Bye Week Good For Everyone
The earliest bye week the Chiefs have ever encountered will hopefully turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only does Trent Green get an extra week to recover from his severe concussion, but I also get a reprieve. After losing to the Bengals in the home opener followed by a heartbreaking defeat suffered at the hand of the Broncos at Invesco, the Chiefs limped into the bye week with a goose egg in the win column. The winless beginning to the 2006 season has much of Chiefs Nation up in arms as to the ultimate fate of this football team. A week off at this point was the perfect remedy. I haven't always been so content to weather a Chiefs-free weekend of football.
When the bye week was implemented in 1990, I was vehemently opposed to such an idea. I was eleven, so I was completely ignorant to the benefits of such a policy. It meant that there would inevitably be a week where there was no Chiefs game for me to watch. I was furious. That was the low point of the season for me. With my fantasy football cherry still intact, the Chiefs bye week then was nothing more than an opportunity to play a dozen or so seasons of Tecmo Bowl around the clock. Christian Okoye would amass enough yardage to measure it in astronomical units.
A few years later I began to understand the whole concept and saw the good the bye week can do for a team. In 1993, the league decided one bye week wasn't enough and extended the regular season to eighteen weeks, allowing for a second bye. The Joe Montana-led Chiefs would reach the AFC championship game that season. The inception of two bye weeks was without a doubt a huge benefit to the two most important pieces of that offense: Joe Cool and Marcus Allen. Regrettably, the league would revert back to a single bye week the following season. Like anything in life, the bye became something I would get used to appreciating for the sake of the players.
I don't recall that appreciation ever being more evident than it has this year. With Trent Green ailing and the Chiefs winless, the mental anguish of enduring a potentially bad season was taking its toll. I just needed a weekend where I could enjoy the NFL for its intrinsic value. More importantly, the Chiefs needed a weekend where they could clear their own heads and regroup while spending time with their families.
I'm not a huge advocate of moral victories, but I will say that there were many positives to take away from the week two loss at Denver. The defense is without a doubt revamped. I haven't seen a Chiefs defense fly around the field this way since the late 90's. Greg Wesley is once again in my good graces and will continue to hit people with total disregard for his own well-being. Larry Johnson and the running game will still be one of the league's best, a notion further confirmed by watching a good New England rushing attack only muster 50 yards against the Broncos. Damon Huard can indeed play good enough, or should I say mistake free enough, to provide a chance to win the game.
Being 0-2 at this point in the season means the biggest game the Chiefs will face will always be the next game on the schedule. The upcoming stretch against bottom feeders San Francisco (1-2) and Arizona (1-2) gives the Chiefs a terrific opportunity to get back to .500 before they head to Pittsburgh to face the struggling Steelers (1-2) in week six. At 2-2, the Chiefs would most likely only be a game out of first place in the division. San Diego (2-0), after sharing the bye week with the Chiefs, will have to travel to Baltimore before hosting Pittsburgh. One would like to think the Chargers will drop at least one of those. Denver (2-1), fresh off a dominating victory over the Patriots, will get this week off before entertaining the Ravens. It's also important to remember that while the Chiefs were playing legitimate contenders during the first two weeks, the Chargers and the Broncos were suiting up against the likes of Oakland, Tennessee and St. Louis.
The Chiefs have a history of playing well in their first home game after a bye week. Since the bye week's inception in 1990, the Chiefs are 14-3 in such contests. That bodes well for a team that desperately needs a victory and will most likely have to endure another game without Green. Playing an injury riddled 49er team could not come at a better time because the Chiefs can afford to start Damon Huard, who should have no problem orchestrating a double-digit win at Arrowhead.
For the first time this season I feel like I know what I am getting when I watch this team: defense and a bland, yet efficient offense. I have no problem with that whatsoever. When I was growing up opposing the concept of bye weeks, it was an opportune defense and a mediocre offense that made the Chiefs one of the best teams of the 90's. With a fresh outlook on the season thanks to a "Chiefsless" weekend, I feel confident in saying that this team will make a run at ten wins.
Pass the fourteen-week main course please.
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