First, my apologies to those who have loaded up my e-mail the last two or three weeks. The holiday season has me behind in answering your missives.
But there were a few in the mailbag that I want to drag out because they either reflect a large number of fans, or they make some sort of salient point.
Always feel free to provide your reaction to any of my words by e-mailing the site. They’ll get it in my hands.
From Brian: “Let me ask just one question: can you name one young player who made a difference this season? You say you’ve seen it all season, but I am not sure I have … would you mind sharing the names of some of these young contributors that I must be missing. How about just one?”
From Shane: “I am talking to the Chiefs who are known as the best fans in the NFL. Well, they used to be the best fans in the NFL.
“It seems like the Sea of Red at Arrowhead is quickly draining to fill only the lower level of seats these days. To the real Chiefs fans of the world, it is an agonizing and painful sight to see Arrowhead empty on Sunday home games. The mystique is gone.
“The fans that choose to leave early and not show up are cursed with hearts of quitters. They were a label of fair weather fan proudly and complain any chance they get. They are not real Chiefs; rather, they are spoiled Chiefs doubters. They spread gloom and blame inside Arrowhead with boos and backsides as they leave their seats … is it that hard to understand what rebuilding means? Herm said it best when he told the fans to “Get over it.” We are not immune to a down year and we should not give up on your team so easily.”
Shane, I appreciate your passion and your words.
People become fans of a person, team, place or event for many reasons. No matter why they became Chiefs fans, those folks who climbed aboard the bandwagon in the last 18 years were accustomed to seeing winning football games. Now that we’ve had a season where the team has struggled to win, a lot of those fans are questioning their commitment.
Frankly, that’s a good thing. Much like the roster needs to be rebuilt, maybe the fan base needs to be rebuilt as well. Maybe this is a good time for Chiefs fans to consider why they care and why the Arrowhead experience is important to them.
There’s one thing I know for sure: if those folks who buy tickets find the whole thing has become a less than satisfying experience, they will not pay for seats. Everybody in charge at Arrowhead understands that.
That’s why there’s a lot of internal pressure to make sure this team gets turned around and turned around correctly.
That’s why I think it’s folly for fans to jump ship now. Have some patience; there’s something building here that if given time will provide a big payoff.
From Josh: ” I have lived with the pride and degradation of being a Chiefs fan all my life. My heart bleeds red and gold. But I am hearing some sick rumor about how the Chiefs are going to trade their first-round draft pick for Chad Pennington and Laveranues Coles. We are already the oldest team in the league. What do we need a couple of old broken Jets for? Someone please tell me it isn’t true.”
Josh, it isn’t true. I would never discount the possibility that a Pennington or Coles might roll through Arrowhead, but it won’t be at the cost of a first-round draft choice. It would come only if the Jets released them and were street free agents looking for work.
Even then, they would not fit the direction Herm Edwards wants to go. He wants to build this team with homegrown Chiefs, not mercenaries looking for a paycheck, even if he should happen to have a history with those players.
From Gordon: Why does it matter whether a player is young or old? Doesn’t it really matter only if he can play or not?
Gordon, yours is the shortest e-mail I’ve received in months and maybe the most profound. Age is a relative thing in all facets of life. The older we are, the more experiences we’ve had and maybe we’ve learned to make up for what we might lack in other areas.
There are a lot of young players who can’t play, no question. There are a lot of older players who can still get the job done; that’s a fact. When Herm Edwards says he wants to get younger it’s with the understanding that younger isn’t necessarily always better.
But the question of age cannot be ignored in the NFL. This year the Chiefs have seen the productivity of a number of their older players drop off the grid completely. For examples, take John Welbourn and Jason Dunn. The move of Welbourn to right guard after playing the last few years at tackle was pegged as a positive way to replace the retired Will Shields.
Welbourn came into the league playing guard and his talents are better suited for the position. Dunn has been among the best blocking tight ends in the league in this decade.
Both players have had disastrous seasons. Welbourn has struggled for 15 games. Dunn’s productivity as a blocker has dropped considerably. It’s two of the major factors that have the Chiefs last in the NFL in rushing.
Welbourn is 31 and Dunn is 34. It’s hard to see them playing beyond Sunday’s game against the Jets. They certainly will not play any more games for the Chiefs.
Edwards wants a younger team, guys that have talent and a future. And, he’s willing to put his job on the line for it, because young players make mistakes. That sometimes can cost a team a game. That’s why many coaches are reluctant to put young players on the field. Herm is willing to put up with the mistakes, as long as they lead the player to better performances through his experience.
A younger roster will stay together longer, and that’s important as well for Edwards; he constantly talks of building a team that will stand the test of time, not just challenge one year and fade away the next.
Now understand this, he doesn’t want a roster of nothing but 22-year olds. He’d like something close to what the Green Bay Packers have right now. The Packers started the season as the youngest team in the league, despite the fact their quarterback is 38, their starting tackles are 30 and 31 and their starting cornerbacks are 31 and 33.
That combination seems to be working pretty well for the Packers right now.