As the Chiefs get ready to kick off their first season under Todd Haley and Scott Pioli, the Kansas City Star’s Kent Babb details how the players hope the changes make the difference this season.
Linebacker Derrick Johnson thinks about the practice schedule. Unlike some of the workouts under former coach Herm Edwards, it’s never short. Never easy, never relaxed. During training camp, the Chiefs sometimes worked for five hours in a day. Even this week, the usual Friday workout — NFL teams typically gear down on Fridays in anticipation of a Sunday contest — was intense and long. Instead of wearing the lightweight pads that typify a walkthrough, the Chiefs wore full shoulder pads.
“A little more sweat,” Johnson said with a laugh.
As the curtain goes up on a new season, the Chiefs are still learning about themselves. The team has spent the past nine months trying to reinvent itself, and Haley has said often that it’s not easy. Players, like many outsiders, are reserving judgment as the Chiefs move toward a regular season packed with renewed hope and optimism — but laced with the caution that follows a team that won six games the past two years.
It’s important for fans not to judge too quickly if the changes Haley has implemented are working or not. The Chiefs might go out later today and lay and egg against the Ravens, but that doesn’t mean anything needs to change. We all want to see that number in the “W” column go up a whole lot quicker than it did the past two seasons. It will be mighty frustrating if it takes a while, but let’s just make sure we give the new program time to work.
One person that is keeping his optimism in check heading into today’s game with Baltimore is Rick Dean of The Topeka Capital-Journal.
I’d be more optimistic if I thought the Chiefs were a significantly upgraded team after nine months under Pioli, the personnel rainmaker for the three-time Super Bowl champion Patriots. If he’d followed up his blockbuster trade for New England quarterback Matt Cassel with other talent acquisitions that made you say, “Wow, this is really a better team.”
Sure, there are areas where the 2009 Chiefs are better than that of the Herm Edwards rebuilding project. Sadly, though, the upgrades have been offset by downturns or no turns.
I think Dean’s reason for pessimism is the same reason people need to wait a while before making any judgments about Pioli and/or Haley. This season will be used to see who on the roster will be a part of turning the Chiefs around. This coming off season is when you can expect to see Kansas City turn into a major hub for free agents. How was Pioli supposed to go out and bring in a ton of guys when he wasn’t sure exactly what he was working with?
Looking for a last minute tip before placing your bets today? Bill Liesse at the Peoria Journal Star tells you about all you need to know about the Chiefs-Ravens game before putting your money on the line.
RAVENS -13 vs. Chiefs: It’s impossible to picture anything Kansas City can do well in this game. But the hosts just don’t offer enough offense to lay this many. KANSAS CITY.
It would be hard for me to count on the Chiefs today, even with 13 points. At the same time, the first team defense has been pretty impressive during the preseason and should be ten times better than the embarrassing unit that was out there last season. That along with a Baltimore offense that is far from intimidating should keep the game close enough for the points to be a factor.