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November 05, 2004

Winning the Big Dance « Kansas City Chiefs »

I'm not saying they will. There's too far to go to even hope, at this point. We've got two games against teams with losing records but still possess enough weapons to grab a win if KC has a bad gameday. Then the Patriots. Then 5 games against AFC West opponents, including an important game against the Broncos at Arrowhead and both games against San Diego.

I tell ya, I'm nervous. We're still in the hole. We've shown flashes of true brilliance lately, but there are still too many key players out for me to feel any of the following games are "in the bag".

Then again, that may be the way Chiefs' fans, and, more importantly, the Chiefs themselves, should feel. Last year, we almost had it too easy in the first 9 games. It left us all wondering: did we peak too early? Can we sustain this through the Superbowl? Obviously, the answer to that was "no".

Looking back, there were a few factors that led to the fast start and late-season demise. First, we pumped up our defensive record against inexperienced quarterbacks playing on otherwise good teams. Second, although we got in a good rhythm on offense and defense, we also got into a rut. The offensive production didn't really taper off much (we didn't punt against the Colts, either, remember?), but we did show enough of our hand that we left ourselves open to exploitation.

This year, the defense seems to be peaking with a nice timing. They are getting better every week, the performances are good enough, and the confidence is building that the players actually grasp the system. Gunther's system plays to our defenders' strengths, and it is no surprise that Warfield, Bartee, and Hicks are experiencing resurgent seasons: they are back under the guy that sought them out! They are getting better every week, and with a strong showing the next two weeks, we could actually end the season with a top-10 defense. Amazing.

But what's happened on offense is also significant. Lacking two of the potentially biggest playmakers, as projected from the preseason (Boerigter and Wilson), with defenders obviously having figured out the Green-to-Holmes Swing Pass, and the replacement of Tait with Welbourn, we struggled in the early season. With the offense we had last season, the offense should have had the firepower to protect the defense in the early part of the season, but did not. I still blame the offense for the losses, not the defense. The Jaguars should not have been close enough to pick off the win, yanno? But the good part of it is that it forced Saunders to innovate once more, and he apparently has found the right combination. I can't say for sure, but I'll bet that if other defenses figure out how to stop what we're doing now, it will leave them open for Priest Holmes swing passes and allow Eddie Kennison and Dante Hall to get 50-yard TD catches...

And we are doing all this with largely sub-par Special Teams play. If we get that aspect of the game firing on all cylinders during the playoffs, watch out!

In the end, if we do make it to the Super Bowl and win, it will be far more soul-satisfying to have made it this way than last year's "9-0, then back into the playoffs" method. Heck, with as badly as we started, just making it to the AFC Championships would have to be considered a success.

It will be an interesting 2nd half of the season, to say the least.

Posted by Nathan at 06:10 AM | Comments (1)


Cheifs? Super Bowl? You are about as delusional as that woman who thinks the GOP doesn't own a debt of gratitude to the religious right. Your biggest problem: Vermeil.


Posted by: Larry at November 5, 2004 07:34 AM
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