The Kansas City Chiefs’ 2010 season is over, and so our thoughts turn to making the Chiefs a better team in preparation for 2011. Usually in the offseason there are two main sources for NFL teams to gain players: Free Agency and the NFL Draft. If NFL labor negotiations stall, and a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is not reached, then there won’t be a free agency period. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, I think that this is a period which is necessary for their continued success.
The first reason I think it is necessary is that the Chiefs are still a team in recovery. Even though we made it to the playoffs this year, we are not so far removed from our losing ways that we couldn’t easily fall back into them. While there is no question that the Chiefs are a better team than two years ago, there are still some problems that exist with the Chiefs.
If you have been following Merlin’s posts, then you can probably identify what the primary positions of need are for the Chiefs are. For those of you who haven’t been following, they are center, nose tackle, and wide receiver. I would probably add strong outside linebacker to that list, as well. And those are just our primary needs. The Chiefs have other needs, they just happen to be less urgent. They generally tend to be depth of position needs.
What I’m getting at is that it is unreasonable for Chiefs’ General Manager Scott Pioli to pull four starters out of the magic hat that is the NFL Draft. Some should really be found in free agency, but that is awfully hard to do without a free agency period. And believe me, looking at the Chiefs’ 2011 opponents; we need all the help we can get.
To prove to you that the Chiefs 2011 schedule will be tougher than their 2010 I could pull out tons of statistics that say so, but that isn’t necessary. The simple way to prove to you that the Chiefs are going to have a tougher time next season is to tell you that every team still in the playoffs will be an opponent of the Chiefs in 2011. That’s right, if you want to do opponent research for next year, watch the playoffs this year.
What this means for the Chiefs is that we can’t just improve an average amount this season. We need another offseason where we have an above average level of improvement. While I think it will be tough, it is possible. We just need a free agency period to do so. If we are able to extend our streak of above average growth in the offseason, then we may find that we have made enough progress to have maintained success.
That’s what we’re really striving for, maintained success. We don’t want to maintain our residency in Loserville; we want to take up residency in Success City. When I talk about maintained success I’m not talking about winning the Super Bowl year after year (although if that happened I wouldn’t complain). I’m talking about being playoff contenders year after year. I’m talking about reaching a point where our roster is good enough that our primary draft needs are few and far between.
Look at teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots. These are teams whose weak spots are not glaring. That means when it comes to the NFL Draft, they are not forced to address needs but are able to draft the best player available, if they want. Being able to do that is part of the reason they are able to maintain a high level of success year-to-year. I want the Chiefs to be a part of that group. I want the Chiefs to become a feared team in the playoffs and I think they need Free Agency this year to do so.
With the difficulty of next year’s schedule, the Chiefs will most likely need to sweep their division to make it to the playoffs. They only won two division games this year which means improvement is needed. More improvement than I think the draft alone can offer. We need Free Agency, and we need to be active in it, for us to take the necessary steps to win the AFC West in 2011. So cross your fingers and hope that the NFL owners and the NFLPA can work it out, because 2011 success for the Chiefs may depend on it.