Who is the leader of the Kansas City Chiefs?
I’m not talking about Clark Hunt or Scott Pioli or even Romeo Crennel. Those men all lead the team in some capacity but only Crennel is likely to make a major impact one way or the other once the players hit the field on Sunday.
I wonder who the the player leader is.
We’ve heard a lot of talk about leadership at Arrowhead over the last few years. Interestingly, the leader tag has been assigned to a number of players that Scott Pioli brought in from the outside. Mike Vrabel on defense and Thomas Jones on offense have been the names most tossed around by the coaching staff as team leaders.
Were these first two “leaders” of a new era of KC Chiefs football successful?
I’d say the results are mixed. Vrabel was by all accounts a great locker room guy. He was always willing to help teach the younger linebackers and we know he took Andy Studebaker under his wing while in KC. Vrabel was also a calming presence while on the field, helping to keep an otherwise young Chiefs defense focused.
But Vrabel was pretty much out of gas by the time he arrived in Kansas City. While all of his other leadership attributes were likely helpful, what the Chiefs really needed was a leader who could make as big an impact on the field as he could off. Vrabel was not that guy.
As for Jones, his leadership tag has been dubious at best. I am sure his experience helped Jamaal Charles in some aspects of his game but to be honest, I’m not sure Charles needed that much help. Jones also broke down midway through the 2010 season and was never the same. In the end, he’ll like be best remembered in KC for not being a leader but for being the guy that stole carries from Jamaal Charles and ruined Jonathan Baldwin’s rookie season.
If not Jones and Vrabel then who?
Todd Haley is gone now and hopefully his apparent belief that only old, washed up veterans can be team leaders will follow him out the door.
The transition period — or as Pioli likes to say “the process” — that we’ve been hearing so much about over the last three years is mostly at an end. The Chiefs are ready to compete and while they need starters at a few areas, depth seems to be the biggest issue for this team moving forward. That means it is time for one of the star players already on the Chiefs roster to step up and lead.
Let’s take a look at some of the candidates on both sides of the ball.
It has to be Matt Cassel, doesn’t it?
Cassel will be coming back from an injury in 2012 and the time for games is over. There isn’t a lot of confidence surrounding Cassel among Chiefs fans and if that is the case, one can’t help but wonder how much confidence he inspires in his teammates.
2011 was the year I hoped to see Cassel step up and show his metal. The schedule was ripe with opportunities for the QB to do so with games against perennial playoff teams like the Steelers, Packers and Patriots.Unfortunately for Cassel, he was on the bench for those games.
But who is to blame for that? While I can’t fully blame Cassel for the way the season began in Kansas City, the lasting memories I have of him are ugly losses to the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos. If Cassel had taken care of business in either of those games, the Chiefs would have gone to the playoffs.
Whether he deserves it or not, Cassel is going to get one more chance to win us over. He’ll have a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator in 2012. This is it for him. Can he step up and lead the offense? Or will QB be the number one need for the Chiefs heading into the 2013 draft?
Charles is the best player the Chiefs have on offense but it is hard to see him being a team leader. He’s not the most well-spoken chap and he just doesn’t seem to enjoy the spotlight. Charles is a great player but I am not sure he is a leader.
Bowe is another guy with great talent who doesn’t seem to want to step up to fire up his teammates. He’s been around for a long time and has never shown interest in taking over the offense.
Hali is the best player on the defense but like Charles, isn’t a big talker. He likes to go about his business and let his play do the talking. Hali’s style is great but we aren’t likely to see him in the middle of the huddle any time soon.
Flowers shows a lot of fire on the field but he doesn’t seem to be very vocal off the field. The KC DBs seem to have a really tight relationship but there doesn’t seem to be any one guy that stands out as the leader of the pack.
DJ is the guy you want leading your defense. He’s the star middle linebacker, he’s a veteran and he’s not a knucklehead. After his 2011 season, hopefully DJ will relax a bit, trust his talent and start leading the defense.
Houston is an interesting prospect. He really came on halfway through the season and the Chiefs named him their rookie of the year. Houston plays with a lot of attitude and should his play continue to impress, he may have the right personality to become a more vocal leader on the field.
Berry is the future leader of this team but it is hard to see him assuming that role in 2012. Berry’s focus will likely be just getting back into form after missing the entire 2011 season with a knee injury.
What do you think, Addicts? Who is or will be the leader of the KC Chiefs in 2012 and beyond?