For those of you who haven't been paying too much attention to the offseason over at One Arrowhead Way, there's a new sheriff in town. And a new mayor, city manager, police chief, and dog catcher.
And if you're currently an employee of the Chiefs with more than six months on the job, I hope you have your resume all dusted off and out looking for something new.
Clark Hunt is on the prowl, and he's hired gunslingers of renown to win his range war over the mediocrity of his once proud NFL franchise. And nobody—NOBODY is going to prevent him from getting the job done.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn they've even moved all the gear around in the weight room and training room—just so it doesn't look or feel anything like last year.
Lots of things are different this year for the team and the staff of the KC Chiefs.
For instance, media access to the players is greatly reduced. The team wants Coach Haley to be the face and voice of the team—and he seems to be growing into the job regardless of his obvious initial reluctance for the job.
At the same time, Haley understands if he wants the players to be all football all the time, he has to deflect the things that take their minds off what he wants them doing.
Another good example of change for the sake of change is the teams relocation of training camp from River Falls, WI to St. Joseph, MO. I imagine dollars and state tax incentives also played a role in this decision, but the idea of creating a new team culture via the use of geographic changes simply made the decision a no-brainer.
The most obvious change to date has been the atmosphere around the entire team. In the past, King Carl and his head coaches were pretty transparent about what they were thinking and trying to accomplish with the team at any given point in time.
That transparency gave other teams too much information and made it possible for our foes to throw a monkey wrench into our plans if they wanted to—and you know they sometimes succeeded. It gave away part of our competitive edge. Needlessly.
The new regime is not transparent. In fact, even after they make a move to help the team... they're pretty close-mouthed about exactly what they were thinking when they pulled the trigger on the decision. So, we see what they did, but are left to speculate on what the move actually means in the grander scheme of things.
A good example of this is the grievance Larry Johnson filed with the league over guaranteed money. The commonly held train of thought was KC would release LJ out-right shortly after winning their case. That was several weeks ago now, and if anything—exactly the opposite is true.
I personally thought LJ would have to renegotiate his contract and convert some of his guaranteed money into performance incentives, and they may still look to him for that. But right now I'd say it's 60-40 they keep him and pay his guarantee as long as he keeps working hard and stays on the straight and narrow off the field.
A HUGE change is the self confidence radiated by the GM and the Coach. They're not making big promises, they're not predicting wins and losses, and they're not talking very much—about philosophy, mindset, individual players, nada.
What they are doing is the work. They evaluated the draft and they did what their draft board dictated they do for the team. And they don't give a tinkers damn what anyone else thinks of their decisions.
These guys are confident without being arrogant. You want to talk about change, well brother there it is in a nutshell. THESE GUYS ARE CONFIDENT.
I think as we move forward from here, you're going to see this team begin to progress in unexpected ways.
Like maybe Glenn Dorsey turns out to be a hell of a DE in the 3-4 in spite of the talking heads nay-saying his role right now.
Like maybe Dennis Johnson finally gets put into a scheme designed to maximize his gifts rather than force him to play a role he is less comfortable with.
Of all the guys currently on the team, I respect DJ and Tamba Hali the most—simply because they were selfless and loyal and did what was asked of them because their coaches told them it was good for the team.
They put the team first, unlike Jared Allen who only cared about himself, his stats, his money, and his happiness. I can tell you this: if King Carl had not traded Allen last year, I do not doubt Pioli would have got rid of him this year if Jared was singing the same me-first mantra he was singing last year.
I have to say I like the direction this team is going, and I will continue to like it regardless of wins and losses.
The Kansas City Chiefs have always been a team which placed a higher value on character, and the example their players make for the kids in our community than they placed on talent or winning. That's how it should be, and it's one of the reasons I love this team in good times and bad.
We lost our way in this regard in the twilight of the Peterson years and in the drama of big offense from Dick Vermeils teams. I'm glad to see us fixing this problem now.
This doesn't mean we're automatically running off folks of dubious character. It means the new regime is setting a higher standard for them and making them accountable for that standard. Guys like LJ will get another chance to make good and get paid what they're worth if they can become accountable members of the team and the community.
Welcome to Kansas City all the newcomers. Most of all, we welcome the new attitude.
I believe you're going to give us a team we can be proud of very, very soon, and Arrowhead will once again be the toughest place in the league to win a road game.