The Curse Of Todd Blackledge

I’m not going to talk about the game last night. I’m not going to talk about the amazing defensive effort or the three interceptions thrown by Tyler Palko. No, I’m going to talk about the big picture outlook of the Chiefs QB situation. Last week the Kansas City Chiefs followed the same MO they have used for the better part of the last 30 years (and perhaps the entire history of this franchise) when it comes to their QB position, they signed a veteran free agent.

Now don’t get me wrong, when you just look at the Kyle Orton signing on its own, it’s fine. By this point, the pros and cons have all been spelled out both here at AA and all over the Internet and talk radio. I think the zero TDs and SIX INTs thrown by Tyler Palko in his two starts show that the Orton signing is at least worth a shot, but I want to talk bigger picture.

Now when I say bigger picture I don’t just mean looking forward to next season. That’s part of it, but I really want to scale back and look all the way back to 1983 when the Chiefs drafted Todd Blackledge in the first round of the NFL draft. That’s the last time the Chiefs really made a true investment in drafting and developing their own QB.

For those younger fans that may not know anything about the history of this club, to put it simply, Blackledge was a HUGE bust. It was in part because of his poor play, but even more so because of the QBs the Chiefs passed over to take him (namely Dan Marino and Jim Kelly).

That failed pick doomed then team president Jack Steadman who was replaced by Carl Peterson and would curse the Chiefs QB situation to this day.

I’ll give you the gory details after the jump:

Now if you want to take the time to argue that the Chiefs QB situation hasn’t been cursed because of the likes of Steve DeBerg, Trent Green, and of course Joe Montana, that’s fine. Those players certainly gave this team some great memories and some good offenses (just no Super Bowls).

That doesn’t change the fact that most Super Bowl champs are lead by a franchise QB that they drafted and developed. If you look back at the last 20 Super Bowl winners, 15 of them were led by QBs that they drafted. Two of the ones that were not drafted by their team (Brett Favre and Kurt Warner) still would fall under the banner of players developed by the team they won with. So really only 3 free agent QBs (Drew Brees, Brad Johnson, and Trent Dilfer) have won Super Bowls in the last 20 years. That means 85% of Super Bowls are won by QBs that the team developed. The curse of Todd Blackledge has prevented that from happening in KC.

In actuality, it isn’t really a curse as much it has been the Chiefs being afraid to make that commitment again and get it wrong. So instead they have tried to get by with free agents and trading for other teams’ backups. Now that does not mean they haven’t tried to draft QBs since taking Blackledge in the first round, they have. They’ve just tried to find a “diamond in the rough” by investing mid- to late-round picks that don’t put the GM’s job on the line.

You want to know how bad the Chiefs have been at it?

The last game Blackledge started was the second game of the 1987 season. The next time a QB that the Chiefs drafted would start a game for the team would be in the 11th game of the 2007 season when Brodie Croyle started his first game.

That’s right KC fans, Brodie Croyle is the BEST QB the Chiefs have drafted since Todd Blackledge 28 years ago.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now let’s set aside the QBs they drafted that weren’t good enough to start a game. We’ll get back to them in a minute.

First, I just want to stop and think about just how long the Chiefs went without starting a QB that they drafted. Between Blackledge’s final start and Croyle’s first, the Chiefs played 339 games over 21 seasons. That is just staggering if you think about it. I don’t have it in me to try and find this out, but I would have to imagine that that’s the longest streak by any NFL team ever. I have nothing to back that up other than my own sheer amazement at how many games that is.

So just in case you’re thinking that this streak is the product of the Chiefs not drafting a single QB at all, here’s the impressive list of the QBs they’ve drafted since Todd Blackledge.

Doug Hudson – Nichols State – 1987 – 7th round

Danny McManus – Florida State – 1988 – 11th round

Mike Elkins – Wake Forest – 1989 – 2nd round

Matt Blundin – Virginia – 1992 – 2nd round

Steve Matthews – Memphis – 1994 – 7th round

Steve Stenstrom – Stanford – 1995 – 4th round

Pat Barnes – California – 1997 – 4th round

James Kilian – Tulsa – 2005 – 7th round

Brodie Croyle – Alabama – 2006 – 3rd round

Ricky Stanzi – Iowa – 2011 – 5th round

Quite the list, huh?

We won’t count Stanzi since he hasn’t really had a chance yet. The other nine are total failures. Three of them never attempted a pass in the NFL (McManus, Barnes, and Kilian). Four of them only saw limited snaps (Hudson, Elkins, Blundin, and Matthews). The only ones to get any real playing time were Croyle and Stenstrom (with the Bears).

These players combined career stats are:

389-688 (56.5%) for 3,883 yards (5.6 YPA) with 12 TDs and 24 INTs.

Bottom line, the Chiefs haven’t invested in a big time QB prospect since they drafted Blackledge 28 years ago and they have done a HORRIBLE job of finding someone in the middle to late rounds as well.

It is time for Scott Pioli to do something about this. It is time for him to break the curse of Todd Blackledge that still hangs over this franchise. It appears that the Chiefs will be in a position to draft a real QB prospect in this year’s NFL draft. Pioli shouldn’t let Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel, Todd Blackledge, or a history of bad QB picks stand in his way.

I pray that Scott Pioli is brave enough to make that pick. Otherwise we will need to go looking for a new GM before we can ever hope to break the curse of Todd Blackledge.

As always, thanks for reading and GO CHIEFS!!!!!!!

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs Kyle Orton Todd Blackledge Tyler Palko

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