At the 2013 Chiefs Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday at the Sheraton in Crown Center, Chiefs owner Clark Hunt joked — we think— that his daughters were agonizing over the possibility that this shiny new Chiefs offense could endanger Warpaint, the team mascot whose official duties include “galloping across the field every time the team scores.”
Alas, the Chiefs went on to inflict some unnecessary distress on Warpaint on Thursday at Arrowhead Stadium in their fourth and, mercifully, last exhibition game, a 30-8 victory over Green Bay that marked their biggest preseason scoring binge since 2003.
But they inflicted no unnecessary stress on the heart of the team itself.
Not one anticipated starter played. At all.
And why should they have?
The victory over the Packers, after which Warpaint was just fine, incidentally, was so inconsequential (and dull) that it made the first three exhibitions seem like Super Bowls.
After all, the sole priorities for both teams had absolutely nothing to do with the scoreboard:
Keep the starting quarterbacks out of harm’s way by not playing them at all; play as many other people as possible to get as thorough an evaluation as can be extracted for the final roster cuts from 75 to 53 on Saturday.
That’s plenty important stuff, actually, but it’s not great theater for the considerable entertainment dollar.
So pay no attention to the fact that the Chiefs’ three touchdowns all were thrown by third-string quarterback Tyler Bray, or that the Chiefs held Green Bay to 218 total yards and that they won back-to-back exhibition games for the first time since 2006.
Because what are we to make of that stuff, anyway?
Best of all, there’s no need to spend any more time trying to sort out what any of this incomprehensible mush of statistics means or any more time painstakingly trying to interpret the strategic cloaking and gamesmanship and vanilla force-feeding.
No, the Chiefs don’t open until Sept. 8 at Jacksonville, and game week isn’t until Monday, officially.
But the real season is here startingnow,
with Jacksonville clear and present on the Chiefs view screen.
You might venture to guess that it was even that way some before Thursday.
Whatever the case, now at hand is the tangible chance to start healing from the abominable 2012 season that put an exclamation point on a nasty chapter in Chiefs history.
And now starts the true test of what the last nine months under John Dorsey and Andy Reid have meant toward the resuscitation of the wheezing franchise, one that was so wounded that the duo ushered in a whopping number of new faces — nearly 60 of the 90 that started camp.
The final roster figures to feature nearly a 50 percent turnover.
“When you’re 2-14,” Dorsey said in June, “you better do something.”
While Dorsey thinks “we’ve made really good strides” in the preseason, he also is conscious of the flip side of having a horde of newcomers playing in new systems on both sides of the ball for different people.
“I mean,” he said, “everything’s new.”
But everything, he said, has been geared to preparing for getting to the “mesh point” by the Jacksonville game.
And being ready to pounce early will prove crucial to the trajectory and complexion of the season. The Chiefs won’t see a 2012 playoff team until their seventh game, against Houston, and only two of their first nine opponents had winning records last season.
Including the Jaguars, who were 2-14, the cumulative record of those first nine was 56-88 a year ago.
That’s fit for feasting, especially because there could be some fasting ahead
The back half of the schedule is a bit more complicated, at least based on what teams did last season: Four of those seven games are against 2012 playoff teams that went 47-17 in the last regular season.
Last season’s records may have little bearing on this season, of course, which the Chiefs would be the first to want to suggest.
And no doubt the same teams that the Chiefs and fans might ogle as likely wins view the Chiefs much the same way.
But at least the auditions and smoke-screens are behind us now, the moments of truth are imminent and the scoreboard now will be the priority instead of just an afterthought.