Archive for Thursday, July 28, 2011

Column: It’s time for the Chiefs to build on ‘10 success

July 28, 2011

Kansas City sports fans probably wouldn’t have been surprised if the NFL lockout had continued throughout the year and we would have been without football this fall.

If the Royals had been involved, it might have even been past the point of laughter. Being to the point where the misfortune of this sports town can no longer be laughed off like a bad joke. Instead it would just be sad, making fans like myself ponder why we are so unlucky with our sports teams.

The Chiefs reputation and luck has been better, but after the struggles of most of the decade, and a failure to break through to the top of the AFC, Chiefs fans are still not fully convinced. So could Kansas City Chiefs fans really have been that shocked if there was no football just one season after the Chiefs made the playoffs for the first time in four years, and after going 6-26 in the two seasons before last?

Think about it. After four years of hearing “be patient,” and “next year will be better,” the Chiefs finally are a contending football team. And wouldn’t it have been our luck to have football taken away from the fans that finally weren’t in pain watching every Sunday. It would be another “be patient” year, just with the worse suffering of no football, rather than bad football.

Not only do fans have a reason to be excited about football with the lockout ending, but also when looking around the league, the Chiefs are actually in good shape to repeat their AFC West first-place finish.

Let’s start at the most important position, quarterback. So many teams during this free agent battle are moving around their quarterbacks or are banking on a young, inexperienced player to lead their squads. Some teams will still land a good starting quarterback, but with the lockout cutting into off-season workouts, it’s going to take longer for those players to adjust to their new system.

Chiefs fans have been critical of Matt Cassel since his arrival, but a lot should be said for a quarterback that threw for more than 3,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. As long as Todd Haley’s continuous yelling doesn’t affect Cassel’s hearing and play calling, I expect him to have a successful year. Especially when it is paired with the nation’s best rushing team, all he needs to do is take care of the ball. If rookie Jonathan Baldwin is a decent No. 2 to Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles rushes for another 1,400 yards, the offense will be just fine.

Kansas City has a tale of two schedules, with the first half looking like they could be won with mascot KC Wolf as quarterback, and the second half actually being a true test of where the Chiefs are in the hunt for the best teams in the NFL.

San Diego will again be the most difficult competition in the AFC West, and the difficult regular season schedule could actually be good practice for the playoffs, should the Chiefs find themselves back in the postseason again this year.

I’m still not sure if the Chiefs have broken through to the next level where they could be considered a Super Bowl contender. That’s what this year might determine. For one of the best, and loudest, fan bases in the sport, Chiefs fans certainly deserve another run to the top.

So while the majority of the NFL will spend the next weeks searching the free agent markets for their missing pieces, Kansas City fans should feel confident that their team is ready for the beginning of the year and looks to be on their way back to the top.

It’s time to pass the “be patient” line on to another team.


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