KANSAS CITY — Six weeks after launching the season with quiet hopes of winning the AFC West, the Kansas City Chiefs have staggered into their bye week 1-5.
It's not just any old 1-5. It's an ugly 1-5.
Every loss but one has been a blowout. The offense has not scored a touchdown in the past eight quarters. Their lone victory came on an overtime field goal in New Orleans. Not once has Kansas City been ahead on the scoreboard when the ball was snapped.
The only man taking more heat than the head coach is the general manager.
Angry callers to sports radio shows are jamming the airways with threats of boycotting Arrowhead Stadium if changes are not made at the top, and fast.
Such public condemnation is new to Scott Pioli, who was honored as NFL executive of the year three times in New England before signing on as general manager of the Chiefs in 2009. For coach Romeo Crennel, it's a replay of a nightmarish time in Cleveland when he went 24-40 in four stormy seasons and was fired.
"I think you put on the blinders and you try to forge ahead," Crennel said Monday. "There is nothing that we can do about what's said other than win a ball game. If we win a ball game, then some of those comments probably get tempered a little bit. Then if we win another one, they get tempered a little more."
The Chiefs will practice through Wednesday before taking four days off to clear from their heads one of the worst starts in the 52-year history of the franchise.
"We need to correct some things that have hurt us in the past, so we can move forward," said defensive back Abe Elam. "We're not satisfied but it's still a long season. We're ready to get back to work. We watched the film this morning. Starting tomorrow, we'll try to improve on those things."
Except for Dustin Colquitt's expert punting, there is hardly an area that does not need improvement. Crennel, who won the job after guiding the team to a 2-1 record last year following Todd Haley's firing, is most interested in an attitude adjustment.
Many of the problems, especially a tendency to surrender long plays on defense, stems from people trying to do too much, he said.
"It's about making some choices that normally you wouldn't make," he said. "Do your job first and then help out. So if they do their job first no matter what the circumstance is, and then help out, we'll be better. But if they try to help out first before doing their job, then there's going to be a seam somewhere, there's going to be a hole. And a lot of times good teams find those holes."
He plans no letup this week.
"Practice and practice and practice. Repetition and repetition," he said.
Brady Quinn, taking over for the injured Matt Cassel at quarterback, was 22 for 38 for 180 yards in Sunday's 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay in his first start in almost three years. If Cassel is cleared to play by the time the Chiefs resume action in two weeks at home against Oakland, will he or Quinn be under center?
It's a question fans are demanding to know. Until he was injured two weeks ago, Cassel was the main object of most fans' ire, leading an offense that had surrendered 19 turnovers.
As he lay on the turf with what turned out to be a concussion against the Ravens, some cheers were heard in Arrowhead, apparently from people who were happy to see him knocked out of the game. Right tackle Eric Winston later accused "70,000" fans of cheering the injury, setting off a national firestorm and further angering fans.
Crennel can draw upon his Cleveland experience for guidance through these rough waters.
"There are times in Cleveland that it wasn't this close," he said with a grin. "So it's been a little bit worse. The thing about this team and about these players is that we were somewhat successful last year and we've added some players to the team and that impacts the chemistry and everything that's going on. But I think because we're in position to make plays that those plays will start getting made."