It seems like a few years ago, we came together with a general idea of what Scott Pioli had in mind.
1. Build a team through the Draft 2. Use Strategy over Superstars to find ways to win.
Had you asked me subjectively where this team would be in 4 years, I'd probably give these predictions :
1. HIgh Octane Passing Game
2. Pro Bowl Defensive LIne
3. Running Back by Committee Backfield
Like many fans, I wanted the New England Patriots pt II. The same way I hoped for Green and Holmes to be Warner and Faulk. I didn't see Tamba Hali becoming our deadliest weapon. I didn't see Jamaal Charles being drafted in the first round of Fantasy Football (at least not with the Chiefs).
I didn't find the Chiefs signings of Mike Vrabel , Casey Weigamann , Thomas Jones, Jon McGraw, or Kelly Gregg to be integeral. To be frank, my mind went to the world of " It's the same problem as always. Small Market team with GM that doesn't want to open up his check book" or "Pioli only trusts players that BB approves of".
The Right 53 felt like a PR term to get Pioli out of talking to Adam Teicher. "As long as we're winning like I am on Madden then he can call it whatever he wants".
But I think I see it differently going into this offseason.
If you follow Twitter - Tony Moeaki, Gabe Miller, Andy Studebaker , Anthony Torbio , Caleb Campbell, Ricky Stanzi , and Brady Quinn seem to hang out together. A lot. Their group seems to be one of the loudest in the locker room... and they are considered to be the energy and attitude behind the team. Tonight , for instance, they debated who loves America more .... Miller or Campbell (a former Army grad).
Think back to the Bad News Bears type of win the Chiefs had over the Packers. That was an "attitude win"... something that I've been hoping for as much as an insane Ace behind center.
This could be brushed off, but having a core of back ups that act like leaders is a huge momentum builder for any team - high school or NFL. Even companies that have high morale at the bottom see more results at the top.
The Chiefs franchise , post Martyball , have not had much positive unity. Jared Allen and Larry Johnson hated each other. Holmes and Green were dedicated family men and likely not spending thursday nights of traning camp bowling until 2 AM. Grbac refused to go to the Awards Banquet in his Pro Bowl Season.
Part of this was the internal hatred for Carl Peterson. But now we've moved on.
Players would train in their hometowns instead of spending an offseason in Kansas City ( note - all of the above lived in KC this offseason ) . Every team has a group of popular kids. The first round draft picks and all-star players. They set the bar for the place at the table everyone wants.
But where a team ... truely becomes a team is when the rest of the players take pride in being on the team more than being on the field. This is what happened with the Red Sox with their first World Series of the new century. The Detroit Pistons won with this philosophy as well. Kansas City has lacked sub package players that match the intensity of their loyal fanbase.
There's a different vibe around Arrowhead. The college fanbase has a college type of team - in the best possible types of ways. The locker room , weight room, and off the field leadership that the Vrabels, Weigmanns, and Jones installed in Year 1 of the Right 53 is handed off to the Millers and Studebakers. Guys who not only want to win but can teach others how to want it as well.
Currently, the Chiefs might go into next season only cutting 2-3 memorable players. And that could be due to injury-ridden careers. Donald Washington and Cameron Sheiffeld come to mind. Steve Maneri could be there. Jerrel Powe has had rumblings as well. The David Mims project could be done after this season as well.
The free agency and draft had less of a Grimm Reaper affect than the previous ones.
Gabe Miller - DeMorrio Williams
Dontari Poe - Kelly Gregg
Jeff Allen - Technically he replaces Brian Waters
Donald Stephenson - Ryan O'Callahan
Devon Wylie - Jerehmi Urban
D'Qwan Menzie - Rashard Langford
Cyrus Gray - Jackie Battle
Junior Hemingway - Terrance Copper / Jeremy Horne
I won't go on and give some massive Super Bowl prediction. But the Chiefs seem to be developing an identity internally as to who they are. IDENTITY wins games over the favorite. IDENTITY gets consecutive road wins. And although we might not have the high octane passing game or "next Richard Seymour" on our roster.... we have the makings of the IDENTITY that Chiefs fans have prayed for over the 25 years.