The Chiefs kept things close at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday despite the disparity in record.
Let's get one thing straight: the Kansas City Chiefs have very little to feel good about, if anything at all. I have little intention of patting them on the back to ease the pain of a 1-10 season, nor do I feel that "moral victory" holds any place here.
However in the face of such a disastrous season -- and let's be clear, this is a disastrous season -- Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos by the Chiefs looked a bit different than several of the others. Despite the current eight-game losing streak, the Chiefs had several talking points worthy of mention after the game and it warrants the general question:
How should the team feel the day after such a loss at home?
But can we move the vitriol and one-sided arguments out of the way at this point? It's too easy to spew one-liners in a comment or on sports talk radio in much the same way that political "analysts" will just to stir the pot. There might be some merit to lines like, "The Chiefs should feel horrible after any loss." However the reality is that half of the teams in the NFL lose every single week. It's more complicated than the won-loss record no matter how good a Vince Lombardi quote saying otherwise makes you feel.
In short, fans should not reduce their feelings about the Chiefs this season to some Rush Limbaugh-type of soundbites and make the situation overly simple. Instead, it's important to view any signs of progress within the system and see how the team is doing. Let's look a little closer at a few points of note:
1. The ACL Crew is looking better each week.
Eric Berry is starting to round into his former self one week at a time. Jamaal Charles has been worked quite a bit this season and yet he still carries the offense. Tony Moeaki is also being targeted a bit more as the year wears on. This is good news for a team that knew it would take each player a full year to get back into form.
2. Justin Houston's emergence
The Chiefs have longed for a second pass rusher for a long time, but it's clear that Justin Houston will earn double-digit sacks this season (he already has 9). His performance against the Broncos solidifies him as a bona fide pass rusher opposite Tamba Hali. This will serve the team well in the long run.
3. The offensive line
Coming into the game, the Chiefs offensive line was a patchwork nightmare. Injury concerns for Ryan Lilja, Jon Asamoah and Branden Albert forced players out of position and rookies into the line-up in practice all week. To make matters worse, the team faced the Denver Broncos' pass rush on Sunday -- the same one that boasts Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil among others. In the end, the Chiefs allowed 2 sacks on Sunday. It's an incredible number that showed the coaches had this line ready to play in the face of such a challenge.
Again we should be clear: the Chiefs are a team with (too) many issues. Several of them were just inexcusable on Sunday. The passing game was nowhere to be found even after a full week of Brady Quinn prepping for the starting role. The Chiefs had 7 penalties on Sunday, they could not convert on third down and they were a dreadful 0 for 2 in the red zone. In short, they're not a good football team.
However the signs of life are there to show that the team is still pulling together, trying to win games and making progress in some areas.