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Rocky’s World: Entering 2022 as we remember the Chiefs year that was

It’s been a roller coaster of a year Chiefs fans, but hey it’s been a heck of a ride.

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Super Bowl LV - Preview Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Now that 2021 has drawn to a close, we look ahead to the New Year with the Kansas City Chiefs — and the promise they bring to all of us.

As we turn the page, I thought it would be fun to look back at 2021, reliving some of the memories we’ve shared together. So queue up Green Day’s Good Riddance, pour yourself a glass of champagne and enjoy the next few minutes as we reminisce about the good times, the bad times and all of the silly times — like when we thought quarterback Patrick Mahomes was broken.

February 7: The lowest of the lows

I want this article to be fun, and so I apologize for bringing up the buzzkill of Super Bowl LV right off the bat. But like 17th-century theologian Thomas Fuller wrote, it’s always darkest before the dawn. So while 2021’s start was a bit of a bummer, it’s important to remember that we only appreciate where we are because of all the places we have been.

Super Bowl LV proved to the world that if you set a pile of Swiss cheese in front of Superman and call it an offensive line, even he will look mortal.

March 15 - May 2: #GreatBarrierChiefs are assembled

After the embarrassing loss in the Super Bowl, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach didn’t waste any time making moves to build his newest masterpiece. The Chiefs didn’t just need a couple of new players. Instead, they needed an entire dang ecosystem. Veach wanted a line that was so stout, Mahomes could literally pop a squat, complete a Sodoku and still have time to pass the ball — without a defender getting within an arm’s reach of him.

It started with the team shelling out enough Benjamins to make Joe Thuney football’s most highly-paid guard. Considering that he’s played with a broken hand — and didn’t yield a single sack — it’s hard to argue with Veach’s logic.

Next, Veach swapped Kansas City’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft (and some of his other picks) to the Baltimore Ravens for proven commodity Orlando Brown Jr. (and some of their other picks). It still remains to be seen if the Chiefs will be able to extend Brown, but it’s hard to argue with a move that gave Kansas City a Pro Bowl left tackle.

Veach went back to the big boy well in the second round, taking the NFL’s best rookie: center Creed Humphrey.

But Veach’s most impressive pick to date may have been landing guard Trey Smith with the 226th pick in the sixth round.

There was never a question about Smith’s talent. Just look at how he tosses off his initial man — and waits for his opportunity to clean Maxx Crosby’s clock.

May 3: Mahomes predicts a perfect season

When Mahomes “predicted” that the Chiefs would go 20-0 on the season, it made a lot of ears perk up among the national media. It was the offseason — so of course, the whole thing was blown out of proportion. Mahomes never said the Chiefs would go 20-0. He said that it was his goal — and why wouldn’t it be?

It’s like my Uncle Doug always told me, “Never trust the word of an Oakley-clad millionaire while he’s lounging on an all-white couch on a golf course in Hawaii.”


July 13: Arrowhead Pride adds seven nine new writers to its team

Like famed NASCAR great Ricky Bobbie said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

This is just as true in life — and sports journalism. Since ancient times, Arrowhead Pride has been the gold standard for Chiefs coverage. And this past summer, AP added a slew of new voices to its roster.

With the exception of a few very bad takes on my part, I believe the fresh voices that were added this season have taken the site’s coverage to a new high.

But I don’t know. I might be a little bit biased.

August 14 - 21: Preseason perfection

Kansas City went undefeated in the preseason. The #TakeItBack tour was full steam ahead. The defense looked dominant. The offense looked like it was in midseason form.

Was Mahomes right? Could we go 20-0? Would Chris Jones break the sack record while lining up at defensive end?

For a short time, we lived in a world of endless possibilities — caught up in the ether of a dream that was too sweet to be real.

Alas, the dream was not meant to be. Well... at least not the way we thought.

September 12: The Chiefs escape the season opener with a win

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Chiefs trailed the Cleveland Browns 27-29. Mahomes and company had slugged their way back from a 12 point deficit. It was time to finish the job.

It was fourth-and-12 from the Cleveland 23-yard-line. The Browns were in punt formation when punter Jamie Gillian muffed the snap and fumbled the ball — giving the Chiefs the short field they needed to complete their comeback.

We all thought, “One game down, 19 to go.”

September 19: The turnover gremlins show up at the door

If you’ve ever seen the Gremlins movies of the 1980s, then you know they are greedy little sons-of-a-gun — and you shouldn’t feed them after midnight. If you do, all chaos will break loose; they will wreak havoc on everything they touch.

Well, turnovers are the same way. Once they get going, it’s hard to make them stop.

In a reverse of their fortunes from the week before, the Chiefs were driving late in the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens — and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire put the ball on the ground.

The dream of 20-0 was over. The Chiefs were 1-1 on the season.

The following week, the turnover gremlins continued to cripple the team's potential. Against the Los Angeles Chargers, Mahomes threw for two interceptions — and the Chiefs lost two more fumbles.

The first whispers of Mahomes being broken were starting to circulate.

October 3-24: An up-and-down month

The month started with fireworks: the Chiefs’ offense utterly outclassed a limited Philidelphia Eagles defense. For the moment, Mahomes put all doubts to rest, tossing five touchdown passes.

But Kansas City followed this with a dud of a game against the Buffalo Bills, in which Mahomes threw two more interceptions.

On his First Take show, ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith said that this loss meant the Chiefs were “done.”

Then the Chiefs won their next game against the Washington Football Team — much like they had against the Eagles. Fans started to wonder: did this team have what it would take to beat good teams, or would they simply be content to just beat up on bad ones?

The next week — in the team’s worst offensive outing in the Mahomes era — the Chiefs were steamrolled by the Tennessee Titans. By then, it was evident that something was wrong. Mahomes was overthinking his throws — and it looked like he was questioning what he was seeing on the field.

Seven games into the season, the Chiefs had a losing record of 3-4.

November 1 - present: The streak rolls on

The only way to kill a gremlin is to bring it to light. Across the country, pundits wrote extensively about the Chiefs’ turnover issues. Mahomes said he needed to do better.

But it didn’t stop there. The Chiefs were also fielding one of the worst defenses in the history of the NFL.

And then... Kansas City traded for Melvin Ingram. This forced Chris Jones to move back to where he is most effective: on the inside. Frank Clark got healthy. Rashad Fenton and L’Jarius Sneed developed into one of the best young cornerback duos in the game.

And finally... Mahomes figured things out.

The Chiefs won eight consecutive games, clinched the AFC West title for the sixth straight season and took the lead for the AFC’s first postseason seed.

Who knows where it will end?

January 1, 2022: Looking ahead to the New Year

As we close the book on 2021, we carry hope and faith that the shimmer on this Chiefs team is not just Fool’s Gold. We choose to believe that it is the NFL’s best team.

So in that spirit, I leave you with this — which is sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

Should old defenses be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old defenses be forgot,
And secure a first-round bye?

For us, a first-round bye, my dear,
For us, a first-round bye.
We’ll bring a couple blitzes yet,
To win our first-round bye.

Happy New Year, Chiefs Kingdom!