Well, Matt get's to unwrap one this week. The return of McCluster. Sure it's and old toy, but it was still pretty shiny new when it got put back in the toy box. And like any very child, this team probably forgot about the toys they have and it's like Xmas again when you dump the box of old toys out on the field. For the team there are McCluster, Moeaki and the newest edition of Cassel 7.0 that just came out with windows. Windows showing a bright future for this club.
The one gift I wish Haley would go out and buy is a case of whoop ass toughness for the special teams. The blocks last week are a symptom of what has been there all year. Where Hampton had seemingly been doing well, I now question what is up with that unit. They do not follow through on tackles or blocks. Wake up! It's Christmas morning and you need to get excited! So what has this fan wrote Santa for this year?
For DJ, a pair of magical gloves that will soften your hands a bit.
For Hali, a nice white helmet so refs can better see the holder's hands wrapped around your facemask and neck.
For Shaun Smith, a..well...err, Santa can't do that for you Shaun even though he personally believes the Chiefs should rip Phyllis Rivers' off him.
For the secondary, an injury free December with Flowers returning so they can get to their potential by playoff time.
For Verran Tucker, we'll bench Chambers and give you a starting nod. And at the end of the season, be the first in the return line to drop Chambers off for a refund.
For the defense, a return to the swagger of the early season.
A new fishbowl for Guppy....because I miss him.
I'm going to digress a bit and review the special teams situation and also how really close we are to being a top tier team. One problem is our talent level. Yep. Your biggest strength can also be your biggest weakness. We have so many of our young players focused on defense and offense, while normally a lot of them would be fighting for playing time and recognition through special teams. I am thinking that intensity and focus is not there. Not that we are slouching by statistical standards but would like to see some intensity. We really need to develop one of our players or pick someone up on the wire to make a statement on special teams....so can we do that for the December run and playoffs Santa? And perhaps a little more push up the middle from the defense?
Top tier team you say? By most fan definitions, that is being able to win the big one and the big games. We are close, really close. Football is a game of inches. We see it all the time. Last year the Chiefs were a yard away or better on most things like protecting the quarterback, sacking the other quarterback, catching the ball. Where we hoped for a 50 to 60 percent improvement this year over 2009, we got 80 percent. What more of an improvement do we need to get there. A sack here or there, or non drop of a pass earlier in the year might have us right there. Should Cassel continue to perform as he is, and Bowe continue, our passing game is there. We have the supporting cast. Our running game hasn't missed a beat, save the McCheaters game. Defensively, we seemed to have slacked off a bit from earlier intensity. But injuries and being young may be part of that problem.
Another thing to think about is the youth of our team. It used to get talked about a lot as rookie running backs came into the league and their performance dropped off as the season went. The rookies are used to the length of a college season. While not a factor to anything as of yet (hope not), Haley and the veterans may need to keep a close eye on Berry and Lewis to make sure they maintain intensity during December and beyond. We could really use another veteran beside McGraw to be in there helping out in the secondary. Flowers and Carr are stil maturing. While certainly not likely a great contributor with his age I would point out that I believe Ty Law is out there and could be a really good mentor for the next month.
The same goes for the rest of the defense. We need to be sure we are ratcheting up the level of play, not dropping off. Get vocal with your leadership somebody. Take Control.