As Chiefs head coach Andy Reid stood at the podium after the 45-44 loss against the Indianapolis Colts on January 5, a reporter asked how he could possibly process such a devastating defeat.
"You go through it and you evaluate it and you learn from it, and it's final because it's the end of the year," Reid said, simply. "Then you go back to the drawing board and fix it. That's what you do.
"You don't hang your head on it. You become a better football team. It's just going to have to wait until next year to do that."
Looking back now, there's a certain beauty in that moment. "Next year," a concept that seemed unreachable at the time for Reid and Chiefs supporters everywhere, wasn't really that at all.
Training camp is here and the Kansas City Chiefs are alive.
The Chiefs continue practice on Monday at Missouri Western State University
Through the first five days of full-team practice, there's a lot to be hopeful for. On July 24, Chiefs star running back Jamaal Charles signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him in Kansas City through 2017.
"I just want to build something here, and build a championship," Charles said after signing the deal. "I want to win a Super Bowl."
Charles, who comes off a year having scored a career-high 19 total touchdowns, wanted to make it clear that he is aiming high. But even as talented as he is, winning a Super Bowl is not something he can accomplish on his own.
For help with that task, he turns to quarterback Alex Smith, who enters his second season with the Chiefs. Similar to Charles, Smith too comes off a year having recorded a career-high of his own, his in passing touchdowns with 23. One of his concentrations for this season will be ensuring the Chiefs finish the job.
"As a team, I certainly think that the finish that we talked about is an area of focus, and as an offense, we are a part of that on both ends," Smith said on July 24. "When we have the lead, it's about holding onto the football and making first downs and finishing out a game."
To make those game-finishing first downs, Charles and Smith will rely on an offensive line that could be bolstered by second-year starter Eric Fisher's return to the left side, a role he excelled at in college.
Fisher, the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, returned to practice July 22 after offseason shoulder surgery.
"I feel great, honestly," he said after his first practice. "I feel good. Like I said, I'm ready to get to work. I'm out here. I'm glad I got here early to get a jump on things."
Just as Fisher was acclimated to the Chiefs last year, this year's draft class is already beginning to feel comfortable. Dee Ford, Phillip Gaines, De'Anthony Thomas, Aaron Murray, Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif have all made their own impact during training camp.
Surrounded by talented veterans, Ford in particular is getting used to the idea of playing with fellow linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
"I think about it all the time," Ford said on July 22. "This is Pass Rush City."
Hoping to live up to that name, defensive linemen Allen Bailey, Mike Catapano and Mike DeVito all came into training camp in improved shape, seeking to find an edge as NFL coaching strategy pushes further along to fewer-linemen schemes.
And speaking of improved shape, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe arrived at camp looking slimmer with hopes to better his numbers from a season ago. For the first time ever, he worked with a personal trainer this offseason.
"I feel lighter. I feel faster," Bowe said of his conditioning. "I owe it to the coaches, my trainers and the staff for leading me and letting me do what I do."
Bowe, along with returning veterans like Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway and A.J. Jenkins, lead a suddenly deep wide receiving corps. Newcomers Frankie Hammond Jr. (who was on the Chiefs 2013 practice squad) and Albert Wilson, an undrafted free agent from Georgia State most famously known for returning a touchdown against Alabama, are turning heads with spectacular catches.
In special teams, coordinator Dave Toub has already made a definitive statement about rookie kicker Cairo Santos.
"I think he's an NFL-caliber kicker," he said. "I think he's going to be in the NFL, whether it's on our team or on another team. The competition is real."
At the conclusion of Day Five of full-team camp, as he has been continuously since last season ended, head coach Andy Reid was asked about finishing.
"It's not just finish a series or a game," he explained. "It's finish every down the right way. Not that every play is going to be a perfect play. But you give it your best shot. Then you get back and you do the same thing. And you keep your attention to detail throughout this practice.
"These [practices] are long, so you keep your focus, that attention to detail, and your intensity level up. Then you rest when it's over."
Through five days of focus, attention to detail and intensity, the Chiefs have begun to take the steps to ensure that last year's finish doesn't become this year's finish.
That in mind, there's plenty to be excited about. Training camp is here and the Kansas City Chiefs are alive.