Shaun Smith has moved on from Cleveland and KC for a reason. He’s not the answer at DE and certainly isn’t an elite NT. Ron Edwards was barely serviceable as a NT in the Chiefs 3-4 defense, no big loss. Mike Vrabel was past his prime as a player and the Chiefs front won’t crumble without him. Brian Waters should have been traded a couple years ago before he started to decline. His loss is an emotional one, and a leadership one... not one of elite production. Brodie Croyle was NEVER going to morph into a franchise QB, and was never even worth his contract as a back up. Chambers never should have been added to the roster. As bad as you may believe Tyler Palko is, he’s still a better back up QB than a guy riding an exercise bike on the sideline. Tyson Jackson has more potential as a DE than Croyle had at QB or Edwards did as a NT. Asamoah has the ability to play in the NFL as a starting lineman. And Matt Cassel is a better QB than ½ the starters in the league.Justin Houston isn’t going to lead the league in sacks. Jon Baldwin isn’t going to catch 90 balls for 1200 yards. Hudson isn’t going to call the perfect protections and elevate the offensive line all by himself. Gaither was let go for a reason, and is not an instant or sure thing upgrade. McClain won’t run for 900 yards and catch 60 balls. Breaston won’t be the Chiefs’ Wes Welker in terms of production. Asamoah won’t be this years Will Shields. Barry Richardson hasn’t improved so much that our RT position is solidified. Gregg won’t be the best NT in the league in his first year as a Chief. Tyson Jackson is not Ty Warren from 5 years ago. Matt Cassel will not throw for 5000 yards, or even match his TD/INT ratio from last season. Eric Berry has not surpassed, nor is he a match for, Troy Polamalu. The offensive line WILL take ½ a season to start to gel. Brandon Albert will struggle if he’s moved to another position. Thomas Jones is in great shape, but he’s still a year older, a year slower, and a year further past his prime. Tamba Hali has still only had ONE truly great year rushing the passer. Studdebaker won’t have the coverage skills or the savvy that Vrabel had. Ricky Stanzi is not Joe Montana. Siler is not an elite run stopping force in the middle. Mims was an undrafted rookie that had no line coach, and is not ready to step on the field as a starter, or even a quality back, up this season.
Our schedule is more difficult than last season, but it’s not impossible or even improbable for the Chiefs to win just as many games. San Diego won’t start out the season as horribly as they have the last 3. The Raiders personnel got worse in the off season, but Hue Jackson is a hell of a coach and he won’t let the team fall apart around him. The Broncos don’t have a QB controversy; Baring injury or an awful record early in the season, Tebow will not be the starter.
The Chiefs aren’t nearly as ignored by the press as the fans like to make them out to be, and the team is not running under the radar anymore. The people that matter (coaches and GM’s) have taken notice to the talent on our ball club.
Even if you think I’m wrong about something in the preceding 4 paragraphs I’m not wrong about so many of those things that the Kool-Aid Drinkers or the the Sky is Falling camps of Chief fans have a leg to stand on while they make their doom and gloom or pre-season Superbowl predictions.
No one knows the outcome until the games are played. You can bet your bottom dollar that Pioli, Haley, and Hunt are making decisions based on what they believe will improve our team and put them in the best position to win.
So what am I trying to say? I’m trying to let Chiefs fans know up front that no one really has any clue what’s going to happen this year. Optimism is a nice thing. There’s nothing wrong with going through life (or a football off season) having a positive outlook. Just be careful that you don’t use too many ‘if’s’ or ‘will’s’ when you discuss your favorite team. i.e. IF Cassel takes care of the ball like he did last year and IF Charles gets more carries, and McClain WILL be better in short yardage, and Baldwin WILL burn other teams IF they try to double Bowe how they did last year. Also, IF Albert moves RT and Richardson gets benched (because Gaither WILL be better at LT) then our running game WILL be even better than last year. In addition, IF Gregg pans out at NT and Jackson takes that 3rd year leap this season then our LB’s WILL be freed up and WILL make more plays on the ball..... then..... SUPER BOWL!!!
Have you ever heard ‘that guy’ in a sports bar and actually taken him seriously? You can’t have that many IF’s and WILL’s as precursors to why your team is going to be so great this season and expect the other people to hop on your band wagon. There’s enough Kool-Aid in that statement to drown a herd of elephants. Slow your roll and take a deep breath. The games will start in a few weeks and IF all those wishes actually do come true there won’t be any shortage of fair weather fans to overload your wagon. Optimism is great, but self delusion will only end in a mid season depression.
On flip side of that coin are the negative Nancy fans that read pain and despair in every sweet tea leaf they come across. (Those exist, right? Sweet tea leaves are real plants?) They can be heard in every bar, and read on every blog. Their sch-peel goes something like this:
"Clark Hunt is a moron. He’s a trust fund baby that doesn’t care if his team wins or loses. He’s a tight wad that won’t spend the money to bring in [insert players name]. If he would have just opened his wallet and signed [X and Y players] then our team could have been fantastic... unbeatable even, but without those 2 players we won’t even be able to beat the [local high school team mascot]." They completely ignore the fact that those players don’t fit our scheme, or are (in football years) older than dirt and have less left in the tank than a full electric car.
These people go on to say that our QB is completely hopeless (regardless of the fact the stat lines prove them wrong) and that our play callers don’t have the foggiest clue about what they’re doing. And that [name 6 or 7 current players on the roster] couldn’t make the squad of any other team in the league if we released them. This kind of fan has no band wagon because no one can stand to be around their constant negativity for any length of time. This is the 40 year old virgin living in his mothers basement trying to convince the rest of the world how much smarter they are than the people that have succeeded in football as a career. It doesn’t matter if the moron in question is a coach with a 30 year history of success or a player that has set every record there is to set. This fan still knows more about how to run the team, and they're dying to tell the rest of us how things should be done.
In short (yeah, yeah... too late, right?), Kool-Aid drinker fans live in the future. They are always telling you about some college player that WILL be the best whatever of all time. They are just sure that every single ‘if’ and ‘but’ they can come up with are going to come true, and that this is the year their team magically turns from terrible to world beaters. Nothing could possibly go wrong and the world is made of wine and roses. The future is brighter than 10,000 suns.
The negative Nancy lives in the past. They call for a constant stream of big name players that are either past their prime or don’t fit the scheme to be added to the team every year. They are positive that these, once great, players are the answer to all the teams woes. There’s no way that an actual GM or coach or scout, or even a doctor could be better at evaluating a player than they are. If the team didn’t re-sign some over the hill player or didn’t spend huge money to bring in every formerly great free agent that came available it’s because the owner and coaches don’t care about winning... or aren’t smart enough to know how.
I’m calling on YOU ,Chiefs fans, to join me here in the present. There’s some optimism about what could happen this coming season. There’s also some trepidation about the competition we face or the players that have yet to prove themselves. Get away from the Kool-Aid pitcher and avoid a mid season suicide brought on by severe depression. And for all that’s good and holy stay away from the soul sucking negative Nancy’s and the dark cloud that follows them.
Welcome to the present fellow APers. The sun is out. The birds are chirping, and real football games that count are right around the corner. Let’s enjoy a season of football together and experience the journey of the season without any preconceived notions about where the road ahead might lead. I don’t have a band wagon, but I’ve got a Dodge Charger with a full tank of gas and I know the best spot for burnt ends and cold beer on Sunday. The 2011 seasons is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get....but it’s gonna be chocolate for sure so it can’t be all bad.