This is the time of year for optimism, before practice in pads reveal weaknesses, before serious injuries spoil championship hopes.
So it was for the Chiefs Thursday as they wrapped up their offseason work with the last of their 19 practices. Nobody was more upbeat than that noted optimist Dwayne Bowe, who previously predicted he would lead the NFL this season in catches and touchdowns while Jamaal Charles would lead the league in rushing yardage.
“Things are starting to click on both sides, offense and defense,” Bowe said. “Only time will tell when the season starts how good we’re going to look, but we feel real good about ourselves right now.”
The Chiefs won’t gather again until training camp starts next month at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. In the past few weeks, they’ve meshed together a lot of new parts, including new head coach Andy Reid and his staff and several new players, including quarterback Alex Smith.
The Chiefs got started in learning their new offensive and defensive systems and Reid said they got more accomplished than he hoped when spring practices started.
“You come in with an idea (of how much he believed the Chiefs could get done), and I think we probably exceeded that a bit,” Reid said. “It’s important that the fundamentals and techniques are there on both sides of the ball and on special teams. I thought we were able to maintain the fundamentals and techniques and get better at those. At the same time, the players were studying so stinking hard they their retention was good enough that you could add a little more than you originally thought they could.
“I liked the effort. The guys came out and they gave us everything they had and I appreciated that, both in the classroom and on the field. We’ve got a lot of work to do once we get to St. Joe. I’m looking forward to the training camp part of it. We get them in pads. That’s an important step.”
One of the issues surrounding Reid when he was hired by the Chiefs in January was the type of energy he would bring after his 14 seasons as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
But judging from Reid’s activity at practice, he’s energized by his new job.
Reid was very hands-on at practice, often interrupting to do some teaching or get after a player for a lack of effort. He was involved more in personnel decisions during his later years with the Eagles, leaving him less time for on-field instruction.
General manager John Dorsey handles personnel decisions for the Chiefs, leaving Reid to coach. Reid indicated that change has energized him.
“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “It’s good to be back coaching a little bit more than what I was doing, on the field coaching with the offense.
“I mentioned this from when we first got here: Sometimes change can be good. I think it’s going to be great for the Eagles. It will be good for the Kansas City Chiefs.”
Mindful that camp won’t begin until late in July, Reid and his staff sent each player packing with a workout routine to help keep them in condition until the Chiefs reconvene in St. Joseph. Smith indicated he would attempt to arrange sessions in which he’ll throw to some of his receivers so they wouldn’t have to start from scratch when camp opens.
“We’ve got a lot of time off,” Smith said. “Everybody kind of makes their own schedule, but I’m sure we’ll get together, guys that can, where we can and when we can.
“You put in all this work. To take six weeks off and not continue that would be a shame. All the gains that we’ve made (would disappear). For me, you’re constantly working out every day. We’re going to continue throwing. I’m going to continue throwing.”