To the surprise of many associated with the NFL a power play took place in Kansas City this week and ANDY REID won the battle by convincing Owner Clark Hunt that either he or GM JOHN DORSEY had to go, and that he (Reid) was clearly the more important man to keep. Mark this down as the first major mistake that the usually non-meddling, low profile HUNT has made. The problem CHIEFS fans is that in this man’s opinion he made the wrong choice.
Both REID and DORSEY were hired to take over the struggling CHIEFS in 2013. They had spent time together in Green Bay and many thought it was a happy marriage of two old “friends”. But the word “friends” is rather nebulous in pro football. The Chiefs were a clearly talented squad when REID/DORSEY took over, but the talent was under-achieving and the team was in Salary Cap trouble.
DORSEY and REID met the challenge head on and divested the team of some seriously overpaid and/or under-performing players. They seemed to be on the same page, overall, in purging that roster and within a couple of seasons they went from double-digit losses to Play-Off caliber. And in the 4 years that followed their hiring a deft combination of drafting and signing other people’s under-valued Free Agents (ala MITCHELL SCHWARTZ/OT) built a quality, yet sustainable roster in the Salary Cap world of the NFL.
But it began to appear as though DORSEY trusted his own eyes, and those of his scouting staff, a bit more than RIED did. It has been whispered that when DORSEY pulled the trigger on drafting troubled collegian MARCUS PETERS/CB/WASHINGTON in Round 1 of the 2015 Draft, REID. was not thrilled. PETERS is now a Pro-Bowler and one of the best CB in the NFL at age 24. TRAVIS KELCE/TE/Cincinnati was a 3rd Rounder in that first Draft of 2013. In fact DORSEY and the scouting staff added 12 starting players between 2013 & 2016 through the Draft.
Borrowing on his lessons learned under RON WOLF’s tenure as GM in Green Bay DORSEY has also been adept at finding Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (URFA) to fill out the Chiefs roster. