Back in April when the team began their organized team activities, I sensed a different attitude among Chiefs players. Now in year three of the new regime led by Head Coach, Andy Reid, this team just feels different to me.
Granted I’m saying this despite the fact every man on the roster understands the daunting task of Arrowhead-less games from September thru November. Still, I remain optimistic this year’s team, unlike those that finished poorly in 2013 and 2014, has a different demeanor.
At the time of the current proceedings at the Chiefs practice facility, you never know what players will say or what’s really going on behind the scenes. Yet this group appears to be all business heading into their summer break before the dog days of training camp begin in St. Joe.
For one of those Chiefs, Linebacker, Tamba Hali, he’s far enough down the path of his career – that he can see the light at the end of his NFL tunnel.
“Double-digit sacks in our league is hard to get. When you’re able to achieve it, you know you’re playing at a high level,” Linebacker Tamba Hali chimed in after the first day of mini-camp.
To say Hali isn’t vital to the teams success this season, would be missing the mark. With his sack mate, Justin Houston, playing chess with the teams front office over a new contract, Hali has to pick up the slack for now.
It’s clear he doesn’t mind, and regardless of when Houston shows up on the field, Hali understands the task at hand in getting ready for the regular season. To his credit, he’s been in KC working his tail off getting ready for 2015.
”I have to come in with a game plan and be able to manipulate these guys and not just beat them on physical ability, but deception,” he said.
The fact Hali has that mindset in June can’t be overstated as to it’s actual team value. He’s already had a terrific career in Kansas City; yet the man understands how to get ready for the grind ahead.
On the flip side of the ball, Wide Receiver Jeremy Maclin, appears to have the same mental attributes in the role he must play to perfection in KC’s offense. With a big contract in hand, the chance to come back to the Midwest, he must adapt quickly to his new teammates.
Most notably Maclin must find chemistry with Quarterback, Alex Smith.
“I think me and Alex are off to a great start. I think our comfort level with each other is pretty high. It kind of feels like this is not our first rodeo,” Maclin said.
That future giddy-up is key to the Chiefs ability to get the ball down field. Smith is a terrific short-range passer. However, when he attempts to throw the ball for any quick strike distance, he tends to sail balls over the heads of his intended targets. Granted his receiving core a year ago was beyond awful so he’s not completely to blame.
This year with Maclin in hand that excuse can never be used again. That means the combo of Smith to Maclin has to erupt like a volcano in KC’s chase for the AFC West title.
”I think we’ve hooked up a lot in practice on timing, on plays where he is just kind of throwing the ball and trusting me to make the play and stuff like that. I think we’ll want to continue to get better but I think we’re off to a great, great start,” KC’s new receiver stated.
Granted the Chiefs roster is comprised of 53 men. However, Hali has seen it all, done it all and played with a passion that defines his career. Yet he still hasn’t won a playoff game and hasn’t given up the quest.
Maclin came to the Chiefs with a bulls-eye on his back as the savior of KC’s touchdown jinx. He could have landed anywhere in free agency but ultimately chose Kansas City as the place to win a Super Bowl.
Luckily Hali and Maclin have the talent and willingness to lead the men on this roster that are counting on them to lead and win by example.