I read (over and over) from several members of AP nation about how the Chiefs new leadership has let everyone down because they haven’t made enough big time player acquisitions. I would like to give my point of view.
While it may be true that the Chiefs haven’t made many player acquisitions that knock your socks off, (depending on how you feel about Matt Cassel, there may not be any) I believe Pioli and Haley have approached this offseason the correct way in order to build a long term, consistent, sustainable winner. I will explain myself in a moment but first, I want to talk about some of the more major transactions and what it has done for the team.
Hired a young, fiery and successful coordinator as our head coach. Like him or hate him, you have to at least admit that Haley’s fiery attitude and penchant for holding players accountable is a breath of fresh air. I will be the first to admit he will has some growing pains to go through and doesn’t quite have all the particulars of being a head coach down but I also see an intelligent coach who seems to be learning from some of his mistakes and has been around winning his whole career and I think that bodes well for KC. Especially in years 2 and 3 when the talent level has come up to an acceptable level he should be hitting his stride as coach. Jury’s still out but I like the move.
Acquire Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel for a 2nd round draft pick in the ’09 draft. I believe this is an excellent move for a couple of reasons. 1st, you got two starters for one pick. I’ll take that just about every time. 2nd, you got a young starting quarterback that could wind up being our starter for the next 8-10 years. I’d say the odds are better for Cassel making it than any QB we could have taken in this year’s draft.
Drafted Tyson Jackson with the #3 overall pick. Everyone points to our offensive line as a major weakness, which it is but so was defensive line last year. I think it was a good move for a couple of reasons. 1st, with the switch to the 3-4, getting a prototypical defensive end for the scheme was very important. 2nd, when people say it all starts up front, that includes the defensive line too. I would have been happy had they selected a offensive lineman here as well but I believe with our 31st ranked defense from ’08 which only had 10 sacks, it’s tough to argue that defensive line wasn’t a greater need.
Brought in several ex-Patriots. I don’t have any problem with this. They may not have more talent than the people they are releasing but the fact that they know the program and know what they’re supposed to do on a football field gives them the advantage. I think anytime you’re building an organization, you go out and try to recruit from other companies that are known to do things well. This is the way I see these moves.
Traded Tony Gonzalez for a second round draft pick in next year’s draft. This one is tough. On one hand, you have the greatest player ever to play that position that would have undoubtedly helped this team. This year. On the other hand, you were able to get a 2nd round draft pick for a guy that had publicly stated he was only going to play another year or two. I don’t know what we’ll get for that pick so it’s hard to declare it a good move or bad move but I’m inclined to think, at the very least, we should get a solid contributor for years to come either by drafting someone with it or trading for someone with it thereby, in essence, not left holding onto nothing when Tony decided to retire.
Now for what he didn’t do. He didn’t break the bank on any free agents, go after any sexy picks, didn’t upgrade the offensive line (even though 40% of our current line wasn’t here last year). Some will say there was plenty of talent we could have acquired to make ourselves better. I say, “who?” Jason Brown was about the only free agent lineman worthy of picking up. I say that mainly because of his age. He could have been around long enough for us to be good and contribute. All others either have medical issues or are old.
So to tie all this up and explain why I think this has been the correct approach so far, I’ll state what the goal is and should be. To build a consistent, long term, sustainable winning team. You don’t do that by going and getting all the hot free agents. (see Washington, Dallas) You bring in guys who buy into your system, believe in a team first mentality and the only thing they care about is winning. That’s what New England did early in the decade. It wasn’t until late in the process that they started picking up big name free agents. And then it was only after there were enough people who had bought in that the star player almost had no choice but to conform. This is the correct way. It may also be the most frustrating way for fans because none of us wants to wait for the team to be good. Some of us are tired of waiting after sitting through the Herm debacle the past 3 years. I get that but it’s because of those years we are where we are. In other words, Pioli didn’t make the mess but he’s the one who has to clean it up. I for one would rather be patient and do it the right way so we don’t have to go through this again in 3 or 4 years.