Both the Kansas City Chiefs (1-4) and Detroit Lions (0-5) didn’t expect the season to start like this. But with nine consecutive losses between them, it’s no longer just a matter of making the playoffs or not. It’s now a case of two head coaches, Andy Reid and Jim Caldwell, possibly coaching for their jobs if things continue to deteriorate, while questions about quarterbacks Alex Smith and Matthew Stafford need to be asked.
Caldwell benched Stafford during the home demolition against the Arizona Cardinals. Stafford did throw one touchdown pass but was intercepted three times, and was relieved for Dan Orlovsky, playing in his first NFL game since 2012. Caldwell said that Stafford is still his starter. Stafford was told at halftime that if he throws another interception he’ll be taken out. Caldwell didn’t say anything meaningful about the situation. Simply that they need to get better in all three phases.
Through five losses, the Lions average just 16.6 points per game. They’ve been unlucky to face three excellent defenses three weeks in a row (Broncos, Seahawks, Cardinals) but they also struggled to put up points against the Vikings. Aside from their 28 points performance in the opening week against the Chargers, the Lions are averaging just 13.75 points per game. Stafford? He has thrown 8 interceptions already this season (only six touchdowns) and has a passer rating of 74.8 following the 50 he got for his performance against the Cardinals.
Not that the running game is doing too well. The Lions are dead last in the league with just 49 yards per game on the ground. Obviously, it’s not very simple picking up yards when you’re trailing all the time, but their average of 2.8 yards per carry is below unacceptable. Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah, it doesn’t matter. Right now, the Lions are turning the setup of making the playoffs last year into a disaster in 2015, with that 0-16 from the Matt Millen era hanging over everyone’s head.
The Kansas City Chiefs can close up shop now that Jamaal Charles is injured. They somehow managed to blow a 17-6 lead against the pretty bad Chicago Bears, which means four consecutive losses. Beating the Texans, considering what we’ve seen from Houston so far this season, isn’t something to be proud of as well. The Chiefs were marked by some to give the Broncos a lot of trouble in the AFC West. Now they’re favorites to finish bottom of the division.
Knile Davis will probably get more carries and maybe Reid will tell Smith, the second leading rusher on the team, to take some more risks. It’s not like they have a whole lot of options. Charles isn’t just the team’s best offensive player. He might be their best receiver, although things have changed a bit with Jeremy Maclin playing. However, this is more than just the Charles injury. It’s about the concept of Reid and his tenure at Kansas City.
The first season was a great success, showing that putting Smith in the right system works, with a great defense to back it up. Last season wasn’t awful (9-7) but disappointing. This year? Well, you already know what’s going on. And if Reid has a quarterback that needs very special tailoring to work, maybe the whole approach is wrong. Meanwhile, the inability to load up on offensive weapons has been chewing at the team’s capability of surprising opponents in games. It doesn’t really matter without Charles, although surprises might happen. They probably won’t.