Playoff Loss May Serve Chiefs Well

Photo: Andrew Weber USA Today Sports

After nearly a week, the heart breaking loss to the Indianapolis Colts has gone from decimation to reality for most Chiefs fans. But in hindsight, perhaps the gut wrenching playoff failure will serve this entire franchise very well heading into the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Don't get me wrong I'm still ticked off the Kansas City Chiefs laid another playoff egg against the Indianapolis Colts in the wild card round. But most fans, if they're being honest with themselves, had to know based on the Chiefs perfect early start and poor finish in the regular season, the latest playoff loss wasn't all that surprising.

So that means, all we can do is look forward to the 2014, and yes Chiefs fans, the 2015 NFL seasons. Sure we can look back on a solid year of football in Kansas City. That doesn't short change what the fans already know and the men who run this franchise, they must inure future playoff appearances don't end in losses.

But to that goal, remember how far this franchise has come since 2012. In reality, despite an eleven-win season, it takes multiple years to get over the actual hump to compete for division titles and dream of Super Bowl parades in any NFL city.

That said, moving ahead the next year or two in Kansas City, there are a few glaring deficiencies that still permeates over this franchise and their NFL record eight straight playoff losses. That means Head Coach, Andy Reid and General Manager, John Dorsey, have some serious roster decisions to make in the coming months before free agency begins.

As I pen this article, I'm reminded when Reid and Dorsey came to the Chiefs a year ago, I was told by someone within the organization, who I hold in very high esteem, at some point, KC's roster would be comprised just shy of a select handful, that will be signed and drafted by the new head coach and the new general manager.

We've already seen a purge from 2012 to 2013. Over thirty new players were flipped onto KC's roster from a season ago. This year, with some depth in hand, a new offense that has found a solid franchise quarterback in Alex Smith, a plan to spend money in free agency and a solid year under their belt within the player personnel department, the Chiefs 2014 opening day roster will once again highlight in with the new and out with the old.

There are certainly positives you can articulate in regards to some of the players left over from the Carl Peterson and Scott Pioli administrations. But in the end, most of them will eventually be jettisoned and replaced with the type of football players that won't accept losing or sadly, to this day still, may not bothered by the losing pattern that still maintains a firm grip on this franchise.

In being honest with myself, I can't get past the comments some of the Chiefs defensive players stated about their lack of effort after the offense posted a 38-10 lead. Further, when defenders on the field, didn't seem to be upset when the Colts began scoring with genuine ease, it dawned on me – it appeared that some of them just didn't care enough.

Don't get me wrong the defensive side of the ball isn't the only culprit in the playoff loss. The offense, led by some poor play calling, dropped passes and their inability to convert third downs in the decisive third quarter, shares some blame. After all, they did leave some critical points on the field against the Colts.

However, the offense did score more than enough points to give the Chiefs defense more than enough room to close out what should have been an easy victory. Heading into 2014 offensively, they just need a few tweaks to start the season as they finished it. But the defense has a void of prime time performers that should send out an SOS to the men on that side of the ball.

In forcing myself to watch the recent playoff game over again the other day, I found some glaring reminders of the 2-12 Chiefs and some of the past Chiefs teams that failed to deliver the goods on defense dating back a decade or more.

Losing and striving to change that losing mentality or culture might be the hardest single item to overcome for any professional athlete. But when you have men in your locker room such as linebackers, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali, who didn't make a big play in the second half against the Colts, it brings into question, do the Chiefs have the right guys on defense to close out games?

Add that question mark at linebacker with the poor safety play from both Kendrick Lewis and at times the under-sized, Eric Berry. To his defense, Berry played more linebacker than safety this season, but it seems losing has become acceptable to some of the players Reid and Dorsey inherited.

To be fair that's harsh and I don't want to signal anyone out, so keep in context. I'm using the above names because they should be the leaders on this football team defensively, and in crunch time, since they're earning the biggest bucks on their side of the ball, they should deliver knockout punches.

In fact, they should have been so ticked off after the Colts first of their third quarter touchdowns, yet I could not find a single player on film defensively that showed enough emotion, or displayed the internal drive, to stop the bleeding.

That's where Reid and Dorsey are going to come into play to change the personnel on this defense going forward. They saw the same thing you and I witnessed when their defense laid one egg after another this year when the offense finally blossomed.

Moving ahead to next year the Chiefs must get some cap relief from the aforementioned players along with Cornerback, Brandon Flowers and others, to fund their free agent needs in March.

If not, some of the players I mentioned already in this article might be traded, or simply cut, to ration off enough dollars to bring in newer defensive players via free agency. And mark my words, the players Dorsey and Reid bring in to replace the defensive players they deem not worthy of wearing a Chiefs uniform, will be playing in Kansas City with the intensity and drive to deliver that knockout punch this defense has lacked since the 90's.

The Chiefs brain trust has had a full year on the job to see first hand what the men they inherited can and can't do for this football team. They now understand what they don't have and what they need to heading into the next couple of seasons.

To that point again, I go back to that conversation I referred to earlier, the plan in regards to competing for a Super Bowl, was going to be in place by the 2015 season. What Kansas City gained, as far as wins in 2013, was simply a bonus. Looking ahead to next year the 2014 schedule is brutal. So it's a crapshoot for the Chiefs to believe, they can win 11 games again in back-to-back rebuilding seasons.

In summary, the 2014 goal is to put a 53-man roster of players that Reid and Dorsey share a common belief; will change the losing culture that's been a fixture in this franchise far too long. The offense is on track but the defense needs significant work.

It appears with a season of evaluation in hand that timetable, by the two men most responsible for making the changes, might be able to shorten their initial rebuilding phase by a year.

To do that, significant roster changes loom for the Kansas City Chiefs as they attempt to accelerate the progress they made in 2013 and build the type of team that can realistically compete and finish the regular season as AFC West Champions.

It may take another year but by 2015 Chiefs should be on Super Bowl track.

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