Written by: Chris Rubio
The year was 1984, it was Summertime. The Epic and Ageless Movie, the Karate Kid was taking off. There’s a great scene in the movie where the main character, Daniel Larusso, competes for the Karate Title. He advances to the tournament semi-final, and his opponent “sweeps his leg,” injuring him and essentially trying to knock him out. He’s lying in the trainer’s room, and he tells Mr Miyagi to heal him because he wants to achieve balance in his life by competing to win. We know what happens next. Miyagi rubs his hands together like a genie, puts his hands on the injured knee, and grants “Danielsan’s” wish, and he wins the title. Balance is something we all strive for. Some people aim for work-life balance, and some people seek relationship balance. If you’re a first-time skier, you seek body control balance because if you fail, you fall.
You might remember what an unbalanced football team looks like. I will remind you of the best version of what this looked like in Kansas City. In 2003, The Chiefs had an offensive juggernaut. The 2003 team featured Priest Holmes as our all-world running back, who had just set the NFL record for most Touchdowns in a season with 27. This record was broken shortly after this by Hall of Famer Ladanian Tomlinson in 2006. To highlight how impressive this is, no running back since 2006 has scored 20 TD’s. In short, Priest Holmes was a TD machine.
The Chiefs Offense also led the league in scoring and had arguably the greatest offensive line in team history. This team was an offensive machine and included Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and, at the time, passing record-setting Trent Green as our Quarterback. The team finished the season with a 13-3 record and held home-field advantage for the playoffs. In stark contrast, the 2003 Chiefs Defense was ranked 29th out of 32 teams.
The 1st playoff game was against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. The Chiefs lost this game 38-31, known to Chiefs fans as the “no-punt game” because, you know – neither team did. There was a sickening feeling as the game progressed. Each time the Colts would score, the Chiefs would score, and on it went. I remember begging in front of my TV for a fumble, interception, or some defensive stop that never came. This team had no balance, and with all the scoring fireworks we saw, there was no joy in watching our inept Defense, unable to stop the opponent.
After the 2021 season, the Chiefs made a strategic decision. They had just lost in the AFC Title game in Arrowhead and had a large contract commitment forthcoming to pay Tyreek Hill and our other stars, including Chris Jones, Travis Kelce, and Patrick Mahomes.
Tyreek Hill is the fastest receiver in the game and is an unstoppable force. Hill is a peerless wide receiver when it comes to speed and conjures up fear for any defense that has to face him. When teamed with Patrick Mahomes the Chiefs were a high flying scoring show. After the 2021 season, the Chiefs chose the unthinkable path for many fans (myself included because I had just purchased a brand new authentic Tyreek Jersey). The decision was to trade Hill for younger defensive draft picks and to build a balanced team. How did that work out for us? We won the Super Bowl in the 1st year after the trade. We are now in year two after the trade, and the result of the trade is a balanced team featuring a defense that could impose its will in the outcomes of games rather than our Quarterback and Offense being the only story.
What we saw this past Sunday in Arrowhead Stadium was the beauty of the balance that the Chiefs sought to achieve strategically. The Chiefs beat the Los Angeles Chargers, who are our nearest competitor in the AFC West Division, but it was how they won that should strike fear into our future opponents and give Chiefs Kingdom all the hope that we can repeat as Champions. The Chiefs and Chargers matched scores in the 1st half of the game and were tied at 17 before Patrick Mahomes untied the game with a TD pass to Travis Kelce just before halftime. From then on, our Defense pitched a shutout in the 2nd half. The Chiefs went on to win 31-17.
Chiefs fans, in today’s NFL, you hear talk of how teams are trying to play “complementary football.” This talk is all about balance. Our 2023 Chiefs currently are ranked 3rd in Defense vs all other teams, and we are now 5th in Offense. Do we believe there is any player better than our Quarterback? Is there any reason to think that on any Sunday that our Offense isn’t the best in the league? On Sunday, we saw the Offense begin to show signs of waking up. On Sunday, against the Chargers, we witnessed the 1st sign of balance, which was beautiful.
Incidentally, the Karate Kid Movie was so good that they decided to run that back with a sequel, and then back again as a series. Why not? Epic life experiences always make us want to run them back over and over again. They were Epic and memorable for a reason. So why not run back our title?
Our next opponent is the Denver Broncos; if the Chiefs win this game, we will finish the 2nd quarter of the season with a near-perfect 7-1 record and well on our way to hosting the “Best Party Ever” at Arrowhead again. Let’s go!