When I woke up this morning, I felt like Bill Murray at the end of Groundhog Day. I had to pinch myself to make sure this nightmare of a Kansas City Chiefs season was truly over. No, Andie McDowell wasn’t overacting on the other side of my bed either — nor would that have gone over well with my girlfriend. That was Walter, my brother’s pit bull, who was trying to make out with me. Nonetheless, for the first time in a long time Punxsutawney Phil Arrowhead Adam did not see a gloomy shadow hanging over AA when he came out to face the cruel Winter wind.
Yes, the current Winter-like state of Chiefs football now looks like it could soon come to an end. But that will only come to fruition if Clark Hunt makes the right moves. I know exactly what those moves should be, and here’s why…
Last year, I…
1. Begged us to pick Matt Ryan. In fact, if my fingers had a voice that voice would still be half gone Don Vito style. That’s how much I pleaded.
2. Stated that the Brodie Croyle-Damon Huard one-two quarterback punch would be the downfall of both Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards.
3. Predicted that Herm Edwards’ Dubyesque tactic of lowering the bar to an all-time low — ignoring free agency, talking about the youth movement ad nauseam, etc… — would fail miserably when he failed to win more than four games. Harm thought that Arrowhead alone could get him four wins and help him eclipse last year’s win total. I knew better. I’ve paid attention to the way the successful NFL franchises do things. I also knew that Herm Edwards managed late-game situations about as well as Courtney Love does her substance abuse problem. Harm thought he would get the keys to the city after taking a glorfied college team to six wins. I thought Harm would end up looking like a bigger idiot than he ever has before.
4. Argued that in the NFL one or two years is enough time to completely turn around a team, or dismiss the coaching staff and/or front office if that doesn’t happen. When most Chiefs fans felt that this rebuilding project needed the same time it would take to rebuild a downtrodden college football program, I countered that in this age of parity significant progress could be much more immediate.
One year later, we now know that…
1. Matt Ryan is a franchise quarterback. Dude helped the Falcons win seven more games than they did in 2007 and make the playoffs. Honestly, even I didn’t think he’d be this good this soon, and we all know I had a huge man crush on him.
2. Going into the season with Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard at quarterback was about as smart as going to that 10-degree Dolphins-Chiefs game in a wife-beater and shorts would have been.
3. Herm Edwards is the worst coach in Chiefs history, losing a franchise record 14 games. He lost seven games in which the Chiefs possessed second-half leads, spearheaded the league’s worst defense despite being hailed as a “defensive guy” and needed 58 minutes and change, six consecutive “and-goal” plays and a pass interference call to prevent being both shut out and blown out by the effing Bengals JV squad.
4. The Dolphins and Falcons are both going to the playoffs after winning one and four games, respectively, last season. Both owners cleaned house last offseason and as a result their teams cleaned house on the field of play this season.
Given all of that, I feel I’ve earned my shot to lay out for Clark Hunt exactly what he needs to do this offseason. And…here…we…go… (been watching a little too much The Dark Knight, I’m afraid)
The Blueprint 2K9 Version 1
Step 1. Lure Scott Pioli away from the New England Patriots to run the Chiefs football operations.
The best available football mind in the game and he’s young, hungry and proven. With a young owner who’s ready to hand over the keys, the league’s best fan base, around $40 million in cap and a renovated stadium waiting for him, how could he possibly turn down the job. All doubters need to only look at the job Pioli disciple Thomas Dimitrioff has done down in the ATL.
Step 2. Pioli hires Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to be our head coach.
McD is apparently the guy Pioli would take with him to be his head coach. Fine by me. If Belichick and Pioli swear by him, then that’s good enough for me. He’s been the Pats offensive coordinator, for all intents and purposes, for four years now. He’s more than ready.
Step 3. Pioli hires Romeo Crennel to serve as our defensive coordinator.
He may be a lousy head coach, but he was a great, great, GREAT defensive coordinator. He has ties to Pioli and McDaniels, so this would be a good fit. Zach and I came up with this idea last night, and we both think it could happen.
Step 4. Trade Larry Johnson for whatever we can get for him.
