In a recent article that I had written, entitled “The Second Half” (written March 10th, 2010) I stated that “if we could have a good draft class in 2010, and pick up some free agents, it could mean that we are playoff bound in 2010.” We made good on this request by signing Thomas Jones formerly of the New York Jets, and drafting the likes of OW (Offensive Weapon) Dexter McCluster, CB Javier Arenas, TE Tony Moeaki, and FS Eric Berry.
In another article that I had written, entitled “Wild Card Warpath” (written January 15th, 2010) I said that “there were two reasons why I think that the Kansas City Chiefs will make the playoffs in 2010.” The first reason was that “we have a weak schedule,” which includes opponents such as the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills, the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Seattle Seahawks, the Oakland Raiders twice, the St. Louis Rams, the Tennessee Titans, and the San Francisco 49ers. None of which made the playoffs in 2009. The second reason was that “we have all the right personnel in the front office, and with the coaching staff.” This would refer to our aquisition of Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis, Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel, and General Manager Scott Pioli.
For the title of this article I chose the words of one of the greatest Kansas City Chiefs coaches ever. His name was Marty Schottenheimer, and his words were “focus, finish.” Marty would always instruct his players to focus and finish.
Beginning a season with 2 wins and 0 losses is not an easy task in the National Football League. As fans, players, and coaches, we must all stay focused on the goal ahead, which is to bring a championship back to Kansas City. No one has ever won a Super Bowl by winning the first two games of the season. While there are many, many reasons why Chiefs Nation should be jumping for joy during this time, the Chiefs must stay focused and continue to get better. Although the Chiefs are 2-0, both victories were accomplished in an ugly fashion, and as Head Coach Todd Haley mildly put it, “if you’re expecting something to look real fancy or nice, I don’t think that’s what you’re going to see here with this Chiefs team, and that’s alright.”
We must build off of these first two games, and learn from the mistakes that have been commited in each game. For instance, turnovers in the form of interceptions. Must I remind you about the first down holding penalty that knocked the Chiefs out of field goal range in the game against the San Diego Chargers. Also, the unfortunate illegal contact penalty that gave the Browns a first and goal inside the Chiefs 5-yard line yesterday. Then there was the unnecessary roughness penalty after an incomplete pass by the Browns on third-and-five. These are mistakes that playoff teams don’t commit.
Nothwithstanding, the jury is still out on Matt Cassel. He has passed for a total of 244 yards in two games, with one touchdown, two interceptions, and a 4.9 yards per pass attempt. Furthermore, he has a quarterback rating of 55.8!! The Kansas City Chiefs can’t expect to win with these stats from their starting quarterback. The option of bringing in Brodie Croyle MUST be considered if things don’t improve.
More importantly, the Chiefs have abandoned the running capabilities of Jamaal Charles. This is Charles’ team, however, Thomas Jones is getting the majority of the work load. Let’s take a moment to do the math, shall we? Jamaal Charles has an average of 6.4 yards per carry in comparison to Jones’ 3.7 in 2010. Charles has 141 yards on 22 carries, in contrast to Jones’ 122 yards on 33 carries. Charles has one rushing touchdown, and Jones has none. Charles became the first player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards with under 200 carries in 2009, while Jones has an average of 1,277 yards on 310 carries over the past three seasons. It’s quite obvious that we must put the ball in Charles’ hands if we intend to make it into the post season. In addition to this, while Jones is 32 years old with one foot on a banana peel, and the other one in a football grave, Jamaal Charles’ is a vibrant 23 years and 9 months.
I bring these things to mind in order to warrant caution in the hearts of Chiefs Nation. However, I don’t want to ignore the wonderful things that have been accomplished during these first two games of the 2010 regular season. For example, Dexter McCluster breaking a Kansas City Chiefs franchise-record for his 94-yard punt return for a touchdown, breaking Dante “the human joystick” Hall’s record of 93-yards (remember that game against the Denver Broncos?). Or Brandon Flowers returning his second career interception return for paydirt. Or the rebirth of Derrick Johnson, who is playing with fire in his eyes after a lackluster 2009 season. And the coming out party of Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey, whom the Chiefs have so much invested. Jackson and Dorsey both played the best games of their careers on that Monday night season opener. In addition to these endeavors, the Chiefs registered a team-record 160 punt return yards against San Diego, breaking the previous mark of 141 yards established against the Oakland Raiders back in 1979. Nor can we ignore the fact that this is the first time that the Kansas City Chiefs have begun a season 2-0 since 2005!! All things considered, Chiefs Nation has a lot to be happy about at this point, but the fact remains that there are 14 more games left to play.
Focus, finish. We must stay focused on our goal of winning a championship, and finishing every game to the final whistle has blown (as was the case in the season opener against San Diego). I don’t have a problem winning a game in an “ugly” fashion, after all (and I quote Marty Schottenheimer again) “football is a game of mistakes.” The team that usually wins, however, is the team that makes the least mistakes. As it stands, the Chiefs are +1 in the turnover ratio. I believe that this number must grow in the positive if the Chiefs intend to make a run for the playoffs in 2010. And keep in mind Chiefs Nation that a run for the 2010 playoffs begins with winning the division. Thus far, we have only played one divisional game with five remaining. And we all know how much trouble the Denver Broncos can be for the Kansas City Chiefs, and we don’t even play them until November 14th, 2010. Then their is the re-match against the San Diego Chargers on December 12th, 2010. So, there is a lot of football left to play ladies and gentlemen.
In short, let us celebrate the accomplishments, and enjoy being 2-0, but all the while remain cautious. And never forget to apply these words to football and to life itself: “Focus, Finish.”