A Positive Focus (for once)

On the surface it would appear the Chiefs, led by new coach Herm Edwards, had a fairly good year. They made it to the playoffs and, when considering that first-year coaches struggle to do that, all would appear to be well in Kansas City.

The sad truth is the Chiefs' performance in the playoff loss to Indianapolis was one of the more anemic displays in recent memory. Of course, Chief fans don't even have to look outside the organization for embarrassing playoff losses.

1968 - Oakland 41, Kansas City 6

1992 - San Diego 17, Kansas City 0

1995 - Indianapolis 10, Kansas City 7

And introducing…

2006 - Indianapolis 23, Kansas City 8

It's been over a week since that abomination and I'm officially over it. The proverbial "there's always next year" mentality has already set in. The Chiefs have a lot of work to do in the offseason in order to improve on what hampered them in 20006.

In watching New England and Indianapolis over the weekend go into enemy territory and come away with victories, I must admit I was oozing with envy. Those teams just know how to win on the road in hostile environments - something the Chiefs know very little about. That has to change in 2007, and much of that onus lies with the coaching staff convincing the players they can beat anyone, anywhere. Having different game plans for road games and home games does not prepare a team for football in January.

But enough negativity - it's important at this point to gather positives from this season and build on them for the next.

The former sieve of a defense made huge strides this year, improving from 25th to a respectable 16th. The pass defense improved twelve spots from 30th to 18th despite only managing a dismal 3.5 sacks from the defensive tackle position. That area will be a large focus for Chiefs in free agency and the draft. With the majority of the other pieces in place on the defensive side of the ball, the Chiefs should be primed for a push into the top 10 in 2007.

The Chiefs at this point have a very capable backup quarterback in Damon Huard. Who knew? Many Chief fans, myself included, believed he would be the odd man out of the quarterback picture at the beginning of the season.

Now, many of those people, again myself included, are left thinking what could have been had Edwards stuck with Huard. Huard is now a free agent and will no doubt be on the wish lists of teams looking for a solid veteran quarterback. If the Chiefs retain him, as they should, they'll have a bargain of an insurance policy for Trent Green, who appeared this season to be a shadow of his former self.

Larry Johnson can't win a Super Bowl all by himself, but it's reassuring to know he can win games in that fashion. Johnson will be entering the final year of his contract in 2007 and that inevitably means he'll be looking to take it up another notch, if that is even possible.

The talk of a record breaking season for Johnson was unfulfilled from a yardage standpoint mainly due to the fact the Chiefs were using a patchwork offensive line the entire season. That will be another focus for them in the offseason. Provided they upgrade at the tackle position, talk of 2,000 yards for Johnson will abound again in Kansas City.

With LaDanian Tomlinson practically a lock for the cover of Madden 2008 (and the subsequent curse that comes with it), look for Johnson to rise to the top of the running back ranks next season.

With the 2007 kickoff less than eight months away, there is much work to be done. One goal has already been taken care of with the resigning of future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. That kind of urgency was impressive and hopefully becomes a habit over the next several months. Without it, Chief fans can look forward to this exact same article a year from now.

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