Ever since this football season ended in week 17 (this is when the season ended, I don't know why all the other teams decided to keep playing) I have been on this site reading a million different mock drafts (all of which are very well thought out but how many versions do you really need) and differing opinions on what should and should not change at 1 Arrowhead Drive. With an almost completely new offensive coaching staff and a new head coach trying to balance those responsibilities along with carrying the duties of defensive coordinator, many things are going to change, all hopefully for the better. There is one thing, however, that I feel should not change and it was a strong focus of our former coach Todd Haley: strength and conditioning.
Now I know Todd ended up being fired and that our team looked awful (to put it nicely) during the preseason and first couple of games but one area that I feel was overlooked (especially by ESPN, they were too busy trying to marry Tim Tebow) was the conditioning of our players. Yes, we had major injuries to our key players but they were early in the year. Too early for the conditioning to even take effect. I understand that there is no way to actually "prove" that we were a better conditioned team. I don't believe there is any way to accurately measure this but there are a few things that I would like to point out to help defend my opinion. More after the jump.
First, our injury list every week was extremely short. I believe it averaged around 3 players on it a week, most with some minor injury like a bruise. I remember comparing injury lists for our opponents every week and admiring how much shorter our list was from theirs. It doesn't matter how good your players are if they can't play due to injury (I'm looking at you Darren McFadden..) and the fact that almost everyone was able to play really made a huge difference. I mean let's be honest, when Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki, and Jamaal Charles (and Matt Cassel later) went down with injury at the beginning of the year and knowing our schedule, did you really think that we would finish the season 1 game away from making the playoffs? Let me emphasize that I don't mean "hope" but actually believe that is where we would end up? I didn't. To be perfectly honest I would have been happy with an 8-8 record with ALL of our starters so being 7-9 with all those injuries was amazing!
The second thing I want to point out is how much better we looked than other teams in the 4th quarter in relation to fitness. I could have been imagining it but I feel like as the game wore on both our lines got more and more push. Think back to the Packers game where Orton stood in the pocket for what felt like forever and our defensive line was all over Rogers. Maybe it was me but I also feel like our sack numbers per game (defense) increased as the season went along and sacks allowed per game (offense) decreased. Again, I did not (nor will I at this current moment) look up statistics on this. I will admit that even with this conditioning program our defense still got tired during the games where they were out on the field most of the time. I don't think this is as much a problem with lack of conditioning as it is a lack of offense.
My third and final point is that we didn't have any major injuries toward the end of the season. I feel like these are even worse than the ones at the beginning, especially for teams that are going to the playoffs because now you can't play in the playoffs or next season. I don't remember many games where a Chiefs player on the ground injured and had to be removed from the rest of the game. There were times when Albert or somebody would get injured but they were usually only out for a few plays. Looking back it was nice knowing that our players would be out there the whole time.
I hope that with all of the new changes that are happening during this offseason at 1 Arrowhead Drive, we keep (or improve) our current strength and conditioning regime. I'm a former soccer player and current coach and I know that if you are better conditioned then the other team you have a strong chance that you will win the game. I mean you may appear to be losing during the first half, but if you are able to push everybody around, out run, and out gun your opponent in the second half I find that most of the time you end up winning. Plus it was really nice not worrying about if somebody is going to be able to play this week because of an injury from last week. What do you guys think? Was our conditioning program a success? Did it actually help or should we get rid of it?