How will the Chiefs perform this season? The cusp of regular-season play always begets Prognostication Week, with ranking lists and season predictions and face-offs between the rabid Kool-Aid-ers and the gloomy We'llStillSuck-ers.
When I look at the basic ingredients for success - Talent, Preparation and Luck - I am encouraged and have hope.
TALENT. The Chiefs, top to bottom, are better this year - a lot better. From the top with new Coordinators to the bottom of the roster's special teams backups - we have improvement nearly across the board.
But no surprise, the team still needs more. Every team needs more. Getting more talent takes time -- time to find them, time to draft them, time to develop them, time to test and stress them, evaluate and prune them. We're getting there, but the key is to achieve a roster with a critical mass for sustained success. Haley rightly wants starter/backup roles to be essentially 1A-string and 1B-string. With ‘backups' as dangerous as the 'starters' each week, that makes an intimidating team to an opponent. That's real depth, lasting-success depth. Our running back group is there. Our secondary is getting there. Man, I long for the day when our expensive defensive line gets there. Our wide receiver group desperately needs to get there.
PREPARATION. I keep thinking to the spring OTA's and the Chief's 99% participation. That, friends, is an ABSURD FANTASY level of team commitment. NOBODY in the league could make that claim, except KC. It's important because this establishes a conditioned team. It raised the baseline of probable performances and expectations for every player on the entire roster. Conditioning yields endurance and durability. Endurance yields more consistent performance through four quarters of each game, each week. Finishing games strong means way better odds of finishing games with a Win.
LUCK. Good luck and bad. The schedule-makers gave us a break, for once. Injuries suck, but we're not that bad off. Some teams are critically crippled by end of pre-season. Sh!t happens. Smart teams make their own luck, as best they can. Smart teams are opportunistic, and never say quit. When game-changing opportunity is there - the lucky bounce, the lucky deflection, the lucky block -- conditioned players aren't too gassed and numb to take advantage.
I think Haley and company have positioned the team as best they can, to allow our talent and our preparation to seize opportunities during the season and pay off with more Wins this season.
* * *
I have hope for this season. Maybe not playoffs-level hope, but hope and dare-I-say expectations.
Sure I'll take more wins this season and I expect to get them. But even more, this season I'll take respect and relevance for Kansas City again. I want "Kansas City" on another team's schedule to no longer be seen by NFL-at-large as an automatic ‘gimme' for them. I want "Kansas City" on the NFL schedule be perceived instead as an automatic nail-biting classic -- a promise for a game of great football to the final tick of the gameclock and a punishing contest of wills. Of Chiefs Will.
I want to see Arrowhead Stadium recapture its reputation -- that Arrowhead means loud and it means loyalty. I want the NFL to understand that Arrowhead again means undiminished, undaunted, unshatterable Homefield Advantage.
And I want to see that the blueprint set for this team is really in place, and ultimately this plan will indeed be built for sustained success. Show me, Kansas City. Show me that this team is getting back to where it should be.
Back to recapturing Red and Gold Greatness.
My thoughts regarding Red and Gold Greatness can be read at Dolphins at Chiefs, Christmas Day 1971 which Steve_Chiefs kindly fanposted on my behalf. =Dan=