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Sunday mornings during football season are a high-speed collision of gameday rituals, bold predictions, and pregame jitters. In the offseason, we opt to take it slow and recap the week that was.
Charles Robinson @CRob5769 Chiefs Focus
Writer – @ChiefsFocus @Chiefs Focus
Daily battles are a part of everyone’s mental adventure throughout the course of a given week. Things as simple as waking up when your alarm goes off, having a salad for lunch, and drinking enough water are constantly combatted by their alternatives – pounding the snooze button, eating that fire Cuban sandwich from the food truck by your office, and drinking far too many beers during a weekday happy hour.
Unless you’re a robot, which I know some of you are, the second list of options is far more enticing for almost everyone on the planet. My current daily battle is going to the gym. Since we’ve been back from France, I’ve been spotty at best with my exercise. Do I have reasons? Of course. Part of it is due to the alarm vs. snooze smash battle I mentioned above. Post-4th of July I was also nursing a wrist injury sustained in a heated pool basketball game. It’s tough to lift, especially when you always skip leg day and when your pain threshold is incredibly low and your wrist hurts a little bit.
It’s also tough for your ego when you can’t lift what you normally do and are surrounded by people lifting more than you. Everyone knows I’d be lapping these dudes on the bench press if I wasn’t hurt. Can’t have it.
Then, once my wrist was actually healed, the power of prework out pushed me too hard Tuesday afternoon. I spent the back half of the week on the shelf because of an inflamed bicep, which I first self-diagnosed as my actual arm beginning to fall off and was making funeral arrangements for myself. It turns out I was just a little sore and it wore off. But remember the incredibly low pain threshold. Stunningly low for a former football player if we’re being candid.
I bring all this up to point to the things that we don’t see on TV from our favorite NFL players. Most of them, anyway. Throughout the course of high school and college, the sport of football is demanding on a player’s body. Players who want to make the jump from high school to the college level must take care of their bodies and be disciplined in training from the ages of 15-18 if they want to take that next leap. Obviously, there is some God-given ability that plays a huge role in this, but hard work always beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
In college this gets even more critical. As the body morphs from an 18-year-old adolescent into a 21-22 year old man, there are critical factors of the strength and conditioning process that you need to be devoted to not just for your play on the field, but for the health of your body longterm. The game can break you down fair quicker than clean living can build you back up.
So to say that the importance of this continued dedication to hard work and improvement is important when a player reaches the top of the football mountain and has the privelage of experiencing NFL off-season’s as a player in the league would be an understatement. The work in the offseason is what keeps players on rosters. It is what takes you from a questionable number 10 overall pick that a QB hungry franchise traded up for to an MVP two years later. It’s what turns you into one of the best tight ends of all time after the head coach of the team that drafted you in the third round as a converted QB to TE tells you “If you f*ck up, I’ll kick your ass.”
The Chiefs have a team full of guys who quietly get their shit together every single offseason. You don’t have a run of 6 consecutive division championships and 4 straight seasons with 12+ wins if you don’t have a group maniacs like that. It is a culture that is built in a lockeroom, forged in the weight room, and manifested on the field.
This is true in all of professional sports. Back in the day when guys were just starting to prescribe to the personal training route of offseason workouts – specifically Michael Jordan famously employing Tim Grover every offseason to improve his body and his game – athletes have been forking out major cash to get their nutrition and fitness right. It’s nothing for guys to spend $1 million plus on nutrition, training, and self-care in an offseason.
For the most part, the Chiefs players don’t see the need to publicize this. But just like the salad vs the Cuban sandwich we discussed earlier, getting up and grinding as an NFL player has a much more attractive alternative option.
What’s more fun that getting the work in to be the best player you can possibly be?
Posting everything you do on social media.
Yes, I’m looking at you Russell Wilson. Another video dropped yesterday on the NFL’s Instagram account of Mr. Unlimited and his training team running through workouts. Russ dodged, ducked, dipped, dove, caught a tennis ball, made uncontested throws, and grunted a lot. It was crazy.
This comes just weeks after he and his social media team (who I hope is robbing him blind pay wise, with the things that he has them do) became the first football players to ever workout on AS Monaco’s soccer field. It was so cool because he was throwing a football with mountains in tbe background. Imagine if there was a place where he could throw a football with mountains in the background but instead of being with his social media team his actual Denver Broncos teammates could be with him. Maybe at Mile High Stadium in the middle of the Rocky f*cking Mountains.
