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The Kansas City Chiefs are staying the course

What is Kansas City Chiefs' goal for the 2015 season? A high draft pick or a Super Bowl?

This post was originally titled, "Should we root for the Chiefs to lose?", and was written when our Kansas City Chiefs were 3-5.

That may seem like an eternity ago, but there was a general sense during the week before the Chiefs played the Broncos in Denver that the season was lost. The focus here at Arrowhead Pride went quickly from the Super Bowl to mock drafts. Arguments that the Chiefs just tank the season for a better draft pick were seriously made. It seemed like a waste to even win two straight if it meant improving to a still-worthless 3-5.

After all, the Andy Reid era Chiefs had never beaten Denver. And, even if they did, what were they supposed to do, go on a nine-game win streak and make the playoffs?

Still, even within that atmosphere of capitulation as the Chiefs headed into their Week 9 bye to prepare for a trip to Denver, no one wanted them to lose that game. With the hated enemies one Sunday away, publishing a post asking for patience and a little faith in our 2015 Kansas City Chiefs seemed silly. AP was unanimous about going 1- 0, even if that meant only for one week. We could get back to rooting for the Chiefs to go 4-12 next week.

I wrote an article prior to the Denver game saying the Chiefs are a better team than Denver and could beat them on the road. It ended with talk of the season's rough start and provided optimism moving forward:

But that should make winning all the more awesome when it happens, right? And the Chiefs are very, very close to winning. This is a good team finally on the right side of an unfortunate first half of football.

So I tucked away this post you're about to read. And I waited. And waited. And kept on waiting. The Chiefs kept on winning. And the Chiefs kept on winning some more. They kept on winning until this post, written near the nadir of 2015, was suddenly arguing for a perspective that everyone had since acquired.

But now Week 17 is upon us, and Kansas City is guaranteed at least two more games. This post could wait no longer. Take it as a reminder of how far our Chiefs have come since Week 9.

I present, unedited from its original text, an argument for why we should stop calling for Andy Reid's head.

Should we root for the Chiefs to lose?

How long does it take to win a Super Bowl?

Two seconds?

If you're the Patriots from last year, it took two seconds for Russell Wilson to throw the game-sealing interception.

3.5 hours?

That's roughly how long it takes to play the Super Bowl.

One season?

After all, the Super Bowl is won once every year.

30 years?

That's how long it took the Kansas City Royals to win another world championship.

Six years?

Ned Yost has been skipper for the Royals since 2010.

How long does it take to win a Super Bowl?

Whether you accept six years or 30, I hope you don't accept one year or 3.5 hours. Winning a championship one season -- let's say, purely hypothetical, in 2015 -- involves hard-work and heart-break in years 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, and so on. Winning a world championship is a long process. It looks like a "break through" when it happens, but, truthfully, it takes years of tweaking and fine-tuning. And rooting for your own team to tank for a higher draft spot does not accelerate that process. It slows it down.

Here is a list of all the quarterbacks selected with the first five picks in the NFL draft, going back to 1993 (the last season where the Chiefs won a playoff game) and ending in 2010 (the year Ned Yost started managing the Royals):

This list only includes quarterbacks who have at least started five full seasons and therefore had a chance to win a Super Bowl for a decent length of time. This means QBs after 2010 were not included; so Newton, Luck, RGIII, and Blake Bortles do not count against the average.

We have 22 different draft selections on this list. Only two teams managed to win a Super Bowl with the same QB they drafted:

  • The Giants managed to win a Super Bowl within five years.
  • The Colts managed to win a Super Bowl within 10 years.

So rooting for the Chiefs to finish with a top five draft pick so they can maybe select a QB who might end up as their franchise guy for 10 years is like rooting for the Chiefs to have a 4.5% chance to win a Super Bowl with that same QB in 2020, or a 9% chance that they'll win the Super Bowl in 2025.

