Graduating in the NFL

Before I go anywhere with this post I need to add a disclaimer: I am NOT talking about you. However, if you THINK that I am talking about you, then I probably am. Good, now that I got that out of the way let's discuss the greatest football team on earth known only as the Kansas City Chiefs. Boy it is hard to be passionate about this team sometimes. There are some games they play where nobody could beat them and then we have those days where the little league football team down the street has a good chance of beating them. Why such extremes? A lot of people blame the head coach Todd Haley. Others blame Scott Pioli. While I believe these guys have made some mistakes, I do not believe that they are the problem. In my honest opinion I believe this season was a "perfect storm" of sorts and, while it doesn't look like it now, has been a highly successful year for Kansas City. Why do I say that? Let's discuss it in depth after the jump.

To have a complete and thorough understanding of my reasoning we have to start in the beginning. No, not the beginning of the franchise but the beginning of the Scott Pioli era way back on January 13, 2009. Wait, wasn't that only 3 years ago? Correct, you very astute reader. Scott Pioli has been here a whapping 3 years. Let me emphasize that point for a second. 3. THREE. Tres. 4-1. 1+2. I think it is kind of funny that you can't get a bachelors degree in three years but Scott Pioli is expected to completely transform and turn around a franchise in that amount of time. The same goes with Todd Haley. Let's take a look at what they started with shall we: (in order to save space I will include a link to the Chief's roster)

I think we can all agree that 2009 was a "throw away" season. What do you mean by "throw away?" What I mean is that it was Todd Haley's first year coaching. We had improved (albeit minimally) our roster. There was not really enough time for anything to be done with the draft or free agency so Todd and Scott had to work with what they had. Nothing more really needs to be said. They took what they had, made what little adjustments they could and managed to get 2 more wins than they had the prior season. That, my friendly readers, is a "throw away" season.

Let's move on to the 2010 season by starting with the draft. Here is the link of our draft picks that year:

We got:

1) Eric Berry

2) Dexter McCluster

3) Javier Arenas

4) Jon Asamoah

5) Tony Moeaki

6) Kendrick Lewis

7) Cameron Sheffield

Looking at that list I am very pleased with what Scott Pioli accomplished. Most of the people on this list are STARTERS right now. Why did you emphasize starters? Why, because this means we were still trying to field a good team. We were not yet to the point of building depth like all the great teams have. We even made great moves during free agency to fill in some areas that we really needed. Yes, but free agency didn't fix anything! Correct again reader but it was able to provide us with some band aids for all the gaping wounds we had on our roster. But they were just band aids! You can't create a great team using band aids! No, you can't, but you can't fix all the problems we had in 2 drafts either. Moving on...

Now we all know what happened in 2010. We went 10-6, won the AFC West, and went to a playoff game. But we got blown out our last two games of the season! Why didn't Todd coach them better?! Well reader, to counter this argument let us start by remembering that this was still only his second year of coaching. We would be halfway through college at this point. We need to also remember that a lot of our starters were still rookies. We had little to no depth and we managed to get to the playoffs against a team that had been there several times before. Another one of the things Todd Haley did was play Jaamal Charles. Wait a second, he played last season too! Yes, Jaamal Charles got some work in toward the end of the season but in 2010 he became our bread and butter. He was listed 2nd behind Thomas Jones... He is also a speed back, not a power back and Haley wanted to be sure that he was able to run the whole season. Todd also helped Dwayne Bowe become a pro bowl receiver. Derrick Johnson started shining. We had a great team in 2010 and hopes were high.