Third-rounder, fourth-rounder, whatever. Get him out of town and that salary off the books. New Orleans, Philly, Tampa Bay and others will be interested for sure. I understand L.J.’s feelings about the treatment he’s received from fans and also appreciate all he’s done here and him taking accountability. At the same time, you don’t come out and say you’re done with the Chiefs and the City after all they’ve given you. Iron Man is our hero no more. AA stood by you as long as we possibly could, but we won’t any longer.
Step 5. Keep Tony Gonzalez.
Tony G. may be 32, but he’s hauled in more receptions over the past two years than any other two-year block of his career. And that’s despite being saddled by the constant switching of quarterbacks, offensive coordinators and offensive systems, not to mention a rushing attack on the decline. Tony has five more good years in him if he wants to play for that long, and I think we’d all love for him to retire as a Chief.
Step 6. Sign Matt Cassel.
He knows McD’s system and actually started out his career hotter than Tom Brady did his. Sure, he has talent around him, but he’d have talent in Kansas City with Dwayne Bowe and Tony G in place. Cassel and Tyler Thigpen — who was just awful yesterday against the Bungles — would give us two good options for McD’s high-octane offense. Zach started talking up Cassel months ago, and I’ve seen enough to board the train as well. One potential snag could be Tom Brady’s injury, which is apparently behind schedule. I wasn’t worried until he proposed to Giselle. Maybe someone thinks that he’s not going to be Mr. Super Bowl MVP for much longer? Another option would be trading for Matt Leinart, but the Cardinals would likely want a No. 1 (next year’s would probably do).
Step 7. Sign Terrell Suggs to play right defensive end.
Zach has me sold on this one as well. With everybody focused on UFA Julius Peppers, this is the guy we have to target. He will be cheaper than Peppers, is more consistent, and with Bart Scott and Dawan Landry free agents, the Ravens might not be able or willing to pay Suggs what we could. Plus, they spent some cake re-signing Ray Lewis recently. Outside linebacker Karlos Dansby would be another good, young defensive standout to target because the Cards have so much money tied up elsewhere and will likely choose to re-sign Kurt Warner.
Step 8. Sign Darren Sproles to be the lead back of our platoon.
I’m not sold on Jamaal Charles. I don’t like his hands, nor his inability to grind out yards in between the tackles. He’s a third-down back — that’s it. I don’t even like him as a returner. Meanwhile, Sproles is MJD Lite. I remember when people said he couldn’t be a feature back at Kansas Stat. He wasn’t sharing any carries back then, yet we all know how that turned out. Sproles would also be our return guy. I think a platoon of Tank (Sproles nickname), Kolby Smith and, yes, even Charles would set us up nicely in a New England-style offense. Kolby could totally be our Kevin Faulk. Sproles played at Olathe North and then K-State, so you bet your sweet ass he’d jump at the chance to come home and play a expanded role in our offense. We all know that A.J. Smith and the Bolts can identify talented running backs, too (L.T., Michael “Burner” Turner, Jesse Chatman, Jacob Hester, Sproles), and losing Sproles would hurt their offense.
Step 9. Don’t draft a quarterback, draft the best other player available.
Personally, I’m hoping that Michael Crabtree comes out. I’m not a believer in Matt Stafford or Sam Bradford — neither is Zach, by the way, and he was Mr. Joe Flacco a year ago — and think Crabtree would be both the surest bet and best player out of this class. With Detroit likely to go QB and St. Louis likely to go offensive line, he would probably still be there at No. 3. Crabtree. Adding Crabtree would give us one of the most dynamic passing offenses in the league, and we could then use the rest of the draft to focus on bolstering our defense and O-line. Crabtree first said that he was staying put, but recently adjusted that statement. He’s now saying that he’ll make his decision after Texas Tech’s bowl game. I think he’s gone.
I fully believe that we could compete for the AFC West title next year if we made these moves, and I also think this is the most plausible Blueprint yet.
(Oh, Harm getting canned is a no-brainer. No need to waste a step on that.)
Addicts, what do you think of the Blueprint 2K9 V1? What’s your Blueprint?