I enjoyed both of the Chiefs’ OTAs this past week, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take time. It’s not as simple as throwing the Chiefs into a microwave and two and a half minutes later you have a championship.
I enjoyed both of the Chiefs’ OTAs this past week, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take time.
It’s not as simple as throwing the Chiefs into a microwave and two and a half minutes later you have a championship.
That’d be nice, but most fans know better.
Gazing at the various exercises and drills I saw that the pieces are there, but the parts are young. In the locker room I witnessed many young faces, but like coach Todd Haley mentioned, the baseline has been set. Last year is under the belt, and I agree with Haley, as painful as it was, a foundation was laid.
The benefit will be obvious, because unlike last year where the Chiefs had to backtrack, this season they’ll be on more even footing with the AFC West and hopefully the rest of the NFL – at least that’s the idea.
These initial OTAs were about mixing football with offseason conditioning – lifting, running and playing together. For the rookies, it’s where the rubber meets the road.
I listened to both Dexter McCluster and Eric Berry as they were surrounded by people with lots of questions. Neither was confident enough to say that there were no major surprises. Both knew otherwise, and you could see the expression on their face as they commented on how fast practice was. They were with players who had been with Haley since last season, so it was night and day compared to rookie mini-camp.
But it’s early.
Both days I was like a kid in a candy store. It was a breath of fresh air watching Chiefs football. I’m anxious about the 2010 season. I know the Mavericks drew a crowd, but I’m not convinced that Kansas City suddenly became a hockey town. I think winning does that sort of thing even if you don’t have a clue about shooting a puck. When teams win, people come.
I see it in the Chiefs future, winning again.
After Wednesday’s OTA, I overheard running back Jamaal Charles telling some of the media that he’s ready to win. If that means sharing the load with Thomas Jones, then he’s fine with that. It’s about team now.
I paid close attention to Haley and new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis during team stretches the first day. Weis was sitting on a cooler while Haley waived his hands back and forth excitedly. It hit me that Haley is who he is, a passionate guy. It was sort of comical Weis looking on and remaining calm while his younger head coach couldn’t wait to get started.
But don’t let that fool you. Just ask one of the players if Weis sweats the small stuff, they’ll tell you yes. It’s a military idea, and you’ll know what I mean if you’ve been through basic training, but if you can’t handle the little things, then forget about the big stuff.
When I had my chance to ask Berry a question, I went to the heart of the matter. I asked Berry if he had something to say to the fans, because regardless of the renovations to the stadium, winning is the name of the game.
“I’d tell fans that we have a hard-working team,” Berry responded. “We don’t know all the variables and what will come out and what we can’t control, but I do know that we are going to be one of the hardest working teams I know.
“We’re going to come out here and play hard for our team and for the coaches and play very extremely hard for our fans. We … I mean I heard about the big tradition here and I’m going to do my best to uphold that tradition for the Chiefs nation.”
One thing I noticed as I listened closely to Berry answering questions was things like, “Yes, sir” and, “Yes ma’am.” I saw respect. I asked Berry where that came from, the part that has value for other people.
“My dad,” Berry said. “My dad is pretty much the same way and told me to treat others with respect no matter who they may be. You never know what that person may be going through, and my dad said to always smile.”
The same way I was grinning soon after the Chiefs made Berry their first choice!
After the OTA on Wednesday, I took a minute to ask linebacker Jovan Belcher how he felt about this upcoming season.
“We’re here every day working hard,” Belcher said. “We’re trying to turn this program around in the direction that it should be, because the fans pay a lot of money to come see us play. We count on them, they may not think we do, but we do. On the third or fourth down, seeing the stadium packed helps more than you know. Fans cheering for you in the great times help out a lot; it helps more than they realize. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to be a part of it, we’re all working hard, and even when you go home you have to study hard.
“Everyone has to be on the same page. It’s about turning it around – we have to turn it around. It’s about putting your best foot forward, there’s no stepping backwards.”
Belcher is a player who showed promise last season not only on special teams, but also when he had opportunity with the defense. Haley repeated it often, but everyone has an opportunity. Belcher could be a candidate in 2010.
Just before my time was over, I caught Derrick Johnson on the way out. I was curious about what he thought about last season, and what fans might see going forward.
“I’m putting last year behind me, I mean it’s in the back of your head not starting, but at the same time it gives me more of a drive to start this year,” said Johnson. “If I’m healthy I will … I will.”
Being me I had to ask, and I just don’t like the Broncos, but I asked Johnson how it felt to end 2009 on a high note.
“Last year I was getting around 10-15 plays, but in Denver they wanted to throw the ball a lot, so I was out there about 40 times. It worked out good for me that day.”
Yes it did! I’ll be getting the scoop, so come back. It’s starting to get good.
Good day, Chief fans!