown or Chase Daniel on the cheap to be a backup to Patrick Mahomes next year. Mahomes is going to be your starting QB going forward, no doubt about it. Bring in a veteran backup who can help coach his development as a pro, and be capable to fill in in the event of an injury, because we saw that Tyler Bray isn’t capable. All the eggs are in 1 basket, sure, but having a veteran backup, who’s capable of handling the reigns for a couple of weeks is very important.
- Find someone besides Andy Reid to call plays on offense. Reid is one of the best head coaches in NFL history, I don’t want to undermine the guy; but we saw it play out this season. When Reid gave up play calling and Nagy took over, the offense got significantly better. Reid is a better coach when he can just worry about being the head coach. The Chiefs don’t need him pre-occupied on the sideline calling plays. Whomever is hired to replace Nagy, needs to take that responsibility and if Clark Hunt and Brett Veach are smart, they’ll find a way to add that clause to Reid’s contract.
Those are the top things that come to mind for me as we head into the offseason, disappointed again. Remember though, next year the Patrick Mahomes era begins Chiefs Kingdom! That’s something to look forward to, and no matter what, the 2018 season will be a very exciting one in Kansas City!