As Far As They Can Go






We were excited. I don't lame us. Things had been going south for a while and change, any change, was welcomed like as big bucket of money. The Chiefs were bringing in Super Bowl pedigree in Scott Pioli. They brought in more with Todd Haley. The Chiefs were going to turn into Patriots West, Matt Cassel was going to be a combination of Tom Brady, Kurt Warner and Trent Green. Dwayne Bowe would morph into a combination of Boldin and Fitgerald. The Broncos were sinking fast, the Chargers were getting old and the Raiders were still owned by Al Davis. The Chiefs were on the rise. Life was good and we were blind.


For all the talk about the Koolaid being passed around Chief Nation today I am surprised it wasn't brought up a lot more in August. As a Chiefs fan I have been wrestling with all the same questions you have. Is Cassel good enough? Is Haley a hard nosed task master who will get the best effort from his players or is he a raving lunatic who has lost his team. Is Scott Pioli a hot shot executive who is going to slowly and methodically turn the Chiefs into a perennial contender or is he an arrogant windbag too blinded by power to recognize his own shortcomings? Is Jason Whitlock going to break into my apartment and steal my Christmas Ham in the night? All very, very valid questions.

This morning I sat down and tried to put things in perspective. I asked myself a question. Why aren't the Chief improving? I could argue the Chiefs have improved, albeit mildly, because they have already upped their win total by 1 game this season. The certainly have a chance to double 2008's win total with winnable games against the Bills and Browns coming up. I could live with that. I could live with 4 wins this season, 8 wins next season and 10 or 11 wins in 2011. This scenario is only possible, of course, if the Chiefs are improving. I think they are and I think they will but I firmly believe the Chiefs must stay the course.

I looked up the Chiefs Sept. 3rd roster from the 2008 season. As you all know that roster was totally new. Herm Edwards tore down the Chiefs roster and started over. The results didn't come fast enough and Herm was fired. The mistake Herm made was that he didn't develop the guys he drafted fast enough. In the end I think that is why he was let go. I believe Clark genuinely wanted to give Herm a couple of years to build the team his way, they way he wanted to do it from the beginning. The leash was shorter on Herm, however, because he had a few drafts under his belt. It was expected, I think, that the Chiefs were going to have a rough year in 2008 and I don't think Clark expected the Glenn Dorsey's of the new draft class to become Pro Bowlers overnight. The last straw for Herm was the failures of the Tank Tyler's, Turk McBride's and Bernard Pollard's. Guys that should have been coming around and hitting their stride but weren't. There was no reason to believe that Herm's rebuild was going to go anywhere so Clark hired Pioli and Pioli cut Herm lose.

I believe we will all look back on 2008 as a truly lost season. It was all for nothing. It was year one of a rebuild that was going nowhere. We are now not in year 2 of the rebuild, but year 1 again. It is Groundhog Day Kansas City Chiefs style. Here are the players who were on that Sept. 3rd 2008 Chiefs Roster that were either cut, traded, retired, or moved to IR this season. Regardless of their exit they are not on the field for the Chiefs right now.

97 Brian Johnston DE

99 T.J. Jackson DT

93 Tank Tyler DT

88 Tony Gonzalez TE

90 Turk McBride DE

84 John Paul Foschi TE

85 Will Franklin WR

77 Damion McIntosh T

80 Jeff Webb WR

81 Devard Darling WR

73 Adrian Jones G

70 Alfonso Boone DE

65 Herb Taylor T

59 Donnie Edwards LB

60 Brian De La Puente G

55 Pat Thomas LB

49 Bernard Pollard S

50 Napoleon Harris LB

51 Jean-Philippe Darche C

52 Erik Walden LB

44 Jarrad Page S

30 B.J. Sams CB

31 Maurice Leggett CB

26 Jackie Battle RB

27 Larry Johnson RB

17 Maurice Price WR

21 Kolby Smith RB

22 Dimitri Patterson CB

23 Patrick Surtain CB

4 Tyler Thigpen QB

9 Nick Novak K

11 Damon Huard QB

Here is who is left.

