Optimism. Where is it? I don't see it anywhere around AP. Sure, all of you could comment this right now without even reading the rest of this and give me a laundry list of reasons why no one is really optimistic around here...and I'm sure I would mostly agree with all of you. I would even compare trying to be optimistic with this '09 Chiefs team to dropping your cell phone, chapstick, writing utensil, etc. in between your seat and the center arm rest/console of your car- next thing you know you are digging your hand down there while watching the road and you get your fingertips on the object but your hands starting to hurt or is either too big to squeeze all the way down to the floor of your car to retrieve your object . Even better, you're just plain scared of taking your eyes off the road and don't want to crash into a snow bank, hit a deer, drive over black ice, etc. (depending on where you geographical location is) Either way, its frustrating, annoying, and has happened to all of you many times. Kind of like our Chiefs and their weekly game play.
On a week to week basis since the first pre-season game against Houston, we've been frustrated and annoyed, venting in every which way we can to each other about how this team does/doesn't do the right things to become winners. That's the job you take when you hand over your "fan card" to the Kansas City Chiefs world. I mean honestly, if AP wasn't here, we'd be stuck with watching
Freddy Kruger's Adam Teicher's scary video blog every week. There's my first reason to be optimistic and it fits well because it has nothing to do with what the Chiefs do on Sundays...it's Arrowhead Pride, of course....
I joined Arrowhead Pride on March 8, 2009. Not even a year into this blog and I've checked it more than once, every day since. This write-up isn't going to be all about Arrowhead Pride and I don't have a wonderful Chiefs experience to share (nothing against you KCSatchmo, you are truly blessed to have had the opportunities you had to experience what the Kansas City Chiefs are really all about and I respectfully commend you for sharing it with us) because I am not from Kansas City, nor was I born there, nor have I ever been to Kansas City. I became a fan at a very young age due to my Grandfather being a huge Len Dawson buff. His favorite thing about Len Dawson besides being a four time AFL champion and leading the Chiefs to a win in Superbowl IV, was the fact he could quarterback the Chiefs on a daily basis and still make it in time to do his sports reporting for the local Kansas City news. The rest is history and to make a long story short, Direct TV's Sunday Ticket has raised me ever since Priest came over after winning the Superbowl with the Ravens. I was 12 when that happened so for a solid 10 years I've been bleeding, peeing, pooping, spewing red and gold.
Some of you might say, "Ha! This kid ain't even had KC bbq yet, and he's trying to tell us to feel optimistic? The hell does he know?"
Let me tell you...
Last year, prior to the Matt Cassel era, the season ended for us very early due to our ineffectiveness and the domination of the Broncos and Chargers in our division. Even though we lost a lot of games by 10 points or less, we all were under the impression that this team had some talent and showed some good signs for being the youngest team in the NFL. The last few game were important because with playoffs out of the picture, you play for each other, you play for a job, and you play for a future with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, if you guys can remember, right off the top of your heads, I'm hoping you could name two guys that are still on the team this year that finished last season with a reason for us to be optimistic about the following season...those two players were Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. And due to their stellar game play towards the end of the season, we all knew in the back of our heads that this team had some promise for the future based on the talent those two guys harbored. Oh, and the fact Herm Edwards probably wouldn't be the coach in 2009.
Then the unexpected happened and our long time GM who drafted the best linebacker to ever play this game had some news for us. Everybody remembers what they were doing the day Carl Peterson resigned...I was eating taco bell, just about to slap my mild sauce on my soft shell taco and across ESPN Bottomline I read he was stepping down. My initial reaction was excitement. Can't lie, I loved the fact this team was going to change direction and become different. It excited me, it gave me something to talk about to my year old Superbowl winning Giant fan friends, and Brett Favre-less Jet fan friends. We all had an optimistic approach to the new management and personnel that was going to be in control of something we all love and adore, our Kansas City Chiefs...
Fast forward 10 months and here we are 3-10, and could easily say the best moment of this season for the Kansas City Chiefs wasn't even done on the football field. It was when this team released Larry Johnson, which helped unleash JC. Definitely a crazy season as far as transactions for us as Chiefs fans, and it has definitely been a roller coaster ride as far as what to expect everyday when you log on to AP. But as far as Sundays go, we are all in the same situation we were in last year going into week 15. But my friends, this year is different...VERY different. Why? We have players who have cemented themselves in "franchise player concrete". Who are those guys? I'm ranking them in order of importance to the future of this team and becoming a playoff bound group. Keep in mind, one player will never fix a team, it's a collective effort.
