Built For Speed

After watching their team get ripped apart by teams with any sort of speed over the past few years, there’s no debating that Scott Pioli and Todd Haley made it a point to make sure that wouldn’t happen again in 2010.  As Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star writes this morning, it’s something the whole team will have to adjust to, the way the offensive line did at the end of last season with Jamaal Charles.

“That’s something we got used to,” left guard Brian Waters said.  “As a blocker, you have to move a little bit quicker, get to the edge a little bit faster.

“That was our learning curve.”

Waters said he suspected the Chiefs’ offseason signings of free-agent linemen Ryan Lilja and Casey Wiegmann were for the players’ quickness out of their stances.

“We’ve definitely got the guys that can adjust to it,” Waters said.

Berry said it was easy to become dazzled by fast players, but he was more proud of his football intellect than his physical gifts.  That’s because he thinks that his mind and approach can improve the output of his body — and not the other way around.

At age 12 Berry began studying his own game film and looking for ways to improve.  In his freshman season at Creekside High in Georgia, after being caught from behind and tackled on the 1-yard line at the end of an interception return, he joined his school’s track team and learned what makes a player not only fast, but also quick.

“That’s never going to happen again,” Berry said.

If letdowns drive Berry, he experienced another one in that offseason practice when McCluster broke his shoe.  It was Berry and another rookie safety, Kendrick Lewis, who were closest to McCluster but couldn’t catch him as he ran toward the end zone.

“Eric Berry came and joked to me, ‘Hey, you heard that dog behind you, right?’” McCluster said afterward.   “I had to kick into extra gear.”

Which was precisely what the Chiefs had in mind when they brought in those players.  One can be the fastest — “On the field,” McCluster said, “I’m as fast as the fastest man out there” — but the rest will push themselves to close the gap.  That’s the idea, anyway.

That’s the idea, and one that I have yet to have a Chiefs fan disagree with.

It’s unfair to say that adding Berry, McCluster and Arenas cures Kansas City of their speed issues and puts them into the playoffs, but it’s a fantastic first step.

How many times over the past couple of seasons as a Chiefs fan did you know long before kickoff that a team would dominate on one side of the ball or the other just because they were quicker than Kansas City.  Hopefully in 2010 the team speed has been upgraded enough that the rest of the league can’t just walk into Arrowhead and run wild on the Chiefs.

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