Kansas City Chiefs, Year 3: The importance of continuity

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The Kansas City Chiefs are taxiing onto the tarmac and preparing for takeoff in the third year of the John Dorsey–Andy Reid administration. The tandem has orchestrated the best two-year start of any regime in franchise history. Marty Schottenheimer is the last Chiefs head coach to go into his third season with real momentum. He fielded a competitive team his first two years at the helm.

Those Schottenheimer-led teams went on to five consecutive postseason appearances (six, if you count the 1990 season). One prime factor in those early-’90s teams was continuity of staff and key personnel. Stability has returned to Arrowhead Stadium, but can the new-look Kansas City Chiefs be flirting with the same kind of perennial success?

Alex Smith can attest to the perils of a revolving door at head coach. He had four over the eight seasons he spent in San Francisco. If that weren’t enough, Smith also had to contend with six different offensive coordinators. I’ll do you one better: What if I told you he alternated between the West Coast and Air Coryell systems every year, his first four seasons as the 49ers’ starter?

Smith never got a chance to settle into one system, and get this — a different offensive coordinator was running the show in each of those seasons. Even his most virulent detractors have to acknowledge that he was in no position to succeed early in his career. The 2015 season will be his first opportunity, since being drafted, to log three consecutive seasons in the same system, under the same head coach and offensive coordinator.

Dwayne Bowe also knows the downside of constant change within an organization. During his time in Kansas City, he played under four head coaches and seven offensive coordinators. What’s perhaps more striking are the half-dozen men who threw Bowe the football over an eight-year stretch. Maybe only a pair of them were bona fide NFL starters. Such offensive flux certainly contributed to Bowe’s inconsistent play over the years.

I cannot say to what degree, but receivers and quarterbacks commonly start working together four months in advance of the regular season to get their timing down. The need for symbiosis between signal callers and wideouts is well-documented in professional football and it was woefully absent from One Arrowhead Drive for most of his Chiefs tenure.

Next: More on continuity...