Sports Column: Moral victories are sometimes okay

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Chiefs improve team during losing streak

By Mac Moore

Early in the season I urged Chiefs fans to pump the brakes on the bandwagon. Every week, as the wins continued to mount, people sarcastically asked me if it was okay to jump on the bandwagon. I didn’t relent.

Now the Chiefs are 9-3. Three games ago they were 9-0. Everybody in KC loved them and they could do no wrong. After three losses, two of which to the divisional rival Denver Broncos, everybody has jumped off the bandwagon. Why?

The Broncos are currently the best team in the AFC and the Chiefs lost by an average of 8.5 points. The last team to win at least nine games before losing three straight was the 2009 New Orleans Saints. They won the Superbowl.

The only foreseen deficiency before the three game skid was an offense that basically played to not lose. The defense won most of those nine games. Suddenly they flipped script. The dominant pass rush has dissipated; the talent in the secondary has gone AWOL.

In those three games, the offense has progressed to the point of actually scoring. Quarterback Alex Smith showed that maybe he had a little more gunslinger in him than football fans gave him credit for. The team averaged 33 points over the last two weeks.

This team has to re-establish themselves on the defensive side of the ball. Their current level of play would require a top-10 offense to compete. Chiefs don’t have that. If the defense can right the ship, this offense has made the strides that will make them a factor come playoff time.

We quickly forget this is Alex Smith’s first year here. Quarterbacks have a terrible time adjusting to new teams. Smith fell back into the caretaker stereotype he earned in San Francisco. In truth, he just wasn’t comfortable with his receivers yet.

The defense also made it unnecessary for him to throw it down the field. They were so dominate early in the year that the Chiefs won with minimal offensive output. Now that the Chiefs defense is giving up points, Smith has been forced to throw down the field and he’s mostly delivered.

Without this test, Smith and the offense likely would have played game manager football where they simply waited for their opponents to make mistakes. This three game stretch has given the team the adversity that has made them push themselves to improve.

The offensive improvements mean little if the defense doesn’t return to form. The moral victories are great until they don’t lead to scoreboard victories. If the defense continues to play mediocre the rest of the season, this team will back their way into the playoffs, but that will be all.

Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at mmoore82@jccc.edu.

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