What a wild 10 days.
Over the course of that time period, the Kansas City Chiefs signed wide receiver Sammy Watkins, inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens, quarterback Chad Henne, nose tackle Xavier Williams and running back Damien Williams.
They lost WR Albert Wilson to the Dolphins, offensive lineman Zach Fulton to the Texans, QB Tyler Bray to the Bears and ILB Ramik Wilson to the Rams.
They brought back defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins, outside linebacker Dee Ford, WR De’Anthony Thomas and punter Dustin Colquitt.
They issued tremendously contrasting statements on Marcus Peters and Alex Smith and waved goodbye to Tamba Hali.
The Chiefs team from 10 days ago looked very different from the one as it stands Saturday morning.
And why is that? Because Brett Veach made a lot of moves.
Yeah, duh. But why did he do that?
One word—not mine, his—mindset.
Of all the minutes and hours and days of Chiefs press conferences and conference calls and pages and pages and pages of quotes that emerged over the past week and change, the moment and words that stood out to me the most came from Veach’s mouth as he sat to the left of Anthony Hitchens during his introductory press conference.
In about a five-minute span, the Chiefs general manager said the word mindset eight times.
“When we look at the defense and we are trying to get different pieces here right in place – I don’t think you get better until you develop and get a mindset, how you are going to play. You have to get corners, you have to get pass rushers, defense, we are aware of all that. But it starts with a mindset. So when you turn on the tape and watch Anthony Hitchens plays, he plays with that toughness and that mindset. So when you take the field, that opposing offense knows they are going to be in for a dogfight for four quarters. That is one of the things that we talked about as a staff. Yeah, we can get good players, but we have to develop that mindset. This is what this guy brings. He leaves it on the field and he does everything the right way. That is why he was a target for us back in July and when we came to this free agency period, that’s why he was a target again.”
You could describe the Chiefs 2017 defense in countless ways—I read your AP comments—you haven’t held back.
The bottom line is it never struck fear into an opponent. Just ask average NFL quarterback Josh McCown. His Jets hung 38 points in game 12 of the season.
They scored 32 total the rest of the year.
Back to Veach...
“Like the quarterback, like Pat (Mahomes) will do on offense, I think those linebackers will set the tone. Go back to developing that mindset, ‘We are just going to go out there and roll our sleeves up and get to work.’ And it starts with those two backers. Now you have Reggie (Ragland), and now you have Hitch. I think we start to develop a mindset of how we feel as a defense.”
In 2017, Veach must have grown sick of watching running backs have their way inside. He must have grown sick of seeing opposing wide receivers continually burn Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines. And he must have, based upon his most controversial offseason move, grown sick of the uncontrollable in-game manner of Marcus Peters.
“You feel good when young guys come in with the track record they have. These guys have a history of being leaders and bringing that mindset and toughness when they were in high school, when they were in college and when they were in the pros. They are young but this is who they are. This is what they are going to bring and this is how they are going to play off each other.”
If you follow all the signings, non-signings and trades, you find a theme.
Veach wants this new version of the Chiefs to be young, highly-skilled, mild-mannered, consistently hungry and egoless. And I believe he knew that before he made his first phone call.
The mindset of the Chiefs over the past few years has produced success, but only up to a certain extent. The playoff exits obviously became tiresome.
While getting to the playoffs was nice, Veach is thinking Super Bowl.
His mind is set.