I’m not going to link the videos. If you want to see them go find them, I’m not in the business of giving this guy more clicks and what he wants above all else, even Super Bowls – more notoriety. You’re not working harder just because you have an audience. This just got my wheels turning about the other QBs in the division and how I’m going to go into the season hating on them. It’s not if, it’s how much I despise these guys. Do I respect some of them? Sure, Justin Herbert could be alright. But here’s where I’d rank the level of spite at the moment :
1A) Russell Wilson
1B) Derek Carr
2) Justin Herbert
Wilson is just insufferable. I’ve been on this train since he was in Seattle. As Kansas Citian Rob Riggle famously pointed out in Step Brothers, there’s just something about his face. His prerogative has always been to be about getting more exposure for himself, and if people want to criticize Brittany Mahomes, I’d encourage them to google “Russell Wilson wife NFL Draft” and take a look at his decision making before he was a millionaire.
Derek Carr just sucks, we all know this. It’s tough to truly hate someone when they’re not a threat to you in the least bit, but it’s still there. And Herbert can continue to be little brother, but the second that the Chargers actually meet expectations and are in the thick of the division hunt until the end he’ll likely flip to number 1. We’ve been waiting on that to happen for a few years and nothing has materialized to TBD on that.
Shifting gears, to wrap up on something I’ve touched on twice in the last 8 days – Orlando Brown, Jr. officially did not come to an extension agreement with the Chiefs and will presumably play the 2022 season on the franchise tag, netting $16.7 million and missing out on an extension with the Chiefs that would have eventually paid him handsomely. Except the contract didn’t meet his or his team’s terms – not enough guaranteed money.
That’s a fine line – you want to see the player get theirs, but you also have to earn it. I began the process of pontificating on this by saying the Chiefs needed Brown more than he needs them. I still think that’s true, but I’m now of the opinion that Brown and his team have unrealistic expectations based on the product he has shown on the field. He is a good player, not a great one. Yet. He’s only 26. I’m confident that if Brown progresses and fixes the little things that plagued him last year (soft hands allowing 6 sacks on Mahomes, 2 in the playoffs) that the Chiefs and the LT will come to an agreement on an extension that makes sense.
Speaking of Brown, he likely won’t be a part of the Chiefs 2022 Training Camp in St. Joseph that will kick off later this week. Rookies and quarterbacks will report to St. Joe on Friday, with the rest of the veterans showing up Tuesday July 26. Many NFL teams have everyone report on the same day, however Andy Reid and his staff in KC prefer to have the rookies in first to reestablish concepts they drilled in rookie mini camp and OTAs, and like to allow the QBs to shake off the rust before the veterans arrive.
Of those rookies reporting on July 22, there are 4 that I will have my eye on specifically as they battle with veterans for immediate playing time. And neither are the team’s first round defensive duo of Trent McDuffie and George Karlaftis.
Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson are rookies that could have an immediate impact in certain packages on the defensive side of the ball in the secondary. How they mesh with veterans L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, Deandre Baker, and Justin Reid will dictate some of this, but the real test will be to see how many reps each can earn against the starting offense, and what they can accomplish in coverage against the new Legion of Zoom, Travis Kelce, and Patrick Mahomes.
The same can be said for rookie linebacker Leo Chenal. Chenal has a little bit working against him coming into camp – the Chiefs signed a nearly forgotten, but incredibly athletic linebacker in Jermaine Johnson, Jr early in free agency. Chenal isn’t the fastest, or best side to side defender, but can punish people in the run. It will be interesting to see how reps are split between these two on the first defensive unit alongside incumbent linebackers Willie Gay, Jr and Nick Bolton, who figure to be on the field nonstop.
On the offensive side of the ball, Isaiah Pacheco has a very crowded running back room to compete with for not just playing time, but a spot on the Chiefs roster. Clyde Edwards-Helaire figures to be the starter of this group, but Ronald Jones is now in town along with returning contributors Jerrick McKinnon who down the stretch in 2021 was the best running back on the Chiefs roster, and Derrick Gore who flashed elite explosiveness at times in 2021.
Pacheco is fast and figures to potentially contribute in the return game for KC as well, but does it make sense to carry 5 running backs on a 53 man roster with a team that historically won’t commit to the run? I don’t think so. Pacheco is an ultra-talented bubble player to watch, which is a luxury for a Chiefs team that is now in the habit of building depth instead of building a roster as the foundation is firmly already set.
Some veterans storylines to monitor during training camp?
- The Orlando Brown saga
- How the new stable of wide receivers mesh with each other and Patrick Mahomes
- How the defensive front 4 will shake out
We’re getting very, very close to football being back. This is the time of the year when you can start to taste it, and that’s exciting to say the least. Before I hang up, I want to wish a very happy birthday to my mom. If you’re in WPMO today and you see her, wish her a happy birthday as well. You’ve blessed me with a questionable sense of humor and the ability to talk to hours without breathing, and I appreciate you more than you know.