Every time I talk to someone with the Chiefs — player, coach, administrator — I hear something like, “We’re not that good yet,” or “We’ve got a long way to go.” I’m not buying it much longer. What the Chiefs are is unknown, but they’re playing too well on defense (38 points allowed in three games) with too many productive new players on offense (the electric Dexter McCluster, the surprising Tony Moeaki) to sneak up on anyone anymore.
Take Moeaki. When GM Scott Pioli scouted Iowa’s prospects last year, coach Kirk Ferentz told him Moeaki was one of the three most important players the program has had in his 11 years on the job. Pioli looked beyond his lack of productivity — 76 catches in parts of five seasons — to his intangibles: toughness, leadership, selflessness. He leads the Chiefs with 12 catches and two touchdowns after three weeks.
Pioli’s draft class is rapidly becoming one of the league’s best in 2010. The top six picks all played extensively Sunday in the 31-10 win over the Niners. Eric Berry’s a starting safety. The second-round picks, McCluster and nickel back Javier Arenas, combined, are averaging 15.4 yards per punt return. Third-rounder Moeaki starts at tight end while the other third-rounder, Jon Asamoah, is the third tackle or extra tight end, and fifth-round Kendrick Lewis an extra DB. You don’t want to get too cocky about a two-game division lead yet, especially with a team this young. But if the Chiefs don’t turn it over, there’s no reason they can’t win the West.
That, my friends, is how people should be viewing the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs right now.
Don’t buy your tickets for the Super Bowl, but you shouldn’t need to see anything else from this team to believe the Chiefs are legitimate playoff contenders right now. Especially when you figure the rookie class will only improve as the season goes along.
There will continue to be people that worry about Matt Cassel and his ability to carry the offense and those concerns are well founded. Hard to ignore how bad he was for the first 9 quarters of the season, but at the same time hopefully feel encouraged by his game against San Francisco.