The state of Missouri has two professional football teams. You might not know that if you live anywhere outside of the St. Louis metro area, as the state seems to be dominated by the Kansas City Chiefs. (Hey, if Missouri can have two teams surely L.A. can too, right?) In spite of that, I know surprisingly little about the Chiefs, who the St. Louis Rams will play in their third preseason game tomorrow.
Thankfully, I was able to turn to my peers at SBNation's Chiefs site, Arrowhead Pride, to get the lowdown on the Chiefs. I now possess enough Chiefs knowledge to kiss up to father-in-law, who still finds it strange that I "do something on the internet" related to the Rams.
Joel from AP answered a my Chiefs questions.
1. Kansas City went from four wins to ten wins over the last two years. What's changed?
The Chiefs brought in a new head coach (Todd Haley) and GM (Scott Pioli) in 2009 and, like many regime transitions, it was a rough first year. The Chiefs were operating on a new offense, the quarterback was new and a lot of things weren't going very well. Plus, the Chiefs didn't realize Jamaal Charles was that good. In the second year, the Chiefs had a lot of things going for them -- hardly any injuries, relatively easy schedule and a big season opening win against San Diego that really catapulted them. The Chiefs fed off their early momentum taking them all the way to the playoffs. The emergence of Jamaal Charles as one of the top running backs in 2010 was a significant reason for their leap to 10 wins.
2. Jonathan Baldwin was an interesting case in the draft this year. To some he was a first round pick, while others scoffed at him. What are the early reviews on Baldwin?
Baldwin came in with the "diva" label but for the first few months after he was drafted we saw nothing that suggested he was a diva. That is, until last week when he reportedly got into a fight with RB Thomas Jones resulting in a thumb injury for Baldwin, which will keep him out for the preseason. Now you have people saying that confirms the "diva" label on Baldwin. My thought is that it's way too early to be judging his career and Todd Haley has been very successful with receivers in his day so there's hope that he'll turn out well. Haley's really tough on receivers, especially early on, so I think we expected some early bumps in the road for him.
3. What's the relationship like between Todd Haley, Scott Piloi and Clark Hunt?
It's the new regime. They're all young and seem to get along very well. Haley is the face of the team which means he is the one that answers for the team publicly, whether that's for something good or bad. Pioli runs the football operations and has said he hasn't had any limitations from Hunt on how he spends or operates the team. Hunt is the son of Lamar Hunt, the Chiefs original owner, and seems to take more of an analytical approach to owning the team. They're a good fit together.
4. Describe expectations for the Chiefs this year?
I think most people expect the Chiefs to be improved with another year under their belt, and the addition of several free agents. They haven't lost a whole lot outside of a couple of defensive linemen so most think this is a better team than the 10-win 2010 team. That said, people are also aware of a much tougher schedule this year. Will the Chiefs rise above that and make the playoffs? Will they take a step back? Those are the key questions right now but most people think they're going to be competing for a playoff spot come Week 16 and 17.
5. As a preseason game, the Governor's Cup usually evokes some snark, but this year, both the Missouri teams will use the event to spotlight tornado recovery efforts in Joplin. I know the Chiefs have been pretty heavily involved in those efforts. What did they do to pitch in?
The Chiefs donated money to the Joplin rebuild shortly after the tornados hit and they got special permission from the NFL during the lockout for the players and the rest of the organization to get together and go down to Joplin for a day to volunteer. The Chiefs are going to be accepting donations at Friday's games for the rebuild and Arrowhead Stadium will host a Joplin football game. The Chiefs are also going to be recognizing first responders and other volunteers at Friday's game.