Andy Reid, John Dorsey Winning While Rebuilding

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Are you bummed by the lack of a playoff appearance and have found yourself questioning the decisions of Andy Reid and John Dorsey? I don’t blame you entirely, but here’s something to consider about the first two years of the Reid-Dorsey era.

A quick look through Pro-Football-Reference netted this nugget: The Chiefs are only the third team in NFL history to lose 14 games in one season and then follow it up with 20 wins over the course of the next two seasons. Yes, a 9-7 season without a playoff berth is disappointing, but when put in the big picture it is quite remarkable the Chiefs are where they are after only two seasons under Dorsey and Reid.

Looking at the two teams that went from 14 losses to 20 wins makes the Chiefs’ success that much more remarkable.

The first team to pull off the 20-win feat was the 1997-1998 New York Jets. After losing 15 games in 1996, the Jets hired Bill Parcells, who was fresh off a Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers. Parcells immediately took the Jets to a 9-7 season the following year with the esteemed Neil O’Donnell at quarterback.

Yes, Parcells won nine games with a 31-year old Neil O’Donnell at quarterback the year after the same team lost 15 games.

The following year the Jets improved to 13-3 and lost in the AFC title game. Vinny Testaverde was the quarterback of that team. Needless to say, Bill Parcells is pretty damn good at coaching and building rosters.

The 21 wins in the two seasons after the Jets lost 15 games is the second most wins in NFL history in such a scenario.

Andrew Luck’s Colts are the other team to win 20 or more games in the two seasons after losing 14 or more games. Luck has won 11 games in each of his first three seasons with the Colts, which solidifies him as the best quarterback prospect since John Elway.

It does help Luck that the AFC South has been awful in his first three years in the NFL. The Titans, Jaguars, and Texans have combined for six seasons with at least 10 losses or more. Still, 33 wins in three years is an impressive feat for a quarterback in his first three years in the league.

What the Chiefs have done the last two seasons is pretty rare, especially since the Chiefs are not operating with either A) one of the greatest head coaches of all-time or B) one of the greatest young quarterbacks of all-time. Instead, Kansas City has found ways to maximize what they inherited while still trying to build a roster for the future. It’s a difficult balance that the Chiefs have managed to pull off pretty well.

Dorsey noted the desire to win games while rebuilding in his end-of-season press conference.

"We’re in the game of football to win the games. We’re not in the game to blow things up. I don’t think you can do that, but these guys understand that, in order to achieve a high level of success, you’re going to be in this thing together. If you look at our schedule, I think 11 of the teams we played this year were over .500. Was it challenging? You’re darn right it was challenging. We’re the second youngest team in the NFL, I think it shows that to be competitive week-in and week-out, you have to be consistent. And that’s the thing that you build off of. Those are the little things that you build off of moving forward."

Dorsey and Reid still have some work to do, as Dorsey alluded to, to get the Chiefs to where we all want them to be – the Super Bowl. But the path towards getting to such a roster isn’t quite as far away as it may seem. The Chiefs were a healthy offensive line away from back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since the early 1990’s, and the fixes the Chiefs need to make to the roster are pretty doable in one offseason.

With a potential 11 draft picks and some flexibility with the cap for the first time in what seems like years, the Chiefs could have the kind of impact offseason they need to push them over the hump.

Of course, if the Colts would like to trade us Andrew Luck then that would be nice, too.