Kansas City Chiefs show heart, unity in historic turnaround season

David Welker

Various Chiefs players discussed the traits that have gotten them to this point after a tough win over the Cleveland Browns.

It's often said people learn about each other in adverse situations.

The same applies when everything goes well, such as in Kansas City where the Chiefs are off to an 8-0 start after a 23-17 win over the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium.

Still, a lot of professional organizations like to come away with lessons learned from an event and an NFL team isn't different. But instead of an after action review from a single game, what have the Chiefs discovered about themselves in the last eight weeks?

Quarterback Alex Smith said during his postgame media session the biggest thing that catches his attention is the team unity. Even with the offense still finding its legs, there won't be any finger pointing in the locker room.

Instead, Smith said encouragement from the defensive and special team units is the norm.

"Guys are playing for each other. It's really easy to talk about, but at the NFL level, it doesn't happen often."

"Guys are playing for each other," Smith said. "It's really easy to talk about, but at the NFL level, it doesn't happen often. I think we have a really selfless group; guys that like coming to work, like being around each other, like preparing and like going out there and competing as well. I mean, that's the thing that really jumps out at me."

Kicker Ryan Succop echoed Smith's thoughts on what he's learned of his teammates during the winning streak.

"We are a team," Succop said. "We are a team from the very beginning to the end. We stick together. The defense is helping the offense, the offense is helping the defense, special teams is contributing and that's the deal. We've been able to win a lot of close games this year and that's a great sign of a team."

Safety Eric Berry said the hard work mentality is also prevalent among his teammates.

He pointed out regardless how the team plays on any given Sunday, players will be in on Mondays to remedy mistakes and practice routines will remain the same. There won't be any shifting from the focus the team has been accustomed to with coach Andy Reid and his staff.

Moreover, Berry said there's another special attribute in the locker room.

"We just got a lot of heart," Berry said. "We try to keep things in perspective. We're 8-0 right now, but at the same time it's all about being 1-0 and putting ourselves in good position for down the stretch."

In addition to team unity and having heart, cornerback Brandon Flowers added the locker room has a fighting spirit. Flowers said that spirit is an important attribute for any NFL team to secure victories, much less an eight-game winning streak to start the season.

"We've got fighters on this team."

"We've got fighters on this team," Flowers said. "No matter how things are going, everybody always finds a way to fight their way out of any situation we're in. That's what it takes to win games in this league. It's hard to win a single game in this league and we've won eight straight. We've got to keep it going, put our head down and keep it going."

Meanwhile, wide receiver Donnie Avery said the thing he appreciates is every player gives their all until the clock reads 00:00. There's no quitting in Kansas City.

Mirroring Smith's and Succop's thoughts, Avery also said the ability of every unit - from offense, defense to special teams - to rely on each other has contributed to the wins. He added the locker room's willingness to buy into the new regime during the offseason has played a large role.

"Everybody's got the beast in them," Avery said. "Everybody bought in from OTAs (organized team activities), we're just doing it. We lean on our defense, they lean on us and we're winning."

Virtually every game the Chiefs have played, including Sunday's contest, fits the M.O. that Smith, Succop and Avery described.

The Chiefs offense started hot against the Browns, converting on 9-of-12 third down opportunities (75 percent) and producing 20 points on four of the five first-half possessions.

But when the offense stalled in the second half, going a dismal 1-of-7 on third downs, the defense stepped to the plate.

And that's more than fine for this Chiefs team because they have each other's back.

"If one thing isn't clicking, then the other guy is going to step up," Succop said. "You saw that today. Once again, it was another close game, but nobody panicked. We have total confidence in each other with what we're doing and we're able to go out there and get it done."

Unity, heart, fighters and a beast within are words used to describe the locker room bond and what the players have discovered of each other this season.

But arguably the best lesson learned comes from right guard Jon Asamoah because the unit that fights together, stays together.

"Our big thing is we break everything down as family and that's what we feel we are," Asamoah said. "It's not going to be pretty like days like today, but different parts of the team pick each other up, so that's what makes us so strong."

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