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Jonathan Rand Doesn't Get it

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Jonathan Rand, a columnist for the Kansas City Chiefs web site, usually writes good stuff that I enjoy reading. Today, his article rubbed me the wrong way.

Rand's basic assertion in this article is this:

The NFL is too unpredictable and volatile - and a playoff spot is much too precious -- for a coach to look too far down the road.

Edwards ought to pick the quarterback who's best equipped to win right now.

Let's throw Trent Green out of this possible QB mix right now because I don't think anyone, at least right now, thinks that Trent Green will be on this team. That leaves us with Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle.

The thing that really pisses me off about this article is that it is quite obvious throughout the article that Jonathan Rand believes "the playoffs" to be the holy land, the goal that the Chiefs should be shooting for. And thats what the Chiefs have done. For a long fucking time. We've concentrated on making the playoffs instead of preparing to WIN in the playoffs. I've quoted this Joe Posanski piece before and I still believe that he hit it right on the head in regards to Carl Peterson.

But what Peterson has done -- I think better than anyone in sports -- is convince everyone that his mediocre teams are actually good and promising. How? He has kept the Chiefs from having one of those comical 3-13 seasons. He has always found players with star quality -- Derrick Thomas to Joe Montana to Marcus Allen to Tony Gonzalez to Priest Holmes to Larry Johnson. And the Chiefs have just missed the playoffs enough times to keep everybody coming back for more.
There is a fundamental shift in strategy that needs to take place within the Chiefs organization if we are going to be able to, as fans, hold our heads high in appreciation of our team in the years to come. The Chiefs (and Carl Peterson) are constantly trying to make moves simply to make the playoffs the next year. Sounds great, right? I mean playoffs mean winning, right? Hell no. Look at the Chiefs' playoff performances in the last 10 years. Despite the success we had during the regular season of those playoff years, I don't consider them a success. Do you?

Jonathan Rand says, "Don't look too far down the road." When you're not looking at least two or three years down the line, you tend to lose sight of an overall winning strategy and get caught up in "quick fixes" and "star" veterans as the Chiefs have done.

There is one harsh reality that Chiefs fans need to accept about the next couple of years. We will more than likely not be fielding a deep playoff team. I know this is sacrilegious to say in Kansas City but I'm going to anyway. Jonathan Rand seems to think we have a Super Bowl team but I disagree (Why else would he put a such a huge priority on making the playoffs?). I'm not saying the Chiefs should throw in all of their rookies and just give up on every game. In fact, we could conceivably make the playoffs next year by starting Brodie Croyle. What I'm saying is prepare for the playoffs each year but keep in mind that some difficult choices may have to be made in order to turn this organization into a Super Bowl contender, instead of just aiming for winning seasons.

Once you accept the reality that the Chiefs are nowhere near a Super Bowl caliber team, it makes it much easier to accept slow, incremental changes rather than a "big signing" or a guy who gives you the best chance to win 9 games instead of 6, like Damon Huard. Rand says we should start the quarterback that gives us the best chance of winning. Right now, that appears to be Damon Huard. But Jonathan, what if "the best chance of winning" means winning 9 games instead of 7 or 8 games instead of 6? Are those two wins worth a whole season of development by a young, nearly rookie QB?

Its almost as if the adrenaline rush of just making the playoffs is enough for Chiefs fans. We need to demand better from our football team. We want a winning strategy and not just "good" players. I need to know that Carl Peterson's only motivation is NOT just money and putting butts in the seats. I need to know that the Chiefs will try their best every year while preparing for the necessary down time in organizations that eventually create great teams.

In case you haven't picked up on it, I'm all for starting Brodie Croyle this season. And as a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, I'm willing to give the organization the benefit of the doubt if we don't make the playoffs next year but as long as we prepare for the future in the process.

The Sports Guru, over at the Mile High Report (I know he's a Broncos fan but he's right in this case), sums up my feelings as well. He is responding to a paragraph by Rand so make sure you've read the article first.

In case you need me to translate, Rand is saying that the Chiefs should start the vet instead of Croyle, in part, because the Broncos went with Jay Cutler, thus missing the playoffs. He speaks of Cutler's "uneven" play against San Francisco. Did he watch the Broncos offense under Plummer in 2006? Did he watch the offense struggle on Thanksgiving in Arrowhead? The Broncos offense was uneven all year.

Would we have made the playoffs with Plummer behind center all season? Maybe. I know the offense was scoring under 17 points per game under Plummer and over 24 per game under Cutler. What I do know for sure is the Broncos WERE NOT going to the Super Bowl with Plummer. That's the difference between the Broncos and Chiefs. Rand mentions the loss to the 49'ers as the "loss that gave the Chiefs the AFC's last playoff spot". Very true. It also "gave" the Chiefs the opportunity to get embarrassed in the Playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl Champion.

Rand says "It's too difficult to win in the NFL to compromise a season just to develop a young quarterback." That's the difference between Kansas City and Denver. KC considers backing into the playoffs and getting completely dominated by a defense that wasn't supposed to be that good as "winning". Denver considers AFC Championships and Super Bowls as winning. That's why you draft a quarterback in the first round the season after getting to the AFC Championship game.

Stuff like what Rand writes is one of the reasons I decided to start writing about the Chiefs. I have loved the Chiefs all of my life but there is a point where you just have to say enough is enough. The Chiefs need a fundamental shift in the mindset of the organization, beyond the myopic "We have to make the playoffs each year in order to survive" view. I certainly don't have all of the answers but I know what we've been doing is obviously not working.