Seventy-nine teams have started 1-5 since the NFL's new playoff format began in 1990. None of them have made the playoffs. The 2012 Kansas City Chiefs are not the team that is going to break this streak.
Each week, Around the League will stick a fork in the NFL teams that no longer have any chance to make the playoffs. If any team proves us wrong and makes the tournament, we'll write a humiliating apology post and pay a hefty fine to a charity of the team's choice. Really.
What went wrong
Matt Cassel might receive most of the blame, but he has been the same quarterback for years. The real Kansas City problem this year is on defense. Safety Eric Berry hasn't been the same coming off surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament. There's no way this team should be 29th in points allowed with its pass-rushing talent. Brandon Flowers had an injury-plagued preseason and a slow start to the season. This team misses Brandon Carr; free-agent pickup Stanford Routt hasn't worked out. First-round draft pick Dontari Poe isn't ready. All of those early picks by general manager Scott Pioli on the defensive line aren't difference makers.
Pioli deserves plenty of blame for not coming up with a better alternative to Cassel in four years. Putting the 2009 Cleveland Browns offense back together (coordinator Brian Daboll and quarterback Brady Quinn) was not a winning formula.
It's not just about the 1-5 record. It's how the Chiefs have lost, by 28 points to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 18 points to the Buffalo Bills and 17 points to the San Diego Chargers. They aren't competitive against mediocre teams.
What went right
Justin Houston has broken out as a pass rusher. Jamaal Charles is healthy again and remains one of the best running backs in the NFL. There is still a young talented nucleus on defense, including Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, that could be of service ... to the next regime.
What still matters
The sad part here is that the Chiefs don't have a "quarterback of the future" to develop. (Ricky Stanzi!?) Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe probably is in his final go-around with the team. The Chiefs need to get Berry turned around. Developing Poe and last year's first-round pick, Jonathan Baldwin, should be a priority.
What changes are coming?
It's an open debate if GM/Head of State Scott Pioli will stick around to continue his vision of running the team. It appears Pioli was not offered an extension by the team. Keeping Pioli around will enrage the fan base. The local media openly wars with Pioli. But getting rid of him would require an entire overhaul of the organization. Pioli is the Chiefs for now -- for better, worse or apocalyptic. (We'll vote worse.)
Pioli is highly unlikely to change head coaches again if he sticks around. So this is more about chairman Clark Hunt. The Chiefs want to be a stable franchise. We sense Hunt would like to show patience with Pioli.
The rest of this season is about Pioli's future. If the Chiefs remain a dumpster fire and finish with just a few wins, it will be hard to keep Pioli around. Hunt might be looking for an excuse to stay the course. Four or five wins the rest of the way could give Hunt cover to keep Pioli.