What followed was the perfect storm known as 2011. Let's start with the draft again:

1) Jonathan Baldwin

2) Rodney Hudson

3) Justin Houston

4) Allen Bailey

5) Jalil Brown

6) Ricky Stanzi

7) Gabe Miller

8) Jerrell Powe

9) Shane Bannon

Looking at this list we notice that a few of the player are starters while most were depth positions. Wow, our first draft targeting depth positions, well, kind of. In reality most of the draft choices were supposed to be starters but weren't quite ready yet so they were probably going to use the 2011 preseason to coach them and prepare them to start. Unfortunately, the lock out occurred. There goes the preseason. There goes conditioning. There goes training. There goes building team chemistry. When the lock out finally lifted Todd decided to try a different approach to the offseason: conditioning. I think it was a good idea. Are you blind? We looked like crap and got blown out our first two regular season games! I do wear contacts but no, I am not blind. Football is a hard hitting sport (duh) and it doesn't matter how good your team is if you can't play the whole game and get injured too quickly. This is especially true since WE DID NOT HAVE DEPTH! We NEEDED our starters to play the whole season because there was nobody behind them if they got hurt.

We found this out the hard way with injuries to Tony Moeaki, Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, and eventually Matt Cassel. A good team can play with injuries so this is not an excuse! You are correct again reader. Good teams have depth and can play with injuries. Unfortunately, we didn't have any. Our starters are great but we don't have the skill behind them yet where their absence won't be felt quite as much. So does this mean you are saying we don't have a good team yet? Yep, we are not there yet. Does that mean we don't have good players, nope. Isn't it Scott Pioli's fault then for not getting us good back ups? Well Scott does draft but considering he hasn't really been afforded the luxury of unlimited #1 picks, he had to draft starters first followed by the start of depth last year. This means that we can't use the excuse that Scott didn't get Todd Haley what he needed to compete because he got him the best he could.

What about Todd Haley? Does this mean he is a horrible coach and that we should fire him at the end of the season? No, we should NOT fire him. I don't know many coaches that can get their players to play hard and never give up even when getting blown out or in a losing streak. Todd has been given a difficult situation. Last year we were #1 in rush offense. This year our star running back gets injured. Our #1 draft pick WR gets injured. Our stud TE gets injured. What now? We can throw it but we have Bowe being double teamed (still making catches though) and Breaston (who is great but is still getting in sync with Matt Cassel.) We can run it but we have no OL or TEs that can block and create holes to run in. Jackie Battle and Thomas Jones have been doing great but there is only so much you can do with no blockers. Todd Haley is an offensive genius though so why aren't we scoring more! There are two reasons for this: 1) The spaghetti monster known as Tyler Palko is our current QB and is apparently color blind when throwing to receivers and 2) It is hard to pass the ball when you are laying on the ground all the time because of our awesome OL (think Denver and Miami games.)

Todd knows what our team is capable of. The problem in my mind isn't that he can't coach, can't motivate, or can't run an offense. The problem is that Todd has had to make so many adjustments while trying to bring up new players. You want to do certain things but players aren't ready yet because they haven't had time to learn. Our team IS learning though. Look at our defense! They are learning how to play WITHOUT our stud SS. Our team is learning how to play without a QB, without a running back, and without a pass catching TE. Our players are improving every week. Look at Justin Houston or Derrick Johnson or Asamoah, or Carr, or Flowers, or the rest of the team! That is Todd Haley! Yeah, this year has been hard but our team has grown up.

We aren't boys any more. We need to not get our panties in a bunch because of this year. Why does Todd stick with Palko then? Stanzi is not ready to play and I would not like to rush his progress and Orton doesn't have chemistry yet. Besides, it isn't Sunday so Orton might still play. What about Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey? They were terrible additions! You might be right reader. I will be sure to mention to Scott Pioli to use his awesome psychic future seeing abilities to make sure that all the players he drafts/signs live up to expectations. I mean, everybody knew Ryan Leaf was going to suck going into the draft.

To conclude this long article I want to start by saying thank you for your patience and endurance. I also want to ask that we all as fans of our favorite team take a step back and ask if our expectations are too high. If we rush this because we want a Super Bowl now (but we DO want a Super Bowl now...) we may ruin any chances we have of becoming a great team. My personal opinion is that we are improving as a whole and will be a great team if we continue down our bumpy, dark, really scary, dreary, panic inducing but always exciting path. Remember, it has been three years; we aren't even out of college yet.

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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