January 25, 2013; Ko Olina, HI, USA; Hawaiian hostesses U

It's Time For The Kansas City Chiefs To Stop Wasting Their Talent

The Kansas City Chiefs have a new general manager, a new head coach, and a new quarterback. When a team turns over arguably the three most important positions in an organization it is almost always seen as a new start, or the dreaded “R Word”, rebuilding. That may very well be what the Chiefs are doing, but there is optimism in the fan base that John Dorsey, Andy Reid, and Alex Smith may be the missing pieces of a winning team as opposed to the building blocks to build one upon. So is that optimism warranted? Are the Chiefs a talent depleted 2-14 team that will take years to rebuild or a talented roster that has just lacked the leadership and quarterback play to win? As a professed “homer” it’s probably not a surprise to anyone that I think it’s the later.

Yesterday, Patrick posted a piece on Jamaal Charles being rated as Pro Football Focus’s #2 rated running back over the past five seasons. It’s not the first list of this kind that PFF has done in recent months. In addition to the running backs list, they’ve also done ones on wide receivers, edge rushers, linebackers, interior defensive lineman, and cornerbacks. Charles is not the only Chief to make one of these lists. Tamba Hali checked in as the #6 edge rusher, Derrick Johnson was the #3 linebacker, and Brandon Flowers was the #3 cornerback. So of the six lists of best players over the past five years that they have done, KC has placed a player on four of them, and three of them finished in the top three.

That seemed pretty good to me. So I thought I’d see how that compared to other teams. I went through and charted how many players all the NFL teams had on these six lists. Only one team, the Baltimore Ravens, had more players with five. There were four other teams that also had four players make the lists. Those teams were the Packers, 49ers, Vikings, and Eagles. So thus far, KC has had more players make these lists than 26 other NFL teams. Keep in mind, there are still several other positions that will likely have lists to come, like quarterback, tight end, offensive line, safety, and possibly kickers/punters. My guess is that after all the positions are released KC’s totals will be a little short of the “big boys” of the NFL, but currently they are holding their own.

So how do KC’s results on the field stack up with the other teams that have as many players on these lists?

Not very well.

The Ravens, Packers, 49ers, Vikings, and Eagles are a combined 235-163-2 over the past five years. That’s about a 59% winning percentage. During those same five years the Chiefs are 25-55 for about a 31% winning percentage.

It gets worse.

The other five teams have a combined 20-15 record in the playoffs. That’s right, they have 20 playoff wins and have a playoff winning percentage that is 26% higher than KC’s regular season winning percentage. They also have 8 conference championship game appearances, 3 Super Bowl appearances, and 2 Super Bowl wins.

KC is not only the only one of these teams to not win a playoff game in the past 5 seasons, they are the only one to not reach the conference championship game.

KC has had just as many good players (just not at QB), they just haven’t turned these talented performances into wins, especially in the playoffs.

In some ways, seeing that was validating. It seems that over the past five years I’ve always gone into each season hopeful that KC would be good. I always felt that KC had good talent on their roster. According to the guys at PFF that watch and grade every single snap of every single game, I was right. They’ve just wasted that talent.

That’s where Andy Reid and Alex Smith come in.

When selecting a coach this offseason, KC didn’t go with a hot coordinator that had never been a head coach before or the hot college coach that hasn’t proven he can do it at the NFL level. KC opted to go with the guy with a proven NFL track record. Andy Reid doesn’t need time to adjust to being a NFL head coach. He’s already there.

The same can be said for Alex Smith. I was among the thousands of KC fans clamoring for the Chiefs to draft their next starting QB. Instead, KC went for one of the only QBs available with proven starting experience. A guy that quarterbacked his team in one of those 8 conference championship game appearances referenced earlier. They went with the guy that doesn’t need time to adjust to life as a starting NFL QB, a guy that doesn’t have to get used to the speed of the NFL game. He’s already there.

Chip Kelly may be the next great NFL coach. Geno Smith may develop into a Super Bowl winning quarterback. They may be great, they may flop. They both may need a couple of years to find success. That’s not a big deal if you feel your team is starting completely over and building a roster from scratch. However, if you feel that you have a roster that has enough talent to win right now, those years would be wasted. The Chiefs have wasted enough years of talented play already.

That’s why my expectations for this team are higher than most 2-14 teams with a new GM, head coach, and quarterback. In the NFL, a 4 game improvement over the previous season is seen as good progress. If a team goes from 5-11 to 9-7 or from 8-8 to 12-4 that’s seen as a success. If the Cheifs go 6-10 this season I won’t see that as a success. The Chiefs aren’t devoid of talent. They aren’t breaking in a first time head coach or a first time quarterback. According to PFF they have just as many talented players as some of the best teams in the NFL. They now also have a proven head coach and a QB that has big time playoff experience. I feel that this team should be, at worst, .500. If Andy Reid and Alex Smith can repeat the success that they had at their previous stops there is no reason this team can’t compete for a playoff spot. In addition to Charles, Hali, DJ, and Flowers, talented players like Dwayne Bowe, Eric Berry, and Justin Houston give this team a nucleolus of talent that is good enough to win now.

