I’m Natasha Sims, and I haven’t had a drink of the Kansas City Chiefs Kool-Aid in more than a year.
It’s a self-imposed dry spell that I began as I was leaving Arrowhead after the home opener against the Falcons. (Tony Gonzalez, I adore you, but I can’t forget that you dunked on the Chiefs after a touchdown. That hurt.)
The 2012 preseason glitter had definitely worn off, and it only got worse from there. (Here’s something you didn’t know about me: when the Chiefs aren’t playing well, I get antsy and channel that energy into cleaning my house: laundry, vacuuming, washing windows, you get the picture. So, as you can imagine, by 4 p.m. on Sundays, my house was spotless. Also, I don’t really like cleaning that much.)
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt’s offseason moves went a long way toward soothing the angst of Chiefs fans. At least he was doing something. I was encouraged by his moxy to rid the team of the crazy. Looking at the names on the roster, coaching staff and management, there’s a lot to like.
But, results. I need results before I blindly believe again.
Because we’ve seen this team before, in 2010. Matt Cassel also started 3-0 that year. Both the 2010 and 2013 Chiefs beat bad teams. In 2010, the defense contributed pick sixes; same with this year. Both teams were on the positive side of turnover differentials. The 2010 Chiefs were then embarrassed in the playoffs, and began that horrible downward spiral that led us to today.
Given those unsettling similarities, even through three wins, I find myself doubting their continued success (although I am cleaning less during the games). It would seem that for every positive — hi, Justin Houston and Sean McGrath’s beard! — there’s a lingering negative aspect that could be detrimental if it emerges.
Here’s what I see:
This defense is exciting to watch, shades of those defenses from the 1990s, even. It’s definitely an elite defense with a lot of top talent. BUT, are we going to have to rely on the defense to contribute points in every game, just so the Chiefs can win?
The offensive line seems improved. BUT, does that have more to do with the fact that Alex Smith doesn’t cough up the ball every time a linebacker looks his way, and less to do with the actual protection from the line? We need Eric Fisher to have more of an Eric Berry freshman season, rather than follow the Dontari Poe development schedule.
Alex Smith, and the Chiefs offense are still the biggest question marks on this team. Smith has no turnovers, makes smart decisions and has a respectable pass completion percentage. BUT, this offense produces three-and-outs that look suspiciously like last year’s offense, and Smith can’t seem to connect with top receiver Dwayne Bowe. Why is that? Even Matt Cassel, even TYLER PALKO, was able to hit Bowe under heavy coverage. Can this Chiefs offense confront a top-five team and put up enough points to win?
We’ve been burned by this team before, so these unknowns are scary.
As much as we would all love to, we can’t erase the last few years of this Chiefs team, a team that had Pro Bowlers galore, and still only managed to win two games. So, yes, the Chiefs are 3-0; BUT isn’t it also possible that they could just as easily end the season with a 3-13 record?
So, what does this team need to do to silence the doubters?
- Continue winning.
- Play four quarters of competitive football.
- Convert third downs.
- Beat Denver (too much to ask? Ok, how about this?) Five sacks on Peyton Manning, please.
- Win a playoff game.
All but the last two bullet points can start this weekend against the Giants. Eli Manning’s team has no wins. And, a Manning with no wins has to take out the trash on Thanksgiving. I assume. So, the Giants have a real incentive to steal a win at Arrowhead. As two AA colleagues wrote earlier this week, this won’t be an easy game, but a solid showing on Sunday in front of Arrowhead’s finest will definitely be the start of putting demons to rest.
Oh, and more importantly, a fourth win will give the Chiefs an undefeated “quarter season” (to borrow a term from the 2010 offensive master himself, Todd Haley).
The potential is there, now go out there and convince me.
So, Addicts, tell me: what flavor is your Chiefs Kool-Aid? Or, are you buying what the Chiefs are selling? What will it take to get you back on the Red and Gold sugar water?