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Coogs
07-21-2008, 10:18 AM
This was in yesterdays Star edition. I didn't see it posted, so I thought I would put it up. I love the part by Donnie Edwards and Billick at the end of the article.


Building for future is Chiefs’ main concern this season
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star


You won’t hear it said anywhere at Arrowhead Stadium — administrative wing, coaching offices, locker room — that this Chiefs season is about anything but winning.

And why would they? Other teams have made quicker, more astounding turnarounds.

But realistically, the expectations are quite different. That, too, is in order for a team in the beginning stages of a massive rebuilding phase.

The Chiefs, who open training camp on Friday at their summer home at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, abruptly moved from one of the NFL’s oldest teams to one of its youngest. They could have as many as seven players making their first NFL start when the season begins Sept. 7 against the Patriots in New England.

Such an enormous emphasis on youth is not the typical formula for immediate success. That’s why, public proclamations not withstanding, there’s a quiet understanding that 2008 is about more than the win-loss record.

It’s about building something substantial for 2009 and beyond.

“You never want to give in to this as a team, but wins and losses are almost immaterial when you’re going through something like what Kansas City is going through,” former Baltimore coach Brian Billick said. “That’s not the measuring stick, not when you’re going with so many young players. You have to have a longer-term view.

“You need to show you’re making progress. That may not show up in terms of wins and losses because you’re playing so many rookies. But you need to see that all of these young players that you’re using are getting better. That’s what’s important in a season like this.”

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt set the tone shortly after the end of last season. The Chiefs lost their final nine games and finished 4-12, their worst record since 1978.

In declaring a new era for the Chiefs, one in which they would place a greater emphasis on the draft, Hunt said he hoped for a playoff contender this season.

His expectations were different: a team better in December than September, a team far more dangerous on offense, a team preparing itself to make a strong playoff run in 2009.

What he seemed to be saying: If Brodie Croyle, Glenn Dorsey, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers and some of the other key young players are developing quickly enough that 2009 looks bright, a five- or six-win season might be tolerable.

But if most of the young players aren’t developing and the Chiefs somehow find a way to win, say, eight games, the season is still an unsuccessful one.

Coach Herm Edwards isn’t willing to sacrifice this season in return for a brighter future. Another 4-12 season could put him out of a job.

But with a young quarterback in Croyle, a retooled offensive line with three new starters and a defense that will start at least two rookies, he also understands the reality.

“Making the playoffs is one of our goals,” Edwards said. “There’s no doubt about that. But we also need to continue to get better as the season goes. Regardless of whether we’re in the playoffs or if we fall short of the playoffs, we have to make sure we’re going in the right direction. That’s what you want.

“We’re going to set certain expectations for our football team. One of them is to create a home-field advantage and learn how to win at home. We didn’t do a good enough job of that last year. We’ve also got to finish games better than we did last year. We’ve got to be mentally tough enough to win some of those close games that we lost last year.”

While the Chiefs will be inexperienced, they should be more talented than last season. They made 12 draft picks, including two in the first round, one in the second and three in the third. Those six players plus at least one additional draft pick will be asked to play a significant immediate role.

That’s one reason the Chiefs are reluctant to make any predictions.

“You really don’t know what you have until you start working together,” linebacker Donnie Edwards said. “I always go into every season very optimistic because you never know how things are going to pan out.

“It’s weird because before I signed with the Chiefs last year, I talked to the Packers. They were a young team. They might have been the youngest team in the league. It didn’t matter to them. They turned it around and went to the championship game. So you really never know what you have until you have a chance to get your team together.”

Edwards played with the Chargers in 2003 and 2004 when they followed a 4-12 season with a 12-4 team that won the AFC West.

“Who knew that was going to happen?” he said. “That was the year we got rid of Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison. We didn’t know what kind of team we were going to have, but we went out there and started playing and playing together.

“So I’m not going to say it can’t happen to us. Sometimes if you have the right elements there and enough guys that want to compete, you can make a season what you want to make it. If you get the young guys into the right mind-set and get them going into the right direction, that can make a lot of difference. Sometimes it’s a lot easier when everybody doesn’t have those high expectations for you.”

Billick coached Baltimore to the Super Bowl championship in the 2000 season. Two years later, salary-cap problems forced the Ravens into a youth movement similar to the one the Chiefs are using.

“It was a great year,” Billick said. “It was an enjoyable year. The young guys didn’t know they weren’t supposed to be any good. We went 7-9, which is not great. But up until the last couple of games, which we lost, we had a chance to make the playoffs. You all recognize what it is you’re going through but that doesn’t mean you don’t go into every single game expecting to win and expecting to surprise people.

“It was enjoyable as a coaching staff. It was pure teaching. You never stopped to wonder whether you should cover something. You covered it. These guys didn’t know where the airport is, where the bathroom is, where the dining hall is. You have to go into it with that kind of mentality.”

By 2003, the Ravens were division champions and in the playoffs. It’s too early to say whether the Chiefs will follow the pattern, but that’s their plan.

“It’s very clear-cut what they’re doing there in Kansas City,” Billick said. “It’s probably a good strategy, but it’s only good for one year. You’d better make sure you’re better off for it the following year.”

BigChiefFan
07-21-2008, 10:26 AM
Looks like Herm maybe without a job after the season, because I really don't see the team winning many games. I sure as Hell, don't see us making a push for the playoffs.

SNR
07-21-2008, 10:31 AM
“It’s weird because before I signed with the Chiefs last year, I talked to the Packers. They were a young team. They might have been the youngest team in the league. It didn’t matter to them. They turned it around and went to the championship game. So you really never know what you have until you have a chance to get your team together.”

Edwards played with the Chargers in 2003 and 2004 when they followed a 4-12 season with a 12-4 team that won the AFC West.

“Who knew that was going to happen?” he said. “That was the year we got rid of Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison. We didn’t know what kind of team we were going to have, but we went out there and started playing and playing together.
I disagree with Donnie here. The Packers turned out a 4-12 season TWO years before Donnie thought about signing with them and that actually was their rebuilding year. The year after they went 8-8 and showed the improvement necessary to demonstrate that the rebuild worked. It wasn't until the year AFTER that they won the NFC North and went to the championship game.

And God, in San Diego every year was a rebuilding year. They had stock piled so much talent it wasn't even funny. It was only a matter of time before they started playing good football, and it happened when Drew Brees started playing like a real QB. Surprising? Shouldn't be.

If this is stage one of the rebuild for Kansas City, we're still up shit creek for this season, and probably won't be able to expect more than 5 wins until 2009. THEN maybe after that we have the opportunity to make something happen. Also, those teams were playing with good QBs. If Brodie doesn't pan out, that's a whole 'nother ball of shit we've got to get sorted out to make the pieces come together.