Then there's still that 95.5% chance the team will continue being the laughing stock of the NFL, cycling through QBs and head coaches every few years when none of them work out fast enough. Because if a franchise doesn't have the patience for two winning seasons and a rough 3-5 start with a couple of close losses in year three, then I doubt they have the patience to wait five years for a Super Bowl.

there's still the 94.5% chance the team will just continue being the laughing stock of the NFL

All that finishing 3-13, followed by the firing of Reid and trading of Smith, offers is a very small chance to wait five years for a Super Bowl. In return, you get the much larger chance that you end up like the 20 other franchises on this list who didn't win anything at all within five years of drafting a quarterback high in the first round. Or six years. Or seven years. Or eight. They just continued being bad franchises.

The Chiefs are only a few years removed from being the worst team in the NFL. Let's enjoy some winning seasons for a change. Because putting together several solid seasons creates that mysterious yet omnipotent necessity of all sports narratives... "momentum." It also creates stability. If you lose your defensive leader, or future Hall of Fame running back, or starting QB, or an offensive/defensive coordinator, having those string of successful earlier seasons makes plugging a replacement in a lot easier.

After-all, one of the unquestionably good things to come out of the Alex Smith trade is that he has brought stability to the position. He's someone you can win with now, as has been demonstrated for two seasons. Can you win a Super Bowl with Smith? I've argued "Yes" elsewhere, but that's not relevant to the question at hand. What's more important is that Smith gives you a chance to, first, stop the ship from sinking and, second, get it going in the right direction.

Smith helps patch things up. If a year or two from now, the team does move on, at least we'll be plugging in a new QB behind a much improved offensive line and handing him a better receiving corps than we wielded in 2014. And if you really are waiting for the knight-in-shining-armor type, and want the clean and flawless young QB with flashy smile to waltz in and win early and often, then what you definitely do not want is to put him on the worst team in the league. You want a winning culture.

stay the course, ap. stay the course.

Besides, it's not as if a winning culture prevents you from drafting a QB and putting him on the bench for a few years behind your current No. 1. While there is no magic draft slot for a Super Bowl QB, getting one of the top QBs tends to be important. Outside of the random Tom Brady or Kurt Warner, getting one of the first QBs in the draft means you are more likely to experience success with that QB.

But the top QBs can be had anywhere in the first round, not merely with the top five picks. If the Chiefs have less blatant holes to patch with their draft picks, because they have built a solid roster -- which they've done a good job of so far -- they can afford to take a shot on a project QB in the first or second round; someone Reid thinks needs only a year or two on the bench, but has a high ceiling.

Then, if Kansas City does move on from Smith after his contract is up, or if he hits the dreaded QB age "cliff" earlier than I suspect and rapidly declines in play (think this year's Peyton Manning), you have someone prepared to replace him. And with the rest of the roster already solid, and a winning culture instilled, that new QB's chances of success are much higher. That's how you get your knight-in-shining-armor.

Going 3-13 and drafting a high-risk QB to toss on a bad team with a new head coach offers none of those benefits. In-fact, more often than not, that's how you get a bust.

So stay the course, AP. Stay the course. If you agree that a world championship isn't won in 3.5 hours, or a day, or a season, but that it's won over the course of many frustrating and heart-breaking years, then continued future success is the only thing you and I, as Chiefs fans, should be rooting for.

The Chiefs need to build a machine that keeps moving forward even as its veteran Hall of Famers leave. The Chiefs need to build a machine that maintains its identity even when its franchise guys retire, or are injured, or are traded late in their careers. The Chiefs need to build a machine that can plug back-ups in without losing momentum. And the Chiefs of today are sooooooo much closer to these goals than they were three years ago. Now is not the time to hit the "reset" button. Now is the time to focus on our next opponent.

Thus, I present to you my order of rooting preferences for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2015:

1. Win the Super Bowl.

2. Win a playoff game.

3. Finish above .500 and instill a winning culture.

Note that the word "lose" does not appear.

Go Chiefs.

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