Often times in life, the hardest thing to do is start. Whether it is homework, losing weight or quitting smoking, the beginning is the hardest part. You need to learn how to do it, and every fiber of your being has to learn along with you. It’s brutal.
For the Kansas City Chiefs, they had to start. The Chiefs had been a miserable franchise for almost a decade before the arrivals of general manager John Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid. In their first year together, the team finally shed the loser label to an extent, going 11-5. However, all those good vibes were washed away with a humiliating defeat in the Wild Card round.
The following year began with an 0-2 start, followed by Kansas City winning seven of its next eight, including wins over the eventual Super Bowl participants, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. It seemed the Chiefs had learned how to win. Then, they lost to the 0-10 record and skidded at the end, going 9-7 and missing the playoffs.
In 2015, Kansas City finally learned. The Chiefs began 1-5 and lost Jamaal Charles, only to come roaring back. They summoned up the heart that nobody believed they had to form an improbable 11-game winning streak, including the franchise’s first playoff win in 22 years. Had Kansas City lost in the playoffs to the Houston Texans, this column would never have been written. Instead, the Chiefs routed Houston, 30-0.
Despite the following loss to the Patriots, 27-20, the Chiefs have shown us they finally get it. They understand what it is to be a winner. They have done the hardest part of this journey. They have started.
Now, Dorsey must do the hardest part of his job. He has to finish.
Dorsey took over a team with some terrific talent but absolutely no depth. He has done a tremendous job of backfilling the roster while adding quality starters across the board, from Ron Parker and Mitch Morse to Marcus Peters and Jeremy Maclin. He has transformed the roster from a bottom-feeding group to one of the best in the game.
Yet, Dorsey finds himself and his team a few pieces away from a Super Bowl. Once could argue that had Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Ben Grubbs, Phillip Gaines, Charles and Maclin had been healthy, the Chiefs could have won the whole thing this year. But that is not the way the NFL works, and your roster must be able to keep going without.
Dorsey is knocking on the proverbial door, the thought of winning the Super Bowl has to be keeping him awake at night. The Chiefs have not been this close since the Marty Schottenheimer era, and arguably the Hank Stram years. Kansas City has ample talent, but Dorsey might find a way to keep most of his free agents while adding one or two more critical components.
The team has overcome the hardest part of its journey. It’s front office, led by Dorsey, must do the same.