Most fans have already brought the gavel down on the 2011 preseason for the Kansas City Chiefs, deciding that things don't look so hot. The offense has looked lethargic at times, the defense is showing poor tackling technique and it's hard to get a read on just how much better the Chiefs may look in the regular season. While we all know the slate is wiped clean starting September 11, it's hard to see some teams revving their engines quite nicely while others sputter along.
That brings an important to question to mind: How important is rhythm? Is there such a thing? Certainly, any sports fan witness what a boost momentum can bring to a game, or how dramatically a contest is affected if there's a shift in that same momentum. When an offense is in a rhythm, it seems unstoppable. When a defensive unit finds its rhythm, it seems immovable. When it comes to sports cliches and armchair analysis, rhythm seems to be an important aspect to the season.
So that's why the preseason thus far has been fairly disappointing for Chiefs fans, who quickly became accustomed to having a division winning squad just last year. The playoffs are now the goal, the schedule is now much more difficult, so it's frustrating to watch a team fail to find its rhythm just yet.
But does that even matter?
It's interesting to look back one season and see who was in a rhythm at this point last year. On one hand, the Green Bay Packers led the NFC in Total Offense and Points Scored in the preseason, a sign of the offensive juggernaut they would become with Aaron Rodgers under center. The Baltimore Ravens allowed the least preseason points, a sign of the defensive unit they'd have in play for, well, every year really. Still it's easy to point to some statistics and say that finding your footing in the preseason matters.
But the numbers on the other side are rather startling. Consider the following from the 2010 NFL preseason:
1. The Carolina Panthers led the NFC in Total Defense and Points Allowed -- on their way to the first pick in the draft.
2. The Cincinnati Bengals scored the most points in the AFC, and their high powered offense went on to a four-win season.
3. Charlie Whitehurst and Luke McCown led all QBs in total yards for the NFC and AFC respectively.
4. The Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans had the best rushing defense for the preseason, and both went on to six-win campaigns.
5. The only undefeated team -- the 49ers -- went 6-10 in the regular season.
6. Two teams failed to win a single preseason game -- the Bears and Colts -- yet both went on to win 11 and 10 games respectively.
In other words, you can easily paint a picture that preseason performance doesn't mean anything -- as a team or a player. Ultimately, you either trust the system or you don't, but at this point, Todd Haley and his staff have only impressed to date with their ability to garner 10 wins last year. The competition is stiffer this year, but there's more talent on the roster than ever before. And if you're going by the team's preseason rhythm, well, you might have believed the Panthers were going all the way last year.