Well, Chiefs fans, the bad news is that it’s still the preseason. The good news: The preseason is almost over. And that means that this, thankfully, is my last preseason post.* And since, try as I might, I’m just not able to follow through on this one idea I had of reimagining the Chiefs coaching staff as the cast of Entourage (which is what’s currently playing on the DVR), I guess I’ll have to fall back on my default optimism.
*In a way, I’d like to think of these August posts as my own preseason performances. After a long lockout that saw me resorting to, among other things, visualizing the Best Picture nominees as NFL Films, comparing Steve DeBerg to Abraham Lincoln’s first-term Vice President, extolling the virtues of soccer, and exploiting my infant daughter, I reserve the right to seem rusty now that I am back to writing about what, just for the sake of argument, I will call “actual” football games. But, much like our dear Chiefs, I promise to get my groove back by Week One.
So, putting aside the fact that I could not care less about the outcome of these preseason games—or for that matter, really, the performances, so long as no one gets hurt—could the Chiefs be showing us a little more right now? Of course. Are there reasons to be disappointed by what appear to be some severe shortcomings and a lack of cohesion in game situations? Uh…yeah. But should we be worried? I think you know my answer to that, but I’ll spell it out for you anyway: It starts with “H” and ends with “ell no!”
Sure, the Chiefs are—if you really want to think of it this way—riding a five-game losing streak that dates back to December 2010. And more to the heart of it, they sure don’t look like winners right now. But to help regain a little perspective, just imagine this deeply depressing scenario:
It’s late August, and after another underwhelming performance, the Chiefs have just dropped their preseason record to 0-3. KC’s offensive starters had taken the field at the “new” Arrowhead Stadium and, in their first five possessions, produced a lost fumble, an interception, two three-and-outs, and—polite applause—a single first down. The opposing team, meanwhile, seemed to have its way with the Chiefs defense, marching down the field and racking up a double-digit lead in the first quarter. “I don’t know that it could start a lot worse than it did,” Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley would say, “both offensively and defensively.”
But it did get worse. A lot worse. First, a vicious (is there any other kind?) helmet-to-helmet hit left a promising Chiefs rookie linebacker lying motionless until he was carted off the field. And then, the offense also took a hit when a young running back—his name is Jamaal Charles—went down hard and awkwardly in the first half, limped off in pain, and would never reenter the game. When asked about him later, the Chiefs coaching staff refused to comment. But later that night, SI.com would post: “Initial reports were not good, saying Charles may miss a significant amount of the regular season, and possibly the remainder of the year.”
Of course, by now, those of you who were paying attention* know that the situation described above is not hypothetical; its purely historical. This is exactly what could have been written—and in various sources, was—about the Chiefs and their prospects precisely one year ago, following their third straight loss of the 2010 preseason.
*And retained the details of last year’s preseason. Really?
As it turned out, the reports of Charles’ demise last season were not only exaggerated, they were as wrong as could be.* He was more than okay. And so, too, if I’m remembering correctly, were the Chiefs.
*Unfortunately, that young, laid-out linebacker, Cameron Sheffield, did miss the entire 2010 season with a neck injury. But he is proving to be one of the bright spots this year.
The point is that for all the dropped passes, missed tackles, blown coverages, and gaping holes in the line that have been witnessed these last few weeks, the Chiefs are still primed to bring us a competitive season. They are going to be fun to watch, and that late-season stretch of the schedule, as brutal as it may be, is going to matter. At least, this is what seems possible if not probable to me, much more so than last year’s success did in the days before opening weekend.
True, a year ago, the Chiefs did go on to win their last preseason game, over the hapless 2010 Green Bay Packers (whatever happened to them?). In a few days, the 2011 Chiefs will try it again. And sure, a victory at storied Lambeau Field over the defending Super Bowl champs (or, at least, most of their backups), would be great for this young team’s confidence and momentum heading into the games that count.
But even with a lopsided loss, everything might still be okay. And no matter what happens Thursday night, one positive result is guaranteed: The preseason will be over.