Tom Brady and the
K.C. Chiefs in Contrast
The Kansas City Chiefs are not going to the Super Bowl this year. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are. Why bring that up? Because over the past 16 seasons or so, Tom Brady and the Chiefs have had a dubious connection. A connection worth reflection and besides, if you really want to hold the K.C. ownership feet to the fire, you need to take the long view, not just get transfixed on the failures of this past season. That’s right, failures. Yes, the team is on a 23-6 roll but they are also 1-and-3 in the playoffs the past four seasons under Andy Reid. You know who’s not 1-and-3 in the past four years in the playoffs? That’s right, Tom Brady. He’s also 7-and-2 in the playoffs the past four years, which is another good reason to compare and contrast the Chiefs and Brady. If you don’t hold yourself up to the best and take an X-ray, how can you ever hope to heal what’s broken inside?
In the year 2000 (images of Conan O’Brien with a flashlight shining up his face), were coached by Gunther Cunningham. The team had spent the previous decade under Marty Schottenheimer and then Cunningham for two seasons but he finished 16-and-16 in two years under Gunther and his tenure came to an abrupt end. In the draft, the Chiefs took Dante Hall in the 5th round as well as a group of mostly forgettable players like: WR Sylvester Morris, CB William Bartee, SS Greg Wesley, RB Frank Moreau, CB Pat Dennis, T Darnell Alford and WR Desmond Kitchings. What is notable about that draft class is that all the players the Chiefs selected that year — except for Kitchings — came BEFORE the New England Patriots selected one Mr. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. who is arguably the best quarterback in the history of the NFL. You can probably thank GM Carl Peterson for that lapse.
In the year 2001, Kansas City brought Dick Vermeil to town to be the head coach. Vermeil had just taken the St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl and won it in 1999 so Chiefs fans hopes were high. That same season, Tom Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe and then led the Patriots to their first Super Bowl victory over… none other than Vermeil’s ex-team, the St. Louis Rams. The Chiefs finished 6-10 in their first year under Vermeil. Notables: the Pats drafted DT Richard Seymour #6 overall and OL Matt Light #48. The Chiefs drafted DT Eric Downing #75, Monty Beisel #107 and RB Derrick Blaylock #150.
In the year 2002, the Chiefs went 8-8 but made some obvious progress. The Chiefs RB Priest Homes won the Offensive Player of the Year Award. 1615 yards rushing. 21 TDs. 672 yards receiving. 3 receiving TDs. Holmes simply was the best in the league that year and it didn’t hurt that he had the best OL in the league in front of him… and then mostly behind him. The Offensive Player of the Year Award was an award that Tom Brady would not win for five more years (2007). The Patriots finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs, which was something that has only happened one other time since then (2008). The Chiefs had something to do with that too. Notables: Pats drafted TE Daniel Graham #21, WR Deion Branch #66 and WRDavid Givens #253. The Chiefs drafted DT Ryan Sims #6 and Eddie Freeman #43.
In the year 2003, the Chiefs placed nine players in the Pro Bowl. ESPN analyst, and ex-QB, Ron Jaworski, repeatedly carried a red covered notebook onto the set and pounded it claiming, “This is the year the Chiefs win the Super Bowl and here’s the playbook.” The New England Patriots won their second Super Bowl that year and Kansas City defense was the reason they lost in the divisional round to the Indianapolis Colts 38-31. Trent Green, Priest Holmes, Tony Gonzales and the all-world OL that included Wille Roaf, Brian Waters, and Will Shields but they couldn’t out-duel Peyton Manning’s Colts. 2003 was also the year that head coach Dick Vermeil traded away the 16th pick in the draft because he thought there wasn’t a defensive player worth selecting there. The Chiefs took RB Larry Johnson with the 27th pick in the draft and the Pittsburgh Steelers — the team Vermeil traded with — selected Troy Polamalu 16th overall. Notables: The Pats had a huge draft: DT Ty Warren #13, CB Eugene Wilson #36, Bethel Johnson #45, DT Dan Klecko #117, CB Asante Samuel #120 and C Dan Koppen #164. The Chiefs drafted, RB Larry Johnson #27, MLB Kawika Mitchell #47, CB Julian Battle #92, G Jordan Balck #153, DE Jimmy Wilkerson #189.
In the year 2004, Kansas City descended to a 7-9 record and finished 3rd in the AFC West. The Chiefs hosted the New England Patriots on November 22nd that year and the largest Arrowhead crowd of the season, 78,431, watch them lose to the Pats 27-19. Brady was 17-29 for 315 yards and one TD and his second-highest passer rating of the season at 119.1. That became the Chiefs 7th loss of the year leaving them at 3-7 and essentially pushing them out of the playoffs. The Patriots finished the season 14-2 and won the Super Bowl again for the 3rd time in four years. Notables: Pats- DT Vince Wilfork #21, TE Benjamin Watson #32. The Chiefs selected- DT Junior Siavii #36 and DE Jared Allen #126.
