Merry Christmas to everyone and their loved ones. Enjoy all your blessings with your friends and family.
The holidays are also a good time in the world of sports – a lot of excitement with some big games. We will be inundated with college football bowl games from coast to coast. The NFL playoff scene will be ready to act itself out after the holidays.
College basketball will be finished with its non-conference games and tournaments, and conference games will start after the first of the year. The NBA will begin their long schedule in January. The NHL will start shaping up with which teams will be in contention for the Stanley Cup. Baseball signings will begin to heat up after the holidays.
The win last Saturday night was a huge step in the right direction for the Chiefs’ hopes to win the AFC West title and to advance into this year’s NFL playoff picture. The 2017 season for the Chiefs organization has been full of ups and downs. If you like roller-coaster rides, this season has been for you. Just three weeks ago Chiefs fans would not take even money that the team would make it to the playoffs this year.
After 14 games the Chiefs still have not established an identity. During the first five games, the team was ranked No. 1 in the NFL power rankings. During the next seven weeks, the team lost to pitiful teams like the Giants, Jets and, yes, the Raiders. The last two weeks the team has looked like a squad that has rallied and regained their mojo.
The NFL is a very long season with most teams able to beat anyone on any given day. In both the NFC and AFC, only three teams stand out as consistently solid – the Eagles, Steelers and Patriots. Other teams including the Chiefs, Saints, Panthers, Rams and Seahawks have experienced periods of flat play. The league is designed to be balanced, which does keep a lot of teams in the playoff hunt. The design is intended to keep the league popular.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid has one great strength and one great weakness, which is patience. He is always under control and is stresses that the team can only take care of its destiny by believing and working together. This is a reason he is one the top three coaches in the NFL. He has proven that he can take teams to the playoffs on a regular basis.
It can be a difficult task in a society of athletes who are infected with the “I” syndrome. He under-plays problems with a philosophy that playing football is all about the process. He is a genius with that philosophy and would not have lasted so long as a NFL coach had he not been such a master of the science. He has a great ability to convince his coaches and players to buy into that process.
However, Reid has yet to get a Super Bowl title. He knows how to get the team to the dance, but circumstances and even some lack of luck have made the ring elusive. This Chiefs team has a lot going for them with great talent at the skill positions. It is also a team of veterans who understand his process. The question in the next two games against Miami and Denver will be, “Is the team able to put that process to work in the most crucial time of the season?”
Great talent, solid coaching schemes and a cohesive team attitude are obviously a must to win the big game, but a little luck is not a bad thing either. So far Reid has not had much luck at crunch time in the Super Bowl or in the playoffs.
The best thing Reid did this season was to suspend Marcus Peters for a game. He showed everyone that he was losing his patience and it was time to make a statement. Sometimes a talented prima donna needs a swift kick to the backside to move in the right direction. Reid did a good job of communicating that to Travis Kelce at the beginning of the year in the San Diego game with only one ball thrown his direction. Kelce has responded very positively.
Last week Marcus Peters finally played up to his ability in the win over the Chargers. He made a great tackle at the key time of the game to stop a first down. He hit the guy with a solid tackle that was just as important as his interceptions. The jury is still out on Peters and how he will respond, but to his credit he did make steps in the right direction.
No one knows the team as well as the coach. Hopefully, Reid’s rare cases of impatience with two of his best players has motivated the team at the right time. Now all Reid needs is a little luck!
• My quote of the week comes from coaching legend Lou Holtz: “The answers to three questions will determine your success or failure. 1. Can people trust me to do my best? 2. Am I committed to the task at hand? 3. Do I care about other people and show it? If the answers to these questions are yes, there is no way you can fail.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.