There Is No Such Thing As Rebuilding

Late November, for most of the past five or six years, has been a strange time to be a Chiefs fan.  A time for reflection, frustration and bewilderment.  A time for realizing that yes, your season is over and no, this will not be the year things change for this team you support.

Do some people quit watching at this point in the season?  I suppose so.  My boy The Centaur called just before AA radio began yesterday to talk about the game.  I told him my watch party was down to two people.  He confided that his was a solo mission.  Couldn’t find anyone willing to bust a Chiefs hang.

So yeah, maybe some fans do quit watching.  I don’t blame them.  The last time I bought a Royals internet package, I quit in July.  But I think the vast majority of us are still tuning in.  Even when the season is essentially over, a Chiefs game is still such an event.  Sunday afternoon remains a sacred time.  We look for individual performance, evaluate young players, and think about how things will be better next year.  We console ourselves in the knowledge that this team is, after all, still rebuilding.

Pardon my Polish, but that’s a bunch of bullshit. Find out why after the skacac:

I don’t mean the Chiefs’ version of rebuilding, specifically; I mean the whole concept of rebuilding in the NFL.  This isn’t the MLB.  Teams don’t trade their veteran players for prospect bundles.  When a player is traded for a draft pick, it’s usually because of a dispute of some kind.  And the team getting rid of the player rarely gets good value.

In any case, mass trading of players for picks (NFL equivalent of prospects) just doesn’t happen in the NFL like it does in baseball.  Teams usually head into a draft with close to the same amount of picks.  There is far more trading done on draft day than in the rest of the offseason.  And the most consistent trader, Bill Belichick, is most definitely not rebuilding.

Let’s come at this from a Chiefs-pecific angle now: what is Scott Pioli doing that constitutes rebuilding?  What does he do that makes this a rebuilding team?

Make draft picks?  Every team does that, every year.  Every team wants to invest in its future, and every team takes the draft seriously.  This isn’t the ’80s.

Rebuilding teams are known for filling the roster with young guys, right?  Is that what the Chiefs have done since Pioli took over?  Didn’t he promptly trade away a high, second round pick when he arrived*?  And hasn’t he signed a slew of veteran locker-room guys ever since?

*To be fair, he did get another second rounder for Tony Gonzalez.  Turning Gonzalez into Javier Arenas isn’t exactly a slam-dunk, but it was a rebuild-ish move.  The only major example I can think of since Pioli came to KC. 

Would a rebuilding team cling to Mike Vrabel until he pulled the plug on his own career?

Would a rebuilding team be sitting a second-round pick behind a mediocre player pushing 40?

Would a rebuilding team give 13 carries to Thom Jones?

We don’t need to debate the merits of any of those decisions.  All we need to acknowledge is that the Chiefs are doing nothing to classify themselves as a rebuilding team.  Nothing, that is, besides losing.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I’m not saying Pioli should be rebuilding but isn’t.  I’m saying the very concept is a fallacy in the NFL. A fallacy meant to keep fans like us pacified.

You know who loves talk of “rebuilding”?  Clark Hunt, that’s who.  Because every year this fan base swallows a “rebuild” is a year he can make millions of dollars without having to put a competitive product on the field.  For Hunt, that is the ultimate score.  He’s managed to stretch the current “rebuild” into a five-year project, going on six.  Business is good.

I expect we’ll see more of our rookies as the season progresses, and that will be interesting.  But we need to be clear on this: playing rookies more once your season is over does not mean you’re a rebuilding team.  Every losing team in professional sports does that, every season.  If you want to call that “rebuilding”, then rebuilding is just a synonym for losing.

Game notes:

  • I’ve said all season that my man D-Bowe was bound to make a few costly errors before the season ended.  Haley didn’t coach that out of him.  It’s part of who Bowe is.  And to steal a quote from JFK’s girl, Marilyn Monroe, if you don’t love Bowe at his worst, you don’t deserve him at his best.
  • If you step into my Chiefs office and open up my “players I like” file, you’ll find numerous glossy 8x10s of Jon Asamoah and Kendrick Lewis.  Going about their business, never noticing the guy in the construction outfit across the street…..
  • How ’bout when that graphic of Tin Man and Dorsey came up last night?  I mean how ignorant was that?  It’s like NBC doesn’t even know they’re supposed to pretend those guys are good.
  • Another game, another sack for Amon Gordon.  He’s running away with this one.
  • We’ve all seen Justin Houston make mistakes, but the talent is obviously there.  So often when people talk about a rookie having “ups-and-downs” it’s really just to justify a guy playing poorly.  But with Houston, it’s actually true.  He looks like a rookie, but less so every week.  His ceiling is obviously very high.  Too bad he’s such a lazy stoner, right guys?  Unacceptable!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go drink 10 beers and hang out in public.  I prefer legal activities, thanks.
  • Hey, Palko, uh…….keep your chin up?
  • I still think Matt Cassel is going to be our starting quarterback next season.  Because, right or wrong, I think Haley is going to be fired after this season.  And firing Haley and Cassel in the same offseason would mean Pioli admitting that his first effort was pretty much a total failure.  I don’t see that happening.
  • I didn’t like Collinsworth criticizing my boy D-Bowe obviously, but the fact that he’s willing to take people to task and go out on limbs is awesome.  Here’s to you, Collinsworth.  You will one day lose your job for speaking truth.

Final note: It’s officially time to start Orton-watch.  I’ll assume one bad game to start off, but the final four could be a good time.  Decent defense+resurgent offense?  I’m thinking two wins.


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Tags: Clark Hunt Scott Pioli

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