In the year 2005, the Chiefs drafted LB Derrick Johnson and brought in LB Kendrell Bell, S Sammy Knight and CB Patrick Surtain to help shore up the defense. However, it was too little, too late and they finished 10-6, second place in the AFC West and out of the playoffs and sealing Dick Vermeil’s fate. Kansas City fans will remember the season more because Vermeil’s diaper-dandy RB Larry Johnson had 1,750 rushing yards but he accomplished that in only nine starts after RB Priest Holmes went down with an injury. Worth noting: little known small college ILB Conner Harris from Lindenwood set the NCAA record for career tackles this year breaking the record of a former Chief who was drafted by them in the 5th round, Boomer Grigsby. The Patriots lost in the second round of the playoffs but also drafted Matt Cassel, backup to the stars, who came to play a role in the QB continuing connection between the Pats and the Chiefs. CB Ty Law was also released that year and after one year of playing for the Jets joined the Chiefs. Notables: Pats- OT Logan Mankins #32, CB Ellis Hobbs #86, OT Nick Kaczur #100, S James Sanders #133 and QB Matt Cassel #230. The Chiefs drafted ILB Derrick Johnson #16, P Distin Colquitt #99,
In the year 2006, Herm Edwards came on board bringing with him Ty Law who had just played a year for his Jets. While Edwards had his drawbacks as a head coach, he drafted a number of excellent players: Tamba Hali, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Branden Albert, Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. For the Patriots, 2006 was the season that the Indianapolis Colts Peyton Manning broke through and beat them in the Conference Championship game then went on to win his first Super Bowl title. Notables: The Patriots drafted- Laurence Maroney #21, K Stephen Gostkowski #118. K.C. drafted- DE Tamba Hali #21, S Bernard Pollard #54, DB Jarred Page #228.
The organization also lost owner and founder Lamar Hunt on December 13, 2006.
In the year 2007, Tom Brady was the not only the Offensive Player of the Year but the NFL MVP. The Pats went 16-0 but lost to the N.Y. Giants in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs went 4-12 and sent TE Tony Gonzales and DE Jared Allen to Hawaii. At 4-and-12 it was the beginning of the end adn the writing was on the wall the following season for head coach Herman Edwards who was about to begin his most successful career of all as an ESPN analyst. Notables: the Patriots made Brandon Meriweather the 21st pick of the draft and the rest of their picks were a wash. However, they traded away 2nd and 7th round picks to Miami for a little WR named Wes Welker. Welker was the beginning of a small-quick-WR trend the Pats began with that trade. The Chiefs drafted WR Dwayne Bowe at #23, DE Turk McBraide #54 who the Chiefs got 25 games out of before moving on.
In the year 2008, head coach Herman Edwards led the Chiefs to a 2-and-14 record which got him his walking papers. However, the low point for the Chiefs in the past 16 years was also a low point for Tom Brady as well. While facing the Chiefs in their home opener Bernard Pollard was blitzing up the middle and stopped five yards short of Brady who was stepping forward into the open pocket to make a long throw when Pollard crawled under his blocker and grabbed Brady’s leg as he was planting his foot resulting in a season-ending ACL injury. That injury had significance in other ways when the season ended. Patriots backup QB Matt Cassel was cast into the starting role and while he led the team to an 11-and-5 record they finished out of the playoffs. When the Chiefs season ended, Lamar Hunt’s son, Clark Hunt was left with his first big decision because, president and general manager, Carl Peterson was leaving Kansas City too. When the young and inexperienced Hunt decided to hire ex-Patriot personnel man Scott Pioli as his general manager, it took him four years to learn the Patriot way was the wrong way. Pioli brought in Todd Haley to be the head coach and then traded for Matt Cassel to serve as the Chiefs QB for the next four seasons which produced one playoff loss. The Chiefs record in 2009 was 4-and-12. Notables: LB Jarod Mayo #10, WR Mathew Slater #153. Chiefs- DT Glenn Dorsey #5, OT Branden Albert, #15, CB Brandon Flowers #35, RB Jamaal Charles #73, CB Brandon Carr, #140, OT Bary Richardson #170.
In the year 2009, the Chiefs first season under GM Scott Pioli, it became obvious early on that the magic that he’d experienced under Bill Belichick — and Tom Brady — wasn’t going to work in K.C. It also became clear that he and head coach Todd Haley were like oil and water. The defense’s conversion from a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4, didn’t work well with the available personnel either and although fans had hope that Matt Cassel would be a good QB his performances were too up and down and the team finished 4-12. The Patriots finished 10-6, made the playoffs but lost in the Wildcard game to the Ravens. Notables: Chiefs- DE Tyson Jackson #3 and Ryan Succop #256. Pats- S, Patrick Chung #34, OT Sebastian Vollmer #58, WR/QB Julian Edelman.
