There’s that phrase again. “Something to build on.” That phrase, or some form of it, was a favorite catch phrase of former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards.
“But for this week’s game, I just think it’s not fair to him. I just think Damon, he got us some momentum going and hopefully we can build on that, said Herm Edwards during a September 9th press conference in 2008.
Nearly a year and a month later, the Chiefs had a new coach, and Damon Huard was long gone. This time, it was Todd Haley putting on his construction hat.
HALEY: I was really proud of the guys. I think they pulled together and overcame adversity, overcame some injuries in some key spots to score a touchdown and tie the game and give us a chance to potentially win the game. I think that’s something we definitely as a team have to build on.”
But Todd Haley wasn’t done there. Let’s take a look at a few other snippets of this same press conference.
HALEY: “Yeah, like I said, we’ve got to build on that situation in a lot of different ways.
HALEY: “I was nervous the whole game. That’s part of that final drive deal that we’ve got to build on. Easy to find a lot of negatives but we’ve got to look for positives and I think that’s a great positive for us to build on.”
HALEY: “I don’t know. It’s something I want to build on and move forward with and understand that if we’re capable of doing that as an offense we surely ought to be capable of scoring enough points to win.”
HALEY: “It’s a huge play. Fourth down and you can’t get any more difficult, in traffic, between safeties and you know you’re going to get hit. Big-time play. I think for Dwayne that’s a play he has to build on if he wants to help pull and push this team to where it needs to get to. He’ll be a key factor in that, hopefully. Guys who want to be big- time players I’ve always believed make big-time plays in big-time games.
That was our biggest situation to date and he made the play. That’s something to build on.”
That was just one press conference folks.
You get it. The fans are sick of rebuilding, sick of the reassurances that their patience will be handsomely rewarded. One can understand the hesitation. With only 10 wins in 3 years, it doesn’t appear the Chiefs are building anything. In fact, they’ve been doing more tearing down than anything else.
Thus, as much as you might hate to hear me say it, and as much as I cringe to make the phrase ring through your ears yet again, the Chiefs do have something to build on.
Last season was painful, perhaps more painful than the two previous seasons combined. This was likely due to the unrealistically high expectations of a fan base that expected Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel to come to Kansas City and sprinkle some of that fine New England Fairy Dust all over Arrowhead.
As much as we all would have liked the Chiefs to hit the ground running under the new regime, it just wasn’t possible. Scott Pioli said from the off that he wanted to build the Chiefs the right way and that it might take time. It is sometimes easy to forget that, although we had been suffering for 2 long years under Herm Edwards, Pioli and company had just arrived. It wasn’t year 3 of a rebuild for these guys. It was year 1. If Clark Hunt wanted the new regime to continue Herm Edwards’ construction project then he wouldn’t have brought in the new guys in the first place. Mr. Hunt hired Scott Pioli and Todd Haley to build the Chiefs their way and that is exactly what they are doing.
There have been a lot of complaints about Pioli’s approach. Some folks don’t like the way he drafted. Some don’t like that he blew up the Chief’s horrible 43 defense to institute an equally awful 34 defense. Some don’t like that he didn’t keep and start Tyler Thigpen or that he is secretive or that he wears glasses. Jason Whitlock began calling him “Egoli” for no reason other than that Pioli accidentally cut in front of him in the lunchroom buffet at training camp.
When the Chiefs started the season poorly, the critics pointed to the Denver Bronco’s fast start, wondering why Pioli and Haley couldn’t have worked the same magic for the Chiefs. Josh McDaniels was being hailed as a genius. Haley was a doofus.
“McDaniels is playing more to Denver’s strengths,” they lamented. “He isn’t trying to fit square pegs into round holes like Pioli and look how much they are winning!”
In the end, the McDaniels show in Denver was nothing more than a mirage. He took over an 8-8 team that collapsed down the stretch and made them, well, an 8-8 team that collapsed down the stretch.
Now Mcdaniels is saying the hell with playing to Denver’s strengths. He wants to put more of his own touch on the team. We learned yesterday that the Broncos are likely to completely abandon the zone-blocking scheme they have been running since Merlin first learned how to pull a rabbit out of his hat. They will likely have to get rid of many of their offensive lineman and unless McDaniels is still delusional enough to believe he can win playoff games with Kyle Orton, they are going to need a QB.
Dare I say it? Is Denver about to go through a partial rebuild?
Pioli and company took a different approach and though it wasn’t pretty, it is sure to pay off in the long run. It may not have been a great idea to fire Chan Gailey last summer but because of his absence, Haley was able to institute the very style of offense that new offensive coordinator Charlie Weiss is sure to run. Now, instead of sticking with Gailey for a year, only to fire him at the end of the season, scrap his offense and start over from scratch, the Chiefs already have a year of on the job training in the scheme. It sure wasn’t fun but laying the groundwork for greatness usually isn’t.
As much as we may not like it, last year was an evaluation period. You can look at all the tape, scouting reports and statistics you want but you don’t really know what you have in a man until you go to battle with him. The Chiefs used last year to find out whom they can go to battle with and who is dead weight. They identified, or perhaps, tripped over, Jamaal Charles, who could be the NFL’s next great running back. They dug Chris Chambers out of the scrap heap. They solved Kansas Cities long lamented kicking problem by drafting Ryan Succop. They poured the foundation for their defense by turning Dorsey in to an end, adding Tyson Jackson and making Tamba Hali into a pretty good linebacker. They instituted their system both offensively and defensively. It’s there now. There is nowhere to go but up.
While Josh McDaniels is running around trying to change his entire blocking scheme in the second year of his program, Todd Haley and Charlie Weis will be building on the foundation that was put down in 2009.
Charlie Weis and Roemo Crennel must have been attracted to Kansas City for a reason. Both coaches likely had offers from teams that look a lot better on paper than the Chiefs. It might have been the BBQ. It might have been the history. Heck, it might even have been to participate in Jason Whitlock’s annual rib eating contest. Big Sexy would have some serious competition with Weis and Crennel in the field. Or, perhaps the new guys saw the Chiefs as an ascending team with limitless potential.
Maybe, forgive me, they saw something to build on.