After another lifeless, punchless performance by the Kansas City Royals against the last-place Los Angeles Angels on Monday, Kansas City fans have a respite.
Chiefs camp opens today.
Kansas City fans need something to take their minds off their falling-over-the-cliff team. Until 2013 the Chiefs — no matter their record — had owned the hearts of Kansas City fans due in part to Royals’ constant bumbling.
The Royals took back the town in 2013 with a rare winning season that featured a cache of young players, then stole everyone’s hearts with their 2014 and 2015 seasons. No one will ever forget the World Series championship and subsequent parade.
But with the Royals putting their faithful to sleep with uninspired play, restless Kansas City fans are starving for something to sink their teeth into.
The Chiefs are coming off an amazing season. They were 1-5 through six weeks, but then won their final 10 games to earn a wild-card berth. They smoked Houston 30-0 in the first round of the playoffs before being eliminated by New England in a highly competitive 27-20 performance.
Chiefs fans have to be optimistic. Sure, they took a few hits in free agency, most notably losing lockdown corner Sean Smith and a couple of veteran offensive linemen. But their subtractions were negated by the additions of offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz — one of the best gets by any team in the offseason — and receiver Rod Streater, an under-the-radar signing for one of the Chiefs’ weakest areas.
The Chiefs also welcome back longtime playmaker Jamaal Charles, though he might be brought along slowly due to the presence of emerging stars Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. And don’t forget Knile Davis, who oozes potential but for whatever reason (fumbles?) can’t seem to earn Andy Reid’s trust.
If pricey Justin Houston comes back 100 percent, a really good Chiefs defense should be great. The line added a masher in Chris Jones, who will combine with Dontari Poe to stuff the middle. KC has a great 1-2 tandem at the ends in Jaye Howard and Allen Bailey, both of whom have been paid handsomely to stay.
My big question with the Chiefs is always the secondary, where Marcus Peters was Rookie of the Year, but probably won’t see many balls thrown his way with Smith gone to Oakland. If Eric Berry can get his contract situation resolved he’s a dandy, though he’s lost a step in coverage. Ron Parker found his niche at the other safety after being toasted on the corner.
When looking at the AFC West, you have to believe Denver will take a step back with the retirement of Peyton Manning. The team on the rise is Oakland, which has a chance to be the most improved team in the NFL as the franchise finally has a plan and is sticking to it. San Diego has fallen off as Philip Rivers simply doesn’t have enough around him.
Football is just around the corner. And if the Royals don’t find a pulse soon, the top of the fold in the daily paper is going to be Chiefs, Chiefs and more Chiefs.