Here's Why Everyone Deserves Credit for Chiefs Current Nine-Game Winning Streak

It has taken every guy in the locker room to achieve this historical turnaround

He's quick to point the credit towards general manager John Dorsey for constructing a roster that could not only handle the kinds of injuries the Kansas City Chiefs have faced this year, but also thrive in the aftermath.

It's worth arguing that what the Chiefs have accomplished this season has been the best work of Andy Reid's illustrious career, and because of that, Reid deserves serious consideration for the NFL's Coach of the Year award.

But much like his players, four of whom were recently honored with Pro Bowl nominations, including two first-timers in Marcus Peters and Travis Kelce, who went no further than simply saying, "That's cool, but it's not what we're about," in regards to being honored among their peers, Reid isn't concerned with personal accomplishments or accolades.

That's not the focus, that's not the goal and that's not what's real.

What is real about the 2015 season thus far?

The Chiefs have been without their best offensive player and the franchise's all-time leading rusher—Jamaal Charles—since Week 5. Their best defensive player and the NFL's reigning sack leader—Justin Houston—has already missed more than a quarter of the season with a knee injury.

And that's just at the surface of what the Chiefs have dealt with this season.

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After a 1-5 start that saw two heartbreaking losses in the final seconds of the first two home games—plus the injury to Charles in that devastating loss to the Chicago Bears—the stars had seemed to have aligned to where nobody would have been surprised if things had continued to spiral out of control for the Chiefs from there.

But that's not what happened.

They refused to let anything derail the belief they had in themselves that it wasn't too late to turn things around, and despite who was injured for the season or who was unable to go in any given week, there was confidence and trust in the next man up to get the job done.

Whether it was little-known second-year running back Charcandrick West out of Division II Abilene Christian, or this year's first-round pick, Marcus Peters, the guys have responded when their name was called.

The Chiefs join the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals as the only teams in NFL history to start the season with a 1-5 record and ultimately make the playoffs.

It's already been a historic run, and it's far from over.

But how do you spread the credit around after such an amazing turnaround?

Well, there's plenty to go around.

It starts with Dorsey and the personnel staff for putting together a roster with such depth that it could not only withstand, but also prosper through a variety of injuries to different key parts of the roster.

They've had injuries along the offensive line, starting with veteran Ben Grubbs, who coming into the season was the only player expected to start along the line that had been in the league for more than five years.

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It was an already-young group and he was brought in to help solidify the core with a veteran presence.

Grubbs hasn't played since Week 7 and was placed on Injured Reserve on December 1 with a neck injury.

Former No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher was set to begin the season at right tackle but wasn't able to play in the opener against the Houston Texans because of an ankle injury, and therefore, Jah Reid, who had been picked up by Dorsey and crew just six days earlier, started Week 1 against Houston.

Just nine starts later, Reid would sign a multi-year contract extension with the Chiefs.

Fisher took over at left tackle for the Chiefs back in Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and they haven't lost a game since.

The most consistent offensive lineman for the Chiefs this year?

It's rookie second-round pick Mitch Morse, who leads all offensive linemen with 861 total snaps played.

Second-year player Zach Fulton has started at right guard, center and left guard already this season, providing key depth to an offensive line that has seen seven different starting combinations this season.

Here's a look at the game-by-game starters for the Chiefs offensive line.

Chiefs Starting Offensive Line Combinations in 2015

Week

Opponent

LT

LG

C

RG

RT

1

@ Texans - W

Donald
Stephenson

Ben
Grubbs

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

2

Broncos - L

Donald
Stephenson

Ben
Grubbs

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

3

@ Packers - L

Donald
Stephenson

Ben
Grubbs

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Eric
Fisher

4

@ Bengals - L

Donald
Stephenson

Ben
Grubbs

Mitch
Morse

Zach
Fulton

Eric
Fisher

5

Bears - L

Donald
Stephenson

Ben
Grubbs

Mitch
Morse

Zach
Fulton

Eric
Fisher

6

@ Vikings - L

Donald
Stephenson

Ben
Grubbs

Mitch
Morse

Zach
Fulton

Eric
Fisher

7

Steelers - W

Eric
Fisher

Ben
Grubbs

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jeff
Allen

8

Lions - W

Eric
Fisher

Jeff
Allen

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

BYE

10

@ Broncos - W

Eric
Fisher

Jeff
Allen

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

11

@ Chargers - W

Eric
Fisher

Jeff
Allen

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

12

Bills - W

Eric
Fisher

Jeff
Allen

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

13

@ Raiders - W

Eric
Fisher

Jeff
Allen

Zach Fulton

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

14

Chargers - W

Eric
Fisher

Zach
Fulton

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

15

@ Ravens - W

Eric
Fisher

Zach
Fulton

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

16

Browns - W

Eric
Fisher

Jeff
Allen

Mitch
Morse

Larry
Duvernay-Tardif

Jah
Reid

With the season-ending foot injury to rookie tight end James O'Shaughnessy, the Chiefs have gotten 102 total snaps from another rookie in Brian Parker, who they picked up via waivers from the San Diego Chargers right before the season began.

