With the Bye Week behind us the Kansas City Chiefs are ready to move on and prepare for the Giants this coming Sunday in New York. While we’re all hoping that head coach Andy Reid has directed his staff to make the necessary changes to get the team over the hump of playoff failures which has plagued the team for decades, it’s clear that the team it in the midst of major transition.
Consider what has taken place since the team allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers to walk into Arrowhead last January and steal a two-point game out from under their noses.
- RB Jamaal Charles is wearing Denver blue.
- WR Jeremy Maclin is now in Baltimore.
- GM John Dorsey was fired.
- DT Dontari Poe is in Atlanta.
- DT Bennie Logan was signed to offset the loss of Poe.
- DT Jaye Howard is at large. .
- Players lost for the year: Eric Berry (Achilles injury), Spencer Ware (last years starting RB, is rehabbing both a PCL and an LCL on his right knee), WR Chris Conley (Achilles).
- The team actually drafted a first round QB in Patrick Mahomes II (K.C. traded away their 27th and 91st picks this year as well at their 1st round pick in 2018).
- Derrick Johnson is no longer Derrick Johnson… on the field.
- QB Alex Smith is no longer Alex Smith… on the field.
- The Chiefs Director of Football Operations, Chris Ballard, moved on to become the GM of the Indianapolis Colts.
- Vocal stylist, and OLB, Tamba Hali, is still on the roster, and has just made his season debut.
- RB Kareem Hunt is the new kid on the block and possible RoY (NFL Rookie of the Year). He’s presently the NFL’s rushing leader.
- K Cairo Santos was released and Harrison Butker was was nabbed (and his kicking has been KICKA$$).
- ILB’s in orbit around Ramik & Derrick: Reggie Ragland, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Ukeme Eligwe (drafted) were added, while DJ Alexander was traded to Seattle then Josh Mauga and Justin March-Lillard were released.
Injuries are part of the game, I get that. However, if I were to have told you in January that all of this transformation of the organization would have taken place by now, you’d likely have thought that the team had planned to call this a “Rebuilding” year.
This is not merely about changing faces either. The team’s on-field identity has flipped too. What has been a strength of the team, is now a weakness and what was once a weakness, is now the team’s bread-and-butter. I’m referring to the offense and the defense of course. They’ve totally traded places.
This changing of the guard has come at a cost to fans when you take into account what was popular about the team’s recent roster:
The Hungry Pig– although Dontari Poe came into the game on offense on only a few plays, he became a huge fan favorite, especially after getting into the end zone on a play that became known as the “Hungry Pig. Of course, watching the 345 lb. Poe go airborne to throw a TD was probably more astounding than seeing him play like he was Christian Okoye for one play.
The Mo-Beau, Jeremy Maclin– when the Chiefs signed WR Jeremy Maclin in March of 2015, it appeared to be a match made in heaven. Maclin had played his college ball at Missouri where he was a two-time All-American and he was born and raised in Missouri to boot, in Kirkwood, not far from St. Louis. So, when the Chiefs signed him, they not only got a #1 WR but the Chiefs HC Andy Reid had drafted him out of college while he was in Philly. Consequently, Maclin was already familiar with the offense and immediately made an on-field impact gaining 1,088 yards receiving on 87 catches.
JC Saves– Jamaal Charles was the face of the franchise for what seemed like a decade and watching him break off a long run and then pull away from the competition was as exciting a play as you’ll ever want to see from a Chiefs player. At least it was for me.
Cairo Santos Popularity- Santos was the first Brazilian born player in the NFL but more than that… I personally know of more than one female fan who listed Santos as their favorite player. Is it really a good idea to be disappointing the female population of Chiefs fans? [Honestly, I’m fine with it… Butker is really good!].
The Three Musketeers– Defensive Linemen, Jaye Howard, Allen Bailey and Dontari Poe, had named themselves the Three Musketeers and the three were good together… when they were all healthy.
The Dorse– Over the past four years, GM John Dorsey had helped rebuild a roster to one of the best in the league after the team had gone 2-and-14 in 2012. Dorsey was well liked by players and fans alike and there’s not a person I’ve talked to about his being fired who wasn’t shocked when it happened.
I recall the first year that John Dorsey was in the front office. The change-rate was exciting to see since the team was so bad and Clark Hunt had kept so much of his cap space which Dorsey was able to use to turn the team around quickly. Making the playoffs that first year was an amazing accomplishment, even though they lost 45-to-44 to the Andrew Luck-y Colts.
With a new Head Coach and a new GM, players expected things to change. Now, a year with that much change… that quickly… can also look like a bit of a mirage. It’s not a very good template for building for the future years… and yet, it’s almost as if that’s what the Chiefs have done again this year.
The problem with that much change, that fast, is that it can cause some blow back for the people left behind. Have you ever heard of “Change Saturation?” It’s defined like this:
“Change saturation occurs when there is so much change going on that it negatively impacts individuals and the organization.”
That much change, in the space of one calendar year, can become antithetical to developing the feeling of community: the concept of “team.” If you want your players to feel “a part of” something special but in the meantime you keep changing the cast of characters… you see the problem.
Players come into the league being told up front that, “it’s a business” so, they shouldn’t be surprised when they are informed that it’s their time to go. The problem is, just because players realize that, it doesn’t mean that it’s good for the team. This may also be why so many players are seen after games, exchanging jerseys: because in a certain sense, “the NFL is their team.” Where else can young men make $500K or more in one year? Those jobs just don’t exist outside of a pro sport like football.
The Bye Week is a time when many have suggestions about how to “fix” the team. Perhaps what the “team” needs more than anything right now is the cohesion that can come when “no changes” are made. On one hand, I’m in favor of bringing Jaye Howard back… and I think the signing of CB Will Redmond (who played on the same defense with Chris Jones at Mississippi State) was a good move… but, the best moves right now, may be the moves they don’t make at all.
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