Farewell and thanks for the memories Tony Gonzalez. The former Kansas City Chiefs and future Hall of Fame tight end now dons a different, darker shade of red.
For years Gonzalez has been the Chiefs security blanket, blocking out linebackers like a power forward each time we needed to convert a 3rd and 6, or coming up with a clutch catch towards the end of a game.
He's also been the most visible face of the franchise, not only on the field, but in the media and the community as well.
No doubt, his presence will be missed.
But the pages of this franchise are turning. They have a new GM, new coaching staff, a new defensive scheme, a new quarterback, and a re-vamped roster full of cagey veterans mixing with a young core of exciting players.
The NFL is and has been filled with catch phrases that come and go, until the next new thing comes along.
Terms like the run and shoot, west coast offense, Tampa-2, and the wildcat are all excerpts from the NFL dictionary.
A phrase I'd like to discuss regarding the Chiefs is the "system" player.
It seems every move the Chiefs have made or been rumored to make this off-season has focused on the concept of system.
Is Tyson Jackson the right fit for us because he is a 5-technique end? Can Matt Cassel produce for us outside of the New England Moss-Welker system? Can Glen Dorsey play a 3-4? Can Tamba Hali stand up and rush the passer?
All are questions directed at fitting a player in to a system that doesn't even exist yet. I'm not even certain yet if the Chiefs know if it will be Todd Haley, Chan Gailey, or Maurice Carthon calling the offensive plays.
Over the past decade, the strength of the Chiefs has been the offensive line, the running game, and No. 88. The Chiefs "system" was beating you up. Now they stand deficient in all three areas, especially the No. 88.
So what is the future to hold? Do the Chiefs appear to have a plan for success? Do they have a system figured out?
My allegiance to the Chiefs tells me yes. I have bought in from day one with Chairman Hunt, GM Pioli, and Coach Haley.
Call me a homer, but I believe in time the Chiefs will be a better football team when their most productive player is not the tight end, and furthermore, when their first down play call is not a run between the tackles.
Reviewing recent history, teams with a dominant running game and tight-end combination fall victim to similar fates. Don't give me flack about LT and Gates, Barber and Witten, Lewis and Winslow. I'm talking about Champions.
It has been 10 years since a dominant running back and top-tier tight end have paired to win a Super Bowl, with Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe in Denver being the last.
Today's offensive game is about spreading the field and exploiting matchups. The Chiefs idea of exploiting a matchup has been relegated to numerous pre-snap shifts in order to get a linebacker covering Tony Gonzalez. They could always get a 12-yard completion out of that.
Teams have game planned the Chiefs like a 1-A high school team running the wishbone.
They clog the middle of the field with safeties and linebackers inside the hashes. No wonder it always looks as if we're playing 11 on 12.
The Pioli way in New England and the Haley way in Arizona has been a game built around the perimeter. They unclog the field and allow their playmakers to have an impact on the game.
I hope the Chiefs are moving toward this direction. My hunch is that trading Tony is a huge step in that philosophy. I'd like to see a more dynamic running threat—hint hint, more of Jamal Charles, less Larry Johnson.
We also need another playmaker at WR besides Dwayne Bowe.
The Chiefs system is changing. The problem is we don't have the players to fit the system yet.
Coach Haley, I don't know if you and Anquan Boldin are on better terms now, but losing one great to a different shade of red could be a blessing by bringing in a stud currently wearing Cardinals red.
The Chiefs have a need, and Boldin wants a trade. So let's work it out.
It appears we've cleared room for a playmaker by losing one of the greatest tight ends in history. I believe there was more logic behind this move than giving Tony our best wish to win some games in Atlanta.
Call me crazy, but the Chiefs with Boldin could be better than the Chiefs with Gonzo.
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