From Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
The attitude that permeated the Chiefs locker room after their 19-9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts was not what you would have expected from a team that had just seen its first losing effort of the season.
There was optimism. There were players, both veterans and youngsters that talked about how well the Chiefs played and how they had improved on an afternoon when they scored 10 points less than their opponent.
It was apparent that just being competitive was good enough for these Chiefs. And that tells us a little something about how much farther they have to travel before they are going to be a contender.
Listen, the afternoon affair indoors here in Indy is just one of 16 snapshots that make up the 2010 season. On the base, it was no more important than any of the other 15 outings. But it was. It was the chance for the Chiefs to show the world that their 3-0 performance wasn’t a fluke. Make a game out of it with Peyton Manning and his Colts and there’s a certain amount of credibility that lands in your account.
And the Chiefs did that. They made the Colts play the whole game. Manning was visibly uncomfortable at times trying to find his guys against the Chiefs defense. For the better part of 50 minutes, the game was available to them to win.
However, on this Sunday they did not find a way to win. While that disappointed them, it did not leave them visibly angry, upset or perturbed. It seemed that on this day, playing it close was good enough to make the flight home a little less salty.
“We are a team trying to make a little bit of progress every week and to me we made progress today,” said head coach Todd Haley. “But I do not want our guys, our coaches and our players to think anything else. That’s not blowing smoke. This team, that’s in transition, made progress today. Now it’s very important we come out and continue that progress next week.”
Was the outcome evidence that the Chiefs are not ready to be playing with the big boys of the AFC?
“I don’t think so, not at all; you expect that at some time during the season we will fail at execution,” said LG Brian Waters. “There will be worse teams that we’ll be able to bounce back and overcome our lack of execution. This (Indianapolis) is a good football team. We weren’t able to bounce back from the opportunities that we missed.
“We did some good things today.”
DE Glenn Dorsey echoed some of his younger teammates and saw positives from the day as well.
“I feel some good things in this locker room after the way we played,” Dorsey said. “We slugged it out with them. We got some things done. There are only positives as far as I can see.”
However, there is the problem of that “L” now on the Chiefs record. If the process that Haley is steering this team through right now is going to work out, there’s going to become a time when success has nothing to do with making progress or being competitive, and has everything to do with winning. Some of this attitude was early work by Haley trying to keep his team from riding a roller coaster of emotions that can take the disappointment from an outcome like this loss to the Colts and turn it into another one disappointing Sunday, and another one on top of that.
And some of it is reality. The Chiefs are not going to become a contender overnight, or even in the span of four games, or one season. Whether they could be or should be further along in the rebuilding process is a legitimate matter for debate. It’s OK after a victory, or a defeat for a football team to be emotional. So much is asked of them, mentally, physically and emotionally, that celebrating the highs and mourning the low points is part of the game.
It’s when those highs and lows continue through the next week of preparation that turns a season into an emotional roller coaster with crushing lows that can lead to more lows. Maybe Haley doesn’t believe his team has reached a point yet where it can deal with post-game emotion and then come back to work and quickly move on.
Right now, it is what it is. Apparently, what it is with the Chiefs is going on the road, in a hostile situation and being competitive. That is considered success.
Until that attitude changes, the ultimate success they seek will elude them.