"The End of the Dark Ages"
In the immortal words of Joe Namath on that painfully repeated NFL Network commercial, "We did it...We did it." Fans that stuck with the Chiefs through these last three seasons have paid their dues and can now sit back and enjoy relevancy once again. We have seen mountaintop (or maybe in this case, mountainbottom) and it was pretty bleak. Ten wins in three seasons (or more specifically. a 3-30 stretch from '07-'09) is enough to turn off even the most devoted of fans. I ask, though, does it not make it all the sweeter? Is success really that enjoyable without the proper context of what failure feels like? For example, ask a Colts fan how much fun the regular season is nowadays. It's more of a process and a waiting period for the playoffs for them. It's like preseason. So I'd like to personally (Dirkally) dedicate this 3-0 start to those fans that stayed loyal to the Chiefs, who gutted out the tenures of Eddie Drummond, Lance Long, Rocky Boiman, and Mike Goff and games like the 2007 13-10 OT loss to the Jets (maybe the worst played game ever), giving up 54 points to the (now unemployed) Trent Edwards led Bills in 2008, and last year's 44-13 home defeat to the hated Broncos (which I don't even remember). Enjoy everything all this week, all bye week, and all season because the Chiefs are back, and most likely here to stay for a while.
The great part about our situation is that the players have gone, and are going, through much of the same things that us, the fans, are. We have this young nucleus of talent that has all gone through the growing pains of the last three seasons together and are now growing up together. Together. And we have Scott Pioli to thank for a lot of that, but we also have to give a secondary thank you to Dr. Herman Edwards for that 2008 draft class (Dorsey, Albert, Flowers, Charles, Carr- Wowza). Combine that with the quickest impacting draft class I HAVE EVER SEEN (Berry, McCluster, Arenas, Moeaki, Lewis), and you might be looking at the most young talent on any team in the league. They seem to all like playing together and seem to feed off each other's energy, which is a unique quality that most great teams have. And it's all happened so unbelievably quickly, that it's hard to remember just how disjointed our team looked at times last year. We went from a faint resemblance of an NFL team to what will be one of three remaining undefeated teams after tonight (KC, Pitt, GB/Chi).
If anybody out there still doubts how important coaching in the NFL is, then they need to closely examine what the Chiefs have been doing this year. Todd Haley took his lumps last year, but he painted Mike Singletary's face white yesterday in the 31-3 victory (wait, they scored a TD?). He embarrassed Singletary by taking advantage of his old school beliefs with a little new age strategery. He played mind games with him on a 4th and 1 before, surprisingly, just going for it (get that man a Guinness!) and converting easily. His next move was a surprise onside kick that would've worked to perfection if not for an offsides penalty. Haley then capped it off with a Wildcat reverse flea-flicker executed beautifully. Checkmate! People have criticized him for his use of the JamaAL/Tom Jones duet this year, but I'd say the #1 rushing offense in the NFL is proof of proper management (he's clearly saving Charles so he can last the whole season while feeding the workhorse that is Jonesy). Haley has grown up as an NFL coach at the same rate as his young nucleus of players. Like a perfect storm.
That paragraph was supposed to include some Romeo Crennel love, but instead, he'll have to get his own, along with the rest of the defense, the most surprising phase of the 2010 Chiefs. Obviously, Colonel Crennel has been the biggest difference maker, but the defensive line has been the most improved aspect of the defense. Ball grabbin' Shaun Smith might be my new favorite player (Check this), and might be in the process of taking Tyson Jackson's job too (more about Smith than Jackson). Ron Edwards seems like a new player and is much improved. Wallace Gilberry is a quarterback pressure waiting to happen. And, Glenn Dorsey, well, he's the best player on the line (hopefully a few years away from Seymour territory). We absolutely owned the line against the 49ers on both sides of the ball (rushing yards 207-43 in KC's favor) against a team with a top 5 fantasy Running Back along with (what was) the #6 rushing defense. Oh yea, and Brandon Flowers is playing at a rate of one outstanding play per game (he is Pro Bowl bound). But, the ring leader is Crennel, who has formed this near identical personnel grouping into the #2 scoring defense in the NFL.
The only thing that hasn't gone our way so far this year is the positioning of the bye week. Why why why can we not get back on the field next week? Can we just challenge another team on a bye to a pickup game to keep our momentum going? The Chiefs face their two toughest games of the year once returning from the bye, at Indianapolis and then at Houston. Nobody will be picking the Chiefs in either contest. But, this just in, the Chiefs haven't been favored in any of their three victories yet this year! If they can come away with a split from those two games, they will be good to go with the next seven games (Jac, Buff, @Oak, @Den, Zona, @Sea, Den) all very winnable. Plus, what if what we saw yesterday was a better representation of what the Chiefs really are, and the first two games were just examples of them winning games while not playing their best (a sure sign of a good team)? Regardless, the Chiefs are relevant once again, and while that carries some value for the casual fans out there, it has an indescribable value to those of us that have stuck around through it all.