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How the Kansas City Chiefs can earn respect (it's simple, really)

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I'm working on a piece right now about why Jamaal Charles is great. The film has been reviewed and three plays have been selected to demonstrate the difference between Charles and other "fast" running backs (to whom he is endlessly compared).

However, that article has already taken (and will take) a great deal of time to research and write (anything that involves watching film takes a while. That's the nature of the beast). So in the meantime, let's chuck out a couple of mailbag questions to fill the aching void in our lives that we believe can be filled by sports but can only be filled by living a life truly devoted to loving others more than we love ourselves.

(That's right. It just got real o'clock in the mailbag. Examine your life, people. Or don't, and read the mailbag instead! As always, send me more and more and more questions. @RealMNchiefsfan is the place)

You know, that's a very interesting point. It doesn't seem to matter whether you look at the opinion of Chiefs fans or the national media ... there's a GIGANTIC gap in how the Chiefs are perceived from one person to the next.

I, too, have seen the Chiefs ranked both high and low by various people who do such things (I'd never do something so lowbrow as power rankings. Except those dozen times I did). The problem with being a guy who lives on the fence (as I do) is that I get arguments on both sides.

On one hand you have the pessimistic side. The Chiefs offense was mostly a mess last year. The offensive line is a giant question mark still (losing Rodney Hudson is rough), and the Chiefs are awfully reliant on young wide receivers to step up if they want production from anyone but Maclin. The run defense didn't really get addressed and is relying on Mike DeVito and Derrick Johnson to be fully healthy (you never know how injuries will end), and some people could easily question the depth at corner (a position where, again, there's a heavy reliance on young guys to step up).

The Chiefs, if they want to be taken seriously as any sort of contender, need to make the playoffs. And this time, they need to come away with at least a single win.

On the other side of things, the Chiefs upgraded their worst weakness on the line from last year in a massive way (yes, the LG play was bad enough to mess with entire game plans). They upgraded from Bowe to Maclin, a significantly better fit with the offense. The receivers are better (seriously, they are) than the mess from early last year. Travis Kelce is healthy, DJ and DeVito are practicing and additions have been made to a defense that was already top notch last season. There's a lot of reason to think the team (which was good enough to compete against anyone) will be improved.

So, yeah, I get the divide. And I really don't believe there's more than one way to end it. The Chiefs, if they want to be taken seriously as any sort of contender, need to make the playoffs. And this time, they need to come away with at least a single win.

Look, I'm not someone who claims that whatever happened in 1998 somehow impacts how teams are currently viewed. I'm of the opinion it's just not accurate. This idea that the ghosts of Chiefs past somehow looms large on the minds of ANYONE but Chiefs fans is not only silly, it's pretty self-important. No one cares about the playoff win drought other than fans (yes, it hurts. I said it) and announcers looking for a blurb.

National reporters, analysts, and fans of other teams don't take the Chiefs all that seriously because of RECENT history, not the ancient past. And recent history shows the Chiefs being inconsistent.

Last year, the Chiefs went from pounding the Patriots to being edged out by the Niners to going on a five game winning streak to dropping a game to the Raiders on national television and going on a three game losing streak. It was ... a bumpy ride, to say the least.

But make no mistake, heads WERE turning during the Chiefs winning streak. Particularly after beating the Seahawks at their own brand of physical football at Arrowhead Stadium (a game I witnessed. It was sublime). Phrases like "top five team" were thrown around in the national media ... until the Chiefs proceeded to get embarrassed four days later.

(Punches all the walls)

So it's not really a matter of the Chiefs not GETTING respect. It's a matter of them not EARNING respect. At least, not yet. If they want to earn respect they're going to have to survive a brutal early schedule, make the playoffs, and actually not be a one and done team. If they do that, the respect will come naturally. But there are no shortcuts.

I would never, ever doubt Cairo Santos. Well, except the time I basically screamed through tears that he was the biggest reason the Chiefs lost to the Broncos. Sorry about that, Cairo. I was in a bad place emotionally after such a disgusting loss. I did not handle it well and needed to lash out at someone. It wasn't you, it was me.

(Reviews the film from that game)

Well, it was kinda you too. Let's just put it in the past, shall we?

Anyway, I'm pretty OK with Santos as the Chiefs kicker. The improvement he showed from the beginning of the season to the end of the season makes me comfortable with him. When he was asked to step up and kick a 48 yard game winner on the road against the Chargers, he did so.

Santos was horrific to start the year (on kickoffs and FGs alike), then settled in and played REALLY well throughout the rest of the season ... until a hiccup against Oakland (the whole team was just awful that day, it seems) and a missed field goal against the Chargers (along with four MADE field goals, to be fair) in Week 17.

Santos has never revealed this "giant leg" (I mean, metaphorically giant. Not literally. Though that'd be pretty cool ...) we kept hearing about last offseason. He seems to have decent leg strength, but nothing spectacular. But he seems to keep calm under pressure and did a decent job.

Like any kicker, Cairo is on the hot seat the moment he goes through a rough stretch that lasts longer than three games. That's just life as a kicker. But I think he'll be fine. Again, we've come a long ways since early in 2014.

I just want to note, for the record, that Matt Conner handled it really well when this mailbag question didn't immediately appear.

Don't ever doubt my love for you, Matt. I promise you (and everyone else patiently waiting) that your turn will come. Well, unless your question totally sucked. Then it won't. Life is very unfair. Watch Game Of Thrones if you don't believe me.

As far as the all caps go, there is only one coach I'd even consider for such a distinction. There is absolutely no way, based on his appearance, that Bob Sutton would understand how to properly work a twitter account. Or a smart phone. Or a cellular phone. Or a phone phone. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Bob Sutton delivers messages to his assistants Tywin Lannister style, writing with a quill on parchment and sending a raven (2 GoT references in one mailbag answer? It's your lucky day, America).

That lack of knowledge would undoubtedly lead to Sutton tweeting things like "WIN AT THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE AND NO WIDE RECEIVER IS DANGEROUS!!!!!," or "YOU CAN'T HAVE A TURTLE AT FREE SAFETY! I KNOW, I TRIED IT ONCE!!!"

Now that I think about it, this sounds magnificent. Is there a Go Fund Me site that could make this happen?

See you next mailbag.

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