While the cream of the AFC West crop is busy preparing for a big home Divisional Playoff matchup this weekend and a promising January ahead, the division’s three other franchises are left scratching their heads.
What went wrong this season?
Why did we come up so short every weekend?
Where—and how—can we get better quickly?
Simple questions that rarely have straight-forward or simple answers. For the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers, these issues are compounded by necessary changes to the roster, the front-office and quite possibly the head guy in charge. Each franchise has its own unique set of problems as their surviving staffs lounge on the nearest beach or tee it up at the closest country club.
San Diego and Oakland are set at the quarterback position, and each has an above average signal caller pulling the strings. Kansas City? Not so much. Sure, outside of QB, the Chiefs can boast a talented roster complete with five deserved Pro Bowlers. But their needs are more reaching than just a new quarterback.
The Broncos are set for the short- and long-term with a complete roster and few needs, so let’s play short-term doctors and apply some band-aids to “cure” what ails the remaining disappointing franchises of the AFC West.
First up: Let’s head to Arrowhead!
It was a downright brutal season in many respects for the Hunt family and the loyal fans of Kansas City. Just two wins, a coach and general manager firing (somewhat surprisingly on different days) and many unanswered questions about the viability of Matt Cassel at quarterback. They have already made the move to put a coach in place, with long-time Philadelphia boss Andy Reid in the fold. GM Scott Pioli had his job all week, but then Reid was hired and Pioli was gone.
Shopping for the groceries and cooking the meal, to mix Bill Parcells’ words.
Still, their biggest and most glaring need is for a new quarterback. Bad timing as it coincides with one of the worst draft classes for quarterbacks in recent memory—and just one year removed from one of the best in league history.
Band-Aid? Got to be a free-agent quarterback: Alex Smith.
The Chargers have gone the opposite direction of the Chiefs in that they fired their coach and GM in unison and are going the traditional route of hiring the decision maker first. Wednesday, they named Tom Telesco as the new front-office boss and the rumors are already afoot about who might be named the head coach. Their roster is an aging one, but still has plenty of talent to remain an annual postseason presence.
Simply put, San Diego needs a new coach. A real head coach. Jon Gruden is already being bantered about. San Diego-native Andy Reid has already been scooped up by a divisional foe, so where do they turn? Marty Schottenheimer is probably a bit too old and past his…WAIT! THAT’S IT!
Bring back Marty Schottenheimer, now! Dude was always criticized for not being a great postseason coach, but the dude can win. He won 13 games once and got fired. Mike Shanahan wasn’t a postseason stud until the combination of John Elway and Terrell Davis combined for the perfect storm.
Now, to the Raiders, a team that I picked to be a 10-win playoff team during my preseason preview. I am aware that I was and still am in the minority, but I really feel this team is not that far from being a contender. Their offense is set, aside from a little more help up front along the line. The coaching staff is pretty much the same. But, there is still one roadblock along the way. Their defense is suddenly an absolute trainwreck. The one area of the team that could be counted upon for the past decade is now its biggest liability.
They need more than just a few pieces, but this is a draft that they have to hit the proverbial homerun. They were without a first-rounder last year and the trade also leaves them without a second-round this spring. They have the No. 3 overall pick in the draft and should have their choice of the elite defenders. First band-aid is taking a stab at the German defensive lineman from Florida State, Bjoern Werner. He’s a specimen of a human and a guy that can make an impact on every down. The offensive line band-aid is simple. Take any guy left on the board that has the words, “UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA” after his name. That will probably end up being a pretty good pick.