We need to be careful here.
A little over a year ago, I wrote an article detailing how Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach used the word, “mindset,” eight times during Anthony Hitchens’ opening press conference.
The Chiefs signed Hitchens following the 22-21 stunner to the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round, a game in which the Chiefs gave up 19 straight points to lose.
“If you follow all the signings, non-signings and trades, you find a theme,” I wrote. “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.”
As we know now, that turned out to be a nice thought, and not much else.
The Chiefs finished No. 31 in yards allowed per game and many correctly blamed losing the AFC title game against the New England Patriots on the defense thanks to giving up 37 points and being powerless against Tom Brady in overtime.
Fast-forward to February. Bob Sutton is gone. Enter Steve Spagnuolo.
SPAGNUOLO: “Well after I came here, the first thing that went through my mind is I hope [Patrick Mahomes] didn’t use up all his good plays (laughing). He’s pretty impressive to watch. I mentioned this: if you could be in an organization that has a top-notch head coach, which the Kansas City Chiefs do, and the quarterback position is getting that kind of play, then you got a chance to be pretty good. Our (defensive) side of the ball and our job is going to be, make sure that they score less points than our offense scores, and we’d like to do a little bit better than that—really be one of the reasons why we win football games. That’s the most important thing.”
Watching the defense last year and the year before, Spagnuolo’s words feel like another reach. But it is a good sign that the message is already being passed along to his players.
Just look at Tyrann Mathieu’s official Twitter account on Friday.
Lotta work to put in, but we will play with energy, attitude & we won’t accept being the lil brother to a high powered offense. https://t.co/wrSKBxAx0c— Tyrann Mathieu (@Mathieu_Era) April 12, 2019
MATHIEU: “Lotta work to put in, but we will play with energy, attitude and we won’t accept being the lil brother to a high powered offense.”
And here we go again.
If you’re a Chiefs fan, you should feel good about Mathieu’s words. The Chiefs and their leaders see what we have seen and they intend to change that. But don’t forget that we heard similar things last season and the team never met those expectations.
With a new defensive coordinator, new scheme and new defensive leader, it is possible things will be different in 2019.
But remember: a mindset shift goes only as far as the white lines.