By Mac Moore
Kansas City is finally excited for football. Three games down and the Chiefs are undefeated with even the “we’re not football fans” cheering on the team. With an average winning margin of over 10 points per game, the football futility in the barbeque borrow has finally ended. You know, just like it did in 2010.
A 3-0 start to the season doesn’t mean the team has turned. It takes a lot to put together a winning club in the NFL and keep it there. That 2010 team had the same upturn in support before the subsequent seasons showed the wins to be a red herring. Matt Cassel wasn’t the right quarterback and the talent on the team would be for not.
Now I’m not saying Alex Smith is the second coming of the false messiah that was Matt Cassel. I’m not even saying that the Chiefs aren’t on the right track. All I’m saying is that we need to hold out on writing the season off as a success so early into the year.
The Chiefs are the fifth team to start 3-0 after losing at least 14 games the previous season, according to ESPN. None have made the playoffs. If they do make the playoffs, we will overestimate the level this team is at, much like the 2010 season and the 2008 Miami Dolphins that went from 1-15 to 11-5. The playoff berth alleviated criticism for those squads that faded into mediocrity during subsequent seasons.
While I heed warning to all those casual fans that believe three straight wins warrants unbridled cheers, I am filled with anticipation for how this team develops over the season.
Luckily the Cassel era has made a lot of spectators hold judgment on Smith despite the strong early season performance. We see his limitations and we wonder how that will affect the Chiefs down the road. Despite Smith’s lack of downfield play, he is head and shoulders above Matt Cas sel physically and in terms of decision-making.
In my article at the end of last season, I indicated an approval of the hiring of Andy Reid. I also stated a support of the trade for Alex Smith. Anybody that knows me knows I never wanted Matt Cassel in the off season of 2009, which was a similar trade.
The difference is Matt Cassel re ceived top end money from the start. Mostly unproven, Cassel was a 27 year old quarterback that was going to helm the Chiefs for at least three seasons. The 2010 playoff appearance gained Cassel an extra year. During that time, names like Russell Wilson, RG3, Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford, Andy Dalton, Matt Stafford, Josh Freeman and Ryan Tannehill came off the draft board.
Of course some of them went before the Chiefs pick in the draft and only hindsight makes the others seem like such sure picks. I still argue that Chiefs management ignored a wealth of quarterback prospects because of a mistaken faith in Matt Cassel as a franchise quarterback.
Alex Smith was already labeled a game manager in San Francisco. His departure because of the strong arm and wild athleticism of Colin Kaepernick only made this image of Smith hold a tighter grip on the minds of football fans.
If another prospect comes along, Dorsey will draft him and Andy Reid will groom him. Alex Smith is not locked in if he doesn’t play up to his contract. He has two years with middle level money and outstanding performance over the last two seasons. At the very least, his bang is worth the buck.
Honestly, I think many decisions by former GM Scott Pioli have actually benefitted this team and his choice of quarterback is what really held this team back over the last couple years. With the additional changes the new GM John Dorsey made, the coaching of new coach Andy Reid and the play of a stable Alex Smith; this team has an upward trajectory.
But we are not there yet. Jamaal Charles has not looked liked the running back that carried this team for four years, even with his 172 total yards against the Eagles last Thursday night. The passing game has only looked productive in spurts, and the careful Alex Smith has made the downfield passing non-existent.
The faults actually make for a better narrative than the perfect turnaround of winning more games in three weeks than they did all last season. Remaining undefeated with three solid wins even though the team hasn’t reached full steam yet makes one ponder the potential of this team if they continue to improve. Now that’s the kind of thing a diehard fan like me wants to see.
Writer’s note: I have watched all but six Chiefs games since 2000. Their record was 89-119 with an additional 0-3 in the playoffs during that time frame. My life is sad, but I know Chiefs football.
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.