Column: Was Just Being Competitive Good Enough?

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.

16 Responses to “Column: Was Just Being Competitive Good Enough?”

  • October 10, 2010  - Edward says:

    I think too much is being read into how we felt after the game. Its no need for guys to be so frustrated after the game. This is a team that has won 10 games in 3yrs. So to start 3-0 and against a Indy team who back are against the wall and not get blown away is huge. So that being said I think everyone not getting frustrated shows confidence that these guys have in themselves that they realize we can play with anyone. No different when the Giants lost to Patriots the yr they won the Super Bowl. It was a lost but that lost showed them they could play with the Pats. And end result propelled them to a Super Bowl. I’m not saying this lost is going to propel us to a Super Bowl but certainly a Divison win and a playoff appearance I can see that.

  • October 10, 2010  - Mike says:

    I generally agree with what Bob writes, but I must disagree with his opinions about today’s loss. I saw progress. Peyton did not throw a TD pass. The high-powered Colts were held to 4 field goals before scoring their lone TD. To me, that shows the progress the defense has made under Romeo Crennel. IF Todd doesn’t try the onside kick to start the game, IF Todd takes the gimme 3 points deep in Colts’ territory instead of going for it on 4th down, IF Bowe holds on to a TD pass that was perfectly thrown, the game’s outcome might have been different. We’re a team in transition, and I was pleased with the effort I saw today. We’re improving, for real. On to Texas next week. I’m looking forward to it already.

  • October 10, 2010  - Todd says:

    We just ended the first quarter 3-1. 75% win ratio.

    The second quarter starts tomorrow. I think we’ll get 75% again too.

    If I’m right, we’ll be 6-2. I can live with that.

  • October 10, 2010  - Tim says:

    Bob, I love ya, but boy do I believe you’re wrong on this one. If we were a veteran laden team with legit playoff hopes to begin with I might agree with you. That’s not our situation. Your latent negative bias seems to have leaked out here a bit.

  • October 10, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    I think if we had been successful with the on-sides kick and Bowe makes the catch and we lose…..they are crushed. After Bowe dropped the pass in the end zone, I think they knew it wasn’t going to happen. Not in Indy. Not giving Manning that many chances. I think we were one catch away from behaving exactly as you think they should, Bob.

    Great column.

  • October 10, 2010  - TX_ChiefAN says:

    Totally disagree Bob…unless I interpret wrong.
    If I as a new mgr of a group point out all of my mgrs failures and shortcomings we would fail as a group. At some point each shortcoming should be addressed but in due time. What Haley and co. are doing makes perfect sense. There were mistakes today by the staff and players alike but there was progress. Could we have won? Yes. But does coming down on the players/team make it right? I seriously don’t think so. The time will come for “we expect more from this group” but that time has yet to come. I’m still disappointed but we will move on to the Texans and the 2nd Qtr of this long learning season.

  • October 10, 2010  - Patrick says:

    I love the fact that the team spouts the company line after this loss. Its just more evidence to the fact that they have bought in to Haley’s process, and that they are all doing their best to follow where he leads. Haley/Pioli keep talking about building a team and having the “right 53″. This is what they want – 53 guys who will march lock-step to the beat of Haley’s drum. Even coaches are doing it (a la Weiss’s “I’m ony one man” comments about his absence.)
    And as Bob has mentioned many times – we really do not have enough talent yet to be a great team. So the only way we will have success is by our whole being greater than the sum of our parts. Haley is steering this ship in the right direction. If our boys keep drinking the company Koolaid, this could be a really fun season and TEAM to watch!

  • October 10, 2010  - Nate says:

    Bob!Bob!Bob! I respect you a lot, however I think you got lost in left field on this one. The Colts are rarely beat in their home fish bowl. A lot of good teams get beaten badly there. If this young team had been beaten badly today, it would have set this young team back and shaken their confidence. I hate losing so bad that I can’t even put it into words, however I think there was progress today. Everyone in the NFL is telling them they are a fluke and today I believe they proved to themselves that they are not! They held the Colts and all world QB Peyton Manning to ONE TOUCHDOWN! They should have their heads up on the ride home. I would suggest they put Dwane Bowe and Jamal Charles in the rumble seat. A dropped TD pass for Bowe and two fumbles for Charles. They let their teammated down today.

  • October 10, 2010  - Chiefs Can’t Get Over The Colts, 19-9 | Chiefs Football at says:

    [...] Column – Is being competitive good enough? [...]

  • October 10, 2010  - el cid says:

    There are no moral victories. At the end of the year the record will show the Chiefs lost and the Colts won, that is all. Losing teams can play hard and still lose, just get lower draft picks.

    Any time you get a good taste in your mouth and you lose, you are in trouble.

    Let’s all relax and see what the Chiefs do next week. I doubt the is any way to fix the offense in ’10 but still got games to play. The coaches put together a good plan against the Colts and, like it or not, the players did not do the job. Can they build from this loss or do we flounder around and be satisfied in moral victories.

  • October 10, 2010  - Carl says:

    Success is measured in wins and loses, not in being competitive. If we lose next week but compete will that take away from the fact that we would be on a two game losing streak cause we competed in both our loses? Is there a third colum titled C for competitive next to the W & L colums? Being content in almost winning is a poisonous mind set for professional athletes that needs to be coached out of this team. Haley’s confidence in the good job he has done during the first four games of this season along with his job security has translated to the players feeling the same about their jobs AS LONG AS THEY COMPETE they can play in KC instead of knowing they have security as long as they win. Not many if any players on this team are replaceable. Competeing is losing only winning is winning.

  • October 11, 2010  - KC_Guy says:

    The ultimate success will require a constant capability to score offensive touchdowns. Living off ST success or turnovers is NOT a longterm solution. And the Chiefs have NOT been able to accomplish that. Two of their three “W” resulted directly from Special Teams and Defense scores.

  • October 11, 2010  - Tenand6 says:

    I will say that I think Matt Cassel is very comfortable with finding positives to take away from any game. He’s perplexing. Cassel appears to be determined while lacking confidence. He has a great attitude but his body language says he’s filled with self-doubt.

    I think Cassel believes in his coaches, the schemes, the game plans, the work outs the film study—– Cassel believes in everything except, perhaps, himself.

  • October 11, 2010  - hanknapa says:

    I normally agree with you but I am right there with other posters who disagree with you. If this was a “Colt Quality” or a “New England Quality” team with veteran players throughout with nothing short of a Superbowl appearance as the goal then yes, “competitive” doesn’t begin to cut it.

    However, we are a very young team just trying to learn how to compete (after the worst 3 years in our history) to be in a POSITION to win (i.e. compete)and we get a big “W” in that category.

    If we have a 8-8 season or better this year and then this same scenario occurs next year then your comments are spot on…but not THIS year and especially not this EARLY in the year.

  • October 11, 2010  - Jonathan says:

    Bob I disagree with you about the Chiefs’ attitude. Are they unhappy that they lost yesterday? Yes they are but don’t let one loss carry over into the next game. Fcus on the positives and learn from the negatives. This week in Houston will show if KC learned anything about yesterday’s game. I feel the Chiefs will be just fine.

  • October 11, 2010  - TDKC says:

    That was the easiest loss I have endured for a while. No heartbreak. Just sweet progress. Dorsey is finally showing up. DJ is still inconsistent. Bowe still has stone hands. But these are better Chiefs.

    I was relieved that they looked like an up and coming team instead of a lucky one. Maybe that’s what they felt like too.

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