It’s time for KC to stop wasting that talent. This isn’t a season to start building a talented team. This is a season to finally unleash the talent that was already here on the rest of the NFL. It’s a season where KC should finally turn that talent into wins on the field, hopefully into a playoff appearance. Let’s just hope Reid and Smith are up for the job.

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

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  • Stacy D. Smith

    That’s precisely why I’m excited about this group. This is the first time in a long time the team won’t be handicapped by coaching and quarterback play. I still don’t know that it’ll be enough, but I’m excited about the possibilities.

  • ladner morse

    Excellent work Lyle! It must have taken you a boat load of time to go over those stats for every team.

    The image I am coming away with from your piece is that the other teams in front of the Chiefs who are loaded with more talent… on those team the talented players could be seen as the tip of the ice berg… meaning that there was also other, perhaps lesser talent on their teams so that the other unseen part of the iceberg was in a triangular shape just below the surface. However, for the Chiefs… the visible (talented) part sticking out of the water was more in the shape of a spear… and just below the surface there wasn’t much else that was going to help the talented part.

    IOW… the Chiefs have lacked depth or solid mid-level talent… which was exactly what ex-GM Scott Pioli was supposed to be bringing in. From first appearances… it looks like Dorsey and Reid have kept the talented players and brought in solid mid-level talent as well as depth. Now, all we can do is wait and see if they’re right on the money.

    In any event… it sounds like you’re right on the money Lyle.

    • Calchiefsfan

      You’re right about the depth Laddy. I wish we would have taken Barrett Jones in the 3rd instead of Knile Davis. It would have given us solid depth at center and guard. This o line has to perform for Smith and Co to be successful. I think they will but after what happened to Hudson last year I’ll be holding my breath that no one gets injured.

      • Lyle Graversen

        I think having Stephenson and the loser of the Allen/Schwartz battle as depth off the bench is decent. I am a little worried about center if Hudson would get hurt again, not sure Kush is ready for prime time yet.

        • Calchiefsfan

          Fine with the depth at guard and tackle, clearly the best we’ve had in a long time. It is the center position that has me concerned as well, especially given the fact that Hudson was out for most of the year last year. From everything I’ve read Kush is not ready, has potential but more of a project.

    • Lyle Graversen

      Thanks Ladner, I agree with the depth problem, but I don’t think they’re in too bad of shape. If I could take your metaphor a little farther, if the four players that made these lists (JC, DJ, Hali, and Flowers) are the tip that are above water, I believe we also have the “second tier” players that form the next level of the pyramid below the surface in guys like Bowe, Berry, Houston, S. Smith, Albert, Asamoah, Fisher, etc. It’s the final base of the pyramid where we have failed miserably in the past with guys like Tyler Palko, Sabby Piscatelli, etc.

      • ladner morse

        Exactly… that is what I was trying to articulate but, couldn’t say it right. That base of the pyramid has been what’s missing. When you think about it.. the Chiefs have a pretty big number of widely known names… to me… these are the guys who represent the tip of the iceberg. Many teams only have a couple of guys in that place at the top. But now… this off season … I think that “R&D” have done a great job filling in the gaps for the Chiefs. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if they all come through.

  • Altarium

    You know… if the Chiefs DO get into the playoffs (this year or any year really..) network media just might spiral into uncontrollable depression trying to figure out why they have to now spend more than 2 minutes covering the Chiefs. I guess they could drum up some rumors about how KC is interested in Tebow, Te’o, etc.

    • Suzi Conger


    • Lyle Graversen

      Well, I’m sure when KC goes to Philly the same week they retire Donovan McNabbs number they’ll get some press. It will all be about Philly’s former coach going back to Philly for the first time, but they’ll probably at least have to mention the team Reid coaches now once or twice. :-)

    • jim

      Ain’t that the truth, GEAUX CHIEFS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Calchiefsfan

    Just a great, great article Lyle. This is what I think all the Chiefs fans see and why we are optimistic.We know the talent is there to win. What we have lacked is competent coaching. Of course the psychotic cloud of depression known as Pioli that fell over the Chiefs organization didn’t help.

    A lot of things have to go right this year to be successful but I think Reid and Dorsey can make it happen.

    • Suzi Conger

      AReid, JDorsey and AS11…

      • Calchiefsfan

        We certainly don’t want to see Smith’s talent get wasted either! I’m counting on Reid to make Smith an even better qb than he already is.

        • Suzi Conger

          Agreed!! :-)

  • Suzi Conger

    Great read Lyle…. agree completely. GO CHIEFS!!

  • Kickapoo

    Being a chiefs fan for as long as I have………one can only hope……again……………..quietly optimistic though, don’t tell anyone I said that

  • nicko333

    Great article. Sound reasoning on the “success” issue.

  • jim

    Good article, I’m running a little behind in my reading, but I agree completely, the way I see it, there are no more excuses for not winning, this is the time to kick ass and take names, the Chiefs have the talent and baring major injuries to multiple players I would be disappointed with just an 8-8 season, I believe the should go at least 10-6 or better, GEAUX CHIEFS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!