In the defensive backfield, starting nickel cornerback Phillip Gaines was lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered in the Week 3 loss in Green Bay.

The versatile veteran Ron Parker, who has rotated between safety and cornerback throughout his time in Kansas City, was asked to move back inside to nickel after the injury to Gaines.

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It's a difficult transition that Parker has handled beautifully and it's one of the most underappreciated storylines of a Chiefs defense that over the past nine games, has allowed just 12.3 points per game, which ranks as the best in the NFL.

The defensive line went eight straight games without Dontari Poe (Week 6), Mike DeVito (Weeks 7, 8, 14) and Allen Bailey (Weeks 10-13) all being available in the same game.

Jaye Howard, who was picked up on waivers from Seattle by Dorsey back in 2013, has been the one constant for the defensive line, and he's responded with a career year in terms of tackles (53) and sacks (4.5). He's also forced a fumble and recovered 2 of them.

Postgame facts and stats from the Chiefs Week 16 victory over the Browns

At outside linebacker, the Chiefs have relied on the expected impact of Justin Houston and Tamba Hali when they've been healthy, but in their absence, veteran Frank Zombo and second-year player Dee Ford have made enough plays to continue the defense's dominance throughout this winning streak, half of which has been without Houston coming off the edge.

Zombo has become particularly valuable, excelling on special teams and also filling in at both inside linebacker and outside linebacker throughout the season.

Last Sunday against the Browns, with both Houston and Hali out with injuries, Zombo played all 68 snaps for the Chiefs defense but didn't lessen his impact on special teams, where he tied for the team lead with 20 snaps.

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All of this goes without saying of the return of Eric Berry and Derrick Johnson to lead this defense through all of these difficult times.

The "next man up" philosophy hasn't just been an overused cliché or punchline for this Chiefs team, but rather as a badge of honor to highlight what's truly been a team effort to pull off such a historic turnaround.

Led by Dorsey and his staff of dedicated evaluators, who largely go unappreciated for all of their behind-the-scenes work, Reid, who led the ship when times were difficult, the coaching staff as a whole, which had everyone ready to play, and the training staff, which quickly helped players get healthy and back on the field—the credit for what has transpired needs to be shared among all of these people, and obviously, with the players who were performing out on the field.

Here's a game-by-game look throughout this current nine-game winning streak as to who wasn't able to play and who stepped up in their place:

Closer Look at the "Next Man Up" Philosophy this season for the Chiefs

Week 7 - Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 23-13.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES: With Maclin out (concussion), rookie Chris Conley and second-year receiver Albert Wilson combined for 9 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown. It was Jeff Allen's season debut after missing time with a knee injury. Travis Kelce's key third-down catch in the fourth quarter was the biggest play in the game.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Jeremy Maclin

Mike DeVito

Jah Reid

Week 8 - Detroit Lions

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 45-10.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:Just three weeks after Jamaal Charles was lost for the season with a torn ACL, the Chiefs had four different players rush for a touchdown during their blowout of the Lions across the pond in London. It was also Jah Reid's return to the lineup after not having started in the previous five games. Ron Parker, who had to move to nickelback after the season-ending injury to Phillip Gaines back in Week 3, finished with 2 of Kansas City's 7 sacks on the day.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Mike DeVito

Week 10 - @ Denver Broncos

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 29-13.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:The Chiefs were on their fifth starting offensive line combination of the season during their definitive victory over the Broncos on the road in Week 10. With veteran defensive lineman Allen Bailey missing the game with a calf injury, the other guys rose to the challenge and held the Broncos offense to 40 total yards in the first half, keeping Peyton Manning 4 of 15 for 30 yards and 3 interceptions. Charcandrick West finished with 169 yards of total offense and 2 touchdowns.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Allen Bailey

