clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Results or not, Chiefs GM John Dorsey has made the right moves

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Forget the results.

That's difficult to do, but for the sake of this exercise, it's important. We are not in control of what happens after we've done the right thing. We can save money and order a budget, but it doesn't mean the car won't break down. We can raise our children to be nice little citizens who should contribute to the world, but some of them will still rebel. The results are always unpredictable.

In sports, by the way, the results are also not only unpredictable but by definition of competition, many of them must turn into poor results. For one team to win, another team must lose. For a quarterback to put up great numbers, the opposing secondary must look in need of an upgrade. The nature of measured results means that some will look like someone is at fault. So all that said, let me state this:

John Dorsey has made all of the right moves.


When you're set out to build a model franchise, something I've admittedly never done, there seem to be a set of (largely) agreed-upon principles at work in terms of importance.

1. Find your quarterback.
2. Protect that quarterback.
3. Get after the opposing quarterback.

You might be able to change the order there a bit -- maybe switch No. 2 and 3 -- and you can certainly debate anything that comes thereafter. But the most successful franchises seem to not only have their capable quarterback in an upright position for the majority of the time, but they're also in the face of the opposing quarterback. They are called building blocks.

Enter John Dorsey when he became the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a fortunate son in that many pieces were already in place. The team had a number of Pro Bowl performers under contract. They also had developmental impact pieces at key positions -- from Justin Houston at pass rusher and Jamaal Charles at halfback to Dontari Poe along the defensive interior and Eric Berry at safety. Some GMs aren't so lucky.

Still, Dorsey had a plan, and it seems to be the plan that anyone following the logic of the day would have done.

1. Find your quarterback.
2. Protect that quarterback.
3. Get after the opposing quarterback.

After two offseasons, in other words, Dorsey has made all of the right moves.


Things haven't worked out so far for the Chiefs. The record says otherwise, given that head coach Andy Reid has the best record of any Chiefs coach after two full seasons (20-12). The Chiefs were a couple dominoes away from being in the playoffs this season, and should have advanced past the Colts in last season's opening round. For the most part, the Chiefs have been a good team. But fans will complain about the deeper story.

That deeper story mostly has to do with the Chiefs winning largely on the backs of players who were here when Dorsey arrived. Alex Smith came into Kansas City as one of the most divisive quarterbacks in the NFL -- "he's a winning quarterback, but is he a quarterback that wins". Two years later, he's standing in the same shadow after signing a major extension with the Chiefs.

In addition, all of Dorsey's major draft investments have yet to pan out. He held the coveted number one selection in the draft. Even in a weak draft class, a top pick should yield stronger returns than what left tackle Eric Fisher has provided. The same could be said for this year's first round pick, Dee Ford. The pass rusher barely saw far less snaps (and even lesser impact) than what anyone would have predicted. Given odd plays like this, Ford has already been given a quick "bust" tag by some. Fisher has heard that for a while now.

The sum total of all of these players is the Chiefs last two first round and second round selections, along with a bajillion dollars promised to Alex Smith for the next few years. Those aren't official contract figures, but it does represent a hefty dollar amount that has many Chiefs fans shaking their heads. They're a group largely wondering whether or not Dorsey has done the right thing with the biggest of decisions.

The answer is yes.


The bottom line is that John Dorsey has obeyed NFL's book of wisdom line by line. The critical move to pay (perhaps overpay) the San Francisco 49ers for Alex Smith's services gave him his signature deal just weeks after being introduced as the new general manager. The Chiefs had a major quarterback problem and the book said that was point number one. So Dorsey did whatever he had to do to get his quarterback.

Smith seems like such an obvious choice looking back. For those who wanted the Chiefs to take a rookie quarterback in the draft, the options included Geno Smith, EJ Manuel, Matt Barkley and Tyler Wilson. Or maybe you were hoping for free agent possibilities like Jason Campbell and Matt Moore. There's a reason that Dorsey reached for Alex Smith as quickly and decisively as he did.

And one look around the NFL's quarterback carousel makes the Chiefs situation look just fine. Every year, multiple teams desperately look at castoffs from others in the hopes that they can find unearth some hidden gem. Cleveland believed Brian Hoyer could be the answer. The Texans signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and traded for Ryan Mallett. The Bills benched their first round pick, EJ Manuel, to start Kyle Orton for several games. Every one of those guys will be recycled this offseason as teams put a positive spin on the potential of one of these guys actually being named a starting quarterback.

After Dorsey had his quarterback, he made the move to protect that quarterback. It's easy to point to Branden Albert's exit and believe otherwise, but Eric Fisher simply had to move to the left side. That's exactly what he was drafted to do, and if he performed as hoped, he'd give the Chiefs a good to great performer at a key position on the cheap. That's a great move in the NFL that you make every time. Given the Chiefs also had Donald Stephenson in place, it simply didn't make sense to match the salary demands Albert would receive on the open market.

On to point number three, the Chiefs grabbed Dee Ford from a strong final season at Auburn in the draft. His selection brought up conversation about the future of Tamba Hali or Justin Houston, but Dorsey didn't need to have a concrete plan for either player to take Ford. Players age. Contracts get sticky. If you believe a player is going to be a great pass rusher, you take him. It's number three in the playbook, and the list of rules doesn't say to skip it if you already have Hali and Houston on the roster.


All of this has been written as if John Dorsey's moves have not worked out, and that is simply not the case. There hasn't been nearly enough time to figure out whether or not any of these players were worth the investment made in them.

  • Smith has already proven to be a much better quarterback than the Chiefs have had in some time, and several teams would happily trade places to have the Chiefs' depth chart than their own. In addition, Smith played in front of a sieve of an offensive line this year and had perhaps the worst core of wide receivers in the NFL to throw to. That's hardly a recipe for positive results.
  • By all accounts, Fisher was an improved player from year one to year two, and a full season of reps at left tackle along with another offseason of work should bring optimism for a continued curve upward. Fisher was drafted as a project who had to make the leap from the MAC to the NFL. That should be kept in mind even after his second season in the league.
  • Ford came out of Auburn, but he was also considered raw -- a player who needed to develop a greater pass rushing repertoire along with the skills to be an every down linebacker. Justin Houston heard the same concerns coming into the league. Ford will need some time, likely even more than just next season, in order to blossom into the player Dorsey's staff envisioned. But the raw potential is there.

And even if these moves all fail to pan out. Let's say that Fisher tops out as an adequate left tackle, that Ford never develops, and Smith somehow regresses starting next season. Even then, Dorsey did everything right.

After all, it's impossible to predict the results.

Arrowhead Pride Premier

Sign up now for a 7-day free trial of Arrowhead Pride Premier, with exclusive updates from Pete Sweeney on the ground at Arrowhead, instant reactions after each game, and in-depth Chiefs analysis from film expert Jon Ledyard.