If you rewind back to the 2009 NFL season for the Kansas City Chiefs, a weekly question was: What's the identity of this team? They didn't pass it very well. For the first half of the season they didn't run it very well and, for the second half, they only stumbled upon RB Jamaal Charles so you didn't know what to expect out of him. The defense wasn't very strong and special teams had zero life in the return game.
This year we're pretty sure we know what the identity is...but not completely sure. The Chiefs' offense is based off of the running game being effective, so that's their identity, right? I suppose. But then how do you explain the record setting numbers Matt Cassel and Dwayne are putting up in the passing game? Is that the Chiefs identity? Are they a passing team?
Those are two instances in which the Chiefs may not know what their identity is. Of course, one is very bad and one is very good. For his part, Chiefs QB Matt Cassel says the Chiefs identity starts up front.
"I think that it starts with an identity and it starts with the run game up front. It has been something that has been consistent with us throughout the entire year. I think it starts with the offensive line as well, they have done a tremendous job and everything kind of piggy backs off that. In the passing game, the play action, all of that comes off having a good run game and it being able to put us into manageable situations."
They have a head coach who is known for his work in the passing game and an offensive coordinator that became perhaps best known for his work with one of the best quarterbacks of our generation.
Yet, this is a running team. That's what KC is known for at this point. The Chiefs are the best running team in football. They may put two running backs over 1,000 yards each and Jamaal Charles has an argument as the best running back in the game.
As Cassel suggests, that starts with the offensive line and the Chiefs are starting to see the fruits of their labor -- that is if they care about external awards (which they don't). For the second time this season, KC was awarded the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award from Hall of Fame coach John Madden.
"I like the physical style of football the Kansas City offensive line plays on a consistent basis," said Pro Football Hall of Fame Coach John Madden. "Week in and week out, these guys run block well, pass protect well, allow very few sacks and commit very few penalties. They simply do a great job of controlling the tempo of the game allowing their offensive guys like Dwayne Bowe, Matt Cassel and Jamaal Charles the time and space to create havoc."
And that's without their starting left tackle, Branden Albert. Playing with a new left tackle (Barry Richardson) and a right tackle (Ryan O'Callaghan) that hasn't played much all year, and a center (Casey Wiegmann) and guard (Brian Waters) that are "washed up", and a guard (Ryan Lilja) that was questionable to even play in the game, the Chiefs put up 270 yards on the ground.
Maybe they were able to use moving parts on the offensive line and still be effective because they've established themselves as a team that's tough to stop the run again. Maybe it's part of the overall attitude Chiefs head coach Todd Haley has instilled in the team.
Having a good offensive line allows the Chiefs to do a lot of different things and do them very well. I must admit that I'm shocked that this offensive line is any good. I didn't see how they would be but, there they are, in the running for the offensive line MVP award from Mr. John Madden.