James O' Shaugnessy

Week 11 - @ San Diego Chargers

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 33-3.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:Even without Allen Bailey and Dee Ford, the Chiefs defense managed to take care of business and hold the Chargers offense to just a field goal and 201 yards of total offense. The Chargers went into that game averaging 414 yards of offense per game, which ranked fourth-best in the NFL. Tamba Hali had 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss in leading the defense.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Allen Bailey

Dee Ford

Week 12 - Buffalo Bills

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 30-22.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:Justin Houston left the game early with a hyperextended knee injury and veteran Frank Zombo was asked to step in and make plays for the defense, which he did down the stretch in preserving their one-possession lead. Along the offensive line, left tackle Eric Fisher (neck) and center Mitch Morse (concussion) left the game with injuries and did not return. Jeff Allen also briefly left the game with an ankle injury, but came back and played his way through it. Donald Stephenson and Zach Fulton stepped in and paved the way for the Chiefs in the trenches. After Spencer Ware had relieved West (hamstring) in the previous game against the Chargers, this game was Ware's opportunity to shoulder the load for the Chiefs offense in the ground game, and he didn't disappoint. Ware finished the game with 19 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Allen Bailey

De'Anthony Thomas

Dee Ford

Charcandrick West

James O'Shaughnessy

Week 13 - @ Oakland Raiders

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 34-20.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:The Chiefs were down seven guys who came into the season set to be starters (Charles, Grubbs, Morse, Gaines, Bailey, Abdullah, Houston) against the Raiders. With four of those guys on the defense not playing, they ultimately leaned on three fourth-quarter interceptions by Josh Mauga, Marcus Peters and Tyvon Branch to pull out the victory. With Justin Houston out after being injured against the Bills in the previous game, Frank Zombo stepped in with 2 sacks, and Dee Ford's hit on Raiders QB Derek Carr forced the ball into the air on Mauga's interception—the defining play of the game. With Abdullah out, second-year safety Daniel Sorensen stepped in for the defense, adding a sack and quarterback hit as well. With Morse out because of a concussion, Zach Fulton stepped in at center for the Chiefs. He had never started at center at either the college or professional level before this game.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Allen Bailey

James O' Shaugnessy

Husain Abdullah

Mitch Morse

Justin Houston

De'Anthony Thomas

Week 14 - San Diego Chargers

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 10-3.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:This was the best game of Dee Ford's career, and it came at the absolute perfect time. On a rainy day at Arrowhead Stadium, Ford produced 3 sacks in a game that saw a total of 13 points scored between the two teams. Albert Wilson led the Chiefs with 4 receptions for a game-high 87 yards receiving and a key 44-yard touchdown strike from Alex Smith. After starting at right guard in Weeks 4-6 and center the week prior, second-year player Zach Fulton started at left guard. With Jeff Allen missing the game because of injury, Fulton once again stepped in wherever he was needed and helped the Chiefs offense rush for 150 yards on the day. 

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Justin Houston

James O' Shaugnessy

Mike DeVito

Jeff Allen

Husain Abdullah

De'Anthony Thomas

Week 15 - @ Baltimore Ravens

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 34-14.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:After moving over from safety earlier in the season because of the injury to Gaines, Ron Parker once again made his presence known at the nickel position, picking up his fourth sack of the season. In his career, Parker has 6 sacks, which is just 1 shy of the all-time Chiefs record for a defensive back. Parker's ability to seamlessly slide into the nickel position is one of the top storylines of a defense that has been the best in the NFL since Week 7, allowing just 12.3 points per game. Through the first 6 games of the season, Tyvon Branch had just 11 total tackles, but since Week 7 (and the current nine-game winning streak), Branch has accumulated 28 total tackles in picking up the slack with Abdullah missing time with a concussion. Daniel Sorensen has also seen extended playing time recently, picking up just 6 tackles in his first 10 games, but having 15 over the past five.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Husain Abdullah

James O' Shaugnessy

Justin Houston

Jeff Allen

De'Anthony Thomas

Week 16 - Cleveland Browns

Key Players Out

The Chiefs won 17-13.

Offense

Defense

GAME NOTES:Without Pro Bowlers Justin Houston or Tamba Hali, the Chiefs still managed to pick up their ninth consecutive victory of the season with the win over the Browns. It ultimately earned them a spot in the playoffs after they started the season with a 1-5 record. Without four projected starters on the field for the defense, the Chiefs were still able to withstand three fourth-quarter drives by the Browns offense, defending 29 total plays in the final 15 minutes of the game.

Jamaal Charles

Phillip Gaines

Ben Grubbs

Justin Houston

James O' Shaugnessy

Tamba Hali

Husain Abdullah

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