Competition Breeds Success

When a Kansas City radio station interviewed Chiefs' kicker Lawrence Tynes on Wednesday, I was pleased to hear the fourth-year pro stake a claim to his job.

Despite the fact the team drafted UCLA placekicker Justin Medlock in the fifth round of this year's NFL Draft, Tynes isn't afraid of competition. He's entering training camp and preseason with the mindset that it's his job to lose and Medlock is going to have to beat him out.

That's a refreshing perspective, especially after hearing Trent Green whine about KC's quarterback competition being "weighted" last week. In a league where players like wide receiver Ashley Lelie demand trades because they don't feel like competing for starting positions (the exact scenario that transpired in Denver last offseason), it's nice to hear a career underdog like Tynes approach things with the right attitude.

This is only a good thing for the Chiefs. Regardless of who wins the job in 2007, the team will likely come out of all of this with a pretty good kicker. It's not like Tynes was horrible over the last three seasons (he was pretty average compared to the rest of the league), so if he's replaced by Medlock, Kansas City might find themselves with an elite kicker on their hands. It's about time, too.

The Tynes-Medlock dynamic made me realize that Herm Edwards has really promoted an environment where the Chiefs become a better football team through in-house competition. The roster is strengthened from top to bottom because no one is handed a job.

This wasn't always the case under former head coach Dick Vermeil. His extreme loyalty sometimes ended up giving starting jobs to players that perhaps didn't deserve them. Case in point – burn victim Dexter McCleon. Fellow cornerback Eric Warfield was another Vermeil favorite, and he couldn't even catch on with another NFL team after the Chiefs dumped him.

Of course, it's hard to blame Vermeil wholesale. The Chiefs' talent pool, especially on defense, was so thin at times, that starting poor players was often the only option. But that's where Herm comes in.

With the way he's drafted over the last two years, the Chiefs now have a very solid base of young talent. Combine that with Herm's overriding philosophy of "the best man wins the job," and you get a much stronger team.

We've already seen this process take place along the defensive line this offseason. Despite the fact they started the majority of the games last year, defensive tackles Ron Edwards and James Reed haven't been penciled in as opening day starters. The acquisition of veteran Alphonso Boone in free agency, along with the drafting of Turk McBride and Tank Tyler, will ensure that the Chiefs have a much stronger interior rotation this season than they've had at any point during the last few years.

The fact the Chiefs felt confident enough in this group of defensive tackles to let Ryan Sims go with barely a second thought is a great sign. For several years now it seemed like the Chiefs annual offseason hope for improved play along the defensive line was for Sims to finally pan out. Not this time.

Now look at wide receiver. The Chiefs pretty much handed Samie Parker a starting job after Johnnie Morton left two seasons ago. With the drafting of Dwayne Bowe, he's going to have to fight out Chris Hannon and Jeff Webb for the third receiver spot, and possibly even a roster spot before everything is said and done.

Of course, there are still some areas where guys will most likely be given jobs without a second thought. The offensive line, for example, is still woefully talent-thin, and I'd be shocked if Damion McIntosh didn't win the left tackle job outright in training camp. You can probably set Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann and John Welbourn in stone, too.

The right tackle spot should be improved this year through competition, however. Even though they brought in Chris Terry during midseason last year, he's not been guaranteed the job in 2007. Will Svitek will be given every opportunity to win the job this offseason, according to a report on the radio from KC's own Mitch Holthus this week.

Hopefully, the Chiefs' sum total of offensive line talent is even greater next year, and they'll be even more competition at the tackle, center and guard spots that are currently held down by stopgap players (McIntosh) and aging veterans at the end of their rope (Casey Wiegmann).

The best man wins the job and, hopefully, the Chiefs win more football games. Sounds like a plan to me. Top Stories