Three reasons why the future is bright for the Kansas City Chiefs

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -Joel

How about this winning thing? In case you’ve forgotten in the nine months since our last win, it turns out that winning is actually pretty fun.

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that we’ll get to experience that winning feeling as much this season as we did last year. Sure, we’ll still get our fair share of wins, but that miraculous 9-0 stretch seems well out of reach.

On the bright side, the Chiefs have some fantastic young players who are going to end up doing really well in this league. A few of them caught my eye during the game against the Dolphins. Some are obvious, some not so much. Here’s who I think stole the spotlight in Sunday’s win over Miami- three of the reasons why the Chiefs are going to be a great team in a few years:

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The apprentice

Knile Davis has turned out to be quite the security blanket. Davis is not- nor will he ever be- Jamaal Charles. But Knile Davis is not Matt Asiata or any other running back we’ve seen taking over for an injured or suspended star. Knile Davis has the potential to be a top-15- and perhaps top-10- running back in the league.

We first saw what Knile Davis could do during the bloodbath of a wild-card game we were forced to witness last year. Sure, we knew he could make plays before; he had that impressive kick return against Denver in Week 13. But Davis proved himself last year. Not by what happened when he entered the game- but by what didn’t happen when he entered the game.

The Chiefs’ offense, centered on Jamaal Charles, didn’t fall apart when Charles departed with an injury. The Chiefs didn’t get blown out, and only when Davis himself succumbed to the wave of injuries did the final wheel fall off the Chiefs’ metaphorical wagon. Cyrus Gray may yet become a solid NFL backup, but Davis would’ve caught that pass.

Fast-forward to this week against the Dolphins. Once again, instead of collapsing without Charles, the offense broke out. This does not mean that we should be starting Davis over Charles. It’s instead a result of the Chiefs being forced to spread the ball around and get creative. With Charles in the lineup, the offense can, at times, get one-dimensional. Everything runs (pun completely intended) through Charles. Knile Davis can slip under the radar, and if opposing coaches underestimate him, he can make them pay.

But Davis isn’t merely benefitting from the element of surprise. He has the tools to succeed. Against Miami, Davis repeatedly managed to take plays that I thought were dead and turn their loss into a gain. Davis fights for every yard and has a knack for falling forward to pick up a couple more yards when he’s tackled. More often that not, that’s the difference between a first down and punting.

Davis still has some work to do, especially with regards to holding on to the football. But Chiefs fans can rest easy knowing that Davis is a backup who is more than capable of shouldering the load should Charles go down with injury again.

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The playmaker

So have you heard about this Travis Kelce kid? Rumor has it he’s pretty good, and needs to play more. It’s almost to the point where we might be overselling Kelce, except we’re not, because Kelce has the ability to be very, very good and make Chiefs fans very, very happy.

It’s kind of fitting that in the first year after Tony Gonzalez’s retirement, the Chiefs have another TE blossom into a playmaker who could be the centerpiece of their offense. We thought we might have had another a few years ago with Tony Moeaki, but that was mostly speculation based on one fantastic catch in the end zone against San Francisco. Moeaki would then get injured and never showed that promise again. He was last seen wandering the frozen wasteland of upstate New York after being released by the Bills.

Barring major catastrophe, Kelce should never end up wandering the frozen wasteland of upstate New York.

Kelce has shown multiple times that he is capable of serious YAC, already putting himself ahead of the vast majority of tight ends in the NFL. And as the mountain people of Tibet will tell you, there is nothing sweeter than the milk from a serious yak. (I actually know absolutely nothing about yaks.)

Kelce also isn’t a glorified wide receiver a la Jimmy Graham of the Saints- Kelce can get things done blocking as well. In that aspect of the game, I might still put Anthony Fasano ahead of Kelce on the depth chart. Fasano simply has more experience. But by the end of the year (and certainly by next fall), I would expect Kelce to eventually pass up Fasano for the number one tight end spot.

We’ve been looking for that true #1 receiver for several years now. The fans have wanted to go get that Julio Jones, that Sammy Watkins, that generational talent that can form the centerpiece of a high-powered offense. That player is already on the Chiefs’ roster.

Travis Kelce is a playmaker. He’s a player you can build an offense around. Sure, we’d like to get some better receivers, but it’s not something we need to spend a first-round pick on. And Kelce is a great fit for Andy Reid’s offense. He’s able to block on screen plays and has good enough hands to be a bailout option for Alex Smith if need be.

