[From the FanPosts. Another great read from Aiken_Drum. -Joel]
How many times have we heard it? Most recently it's the fact that the Chiefs only won 10 games in the last three years. In a bigger picture, Kansas City hasn't won a playoff game since Jan. 16th 1994. That, my friends, is sixteen years ago. That is long enough to have had a child, watch them go through all the primary grades, and junior high, get them some Drivers Ed and a license and turn them loose with a family car.
The Chiefs have lost their last six playoff appearances. That ties a record. One more playoff loss and KC owns the record all by themselves. What's worse, since their Super Bowl in in 1970, the Chiefs have won only 3 of 17 playoff tries. Two of those were credited to Joe Montana (so they don't really count, right?). All three games were extremely close: one win by eight points (Montana vs. Houston), one by four points (DeBerg vs. LA Raiders) and one three point squeaker (Montana vs. Pittsburg). In the 40 years since Hank Stram had the Chiefs "matriculating the ball down the field", the Chiefs have mustered one playoff win with a QB that wasn't Joe Montana, and have won the AFC West division a mere four times.
To say that the Chiefs aren't relevant in the NFL is a colossal understatement. Not only are they not relevant, for most players, coaches, pundits, reporters, coaches and fans the Chiefs are a speck on a flea on the dog known as the NFL. This is why, for many fans at least, winning is not enough.
Great defenses, Martyball and Dick Vermeil not withstanding, the last 40 years have been one long underwhelming performance after another. Chiefs fans are some of the most skeptical anywhere. I think that this 40 year record is why. When you build a legacy of losing like the Chiefs have, it's hard to believe it when you have a winner. Let me restate that. It is nearly impossible to believe you have a winner. Winning isn't enough. Many fans simply won't trust the Chiefs until that big win is salted, cured, packed and stored for the harsh winters ahead.
It is this attitude, IMO, that is the basis for all the back seat driving that consistently goes on with the fans. Every fan out there will take a 5-2 record. Who wouldn't? This team is 5-2 and has a one and a half game lead on the Raiders in Week 8. I don't know how long it has been since KC was leading the division come Week 8 but no matter. I submit that they could be a perfect 7-0 right now and have a three game lead in the division and the doubts, second guessing and Monday morning quarterbacking would continue in full force simply because these fans have seen it all before. They have been here before and they are afraid. Afraid of what happens when you let your guard down and believe in something only to have it snatched away from you when true adversity rears it's ugly head.
This is why these fans are critical -- of nearly everything, including the wins themselves. It's why they are critical of Matt Cassel. Until he repeatedly throws for three or four TDs a game and beats opponents with his arm in commanding fashion, he is a pretender. Forget the over 100 passes without an interception. Ha! they say, who cares? Has he set new records for TDs or passing yards? Does he glow when he steps on the field from divine intervention? Forget the fact that he has the highest rating of his career as a starter at 90.4, he hasn't done it yet, so what good is he?
Look what it took to silence these fans on the running game. Thank goodness for Scott Pioli and Thomas Jones! By adding TJ to Jamaal Charles in the backfield and moderately upgrading our offensive line, we now have arguably the strongest running back tandem in the league. They sure are performing like it. The duo ran for 250+ against the Bills. Not much nay saying is currently going on concerning our running game, but not all that long ago it was all the rage to discuss Jamaal Charles becoming upset and leaving the Chiefs because Jones was listed as number one on the depth chart. When does the negative viewpoint go beyond the pale? This was pretty close if it didn't.
Then of course, there is the coach. I think that many of these fans are currently convinced that Todd Haley has more than one screw loose. Can this guy tell the difference between first down and fourth down? They seem to be the same to him. He runs the same plays, refuses to take field goals and punts instead of kicking for the obvious points. Some might liken this part of Haley's game plan to a game of spin the bottle, where Haley chooses the one that the bottle points to when it stops spinning. On top of all of this, his fashion sense is, shall we say, challenged?
If you add all this up, these fans must be absolutely beside themselves when they look at the record. 5-2? How did that happen? Here is the mantra for how they see the Chiefs season so far. We got lucky on the Monday night game, after all it was a monsoon, the Chargers wore the wrong cleats and Phyllis was having a bad hair day. Cleveland was pure luck. Crazy Haley went for it on fourth down and made it (his luck will run out) to hold on for the win. The 49ers hadn't won a game prior to playing us and their record since shows a measly two wins. Obviously they are terrible and we should have beaten them. Big deal. The fact that we did is no endorsement to this team. The Colts and Texans now, there is the REAL story. These are good teams that we simply cannot beat (holding Mr. football out of the endzone in his own house through the air was just more unexplainable dumb luck). This is what will happen should we make the playoffs.
Once again the Chiefs got extremely lucky when the Jags came to town. They had to go look for a QB in a corn field because all of theirs were hurt. We should have murdered a team like that and we did -- big deal. Buffalo? More evidence that we just aren't a good team. A good team would have buried those Bills. The Chiefs barely survived. How can you possibly believe in that?
I want to believe so I do. Others decidedly do not. Sam Mellinger writes an article wherein he describes the best way to put the final nail in our quarterback's coffin.
Is this how we want the world at large to see how we support our team? By laying in waiting with the express purpose of "crushing" our QB when he fails to complete a final drive? Not me. By the way Mr. Mellinger, don't you find it ironic that you mention this just as Matt Cassel completes one of these drives for a final score that you think he is incapable of accomplishing?
It's not how we support our team. I understand all the detractors. I understand their motivations and fears. Sometimes though, you have to be brave. Look through that bias and really see what is before you. I believe that we make our own destiny. Somehow, the Chiefs have won five games this year in their first seven played. It is becoming apparent that what is happening is more than coincidence.
Haley says the group is learning to become a team. I have witnessed this in other venues and I am inclined to think he is correct. Going for it on fourth down IS a vote of confidence to the team. If he didn't have faith in their ability to handle the consequences regardless of the outcome, he wouldn't make these calls. This is not just an inexperienced coach trying something outrageous to win a couple that we shouldn't. This is part of building a team.
Whatever the case, the teams that have to face us are hearing it loud and clear and you know what? So far, we have five beautiful Ws to show for that belief. You can say what you want about the way those wins were attained, but once you clear away all the junk, those wins remain. It's like a deposit that this team has put in the bank as a promise of what is to come. At some point skepticism begins to give way to belief. At some point, the reality of what is happening becomes undeniable.
The Buffalo game was a milestone in this team's development. You can look at it as a skimpy win, or you can see it for what it was. It was the team enforcing it's will on another. The Chiefs used everything available (including the now controversial calling time out as the opposing kicker is trying to get one through the uprights -- way to go Haley!) and came out with a win. How many times in the past several years has it gone the other way? You know the answer. This was not just another in a long line of losses that we as fans may have expected. This one was a W. It's not luck, it's not hallucination and it is not some dream created in clouds of fairy dust (I have been accused of spreading that stuff you know).
No, this season is the beginning. Things are different. The team is gaining time to come together. The Buffalo game was the team playing for each other as much as for the fans. I also think that they were playing for coach Haley. Playing to win for Haley because he has shown by his actions that he believes in them.
Cassel played well, The defense played well. The running game did extremely well. Special teams played well. Mostly, they didn't beat themselves. That is really the first step in becoming good. Once you learn how not to beat yourself, mistakes become the exception and not the rule. Pretty soon, winning becomes a habit. Once the fans notice the habit, things will change and one of my fondest dreams will come true.
Winning will finally, joyously, be enough.