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Competition vs. Confidence: The Right Approach?

We've kicked around the debate (pun intended) of Ryan Succop vs. Connor Barth or even some others still available on the market. Yet in the end, it seems our decisive Captain of the Watch went Gostkowski on us and handed the young guy the job on a silver platter. For many of us, we believe Pioli and Co. know what they are doing and the move feels a good vote of confidence to bolster the early career nerves of a rookie like Succop.

On the other side, we hail the signings of those like Mike Brown who will push our young guys and seize the job they believed to be "theirs" in the secondary before his arrival. The same could be said of the offseason LB and WR signings of veterans with enough left in the tank to still be productive on the field and push our young guys to new levels. It's the thought that confidence breeds the best (or worst) in a player and that's exactly what you need in training camp and beyond.

But it brings up an interesting debate. On one hand, you have the personnel move of instilling confidence in a guy by saying, "You have nothing to worry about. The job is completely yours." Most of the time, it's beyond pandering to a guy's ego. Instead, there's something uplifting - inspiring, even - about being told that you're the first and last option and it's up to you to get the job done. The hope, therefore, is that a guy like Succop realizes the gift he's been bestowed and goes out respecting it enough to work his butt off.

On the other hand, the beast of competition breathes fiercely down the necks of most NFL players. One bad game, one injury to sideline you for a few weeks, and your job is thrown onto the ground like raw meat before a pack of wolves. One minute, you're the team's definite starter at that position; the next, a groin pull reveals your "old age" (which in NFL terms is hilariously dubbed your late-twenties) and fans are calling for you to stay on the sideline. And that competitive thirst, hopefully, raises the level of gameplay in each and every guy praying they will get their chance on the gridiron.

It's not a formula. There's no front office flowchart that says give the kicker the easy time, give the unknown QB (as some have called him) a mega-extension. You'd think competition would be a beautiful thing for all involved, but, in some instances, the Chiefs new regime seem fine resting the mantle of leadership on a guy's shoulders and letting him own it completely with no thought of anything but being game-ready. And when you think about it, those approaches make sense.

Yet in these other places, it's interesting that in the spots on the field the Chiefs seem the most prepared or set, we introduce new players like Travis Daniels or Mike Brown to only further increase the level of competition and talent. And when we, as fans, see that happen, we applaud it as if it should happen at every position.

For some players, the vote of confidence will hopefully be the thing that raises their gaze, their stature and their playing ability. For others, it will be that looming threat over their shoulder that they better not miss this chance. And we can only hope in each case that the right cards have been played with the right positions.

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