Is it too early to call Travis Kelce the next Tony Gonzalez? Probably. Like Rob Gronkowski, Kelce could wind up being derailed by injuries. But Kelce’s ceiling is sky-high- just like this hurdle, LOOK AT THIS HURDLE

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The overlooked

We probably should have talked about Phillip Gaines more on draft weekend. The pick of Dee Ford was not as electrifying as we’d hoped, we didn’t even have a second-rounder, and Gaines was a third-round pick- not at all a lottery ticket. But then we drafted De’Anthony Thomas in the 4th round, and we couldn’t stop looking at his highlights at Oregon and HIS DELIGHTFULLY CAPITALIZED TWITTER ACCOUNT.

And then we drafted Aaron Murray in the 5th round, and we couldn’t stop talking about whether he was the next Quarterback Of The Future™. And then we drafted a guy in the 6th round who delivered a baby on draft weekend. Gaines got overshadowed.

And to be fair, Phillip Gaines hasn’t quite performed up to expectations yet, either. Even in a secondary that lost Brandon Flowers in the offseason, and then lost Eric Berry in Week 2, Gaines hasn’t had many snaps. Most of his time has come on special teams, but there’s a good chance he manages to break into the secondary at some point this season, especially if the injury bug continues.

That’s why I’m happy with what I saw from Gaines against Miami. Gaines hasn’t seen much action, and actually didn’t record a stat until Sunday. But against the Dolphins, Gaines made two big plays that helped the Chiefs squish the fish.

First, Gaines recorded the touchdown-saving tackle when Dolphins returner Jarvis Landry broke free. Then, Gaines laid a big hit on Landry when the Miami rookie neglected to call for a fair catch.

I don’t expect Gaines to suddenly turn into the panacea for the Chiefs’ secondary. At best, he might become this season’s Marcus Cooper. Gaines does have some play-making ability- he set a school record for deflected passes at Rice, and was twice named a first-string All-Conference USA player. He could become a nice nickel corner for the Chiefs this year or next, and if he continues to develop, well, we don’t know how good he might be- injuries hindered his progress in college. Let’s hope he doesn’t catch the bug going around here.

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The Chiefs are actually a very young team- the third-youngest in the league. This means there are a lot of young players who could, if things go well, play huge roles in the fate of the franchise moving forward. Here are a few more:

Cairo Santos- The best we can say about Santos’ first few games is that they’ve been an adventure. I haven’t given up Santos- yet- but he really has to get his head in the game. That’s why I think the game against the Dolphins was about the best thing to possibly happen to him. Santos never had to attempt a field goal, and he was able to convert four easy extra points. By the end, they were going right down the middle.

And, as an added bonus, he got to watch fellow young kicker Caleb Sturgis miss a field goal of his own. Santos isn’t alone!

Santos’ problems are all mental. He certainly has the physical talent to succeed. Once he gets his confidence back up, he’ll do fine.

Marcus Cooper- Cooper might be the biggest disappearing act in Kansas City since Andy Reid’s first taste of the barbecue. Cooper went from being an absolute beast of a playmaker in the first few weeks of last season to being a virtual invisible man in the secondary. One solid game at home against Denver breaks up a string of ten games with five tackles or less and no interceptions to end the season. In the wild card game, he recorded just one tackle.

Cooper has shown that he has the ability to be a top corner in the NFL, but he needs to rebound from his lengthy slump. The good news is that he’s been looking a little better in the two games he’s played this year, so I expect him to be a solid starter over the latter part of the year.

The entire offensive line- The bad news about the offensive line is that it’s rather young. Alex Smith was sacked 39 times last year, which was probably a little too much. This year, it’s worse- he’s been sacked 11 times already, which would put him on pace to get dropped over 50 times (that probably won’t happen, but it could).

The good news about the offensive line is that it’s rather young. I think in a few years, the O-line could be a real strength of this team, as the group grows together and gains more experience. There’s some real talent on that line, and they could soon be very good.

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The Chiefs definitely have the tools to be a great team in two to three years. And when we get to that point, the division could be theirs for the taking. Oakland and San Diego are both among the oldest teams in the league, and while Denver is in the middle of the pack, their biggest stars are getting up there in age (e.g., Peyton Manning is 38, Wes Welker is 33, and DeMarcus Ware is 32).

The Chiefs might not get to the playoffs this season. They might not even make it next season. But soon- very soon- the Chiefs will be a force to be reckoned with in the AFC West.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.