Please join me in welcoming Miles Yi, who is trying out to become one of AA’s new staff writers. Enjoy his first entry and give him a warm welcome. -PA
We hear so much talk about the importance of football teams having a character. You know, like how the Steelers, Ravens and 49ers are known for their tough defenses. The Patriots and Saints are famous for their high-octane offenses. And the Raiders have carefully crafted a reputation for speed and unsportsmanlike behavior.
In the same vein, we also hear from Scott Pioli that the Chiefs need consistency. Last week, Pioli talked about the Patriot Way:
A large part is consistency. It’s stability and consistency. It starts with Robert, Jonathan [Kraft] and Bill [Belichick] quite honestly. … It’s a matter of consistency and being the same people every day. Everyone knows what to expect.
No matter that the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl – they epitomize success over the past decade. To summarize then, here’s what we know: to be a winning franchise, your team needs both a defined character and consistency. Would you agree?
Well, good, because I don’t either and here’s why. Let me ask you, who would you rather fight: a professional boxer or a professional mixed martial artist? While neither is appealing, you, like me, may well choose to fight the boxer, and I bet we’d have the same reason. And that reason is why the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl next year.
As you’ve guessed by now, that reason is…unpredictability. Who wants to fight someone who can punch OR kick you in the face? Who wants to step into the squared circle with a holy terror who can just as easily land an uppercut to your throat or knee you in the eyeball? No thank you, I’ll take the boxer.
Unpredictability is huge. Sun Tzu, who saw quite a few fights in his time, says in The Art of War:
All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe that we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
We don’t need a team character. We need multiple team characters. In fact, our defining character shouldn’t be defense or offense, running or passing. It should be unpredictability. We should be the Sybil of the NFL.
So here’s the good news, all of you who want to see us crush our opponents next year: the Chiefs are really good at unpredictability. This season, we lost three, then we won four. Then we lost four. Then we flipped back and forth for 5 straight games. And in case anyone doubted our massive edge in unpredictability, we started Tyler Palko! And Jerheme Urban! Multiple times! Oh, and we beat the then-undefeated Packers.
The Chiefs know unpredictability. Unfortunately, our form of unpredictability is being good or bad. Instead, we need unpredictability based on diverse strengths to be deployed at will, like a martial artist.
The Chiefs are starting already. Pioli is on message, trying to trick the other teams into thinking that we actually like consistency (very sneaky, Scott). Romeo Crennel hires new Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll. In last week’s Smoke Signals Nick Clayton writes,
Much like the Patriots did with him, Daboll’s forte appears to be playing to the strengths of his individual players, something I like to hear given the unique skill players on the Kansas City Chiefs roster.
From Daboll’s first presser, he says,
The first word I would like to use is attack…That changes week to week based on things you may get but you have a set package as an offensive system where there’s a thousand plays but you pick and choose on a weekly deal what you’re getting defensively…Threatening runs, passes and all those different things, you have to keep the defense as off balance as you can.
In other words, Daboll doesn’t buy into the “one character” crap of old. He understands his weapons and creates game day strategy based on keeping opponents off-balance, not based on a predictable formula.
Romeo Crennel is already there, and has been for quite some time:
The thing I’ve noticed about Romeo, and it’s different than some of these young hotshots, is that Romeo doesn’t have a huge ego,” former Chiefs quarterback Rich Gannon said. “If he thinks the thing he needs to do to win a game is to play his base defense the whole game and not blitz a lot, that’s what he’ll do. A lot of coaches out there, they can’t help themselves. It’s almost an ego thing with some other guys that if you’re going to throw it, they’re going to blitz.
In a league where competitiveness is real, where every Sunday, any NFL team can beat another, unpredictability is a huge advantage. The Chiefs have the raw materials for unpredictability based on diverse strengths: lock-down corners, killer linebackers, a growing pass rush, a feared running attack, and the potential for a passing game to scare a few people. We can emphasize or de-emphasize our weapons based on strategy.
Now comes free agency and the draft. Show us what you got, Pioli. Unpredictability: if that’s where the Chiefs are headed, that Pioli is a genius and we’ll be wearing red and gold in New Orleans next year!
To all the Addicts out there: what draft pick makes the Chiefs the most unpredictable team in the league?