Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Audacity of Hope: A 47-Point Plan to Rebuild the Kansas City Chiefs

“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking [the Kansas City Chiefs]” – Barack Obama - January 20, 2009

Ok, he may or may not have actually said those exact words – but if he can misquote George Washington/Thomas Paine, I can misquote him.

Hope is a funny thing. If you’re a paranoid pessimist like me, even the slightest feelings of hope are generally followed by a laundry list of thoughts why that hope is unwarranted and sure to end in disaster. However, when your football team has its first new General Manager in 20 years, is poised to get itself a new coach and has the #3 overall draft pick, it’s tough even for me to be anything but hopeful for the upcoming NFL season. It’s a clean slate and a chance to start over with fresh minds and personnel. And can we win?

So here today I present to you my 47-Point Plan to Rebuild the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s unsolicited, totally misguided, and not too far above the worst message-board ramblings. I know you don’t care, but there are two weeks until the next NFL game, whaddya want from me?

1. Fire/Hire a Head Coach. Or Don’t. But Do Something Already.

Herm Edwards is hanging out to dry. The majority of the sought-after coordinators have been hired. A week is not enough time for me to be already doubting Scott Pioli, but throw us a bone – anything. Truth be told, Steve Spagnoulo is the guy I really wanted to see as the next head coach of the Chiefs, but he’s off the board now and in St. Louis. Jon Gruden is suddenly unemployed, but I swear to you right now – if Gruden is hired by the Chiefs I will retire my allegiance to them, at least for the time that Gruden is with the team. I suspect I would reconsider if that were actually to happen – but it won’t. The hot rumour right now is that Todd Haley, the offensive coordinator of the Cardinals is going to be the guy the Chiefs want. I think I would be fine with that, it would be nice to have someone with a little more experience but it seems like Haley would make a good head coach – and a guy’s gotta start somewhere. This would explain the delay, as the Chiefs couldn’t talk to Haley until after the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, three Chiefs’ assistant coaches, including their defensive coordinator have already jumped ship – which to me means that change is imminent. But with every passing day that the Herm is still in charge, it makes me more and more afraid that he’ll be patrolling the sidelines next year – wasting time outs and not really knowing where he is.

Here’s something really interesting – and at the moment is only the rumour of a rumour – but if it’s got any legs at all, could become really, really interesting. As of Tuesday’s official sale of the Miami Dolphins, Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Bill Parcells has a 30 day (I think) out-clause in his contract that would let him leave the Dolphins and still get paid. But do you know who Bill Parcells’ son-in-law is? That’s right, new Chiefs’ GM Scott Pioli. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.

In any case, can we please just have a coach already? The Senior Bowl is on Saturday and it would have been nice to have some permanent staff there to scout the talent.
[Thursday Morning Update: ProFootballTalk is "reporting" that Herm getting canned is happening sooner, rather than later - and the new rumour is that Mike Shanahan is going to be the next head coach. That sound you hear is me trying to swallow my own tongue.]

2. Trade Tony Gonzalez

Don’t laugh – I’m serious. Yes he’s the only viable pass-catcher the Chiefs have but it’s time for him to go - especially if the Chiefs can sell high on him after his big season. And they don’t have a viable quarterback anyway, so what does it matter? From his demand to be traded (and then not) to his demand that Tyler Thigpen be the quarterback next season, it’s time. This is a rebuilding team whether Gonzalez wants to admit it or not, so why not get rid of people who don’t want to be a part of the program and get something in return? So here’s my plan – trade Gonzalez to the New York Giants. It seems the Giants are in need of someone to catch the ball and Gonzalez probably has a few good years left in the tank. I think a reasonable return would be a 2nd or 3rd round pick – the Giants 2nd rounder would be the 58th pick overall, so it’s almost a 3rd rounder. But maybe you can get a 3 and a 7 or something like that. I have no idea if the Giants have the cap room or even the draft picks to make that happen, or whether they have any interest. But this makes sense to me and that’s all I’m really concerned with. All I know is Tony needs to go before it becomes a locker room-dividing situation.

3. Trade Larry Johnson

This is a no-brainer. Worn out his welcome doesn’t even begin to describe this situation. I don’t think there are many women in the great Kansas City area that Larry hasn’t physically abused or spat liquour in the face of, so it’s time to move on to greener pastures.

But do you know where Larry is going? I’m pretty sure I do. He’s going to be a Patriot next season. I have no proof to back this up, other than the following conjecture:
a) Scott Pioli obviously has a relationship with the Patriots organization,
b) The Patriots are in need of a running back who isn’t Laurence Mauroney
c) The Pats have a history of taking in troubled players and turning them into team-first guys, i.e: Corey Dillon and Randy Moss

The problem is, I don’t think you can get very much for Johnson. I’m sure he has a huge contract. He also has his off-field issues and a history of getting injured, especially in recent years. Realistically it might be another Randy Moss situation; the Patriots giving up a 4th round pick to take a player off another team’s hands.

4. – 47. Draft Smart (Oh please, please, please draft smart)

I don’t think I’m overstating anything when I say the 3rd overall pick in this year’s NFL draft is the most important moment in the history of the Chiefs’ franchise. Draft well and it could lay the foundation for many successful years ahead. Draft poorly… and well, does the name Alex Smith ring any bells? San Francisco still hasn’t recovered from that pick 4 years ago (albeit not a great draft year, but DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman went 11th and 12th, respectively). I must say, I have total confidence in the man who helped lay the foundation for the Patriots’ dynasty to make the right decision in Kansas City.

