I'm guessing you die hard Chief fans out there who have listened to every single one of Todd Haley's press conferences this season are probably sick to death of hearing our coach talk about "The Process".
Why is the offensive line struggling? Well, it's a "Process" and we're trying to build.. blah, blah, blah
Why are the WRs dropping so many balls? It's something that we're working on, but it's a "Process"....yada yada
Why can't the defense seem to make a stop when it counts? We're in the "Process" of trying to find guys who can... (you get the idea).
If you are like me you could probably pause the press conference after each question is asked and guess almost word for word what he is going to say most of the time. What's the point? It's just some non specific coach speak that helps him avoid giving us any real answers, right? Probably. I definitely believe that Pioli has brought that Patriots mentality to the Chiefs that you never let the media behind the curtain to see the little old guy who's pulling the levers for the "Great and Powerful Oz". However, I heard some things in Haley's end of the year press conference yesterday that really caught my attention and that may have gotten lost in all the hoopla over the coaching additions we may be getting. I think Haley may of given us a little peek behind the curtain at the mystery wrapped in a riddle that is "The Process" (dun dun daaaaaaaa).
Let me start by saying that this first bit is totally my opinion I haven't done any research to back this up. That having been said I listened to Herm's pressers just like I have Haley's and the general vibe I got from Herm at the end of the season was that the players got to go home and get some well deserved rest while the coaches and management got busy looking at what worked and didn't that year and what needed to be done to improve the team for next season. In simple terms, the players got to relax while the coaches and management kept plugging away. I mean look at how Herm greeted the players at training camp with his "welcome back" sign like he was reuniting with some old friends at summer camp. The result (as we have seen) are that players came in fat and lazy at the start of camp. That means that training camp has to be "step one" in getting the team ready to play (and hopefully win) football games.
Now let's take a look at some quotes from Haley's press conference yesterday.
When talking about Glenn Dorsey as a "core player" he said:
"Glenn is a guy who made great progress after coming in to the off-season not looking like we wanted him to look. All these guys I’m talking about have critical off-seasons coming up and Glenn is one of those."
When talking about Brandon Flowers as a "core player" he said:
"This is a very critical off-season for him. When you get into that year three that’s really the one where guys either continue to climb and become great players or, if they stay the same, generally start to decline."
When talking about D-Bowe, it's more of the same:
"Receiver Dwayne Bowe is a guy who has a critical off-season to continue to make strides in a positive direction.
One thing that I made clear to this entire team is we can’t in the off-season go backwards. We must come into this off-season program at least where we ended this year physically and mentally and build on it from there. Dwayne’s a guy for which this is critical. He comes into this off-season in the condition or close to the condition he’s in, hopefully better, and then builds from there."
Brandon Albert (are you seeing a pattern here?):
"He’s a guy that developed as the year went on and made great progress with his overall conditioning and that needs to continue. He’s another guy like a couple of others that I spoke of that need to come into this off-season at least where he’s at now."
The one that really caught me was this one about Tyson Jackson:
"I had a long talk with Tyson Jackson that I won’t go into the specifics of, but this is a critical, critical off-season for him. Those guys playing on the defensive line go from playing against boys most of the time to playing against men all of the time – every week. That’s why it’s such a difficult transition. He now has a year’s experience under his belt to help him understand how much harder he has to work to put him in a position to succeed. He’s got his mindset in the right place, he’s got a plan, he’s got his off-season mapped out and I’m looking for him to make big strides."
Finally, a couple quotes about he and Pioli and I'll tie this all together:
"Both Scott and I have a year of working directly with each other. For every staff meeting I had with my staff I could probably quadruple with the time Scott and I spent together. That’s a great amount of experience together making decisions to make this a good football team. The plan is going to stay the same. We know the goal we want to accomplish and it’s just a matter of getting on with it."
"This is a big job; it’s not an easy job. I’m sure Scott would agree. It takes some mental toughness to stick to your guns and keep going forward on the track we have established that will help us be a good team not just this year but for a long time, year-in and year-out."
Most of you can probably see where I'm going with this. There is clearly a plan in place as we go forward. We may not be privileged enough to get to know the details of the "Process", but what encourages me is that that everyone seems to be on the same page. The end of this season is not like the closing of a book and next season we will start a new one. This is one long book and we just now finished chapter one. While we are all caught up in who the coordinators for next season will be the Chiefs have been busy stressing to the players that the "Process" is just getting started. The most telling quote in there is that Tyson Jackson's off-season plan is already mapped out. They have clearly seen what we all did in that Jackson was not a dominant player this year so they sat down and came up with his very own "Process" to becoming a dominant player, and they have done all this with the season only being done for a couple days AND with all the media attention on the coaching hires.
During this season we have heard people say that making the players lose all that weight in camp didn't really do anything to help the team because we still lost a lot of games. We heard from reliable sources (I'm looking at you Jay Glazer) that Pioli and Haley may not be speaking with each other much. We heard countless people mock the "right 53" as we churned the roster like a batch of home made ice cream. And of course, we all rolled our eyes as loss after loss we were told that this was (all together now) "A Process".
In today's society we always want instant gratification. Patience is a virtue that not many seem to have. I know it's not always fun, but I think if we can find the patience to stick with them we will see that there really is a well thought out "Process" here. Now that the season is over we can look back on these events and start to see a bigger picture. Nobody knows if "The Process" will bring us a Super Bowl. I think one thing we can all agree on is that the only way to win at something that involves a lot of different people is to have a plan in place and make sure that everyone is on the same page. That is now being done at One Arrowhead Drive. Now all we have to do is find something to keep us busy (cue 47 more mock drafts) while we wait to see if this "Process" works.