This is my first fanpost and people are probably going to look at the title of this post and think that I’ve lost my mind or that I watch too many movies on the Family Channel at three in the morning but I assure you it makes sense.
There’s been a lot written this offseason about the Kansas City Chiefs, whether it be on this website or all of the other sites that we compile our topics from. Everything has been discussed at length from quarterback comparisons, to defensive scheme debates, to unhappy players, to players not fitting a certain mould. You name the topic and I guarantee, we as a community, have discussed and debated it. So for a change of pace I wanted to bring in a new topic that I see as being the most important factor to our teams success this season and in the seasons to come and that’s Identity.
A team’s identity and a team knowing what their identity is, is probably one of the most underrated factors in all of sports. Identity is the glue that keeps a team together and makes an otherwise group of strangers, as solid functioning unit. Without an identity a team will go no where fast. The longer it takes to find their identity the longer it will take to transition the culture of a franchise and find success.
Over the last couple of seasons the Chiefs have been overhauled completely and maybe most noticeably in the last six months. Gone are the veterans and stalwarts of the Vermeil period, gone is the Carl Peterson era, gone is our beloved owner, gone is the face of the franchise and gone is the identity of one of the proudest and best franchises in all of football. What’s leftover is a contingent of mostly young players, a few new veterans, a rookie head coach, and a new general manager that is finally getting out of the shadow of one of the greatest minds in the game. So where do we go from here?
This whole offseason the Chiefs have frequently been referred to being like the Patriots because of our new ties there, or that we are going to be the same as the Cardinals because of certain schemes, or that we’re being run like a Parcell’s team or that we could be the next Miami Dolphins. This is where the “Cool Runnings” factor comes into play and although it may seem simplistic for some, the reality of it is that it's one of the most important team concepts and one thats too frequently overlooked.
In “Cool Runnings”(loosely based on a true story), for those that don’t know, a group of Jamaicans enter a bobsled team in the Winter Olympics. While they train and prepare they are constantly comparing themselves and try to duplicate what the Germans and Swiss are doing because they’re the dominant teams. In doing so they lose touch with who they are and what got them there and not until they “find” themselves do they start to have so form of success.
It would be easy for the Chiefs to fall into this type of trap as well. They have a lot of young, inexperienced players and they’re in a position where everything that was a staple of Chief identity is now gone. They must now come together as a team, meaning everyone from the front office to the coaching staff to the players and find continuity.
It’s hard for the common fan to really know what’s going on in the locker room to build this but from the information provided to us I think the team is showing signs that it’s on the right track. Our identity so far is being built around having good coaches who use the talent they have and having that talent be smart, hardworking individuals. In camps there’s been an emphasis on hard work, being accountable to the guy next to you and pushing that guy to be better. We’ve brought in players that have lived that identity their entire career like Zach Thomas, Mike Goff, and now Mike Brown. Based on reports and interviews the other players are buying into this same attitude which gives continuity and sameness to what they’re doing.
The building blocks to a new culture and new team identity are just being made now and over the course of training camp and preseason, when we get down to the “53”, it will only grow more. The challenge for this franchise will be how quickly can they find that identity and what the identity is will determine who the Chiefs are and where they are going. The sooner they figure that out the sooner the results on the field will change.