The Backbone of this Team
- Jamaal Charles - Wow, just wow. Jamaal you have exceeded my expectations as far as this year goes. If there's anything to be happy about AP, please, enjoy the effort and playmaking ability Jamaal Charles gives us. I think it was Rotoworld.com that put "Chris Johnson-esque" in a sentence yesterday regarding his 76-yard TD run which is the longest TD run in Chiefs history. If that play didn't make you spill your beer or catapult you out of your sofa to fist pump and scream, then stop reading right now. I think what we need to see out of Jamaal in the next three games is his toughness. Fragility has been one of his knocks and I want him to prove he is ready to be the man for us.
- Tamba Hali - 7.5 sacks on the year, and he might have more once the season is said and done than we had all of last year. Does anybody want to throw a jab at Tamba for not playing up to his first round potential? Guy is playing lights out and is gaining respect not only throughout the AFC West, but the NFL as well. Definitely a bright spot for our defense with the hard work he has put in to become what he has. Tamba is somebody to be very excited about.
Brandon Flowers - A lot of you might not agree with me here, but when I watch Brandon play I see a man trying to do it all in a below average secondary. He has 46 tackles, 3 INT's this year, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries, but has been banged up at a few points this year as well. I mean I followed him coming out of Va Tech and when we drafted him, for me it was like a kid on Christmas morning. I just think as long as he is in our secondary we will be fine.
- Dwayne Bowe - Definitely an off year for Bowe, which is ironic because WR's are usually susceptible to breaking out in their third year in the league. And you can't use the line, "he had a new quarterback", because he has had 4 different QB's over the course of his career including Cassel, and that is very hard for a WR especially with 3 years experience. Yes the drops have been another thing that has frustrated us but drops happen, and Bowe isn't Bobby Wade, he will catch the ball.
- Ryan Succop - Jesus I wish they let him kick those 50 yarders yesterday. He's 19-23 on the year which is great for a rookie kicker in the NFL. He has a very strong leg for kickoffs as well and as long as our offense gives him chances to kick in the future I think we have ourselves a kicker who could be just as valuable to us as a K like Jason Hanson was to the Detroit Lions.
- Dustin Colquitt - Clearly Haley's favorite player, and why not? First of all he doesn't wear braces, so that automatically makes him better than Mike Scifres, but I think it's easy to say the AFC West has the two best punters in the league. Just like WtexKC said in his write-up about Steve Hoffman and why he has been such a big part to the success of our special teams, it's because of guys like Colquitt and Succop that he can coach to the best of his abilities.
- Branden Albert - I love Albert but I think he needs to move to guard to prove he is first round caliber. That is just my opinion though. I mean the guy cut weight, he can move, I would've moved Waters to center and Branden to LG in the summer but hey, that isn't my call.
- Chris Chambers - I wanted to put Chambers on this list but with the transactions this team makes and the amount of money we have with the uncapped year, I just don't know what is going to happen. I like Chambers a lot though, he dropped a key pass yesterday but still, he's made a lot more great plays than he has bad and he re-established himself as a go-to-guy in an offense that was on life support before he got here. Imagine what our offense would've been like if we never claimed Chambers with Bowe's suspension?
- Glenn Dorsey - Please, tell me what defensive coordinator wouldn't want to build a defense around this guy. The Lombardi Award winner and Bronco Nagurski, Outland, and Lott Trophy winner coming out of college, but he hasn't looked like that for us. I understand, it takes time for defensive lineman to develop but look at Brian Orakpo this year. Guy has 11 sacks. Now I am not saying Glenn Dorsey needs to get sacks, and he has shown spots of progress this year, which is exciting, but he's not on my list for reason to be optimistic about this season going into next. Don't judge me.
- Matt Cassel - You know how Coach Haley loves using the line- "We don't want yo-yo players here in Kansas City, we want the guys that give us the best chance to win." Well Coach, Matt Cassel has been a yo-yo player this year. Yeah I said it, and I'm sticking by it. There has been games where this guy has looked like he did in New England, running around and slingin' the ball like he's throwing to Randy Moss and Wes Welker. But then again there has been games where he has looked like the guy who lost out to Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart for a starting job in college...looking uncomfortable, nervous and hesitant. He has 0 TD's and 6 INT's in his last two games at home. Has 13 TD's and 13 INT's on the year, and he'll be lucky to finish with more TD's than INT's this year. I hope he's the guy of the future because he's shown flashes of it, but I am not buying in yet.
So my fellow APers, (love saying that) throughout this dismal season, keep your heads up. This off-season is going to be a fun ride. With an un-capped year, plenty of money, and 3 draft picks in the first 2 rounds (that could change of course) you have to be optimistic about what the future holds for Arrowhead Pride and this Kansas City Chiefs team.
Please, it's fun to vent, and we've been blessed to have a hangout like Arrowhead Pride to show it and talk about it but as fans we need to stay optimistic. This team has players on it we need to start realizing have the potential to be the best in the league.
For now, let's let the magic of Arrowhead Pride do all the work in comforting us with the rest of this season, and most importantly, all have a Happy and Healthy Holiday with your families and friends and a wonderful New Year.