View Full Version : Posnanski: Chiefs fans can dream big dreams

04-24-2005, 08:02 AM
You had to be skeptical. Kansas City Chiefs president/CEO/general manager/cruise director/yeoman purser Carl Peterson does not exactly have the reputation as a guy who takes risks. You get the sense that Peterson carefully checks the expiration dates on milk cartons. This is a guy who should have a giant vest hanging right next to the field at Arrowhead Stadium …

(Get it? That way the Chiefs would always play close to the vest. Hello? Is this thing on?)

So, sure, you had to be skeptical when Peterson said a few weeks ago that he was going to go out this offseason and improve the defense. Look, one year ago, after watching his Chiefs defense get torched the last few weeks of the season — including a home playoff loss that should be put in a time capsule so aliens will know how not to play defense — Peterson stood pat. He brought back the whole defense. It was like saying, “Let's stick with this New Coke thing,” or “I don't care what anyone says, Beta videotapes are coming back.”

Basically, Peterson left the Chiefs' hopes to new coordinator Gunther Cunningham and an awful lot of prayer.

No answered prayers there. The defense was even worse.

This time, Peterson said he would improve the defense — Peterson said he really wants to give his friend and coach Dick Vermeil one more run at the Super Bowl. Sure, you had to be skeptical. But this morning, you wake up in Kansas City, and man oh man, you have to be dreaming big football dreams. Carl Peterson and his group went out and got themselves a former Pro Bowl cornerback (Patrick Surtain), a former Pro Bowl safety (Sammy Knight), a linebacker who was the NFL defensive rookie of the year (Kendrell Bell) and a starting defensive end (Carlos Hall).

Saturday, with the 15th pick, the Chiefs drafted Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson, who I believe was the single best defensive player available in the draft.

As Buck O'Neil likes to say: You have to give it up.

This is just an astonishing haul of talent for one offseason. Now, of course, you never know how things will work out in the NFL, how players will mesh, how they will respond to a new team, how they will play in a different system and all that.

But man, as a fan, you could not ask for more. Getting Surtain last week for a second-round pick was a great move. Peterson always says he doesn't like trading draft choices — he prefers to waste them personally. But this was an absolute steal. Surtain is 28. He's one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. He has an incredible 25 interceptions the last five years, which is more than any of the top corners in the game — Ty Law, Charles Woodson, Chris McAlister, you name it. Last year, as bad as Miami was, the team allowed the fewest passing yards in the AFC.

Then, Sammy Knight has 23 interceptions the last five years, and he forced nine fumbles, and he has scored four touchdowns in his career. Another playmaker. Kendrell Bell has been a fabulous player whenever healthy — he's 257 pounds, he flies around, he makes tackles, he's fast enough to get the quarterback, he can dominate games.

Carlos Hall had eight sacks when he was a rookie, he's big and fast, and Gunther Cunningham told me sometime last year that when he coached at Tennessee, Hall was a guy he could not stop watching.

So, it was already a pretty good offseason. Then it was Saturday, and the draft, and the ESPN broadcast brought its usual collection of chuckles. There was the annual joy of watching Chris Berman get lost in the middle of a question and then go on an Apollo 13-like mission to find his way back to some kind of point. There was Mel Kiper's hair. There were draft experts saying inane things like, “The only way to describe this guy is to say, ‘He's a football player.' ” You know what? They're all football players. If someone drafted a gondolier, that would be a good story.

There were the Jets taking a kicker in the second round and getting booed. Some things never change. There were the Bengals taking Georgia defensive players in each of the first two rounds as they once again try to go all out to win the SEC East Division. There was the sad business of watching California quarterback Aaron Rodgers tumble in the draft. One week ago, he was supposed to be the No. 1 pick. He ended up as the 24th. The ESPN people, never one to miss the human drama of athletic competition, kept cutting back to him, and he always had this perplexed look on his face, as if he was trying to figure out just how many millions of dollars he was losing per second.

But at some point, for Chiefs fans, the drama of the day was Derrick Johnson. There was a time when Johnson was considered a top-five pick, but for reasons known only to the geniuses who scout players, his stock started to drop. After Detroit passed on Johnson with the 10th pick, it seemed possible that he would actually fall to the Chiefs.

At that point, it was just a matter of waiting to see if a 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker who is built like a Buick and can move like a Mazda and won more awards last year than Jamie Foxx would actually make it down to the 15th pick. He did. The Chiefs, for reasons beyond me, waited almost the full 15 minutes before taking Johnson. I would have run up there with the card faster than some kid trying to get Derek Jeter's autograph.

Then, ESPN showed some Johnson highlights, and they were incredible — the guy blew up play after play, and sure, it's just April, sure, the Chiefs haven't even had a minicamp, much less training camp and preseason games and everything else. But the Royals are lousy, and the college basketball seasons were busts, and it's been a long time since there has been anything to get excited about.

What can you say? Derrick Johnson looks really good.

The defense looks really improved.

A longtime Chiefs fan called up to talk about the Super Bowl.

There's such a love fest going on that Carl Peterson might find flowers waiting for him at Arrowhead when he arrives Monday morning. OK, maybe not flowers. But he probably won't find too many angry letters.

To reach Joe Posnanski, call (816) 234-4361 or send e-mail to jposnanski@kcstar.com.

keg in kc
04-24-2005, 08:03 AM
FYI, there's a thread (http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=114953) down the page a bit that has all the articles.

04-24-2005, 08:04 AM
Ah, my bad then.