First of all, if Detroit takes Matthew Stafford #1 overall, which they are almost surely to, DO NOT Kansas City, I repeat – DO NOT take Mark Sanchez at number three. This might be the worst quarterback crop ever so it’s not worth taking the risk on a guy who started one year at USC with the 3 pick. I’d be much more content to take a chance on Graham Harrell, Rhett Bomar or Nate Davis (or someone) in the later rounds. If Detroit doesn’t take Stafford, St. Louis won’t either which means he falls to Kansas City – and in that case they have a tough choice; take Stafford and hope he pans out or pass go with a later round guy and maybe shoot for one of the Big 3 next year (Bradford, McCoy or Tebow). In the event Stafford falls to 3, I think Kansas City should pass (no pun intended) on him, and let me tell you why.

Kansas City’s defence was historically bad this season – setting the record for fewest sacks in a 16-game season, with 10 – yeah 10. This year there are a lot – a lot – of great defensive players available at the top of the draft and I think that’s where KC needs to get a lot better… now. I think the decision comes down to one of two players: Rey Maualuga or Brian Orakpo. The obvious answer would be Orakpo, a defensive end who can get to the quarterback – something the Chiefs sorely lack. But honestly I think the Chiefs should take Maualuga, a middle linebacker. A competent middle linebacker would allow the Chiefs to change the way they use last year’s number one pick, Glenn Dorsey, and hopefully get a little more out of him this year (anything out of him would be a step in the right direction).

Honestly, I just can’t wait for the draft – other than opening day, it might be my favorite day of the year. And having another top 5 pick this year makes it that much more exciting for me. It’s like getting 7 extra Christmas presents in April.

Alright, that concludes my self-involved ramblings for today – but don’t worry, I’m sure there will be plenty more to come.


trebor said...

shannahan should be going to the cowboys, but for some reason wade is still around.

Would Haley be a good choice?? it works with Warner, having him throw 2 out of every 3 plays to players like fitz and boldin, but with thigpen throwing to ?? and ??

I agree with getting rid of gonzo, a team that could use him...carolina. no idea about cap space or anything like that but clearly delhomme needs a solid dump off guy.

LJ would be hard to get rid of, the injuries being a big part of that, so I cant see any team wanting him as their feature back.

as far as drafting..defense is always the way go..when your rebuilding. It's still early but I think passing on young and bush was good for houston, though they really should have traded down. Intresting note after looking at that draft class...not a very good 1st round and also Colston was in that draft year and was the 252nd pick

Anonymous said...

I feel for your burden Napoleon. Righting the world economy would be an easier task and require less strategy than turning around the Chiefs.

Two schools of thought exist:
1. Improve via free agency and trades - this is a potential quick fix that is ladden with pitfalls ie: cap issues, team chemistry (hello Brett Favre), overpay and underperform.

2. Improve via the draft - this is a longer term strategy with no guarantee that your team will actually get better however, my two cents is that this is a strategy with a better track record and has proven to be a plan on which dynasties are built.

Maybe just maybe for KC, a hybrid approach is most prudent.

In the NFL if you don't have an above average QB, you don't make the playoffs, period. I don't have this Thigpen fellows stats at my fingertips, however, my gut tells me he is not going to lead the Chiefs to the promised land. Sooooooo trade for a decent QB and build your defence via the draft. Now what QB might be available? Hmmmm. I know this would be the end of Napoleon in Rags as we know and love him but I see a KC connection to New England from a front office perspective, and I see a potential QB controversy brewin' in NE.
How bout Tom Brady to KC for Johnson, Gonzo and a 4th rounder?
Who he might throw the ball to or hand it off to for that matter may be a slight issue but an issue that needs tending to regardless of who might be the KC Chiefs quarterback.

Problem solved.

Yer' welcome.


Trebor said...

I like the idea of brady in kc colors..... I'm not sure what will happen with that situation but my guess is that cassel would go, cahnces of breakout year followed by terrible year....ask derek anderson.

I think thigpen could lead them the promised land. You dont need to be great at passing, but more of a great game manager.

Delhomme sucked all season, they made the playoffs were almost the top seed, tavaris jackson... he did win at the end to get them into the dance. Pennington / Collins, good at managing the game but neither would you trust for a game winning drive in the last 2 minutes.

Napoleon in Rags said...

I think being a game-manager can only work if your team excels in one part of the game - i.e: running game in Carolina or defence in Baltimore.

Kansas City has neither the defence nor running game to have simply a game-manager at quarterback. If those areas improve, then ya, all you would need is a quarterback who doesn't kill your team week after week.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Mr. editor, deep down, I know you like the Brady idea.
Not sure what the definition of "Poetic Justice" truly is, but this Brady thing might be close regarding the never ending negative comments the editor has written about Mr. Brady on this blog.

What a coup......


Napoleon in Rags said...

I hate the guy, but if he's playing for my team I'd be first in line to buy a #12 jersey.

I'm confident in the belief that I'll never have to cross that bridge though. I think there's a better chance of Len Dawson playing again for the Chiefs than Tom Brady in KC.

Matt Cassell, on the other hand? I could legitimately see that - and that makes me nervous.