by Neta Davis // @ND622
Two weeks into the 2017 season and the Kansas City Chiefs have won two very different games. One an offensive juggernaut against the current Super Bowl Champions; the other, a nail-biting defensive battle that was up for grabs until the last seconds of the game.
The Chiefs are presenting themselves as a cohesive, focused team whose sum is greater than the total of its players. At times playing to their potential; other times having to fight back by calling upon every bit of reserved spirit left in them. Players drop the ball (literally and figuratively) and their teammates make up the shortcoming.
My mind goes to two players, especially in these first two games—tight end Travis Kelce and quarterback Alex Smith—each having very different moments. Kelce continues to amaze and confound. Providing a third major offensive option to running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, his presence, and skill are a large part of Kansas City’s success since he joined the team.
However, on the other side of the coin are the immature antics that are racking up unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. While none of them can yet be linked directly to a loss, they have created unnecessary hurdles for his teammates and coaches to overcome.
Being of a certain age, you feel compelled to share your life wisdom with others (ok, just younger others). If given the opportunity this is what I would say to Mr. Kelce:
“You are on the top of your game now at 28 years old. You feel invincible; you feel the strong need to celebrate what your hard work and dedication allow you to do. You choose to do this by being a sarcastic, yet very entertaining, rebel. However, there will come a time when no matter how much you prepare your mind and body, you will not react as you expect or be able to do what you want.
At that point and time, you have to have a strong support system and good people around you. You have to have earned the respect and support of your teammates and coaches so that they will have your back when you fail.
You owe it to your team today, and to your future self, to start building and strengthening that foundation now. Good people will not continue to back those that continuously cause them problems; fans are fickle once folly turns into losses.
Do not squander the currency of your teammates and coaches’ esteem and fans’ adoration in these golden days of yours. “
I feel better now. On to a brighter subject: Smith! Full disclosure: I have always been an Alex Smith fan. He has been understatedly working toward stats that rank him just behind quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers for years. Yet Smith has not been respected for all those wins or consistency. Until this year. What’s changed? Why is he no longer Mr. Dink-and-Dunk? Sir Game Manager? Here are my thoughts:
Coaching Stability – During his first seven years with the 49ers, he had a different offensive coordinator each year, and in 2012 suffered a concussion that paved the way for Colin Kaepernick. Since 2013, he has been with the Chiefs, under head coach Andy Reid’s guidance. That lack of change has now paid off in spades.
Age & Experience – Once you have been in a career long enough and are smart like Smith, you don’t get overly emotional because you have an idea of how things will shake out and what needs to be done. Plus, you gain confidence to expand beyond comfort zones because you know how to correct the ship if it goes off course.
The Weight of Responsibility – Up to this point with the Chiefs, I believe he felt he carried the majority of the load when it came to winning games. Not all the team’s cogs were in the wheel, so he played it safe because he had to work with what was there and make it happen.
Offensive Weapons – Tell me, when has Smith had breakaway speed players like Hunt and Hill? Tell me, when has the Offensive Line performed better? Yeah, this is the first year that magical combination has occurred. We would have seen this Smith if this had happened before now.
Trusts/Believes in Teammates – former general manager John Dorsey and Reid have put together an excellent machine and all the pistons are firing. Smith knows that, which has taken the weight off his shoulders; nothing is more freeing for a leader or fosters more creativity on the gridiron.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes – What does Smith have to lose? Think about it: either he steps up his game due to talented competition and keeps his job or gets a nice new job if the Chiefs release him (I hope they don’t), or he doesn’t step up and still loses his job, which leaves him with other less-than-desirable positions. He’s an NPR kinda guy—he’ll take the classy route and go out giving his best effort.
So, which Chiefs’ team will we see in Game 3 against the Chargers? Will a new facet appear? I can’t wait to find out on Sunday!
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