2 Dustin Colquitt P

12 Brodie Croyle QB

24 Brandon Flowers CB

25 Jamaal Charles RB

47 Jon McGraw S

42 Mike Cox RB

53 Demorrio Williams LB

54 Brian Waters G

56 Derrick Johnson LB

64 Rudy Niswanger C

67 Barry Richardson T

72 Glenn Dorsey DT

74 Wade Smith C

76 Branden Albert T

82 Dwayne Bowe WR

87 Brad Cottam TE

91 Tamba Hali DE

95 Ron Edwards DT

This team has no identity. Most of these men hardly know one another. The 3 receiving targets Matt Cassel has weren't even in training camp! That small group of players above are some of the Chiefs best players. Hali in a new position is doing very well and showing improvement, same goes for Dorsey. Demarrio Williams is having one of his best seasons as a pro in a defense he has never played in. Dwayne Bowe, Brian Waters, Flowers, Carr, Collquitt all have shown they can play. John McGraw is having solid season. Jamaal Charles has proved that if he can learn to hang on to the ball that he can be a major offensive threat. There are pieces here but the house is far from built.

So. Are the Chiefs improving? Eh...not really. A little. At least a win or two better than last year. This doesn't really matter though because I believe the Chiefs are at critical mass. These Chiefs have gone about as far as they can go. They need help, they need reinforcements. They can't really get any better with the players they have. All year they new regime has been doing the best they can with the players they have and they have been constantly turning over the roster trying to improve it. Yes, it would be nice to see improvement on the field but some of these men just aren't going to get any better.

There are signs of hope on the roster. Players like Andy Studebaker, Javon Belcher, Lance Long, Jamaal Charles and yes, even Matt Cassel have shown signs that the could be part of the future. There have been flashes from these players and I can't remember a lot of flashes from the 2008 roster from anyone other than Tyler Thigpen. We all know now, of course, that he was a mirage created by Tony Gonzalez.

If the Chiefs fire Haley and dump Cassel after the season then get ready to become the Cleveland Browns or the Detroit Lions. Get ready to become the Oakland Raiders because that is what will happen to the Chiefs. Every time the Chiefs bring in a new coach they are starting over. If a coach  inherits a team like the Broncos or Colts he can probably keep it going. The key here is inheriting a team that has a solid talent base in place. Coach Vermiel inherited a fairly solid talent base from Marty. He was able to keep The Chiefs respectable, winning 6 or 7 games, while he built his team. But these Chiefs are not last years Shannahan's Broncos, Marty's Chiefs and they sure as hell aren't Dungy's Colts. The team Todd Haley got was Herm Edwards' rebuild team. Ouch!

The Chiefs are currently an expansion team. It is unfair to judge the new regime too harshly in their first year with an expansion team. It is how they chose to build their team from here on out that will determine whether or not they are the men for the job. They can only import so many players a year. They can only coach guys up so much during the season. It will take time. Probably about 3 years before they have a solid rotation of "their guys" on the field. When that day comes, once Scott Pioli and Todd Haley have built their team, if the Chiefs are still only winning 3 or 4 games a year then we will know they have failed. Then it will be time for them to go. But not now. Not yet.

Release them now and a bad team stays in turmoil. The philosophy changes again, the roster turns over, the fans and players tune out. For better or for worse, what the Chiefs need now is two or three years of stability. They need a chance to build an identity as a team, as a coaching staff and as a front office. These men aren't responsible for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 seasons. They are responsible for 2009, 2010 and 2011. This is the start. Hang in there and get your measuring stick out at the end of NEXT season to see how far these Chiefs have come. Otherwise it will be Groundhog Day; The Kansas City Chiefs Edition...and it won't be a good day.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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