Chiefs season exceeding expectations

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Jordan Wolf, Sports Editor

The Kansas City Chiefs are 9-0 entering their bye week. Yes, you read that right. 9-0.

No, I’m not talking about the latest team I played with on Madden 25 on the Xbox. After finishing 2-14 last year, the real-life Chiefs are now in first place in the real-life NFL.

Not even the most optimistic fan likely pictured this start (ESPN predicted them to win eight games all year). But, against all odds, Andy Reid has brought life to this organization and has the Chiefs thinking playoffs.

The rebirth of one of the most storied franchises in history goes back to the end of last season, when the team finished in dead last. The offseason for the Chiefs began with head coach Romeo Crennel being relieved of his duties almost immediately.

As the offseason began to heat up, so did the seats of many coaches around the NFL. One of said coaches was Reid, the long term Philadelphia Eagles head coach. Reid lead the Eagles to the playoffs nine times, including an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX.

From the instant he was fired, Reid became one of the most sought-after coaches in the league. Chiefs owner Clark Hunt jumped on Reid’s availability almost immediately, and the sides agreed on a five year contract in early January.

With Reid’s hiring, general manager Scott Pioli was officially expendable. Reid had experience running the team in Philadelphia, and the choice was his on whether or not to retain Pioli. The decision was simple; Pioli was out within hours.

Originally, Reid was intended to have the final say on personnel issues. Within a week, however, Hunt hired John Dorsey from the Green Bay Packers as general manager and gave him the authority on personnel. The hiring of Dorsey was well received, as Dorsey had worked with Reid before in Green Bay when they were both assistants.

After the front office situations had been worked out, attention turned to the team itself. In the first week of March, the team signed punter Dustin Colquitt and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to long term contracts, along with putting the franchise tag on tackle Branden Albert. The team also cut ties with tackle Eric Winston, who was most notably remembered for his locker-room tirade that called out fans who booed quarterback Matt Cassel.

Coincidentally, Cassel was the next to go. After a Pro-Bowl 2010 season, Cassel had been a downward slope and never lived up to the six year, $63 million contract he signed in 2009. He was released after the team found no suitors for a trade.

Cassel was left behind after the team traded two draft picks for quarterback Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers. Smith, a former No. 1 overall draft pick, found himself on the outside looking in as sophomore sensation Colin Kaepernick carried the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance.

Now that the team had acquired the centerpiece of the new team, it was time to fill the supporting positions. Most notably, the team signed wide receiver Donnie Avery and cornerback Sean Smith. Avery has been a solid slot receiver this year, and Smith has became one of the best corners in the AFC West. Dorsey signed other players who contributed as well, such as tight end Anthony Fasano and linebacker Akeem Jordan.

The Chiefs started the season out with a bang, winning their first game against Jacksonville 28-2. This near-shutout set the tone for the 2013 Chiefs as they held the Jaguars to zero points offensively (the only two points came off of a blocked punt).  The team had one of the, statistically speaking, best defenses ever assembled.

The central theme of “big defense, small offense” continued, as the Chiefs have held every opponent to under 20 points, while being in the bottom 10 in total offensive yards. The general consensus around the league is that the Chiefs will need to start producing more on offense to avoid close games that get decided late, such as Week 9’s matchup against the Bills that  was sealed by a defensive touchdown late.

The defining moment for the Chiefs is right around the corner, as they will take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos twice in three weeks. The first matchup, in Denver, is scheduled to be aired on Sunday Night Football on NBC Nov. 17. The stakes are definitely high heading in, as the Broncos sit 8-1, and one game back of the division. The matchup of KC’s elite defense with Denver’s Manning-led high powered offense will surely be one to remember.

As a whole, this Chiefs season has definitely surpassed early expectations. However, those expectations have now likely shifted, with some even considering this team capable of winning the Super Bowl.