As a kid, waking up Thanksgiving morning was a fun treat. Starting my morning with a bowl of my favorite cereal, Crispy Cirtters and then watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. But the highlight of the day, beyond my Mom’s Apple Pie, was watching NFL football and being thankful I lived in a city where football matters.
With the Denver Broncos coming to town Sunday afternoon showdown, this season has been filled with a plethora of good tidings. Sure our team has lost its last two games but that doesn’t mean we’re not all thankful they stand 9-2 at this point of the season.
For yours truly, this time of year has always been one of reflection. So in that light, here are eight things I’m thankful in regards to my Kansas City Chiefs.
1. Clark Hunt - It took a big checkbook to dismiss the ‘Patriot Way’ last January. It took an even bigger one to hire, Andy Reid, John Dorsey and their respective staffs. That big check the Chiefs Chairman wrote included multiple severance packages paying out tens of millions of dollars to employees who were under contract in 2013 and beyond that were suddenly without current employment.
Let’s be honest for those that were around during the Chiefs dismal 2012 season, everyone knew significant changes had to be made. But I wonder how many felt Hunt would open up the family vault and write every check necessary to regain control of his NFL franchise.
Well he did just that and we should all be thankful he seized the moment for Chiefs fans everywhere.
2. Andy Reid - My criticism aside from last weeks loss to the San Diego Chargers, the Chiefs new head coach has been a breath of fresh air in Kansas City. His laidback style perfectly suits the Midwestern theme our fair city exudes day in and day out.
Many felt Reid would take time off after being kicked to the curb by the Philadelphia Eagles last January. However, he wanted to get back on the bicycle as fast as possible so he quickly accepted the coaching gig in Kansas City. To his credit, he came to the Chiefs just wanting to be a head coach and not a personnel man. That fact alone has allowed him to focus on the players he has in the locker room.
What he’s accomplished in pushing the Chiefs to a 9-2 mark and preparing them for the biggest game this franchise has played, in what has felt like an eternity, can be described as nothing short of miraculous.
3. John Dorsey - When he came on board this past January, the Chiefs new General Manager quickly washed away the stench leftover from his predecessor. He came into Kansas City with one goal in mind; to upgrade the Chiefs 53-man roster.
So he rolled up his sleeves, went to work and jettisoned some 30 plus players from a roster that yielded just two wins a year ago. In short order, he and his staff rebuilt the Chiefs from the ground up.
Yes he did inherit some impact players but the decisive move to add Quarterback, Alex Smith, and a handful of veteran and untested free agents, has paid huge dividends thus far in 2013.
The good news about Dorsey is that he’s all business. He won’t be satisfied until his roster wins a Super Bowl. And when that happens, he’ll be hard at work the next morning figuring out a way to improve the roster so the Chiefs can do it again.
4. QB Alex Smith - The knock on Mr. Smith always centered on his inability to lead a team when they were facing a comeback situation. Last Sunday against the San Diego Chargers he delivered the goods.
In two straight losses, Smith has shown he can make plays in crunch time. Despite the fact he’s encountered anything but a consistent offensive line, the best part of his season might be delivered in the months of December and January.
Smith came to Kansas City with a chip on his shoulder that hasn’t grown any smaller. He has plenty to prove and there is no doubt he’s the teams leader on offense. Now it’s his time to show he can carry this team.
5. Jamaal Charles I really hadn’t noticed until this season the Chiefs All Pro running back, has become a complete back. Sure we all knew he could put up sick numbers running the ball. Equally, we knew he could catch the ball when thrown to him out of the backfield, but we didn’t know what a terrific blocker he has become.
NFL fans are so caught up in stats they fail to look at the little things that extend drives or create opportunities for others to shine on the football field. What makes Charles so valuable to the Chiefs offense are obviously his skills at running and catching the ball.
However, in adding the blocking element to his overall game, Charles has become the most rounded running back the NFL has seen in quite sometime. And when you consider he doesn’t push the 200-pound scale, at his position that toughens is second to none.
6. Tamba Hali & Justin Houston - When the Chiefs were on their sack rampage the first half of the season, these two outside linebackers became household names.
The pair were so dominate at one point Chiefs fans were comparing them to the sack duo of the 90’s Derrick Thomas and Neal Smith. Granted the modern version of Butch and Sundance has seen those initial sack numbers level off, the impact of their loss last Sunday against the Chargers, just reminds us how valuable they are to this defense.
Though Houston will likely miss Sunday’s Broncos re-match; Hali will give it a go. Both players signify the guts, hard work and perseverance to lead Chiefs fans to believe both will do whatever it takes to get this franchise back to the Super Bowl.
7. Bob Sutton - This weekend might be the biggest game Sutton has coached in his lengthy career. His steady flow of football knowledge has rubbed off beautifully onto his players.
In three consecutive games, including the one on Sunday, his defense has had a scant 2.3 seconds to react to quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers lighting quick releases. Both have caused Suttons’ defense fits. His adjustments on Sunday will be critical to the Chiefs success over the next couple of months.
That aside, the Chiefs defense has risen from the ranks of average to borderline outstanding. Sure out of character they’ve given up yards and points the last two games but that happens to any great defense.
My guess is that Sutton will solve that problem on Sunday.
8. Arrowhead’s Rebirth - Thanks in large part to the folks at Terrorhead Returns the Chiefs nation has made Arrowhead stadium the loudest stadium in the NFL. Beyond that admiration, the place that founder, Lamar Hunt, called his favorite place on earth, has found its groove again.
I’ve been going to games at Arrowhead since the stadium opened in 1972. I was at the first game played there and recently at her last game. She’s a beauty and wonder that marvels the senses.
Arrowhead is a majestic place that simply lost it’s way the last several years. But now she’s back in a way that has Chiefs fans excited to crash the parking lot gates before the sun rises and cheer their team until the final tick of the clock.
Even better, with a 6-1 mark at home thus far in 2013 and a win Sunday against the hated Broncos, she’s put the Chiefs within grasp of hosting multiple playoff games in January.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
What are you thankful about in regards to the Chiefs?
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