I am just a simple fan of the Chiefs. I didn't grow up playing football. Until this past year, I didn't know the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3. I have always just enjoyed watching the game and cheering the team on - win or lose. But these current arguments about the "right way" to build a better team (fast vs slow, free-agency vs draft, etc) got me thinking and I asked myself a question: What have "successful" NFL teams done to extricate themselves from similar situations?Now why did I put "successful" in quotes? Success all depends on the goal. The current hotly-debated argument all surrounds the best method for a losing team (i.e. Chiefs) to become a winning team. With that in mind, my goal was to identify those teams that now have consistently better winning records but had recently been consistent cellar-dwellers.
I started with the win/loss record of every NFL team for the past 5 years. Next, I scored each teams change from one season to the next (i.e. going from a 10-6 season to a 8-8 season is a -2). To help whittle it down, I decided to place heavy significance on changes of 4 or more wins/losses from season to season. Then it all started to become clear. First throw out the steady teams - whether good, bad or middle-of-the-road -because one thing I know for certain is I DO NOT WANT A STEADY 4-12 CHIEFS TEAM. Next, eliminate the decliners - because Lord knows Chiefs Fans don't have to look past One Arrowhead Drive to find that example.
So who did that leave? The risers! An amazingly short list - just 3 teams. The first two were the Vikings and the Saints. Hey...those sound like pretty good teams to try and emulate! But upon closer look, both of them had 1 year with a -3 score from the previous year. Just shy of my "major significance" criteria. Since I was looking for consistent progress in the up direction, I chose to place them aside for the time being.
That left one - ONLY ONE - NFL team that has improved or maintained their win-loss record every single year for the past 5 years. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present your model for our future...(drumroll please)...
THE ARIZONA CARDINALS!!!!!
And just what does their record look like?
2005 - 5-11
2006 - 5-11
2007 - 8-8
2008 - 9-7
2009 - 10-6
And the few years before then : 2002 - 5-11, 2003 - 4-12, 2004 - 6-10. Look a little familiar?
When I started, I figured there would easily be 3 or 4 teams to examine. Two other teams almost made the cut. But only the Arizona Cardinals met my objective. It makes the rest of this duck soup. I want my Chiefs to consistently and steadily improve. Only one NFL team has consistently and steadily improved over the last 5 years. So from now on when arguments arise on topics such as...Oh, I don't know...perhaps on how aggressive to approach Free Agency, I am going to revert back to the Cardinals and see what they did 3 or 4 years ago.
BTW, from what I've read, the Cardinals were not an ultra-aggressive team in free agency during 2006 or 2007. The biggest move was probably signing Edgerrin James in 2006, but the bulk of their free agent signings were after the first full week of the trade window. I guess they were OK passing on the "hot" players signed by other teams during those first few days.
Another BTW, in April 2007 the team picking at #5 was...the Arizona Cardinals! (OT Levi Brown)
For my 2 cents, I think Scott Pioli knows a thing or two about what it takes to become a contender in today's NFL. If he follows the "Cardinal" plan, we will add 2 or 3 wins each year. That means our Chiefs won't return to a winning season until 2011 (maybe 2012 if there is a lockout in 2011). I was hoping for 8-8 in 2010, but I have changed my mind. Six or seven wins next year is fine with me.
Fire when ready!