John Dorsey Is Making Me A Believer
Nov 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey during the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Last year, I was not on the John Dorsey personnel bandwagon (if such a thing existed).
On the field, Dorsey and Andy Reid’s first year marked a glorious resurrection for the Kansas City Chiefs. After ending the prior year an abysmal 2-14, the Reid/Dorsey organization started off 9-0 and took the team back to the playoffs. As fans, we got more than we could have asked for or expected. But the end of the season showed that there were still a number of holes to be filled.
Even with areas of lack, the outlook was still positive. It had appeared the Chiefs had conquered the worst of the dreaded rebuilding phase in the space of a single year. Kansas City was not a Super Bowl contender, but with the right offseason moves the Chiefs should have been going nowhere but up.
And then the offseason came and all of those needed moves kept failing to materialize.
Going in we knew that the Chiefs were in need of improvements at receiver. And as soon as free agency started the Chiefs lost the core of their offensive line, and it became apparent that a second big area of need had opened up. But I couldn’t tell that from the way the organization reacted.
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According to this list by ESPN, the only signings anywhere on the offense prior to the draft that year were WR Weston Dressler and OL Jeff Linkenbach. Dressler never made the team and Linkenbach was rated dead last in value to his team among o-linemen by Rotoworld before the season even started.
But every fan of the NFL that has been around for any length of time knows the old trope, “You build a team through the draft.” While free agency had looked like a definitive net loss for Kansas City, there was still hope that the draft would bring a renewed excitement.
Unfortunately, that excitement never came. I understand the best player available philosophy, and so I did not panic when Dee Ford was taken in the first round. Without a second round pick though, I felt fairly sure a pass catcher was coming with the third round pick in a draft full of quality receivers. And then the Chiefs picked Phillip Gaines. Both were good players, but time was slipping away into the rounds where you stop expecting quick production, and have to start hoping for steals and good developmental projects.
De’Anthony Thomas followed in the fourth round, and the Chiefs did pick up two lineman (Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif) with their final two picks of the draft. So Dorsey did not wholly ignore his team’s problems, but I was left wondering if he saw what seemed obvious to the rest of us.
Thankfully, the Chiefs outplayed my lowered expectations on several occasions in the 2014 season. But the holes left unaddressed were obvious throughout the year. So when this offseason approached, I wasn’t holding my breath for anything special.
I expected the main effort to be based around finding the money to pay Justin Houston. Given the amount of cuts and general reshuffling that task was almost certain to require, I figured Kansas City might once again play a limited role in free agency. Boy, was I wrong.
Even given a fair amount of cap restriction entering the free agency period, Dorsey and his staff have managed to be active participants. And those moves have placed the team in a much better situation.
Earlier this week Arrowhead Addict’s Lyle Graverson graded the Chiefs’ offseason moves as of that point in time. It is not a flawless report card, and no one is going to say that the organization has “won the offseason” based on what has happened so far. But Lyle gives the Chiefs a pretty respectable report card, and I tend to agree.
As fans, it always feels a lot better to see your team making moves . . . provided they are generally intelligent moves. But what Dorsey and the front office have done so far in the offseason means a lot more than just giving fans something to talk about. It opened up a any number of possibilities for the organization as they move into the draft.
Drafting just to fill a need can be dangerous. Picking a player too early in the draft simply because he fills an area of need can lead to big problems, and set your team back in the long run. At the same time, I left last year’s draft questioning whether Ford and Gaines were that much better than every remaining receiver and offensive lineman when they were taken?
Thankfully, I should not have to ask that question in this year’s draft. Because the Chiefs have already taken the first steps in addressing their biggest areas of need, they are free to focus on taking the most gifted athlete available without neglecting the immediate needs of the team.
For instance, signing Jeremy Maclin did not just upgrade the receiver position. It also means that if all the top receivers are gone by the No. 18 pick (and they probably will be) there is no need to potentially reach on, say, Dorial Green-Beckham. Likewise, adding Ben Grubbs and Paul Fanaika to the roster means there is no need to panic if La’el Collins is already off the board.
If last year is good precedent, then Dorsey and Reid would not panic anyway. The difference this time is that not shoring up an area of need in the first couple of rounds does not mean that you have to rely on middle round, late round, or undrafted players to give you any shot at improving.
Yes, there is still work to be done. Dorsey has cut more pass catchers than he has added, and just because there are new o-linemen does not mean that Alex Smith can automatically start sleeping better at night. But he has already done more with this roster and limited cap room than I thought he could, or would.
Keep it up Mr. Dorsey. You are making me a believer.
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