Team Chief!

I’m done thinking, talking, analyzing and yelling over our two preseason blowouts. I’m also done reading too much into these blow-outs, if for no other reason than to try to enjoy the last days of summer.

It’s time to turn the page. We’ve got the Packers at Lambeau, tonight. This is the fourth and final game before the season opener against the Falcons. The Packers are also 1-2 this preseason, but unlike the Chiefs, the Packers aren’t rebuilding – they are Super Bowl contenders. Our players have much more to prove tonight, both individually and as a team. But rather than go position-by-position and compare who needs to do what, I think there’s a larger point here.

The Chiefs need to play some good, old fashioned team football. That is, we need to play as one unit, not as an offense and defense; nor as receivers and rushers; nor as lineman, linebackers and defensive backs. We need to play as one organism, united in purpose. We’ve seen it before – when the offense fumbles, the defense gets a sack or a stuff. When the defense gives up a score, the offensive line takes it personally and shepherds the Chiefs on a grind-it-out, 80-yard drive. When we fall behind, the special teams unit comes up with a big return or block. And in the best of all possible worlds, the offense, defense and special teams continuously build off one another, creating a rolling momentum.

In the preseason, with so many positional battles, I find myself getting caught up in the individual competitions – who’s going to make the cut, who’s going to start. It makes me lose sight of how football games are won: as a team, with each player acting as a piston and a catalyst to build contagious momentum and high performance. I guess they now call that “complementary football.” But it’s really just working together, for common purpose.

Has Romeo Crennel and his staff been using the preseason to build this level of teamwork, in addition to testing and vetting individual players? Is there evidence that the Chiefs are acting and thinking more like one unit? Amidst all of the personnel experiments and try-outs, perhaps the Chiefs’ coaching staff have been working on chemistry – making sure players, packages and units trust one another and stay in their lanes.

What are the indicators of success here? I can think of three, in particular. First, players in different units rise to the occasion. We need to see big plays in response to bad plays. Second, how is momentum being carried from offense to defense to special teams and back again?

And finally, can you see leaders step up in key moments to keep the team focused? In previous posts, I’ve referred to Shane Battier’s little-known nickname when he played for the Houston Rockets: Lego. He was given this nickname because when he was on the court, he made all the other pieces fit together. A Lego can be a player like Eric Berry or Matt Cassel or a coach, doing the work behind the scenes to bring focus and unity of purpose to the team.

What do you think, Addicts? Have you seen signs that the Chiefs’ level of teamwork will be where it needs to be for the September 9th kickoff against the Falcons? I’ll be watching for signs of that tonite – let me know what you see!

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