The 2010 Kansas City Chiefs were a developing team struggling to form an identity. They were able to muster ten wins, and an AFC West title, but it became quite apparent at the end that they were not yet who they are going to be in the coming years. The question then is, “Just who are they going to be?”
This past season was a grab bag of offense and defense either saving or losing games. The defense made a goal line stand to secure a win against the Philip Rivers led Chargers, but blew a fourth quarter lead against the Texans. The offense came out blazing in games against San Francisco, Seattle, and Tennessee, but fell flat in the second San Diego game, the Raiders games, and the playoff loss to Baltimore. There have been moments of defensive brilliance, offensive drives that unfolded like poetry, and utter disappointment from both sides. Truly signs of a developing team struggling to forge an identity for themselves in a league laden with strong personalities.
Team identity goes beyond just how a certain person or group performs on the field. A team with an identity to outsiders and players coming into their system has an almost mythical quality. At times a team with a strong identity can seem superhuman, all knowing, and even magical. The will and attitude this personality creates within an organization elevates otherwise pedestrian athletes and coaches to a level that truly is greater than its components. The Steelers and Ravens identities are woven into a tradition of strong defense. The Colts and Saints conversely are sewn into a fabric of pure offensive power. These teams know who and what they are, and for better or worse stick to their guns year in and year out.
So that brings us back to the question, “Just who are the Chiefs going to be?” This is an interesting question because right now the Chiefs destiny stands on the edge of a blade (I know, nice LOTR reference right?), and they are a couple of key acquisitions away on both sides of the ball from attaining a strong team personality. Will they acquire a high profile receiver and become a true offensive powerhouse, or will they get another pass rusher and crucify opposing quarterbacks? I’m sure a lot of you are asking, “Why not do both?”
My answer to that after the jump…
In my first article that I wrote as a submission to become a writer for this site that was never actually posted, I said that the Chiefs needed to go the “Full Monty,” meaning that they needed to put together all components of their team so we were not stuck with the teams of the ‘90s that could shut down everyone but not score, or the teams of the early 2000’s that could score 100 points a game but allow 101. I still believe that this argument stands, we do need to put together both sides of our team and to ignore one side in benefit to the other is setting the team up for failure. I still do not believe that this will have any bearing on the identity of the team though. After all, Pittsburgh has Ben Roethlisberger to compliment their defense, and Indianapolis has Dwight Freeney to keep Peyton Manning on the field.
Looking at the teams that played this past week it may seem quite obvious what type of team we as fans should ask for. All of the teams that played in the AFC and NFC Championships are teams that start with amazing defense and compliment the disruption of the other teams scoring opportunities with key offensive weapons. However, I am not entirely sure that is what we will get. HC Todd Haley is an offensive minded coach and I don’t think anything can change that. He has his identity, and we should expect that identity to permeate the team. Also, building a top five caliber offense should be a shorter road with the positions we already have filled. We have the best running back in the game (and possibly the history of the league if he keeps his current pace), a great receiver in Dwayne Bowe (that’s right I think he’s proven himself to be a great player), a better replacement for Gonzalez than I ever thought we would have in Tony Moeaki, and most importantly a quarterback in Matt Cassel that despite a late season collapse is showing promise and will be appearing in the Pro Bowl thanks to Tom Brady’s pride foot being injured. These players all benefit from an improved line that is spotty at times, but overall can provide enough coverage for the QB and enough holes for the running backs.
Look for the Chiefs in the next year, or possibly two to follow the road map laid out by Dick Vermeil, but to complete what he could not. A top level offense coupled with a mid to upper level defense will create a team that can compete for NFL titles on a yearly basis. Plus, it is a lot more fun for me to watch KC score 30 points a game than watch them tough out wins 13-10. I still am in the camp that wants to trade a draft pick or two to bring Larry Fitzgerald over from the Cardinals. Imagine how dynamic our team could be with Bowe, Fitz, Moeaki, and Charles when led by Cassel…
What do you think Addicts? What type of identity do you want to return to KC?
We’ve started selecting artwork submissions from our readers for our feature columns. Those that are still working on submissions should get them in as soon as possible to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are still looking for submissions for Patrick’s Pot of Gold, Big Matt’s Chiefs Chat, Chief Concerns and Arrowhead Adventures. If you have designs for Merlin’s Magic, Adam’s Audibles, Armchair Addict or Quick Slant please submit them immediately as we have submissions for those and are going to move forward with them unless we get more to consider.
Nick’s Blitz artwork was designed by our friend Tyler Dingman. Tyler will soon be added to the staff page as an artwork designer. Great work Tony and thanks so much!