10. - I have to start with our cover boy Larry Johnson. If the Chiefs had played him or prepared him to play in the ten games he didn't get a hand off, I'd say they could have won at least four more games and that would have put them in the playoffs. His excitement and dimension to this offense brings a true power running game and his defensive style of running brought a swagger to an offense that wasn't as consistant passing the ball as it had a year ago. Johnson should get more carries next year and if the Chiefs were wise they'd share the running back duties with Priest Holmes and that would mean a more consistant passing attack. LJ has proved his doubters wrong and he'll be part of the Chiefs offense a lot longer than Priest Holmes who likely will hang up his cleats after 2005.
9. - The number of draft picks that likely will stick on the roster in 2005. With 11 choices in Aprils' draft, the Chiefs could arguably turnover a fourth of the 53-man roster. I'm guessing they'll add a couple of free agents. But with 11 picks and the fact the majority of them are on day two; where Kansas City excels at finding gems; there is reason to hope they can plug some major holes and build depth onto this aging roster.
8. - The number of home wins the Chiefs will need to get next year during the regular season. The Chiefs know for a fact that success on the field can be determined by how well you play at home. After running the table in 2003, the Chiefs lost four games in the greatest stadium in the NFL. The rocking fans did their best to motivate the home team but the players and coaches were only average in 2004 at home. That has to change if this team wants to climb back on top in the AFC West and get into the playoffs. Granted they'll face this years' Super Bowl participants at home but they have some winnable games against some average opponents not to mention their counterparts in the AFC West. It's time to make Arrowhead the most difficult place to play once again.
7. - The number of fresh faces this team needs to see on defense. Outside of cornerback Eric Warfield, safety Greg Wesley, defensive end Jared Allen and linebacker Monty Beisel, the rest should be de-listed and filled with players who want to play for defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. There is talent with the other magnificent-less seven but they've yet to show they can absorb the teachings of their coach and apply it on the field on Sunday. But whether that happens or not is yet to be determined. The Free Agent March next month will determine how serious the Chiefs are about competing next season.
6. - The number of additional games the Chiefs should have won in 2004. Losses against the Titans, Panthers and Chargers at home should have been victories. On the road, they should have defeated the Saints, Bucs and Jaguars. In every game outside of the Panthers game, the Chiefs held the lead at one point in the fourth quarter. This team has to learn how to finish games in 2005. They need to play every down like it's the last and take nothing for granted next season in each and every game they play.
5. - The number of free agents this team needs to sign in the off-season. If this team really wants to improve upon their 7-9 mark this past season, they have to bring in some better talent. On defense, they need another starting cornerback, a nickel back, a hard hitting middle or fast outside linebacker, a pass rushing defensive end and a tall, fast wide receiver. Options are unlimited to solve all five positions and not all of the signees have to be impact players. Just use the same road map that the Chargers used last season by scouring the free agent market and looking for talented players who are both affordable and fit within the system.
4. - The number of games that will determine the Chiefs chances for success next season. With a weaker schedule on paper, this team has the ability to win 13 games next season but these four swing games will determine there success. They must win at home against the Patriots and Chargers. Both spanked the Chiefs last season and both will be standing in their way to regain AFC dominance and playoffs births; not to mention home field advantage. The other games they must win are at home against the New York Jets and on the road in Miami. The Jets are coming off a great season and they've had the Chiefs number since the 80's. Kansas City has never played well in Florida and they have to beat the myth they can't win in the Sunshine state. If this team really wants to be Super next season, they'll have to beat these four teams.
3. - The number of times I screamed out loud in the press box. Granted this is a no-no and for the most part, I did my best to keep it to myself. In reverse order, Dante Hall's opening kick-off return against the Broncos. I don't have a fondness for the Donkeys and when we beat them I feel awesome. Second, was Tony Gonzalez's fourth quarter catch against the Indianapolis Colts that sealed the win for the Chiefs at home on Halloween. He continues to be remarkable and is only getting better with age. Last but not least; when Trent Green threw that 100-yard interception against the Texans that led to their third straight loss to start the season. That play had more to do with the teams slide than any other play all season long. It set the tone for the losing and that bad start was something this team could not overcome.
2. - The last time the Dynamic Duo will be together. With Head Coach Dick Vermeil already set to retire after this season, the same could be said for CEO/President/GM Carl Peterson. His entire staff is under the final year of their contracts as well as the coaching staff. The success or failure of the 2005 Chiefs will determine their legacy. If they win it all next year, they'll be revered forever and all the past failures will be forgotten and forgiven. But if the opposite happens and this team falls short after another lackluster season; Chiefs fans will have a sour taste in their mouths until a new regime restores the tradition of winning.
1. - This years first round draft pick must be an impact player. With a need at cornerback and eleven draft picks in the fold, the Chiefs need to grab cornerback Antrel Rolle at any cost. He's the best pure cornerback in the draft and anytime you can draft a Miami Hurricane player and put him on an NFL roster; generally that leads to a productive player. There is not another college program in the country that prepares its players better to have success in the NFL than the University of Miami. Rolle is the best I've seen instinctively since Deion Sanders came to the NFL. He's faster and stronger right now than Champ Bailey was coming out of college. He's the real deal and the Chiefs should do whatever they have to do to move up to snare him in the first round.