Sorry for the sixty day hiatus, but to be honest with you - it's been so hard to gauge the purpose and intent of the decisions and moves of Scott Pioli and Todd Haley, I wasn't really sure how I felt about what was happening to our team.
Also, as the final cuts down to the 53 man roster prove, there was no way to read the minds of the coaching staff during the pre-season. It was truly maddening to observe because there was no salient means to understand what the coaches were really trying to do or learn.
Upon further review, I realized how much the preseason reminded me of the maddeningly slow process Clark Hunt used to recruit and hire Scott Pioli. And that same process was evident in the way Pioli reviewed and fired Herm, and ultimately hire Todd Haley.
That Haley also used the same process to evaluate the team he inherited should have come as no surprize to any of us. That he didn't make some decisions and moves until the last possible moment speaks very much to me like the process Clark Hunt used to start the whole she-bang.
So, it's very clear now. Nobody is going to rush these guys or this process of theirs. Not the talent of the team, not the media, not the fans, and certainly not the members of this new brain trust.
These guys are all one trick ponies, and they all do the same trick. They're deliberate.
Clark wanted a team with a plan that would succeed. He found it.
Haley, has told all of us and his players the same thing - you're not going to wear him out. I don't think it's any mystery the same goes double in spades for Pioli and Hunt.
I didn't see a lot during the pre-season to comment on beyond some of Haley's motivational tools. I'm not sure I really get the depth chart thing, but I love the result it got from Bowe.
Too many young men come into the NFL, get smothered by wealth and acclaim, and it swallows them whole. Particularly if they are not mature enough to wear success "like they've been there before" as my father used to say.
The "Bo-Show" had become unbearable for me to watch. Dwayne stud-horsing around after he made a play... in a game we were losing and eventually lost... well that was just lost on me. Was he celebrating the loss? Or didn't he even care?
Right now, Bowe is playing more consistently than he ever has in a Chiefs uniform, and we are thankfully spared the celebration nonsense in the meantime. I just hope it stays this way once the team starts to win. He doesn't need to stud-hoss around. He's a superstar talent. ESPN will still air his highlights if he just walks off the field after making a play.
Now, regardless of the roster and the current injury situation... I think this game with the Ravens finally gave us insights of value to attempt an evaluation of what we really have on the 2009 version of our team.
Special Teams: Despite the shank, we clearly have one of the premier punters in the league, and we should sign him for at least a 5 year extention asap. Also, Mr. Irrelevant is simply head and shoulders above last years place kicker. The 53 yarder yesterday was music to my soul, and put me on the front edge of my chair until very late in the game. Kickoffs were sterling. Mark my words, this guy is going to win a couple of games for us this year with his leg.
Defense: I have to admit, I'm one of those guys who was seriously unhappy about the Clancy Pendergast hire. I thought he was too young and inexperienced to call defensive plays against the better offenses in the AFC. Boy was I ever wrong. Pendergast is the real deal and we're lucky to have him in KC.
Front seven: Clearly still a work in progress, but just as clearly - there is a ton of talent on the defensive line. They looked great at times against Baltimore, and even though the Ravens were able to run with some success most of the day, it was by no means the cake walk teams had running the ball last season against the Chiefs. Schemes and confusion on the part of Flacco were the order of the day until late in the game. If they hadn't played twice as many snaps as our offense...
Linebackers: Still a work in progress, and consistency is the big deal now. DJ has got to find his place in this scheme - at it looked like he might have been doing that yesterday. Corey Mays - same thing... still yo-yo-ing around. But Vrable is all he was advertised to be, and Tamba Hali is a beast who is only going to get better in coverages as the year progresses.
I have to admit, I was not thrilled with our secondary yesterday - but the injury hurt us more than just the loss of physical talent on the field. Lots of folks want to slam Legget for yesterdays's gaffs... and he hold the check for some of them. But to me, the biggest problem was not any one individual player(s) lapses. It was a lack of total chemistry in the units on the field.
We have to lay part of the chemistry problems at at Haley's feet for not playing the starters together more in the pre-season, but... how the hell was he supposed to know any sooner than he did who the 'Right 53" were going to be?
Again, patience is driving this bus... and will not be harried into moving faster.
Offense: Surprisingly, this unit played well above my expectations for the challenge they faced in the Ravens. I expected them to be completely out classed.
They were not.
The line was not good - especially in the running game, but it was not the atrocious cluster-f%@# we're accustomed to in KC. They were not able to run the ball well the whole game with too few notable exceptions - in fact I only remember one run by Charles of about 10 yards. But, NOBODY runs all that well against the Ravens. Once again, we have to be patient and wait for the chemistry to jell on this line. This has been true of the running games since Moby Dick was a minnow. It ain't gonna change overnight.
Conversely, they occaisionally showed an amazing ability to give Croyle enough time to throw... especially in the 2nd half. It was a shame how it all collapsed in the last two minutes. They had played like a real team up to then, hanging tough and getting each others back. In spite of the ugly last two minutes, the offense as a whole showed me more to be optimistic about than I've seen from a Chiefs Offense in three years.
Brodie: took a lickin' and kept on tickin'. Good on him. It was a great thing to watch him rise up and take the team down the field against one of the better defenses in the NFL. That drive alone should tell the team and us fans all we need to do is believe and be patient. Things ARE getting better.
At the end of the day, I'm disappointed we lost this game. To beat the Ravens would have been a salve on a lot of wounded pride. It would have lifted these men... these "Right 53" in a way no other thing can lift them. It would have meant the world to beat a team as good as the Ravens. Sadly, that salve will have to wait for another day.
In the final analysis, what Chiefs fans have to do now is be as patient as Clark Hunt has been with the new paradigm. These guys are not going to be rushed, so concede and resign your heart to the process... focus on the good things going on now... and let yourself be warmed by the evolution of a TEAM in KC. And take comfort in the knowledge there IS more to feel good about than there has been for quite some time.