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Heart of a Champion!
Posted By ChiefsWarpath.com On December 27, 2004 @ 11:30 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
With their fourth straight victory on Christmas day against the Oakland Raiders, the 2004 version of the Kansas City Chiefs displayed the heart of a champion! Although their record of 7-8 does not indicate a championship caliber team, the Chiefs in the month of December have undoubtedly showcased to the rest of the league that they have the heart and desire to remain competitive throughout the reminder of the season.
Yes, an argument can be made that the opponents the Chiefs have faced in the month of December have been less than stellar and clearly not dominant teams. But the trouncing of the Denver Broncos proved that this run has not been a fluke.
The performances of Trent Green, Dante Hall, Tony Gonzalez, Eddie Kennison, the entire offensive line and Larry Johnson have been exemplary (could it be possible that the writer may have erred in his earlier criticism of Mr. Johnson?). And there have even been performances on the defensive side of the ball that could indicate a positive turnaround in 2005. Jared Allen and Lional Dalton continue to be very impressive, and the play of Willie Pile has given Gunther Cunningham reason to think that next season his defensive backfield could be much improved, especially if they find a way to add some secondary help in the draft. And another pleasant surprise has been the recent elevated play of Kawika Mitchell. So if some of these defensive players are forced into action next season because of injury or absence of starters, they will have valuable game experience.
This of course, is one of the benefits of being unofficially eliminated from the playoffs at such an early stage in the season. Certain players who otherwise would not see game action now will be valuable pieces in next seasons puzzle. And two players who could contribute to next seasons cause are Larry Johnson and Samie Parker.
L.J.s performance as of late has shown that if Priest Holmes were to go down next season for any extended period of time, the Chiefs high-powered offense would not miss a beat. I guess the other thing this also proves, is that it is now painfully obvious that Carl Peterson could have somehow gotten a defensive impact player from another team if he would have been willing to trade Mr. Johnson. Right now it looks like a great decision to draft him in the first round and then an even better one not to trade him this past fall, however next season when he is riding the pines behind the Priest, those very questions will be brought up yet again. Especially if the defense continues to struggle, but if the defense can somehow improve, having L.J. to contribute next season could be very beneficial.
In regards to Samie Parker, because of his recent performance, the Chiefs may not have to look in the direction of any wide receivers in next April’s college draft. Parker’s clutch catches and blazing speed that he has exhibited in his limited time on the field has to give Dick Vermeil and Al Saunders a warm holiday feeling right about now. It would also be an unacceptable omission on the writers part if he did not also mention the outstanding play of wide receiver Chris Horn, yet another reason for 2005 optimism.
So with all of the positives of the past month for the Chiefs, such as five more players selected to the Pro Bowl, four straight wins, unprecedented offensive production and the growth of several young players, the Chiefs still need to remember that this has been a very disappointing season. And one of the negatives to finishing the season on a strong note, is of course the fact that the Chiefs will not be drafting in the top ten. Because of this, an impact player for the defensive side of the ball may not be available when the Chiefs make their very important selection.
Another concern of finishing on such a high note, is that some in the organization may feel that drastic changes are not necessary for the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl. This of course could not be further from the truth! The Chiefs are 7-8 because their defense for the most part has been a disaster. Several starters on that side of the ball must be replaced next season if the Chiefs expect to contend.
And even though winning is always the best option, the fact that the Chiefs have had such a great December may have given Lamar Hunt a reason to keep Carl Peterson on board as the President and General Manager of the team. So most likely the winning streak has probably bought King Carl more time on the throne of the Chiefs. The only time we should see King Carl celebrating like he did after the Monday night defeat of the Titans, is after the Chiefs win the Super Bowl! He acted like he had just been given a stay of execution by the Governor! It’s nice to see that kind of emotion, but only when it’s warranted. I’d like to see some of that enthusiasm put into fixing the defense this offseason, so that all of us can celebrate like that in a little more than a year from now.
Given the way the Chiefs have played in the past month, the Arrowhead faithful cannot wait until 2005. There are so many positives in the last several weeks, but the most encouraging sign is the heart that the Chiefs players have shown when the playoffs were already out of reach. Dick Vermeil has done a marvelous job of keeping this unit focused.
So with this campaign only one week away from being called complete, the Kansas City Chiefs have already shown the “Heart Of A Champion”, and after a long offseason, next years version may not only have the heart, but also the “Trophy Of A Champion”.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!
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