Regardless of how successful a team is, the NFL is filled with talent and every roster has its share of current and future stars. This makes picking a franchise’s best player a tremendously daunting assignment.
There isn’t an exact science in deciphering which player means the most to his particular team. So how does one go about deciding who the best player actually is?
And what about teams like the Kansas City Chiefs; a team that doesn’t necessarily have a recognizable star in comparison to the more successful organizations and larger markets, yet possess a solid roster from top to bottom?
The easy way out is to simply look at the statistics to determine who the best players are. However, some numbers are overrated or impossible to measure. And some players rely more heavily on others to do their specific job well.
Football is arguably the ultimate team sport in that very rarely is a game or even one play decided by the efforts of a single player.
The Chiefs, in particular, only find success when everyone is on the same page. When it all works harmoniously, it is beautiful to watch.
As much as it seems that Jamaal Charles is capable of accomplishing anything on the field, he doesn’t rack up 288 total yards in Sunday’s 27-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints if his teammates didn’t all have a part in paving the way. This actually rings true for any player on the offensive side of the ball.
There is no formula to plug in all the variables to establish who the Chiefs’ best player actually is. And while performance certainly holds a lot of the weight, things like production, age, ceiling, skill level, leadership and dependability are all qualities that must be taken into account before ultimately coming to the conclusion of who the best player is for the Chiefs or any other team in the NFL.
While there are many candidates that fit the mold for Kansas City, Tamba Hali has to be the team’s best player; at least right now.
In now his seventh season and at just 28 years old, Hali is already third in franchise history with 53.5 sacks and still has plenty of football left in him.
When asked why Tamba Hali is so important to the success of the Kansas City Chiefs, a few fans and writers had this to say:
@kcpopflyboy he is a team OCs.Oline coaches game plan around, he is a guy QBs think about with every drop back— Jinx Allessio (@JinxAllessio) September 24, 2012
@kcpopflyboy Because the d-line doesn't create enough pressure and the secondary struggles in coverage. Tamba HAS to get to the qb often.— Dan Noellsch (@tigerdan4) September 24, 2012
@kcpopflyboy the clock he sets on the passing game. Pretty solid setting force on line as strong/weak side contain v. run.— Cordell(@TheFilmRoom) September 24, 2012
@kcpopflyboy : tamba is the pulse of the d. When he shows up, seems like eveyone else does. Can be a Derrick Thomas type factor at times.— B.M. (@BMKCMO) September 25, 2012
Ever since we moved him to LB for our 3-4 defensive scheme, he is our main source for pressuring the QB, and we have NO backup for him.— TJ Huettenmueller (@Thuettenmueller) September 25, 2012
Tamba brings the pass rush element to this team. He opens Justin Houston & blitzes up to 1on1 matchups. KC is lost w/out him. @kcpopflyboy— Jason Madson (@Jason_Madson) September 25, 2012
When he is not getting to the quarterback himself, his ability allows others to do their jobs extremely well. Does second-year outside linebacker Justin Houston have the game he had on Sunday (three sacks, four quarterback hits, a safety and two deflected passes) without Hali on the field? Not a chance.
Linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry are two players that excel in space. Without Hali requiring double teams or being able to seal off the edge, would these two players be considered nearly as good as they are? Probably not.
The Chiefs sorely missed cornerback Brandon Flowers in Week 1’s 40-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but Hali also missed that game. Kansas City’s inability to stop their offense had more to do with the lack of pressure on Matt Ryan than Flowers not being around to contain either Julio Jones or Roddy White.
Hali has always led by example, and his recent one-game suspension for not adhering to the league’s substance abuse policy might have dented his image a bit. But he is as reliable as they come in the NFL, playing in and starting 97 out of a possible 99 games for the Chiefs since 2006.
With all things considered, Hali wears the crown for the Chiefs right now. His production on the field and how that lifts the performance of others, his career trajectory and his ability to stay healthy and lead by example, were all factors in coming to this conclusion.
The decision was not easy, which is a good thing for the Chiefs. Having multiple players—including Charles, right tackle Eric Winston, Flowers, Berry and Derrick Johnson—all vying for this title only bodes well for the stability and future of this franchise.