It’s July 26th and being in Kansas City that means baseball season is now irrelevant and you should be more excited about football players jogging around a field in shorts. This is sometimes the best time of year to be a professional sports fan in KC, unbridled optimism about a football team we live and die with that hasn’t won a championship since 1969. There is nothing to be upset about and we are at the point of the year that we have a whole training camp, preseason and regular season ahead of us. So as the Royals go tumbling down into the cellar as usual, the ravenous Kansas City fan base will focus our attention and debates on football.
It seems as if this team will provide plenty of material for such debates had in the break room at work or drunkenly disagreeing about at the bar. I’ve seen predictions like this one, http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82acb6e7/article/preseason-power-rankings-packers-pace-contenders?module=HP11_hot_topics , that says that the Chiefs should be disappointed to not make the playoffs and could contend for the Superbowl. Then there is this, but I should preface the link that this writer seems quite incompetent and wouldn’t put much stock in anything he does, http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/story/19653558/power-rankings-giants-start-on-top-but-how-long-do-they-last .
Point is the national media has the Chiefs anywhere from playing for a championship, to being in the top 10 of next year’s draft. That’s quite the spectrum of expectations and it’s probably not hard to guess which side of that my expectations fall on. Every year about this time its Superbowl or bust for me, although mentally I still don’t think I’m prepared for the pressure that comes along with watching your team playing for a title. I’ve experienced both the highs and lows of playing for a championship with the Kansas Jayhawks, but professional football is a completely different story.
I was surprised to learn the other day that the Chiefs do not have a player on its roster that is over the age of 30. Six players that are 30, but none over, which I can only attribute to Scott Pioli putting his stamp on this roster. In fact, Pioli has been demonized so much in the media for being an awful person that we might have neglected just how good of a job he has done building this football team to compete for this year. Although he hasn’t won a playoff game in his tenure here, I believe this is the year they change that. The Chiefs have too many guys hitting their prime and now I can see what Pioli was doing these last few years. I think this is the roster he envisioned when he took this job and now it is in Romeo Crennel’s hands to get the players where they need to be.
After taking over with just a few games left last year, Crennel rallied the troops to beat Green Bay convincingly and ruin their perfect season and guide a team a blocked field goal away from a second consecutive division crown after starting 0-3. Romeo Crennel is the man for this job. The players love him and he is the anti-Haley, which is exactly what this team needed. The Chiefs brought in an impressive free agent class consisting of Eric Winston, Kevin Boss, Peyton Hillis, Stanford Routt and Abram Elam. Add the three studs coming back from ACL’s and you have a brand new infusion of talent coming back to help this team return to prominence.
I’m always excited and probably way too optimistic, but this year my optimism is backed up with confidence in this team that they have the talent to compete for a title this year. You probably can’t read an article on the Chiefs going into this season without mentioning that the only question mark we have is at quarterback. Granted Cassel is no Brady or Rodgers, but when he has been surrounded with sufficient pieces and protection he has proved serviceable. When you mix in a potentially dominant defense and solid special teams it’s easy to justify my high opinion of this team.
I’m counting down the days to August 10th when they hit the field for the first preseason game with great anticipation. It’s like being on the first tee of a golf course; you’re ready for a fun ride that will no doubt have its highs and lows and no matter what happens you’ll enjoy it either way and keep coming back. So here’s to many beers drank, steaks cooked, curse words launched at the TV and what will hopefully be a great ride this sesaon.
Training Camp Predictions:
*Cam Holland is a name to watch trying to add depth to the offensive line. If second round pick Jeff Allen can prove he can be a serviceable guard, Ryan Lilja might be shown the door. I don’t think cutting Lilja would be a bad thing at all, he is on the down slope of his career and is undersized. Also, Holland would be a versatile player to have as the backup interior lineman considering his college experience and ability to be at center.
*I fully expect Dwayne Bowe to sign about August 28th, so in his absence there will be plenty of snaps for some of these young receivers to step up. A group of Josh Bellamy, an undrafted free agent out of Louisville, Junior Hemmingway,a 7th round pick from Michigan, Brandon Kinnie, an undrafted free agent from Nebraska and preseason star Jeremy Horne. I expect one of these guys to step up and show promise. My money is on Horne. The other three guys are wild cards, because none of them had a quarterback in college with an arm.
*Ricky Stanzi will grab hold of the backup job. After seeing Stanzi throw a beautiful floater for a TD last preseason to a streaking tight end I saw the potential he was drafted for. I think it was because of the potential flahsed and lack of other options last year that frustrated this fan base by not giving him a chance. With a lot more time under center this preseason, I expect him to be the star of training camp. This will make the fans patience for Cassel that much less, if thats at all possible.
*Allen Bailey will look like the best defensive end on the team. Though paid like the 3rd one, it will be an interesting spot to watch as the cuts come in. Will they give up on Tyson Jackson? Although he has progressed a little, he isn’t anywhere close to being worth what he is making.
*DeQuan Menzie will be the most impressive draft pick in camp.