In the year 2010, the Chiefs finished 10-and-6, was 1st in the AFC West but lost to the Ravens in the playoffs at Arrowhead. There huge jump in the standings created new expectations for fans adn players that didn’t last long. The Patriots ended up 14-and-2, 1st in the AFC East but exited the playoffs in a loss to the Miami Dolphins in the divisional round. The Patriots brought in Randy Moss and Tom Brady had 335 straight pass attempts without an interception. Notables: S Eric Berry #5, WR/RB/KR Dexter McCluster #36, DB Javier Arenas #50, OG Jon Asamoah #68, TE Tony Moeaki #93, and S Kendrick Lewis #136. Pats- CB Devon McCourty, Rob Gronkowski #42, LB Brandon Spikes #62 and Aaron Hernandez #113.
In the year 2011, the Chiefs went 7-and-9 and finished 4th in the AFC West taking a step backward. New England was 13-and-3, placed 8 players in the Pro Bowl and played in the Super Bowl but lost to the New York Giants. Notables: Pats- OT Nate Solder #17, RB Shane Vereen #56, RB Steven Ridley #73, QB Ryan Mallet #74. Chiefs- WR Jonathan Baldwin #26, C Rodney Hudson #55, Justin Houston #70, DE Allen Bailey #86,
In the year 2012, the season was over, long before the season was over, when they ended 2-14. A local group started the “save Our Chiefs” organization. Todd Haley was fired mid-stream the previous season and Romeo Crennel took over as head coach. On December 1, 2012, Chiefs ILB Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and drove to Arrowhead then shot and killed himself in front coach Crennel and GM Scott Pioli. A month later both of them were fired and owner Clark Hunt was hiring his second GM. Hunt reorganized the team structure by hiring HC Andy Reid first then new GM John Dorsey in that order while having them both report directly to him. In the meantime, the New England Patriots went 12-and-4, beat the Texans in the divisional round then lost to the Ravens in the AFC Championship game. Notables: Chiefs- NT Dontari Poe #11, OG/OT Jeff Allen #44, OT Donald Stephenson #74, WR Junior Hemingway #238. Pats- DE Chandler Jones #21, and LB Dont’a Hightower #25.
In the year 2013, Andy Reid’s first season, the team went 11-and-5, and finished 2nd in the AFC West, K.C placed ten players in the Pro Bowl and lost a heartbreaker to the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs 45-to-44. New England went 12-and-4, finished 1st in the AFC West, beat the Colts in the divisional round then lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship. Notables: LT Eric Fisher #1, TE Travis Kelce #63, and RB Knile Davis #96. Pats- LB Jamie Collins #52, Cb Logan Ryan #83, WR Josh Boyce #102. N.E also traded for LeGarrette Blount.
In the year 2014, the Chiefs went 9-and-7, took a step backward, finished 2nd in the AFC West and didn’t make the playoffs. Tom Brady and the Patriots went 12-and-4 then won out in the playoffs winning the Super Bowl on a strange call by the Seattle Seahawks at the goal line. Notables: Chiefs- OLB Dee Ford #23, Cb Phillip Gaines #87, WR/KRDe’Anthony Thomas #124, OG Zach Fulton #193, and OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif #200. Pats- OL Brain Stork #105.
In the year 2015, the Chiefs went 11-and-5, beat the Houston Texans in Houston in the playoffs then lost to the New England Patriots in New England 27-to-20. The Chiefs had an 11 game winning streak counting their playoff victory. The playoff victory was their first one in 21 years. The Patriots were 12-and-4, finished 1st in the AFC East but lost to the Broncos in the AFC Championship game. Notables: Chiefs- CB Marcus Peters #18, C Mitch Morse #49, WR Chris Conley #76, ST D.J. Alexander #172. Pats- CB Cyrus Jones #60 and OG Joe Thuney #78.
In the year 2016, the Chiefs went 12-and-4 but exited the playoffs at home in a divisional game. The Patriots are in the Super Bowl, again.
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While completing this timeline I had the realization that the Kansas City Chiefs organization has gone through a tremendous amount of turnover and change from top to bottom in the past 16 years while the New England Patriots have had the same owner, same coach, same future hof QB, and although their lesser coaches and personnel people have come and gone, their loyalty and legacy are the strongest of any in the game today… and perhaps over any 16 year period in the history of the NFL. The one thing the Chiefs appear to have going for them is their continuity. By keeping — the same owner, head coach, general manager (for now) and key players — in place, the organization can take steps forward we haven’t seen them take since the 1960s. And since I was around to see them in the 1960s, I can tell you that’s a good thing.
Lastly, when I look back over the drafts of both the Patriots and the Chiefs, the “margin of better” is slight. The Pats have had some very good years and so have the Chiefs. The Chiefs have had some horrible drafts but so have the Patriots. The difference is, 1) are the players being drafted being placed in a position to win and 2) are the players sticking around to realize the vision? The Chiefs changing defensive schemes the year after Herm Edwards chose Glenn Dorsey to be one of his DTs made it difficult for Dorsey to thrive. That’s why placing players in a position for them to thrive is so important. Had Clark Hunt taken his time and made a better hire at in 2009, that may not have happened to Glenn Dorsey.
What do you think Chiefs fans?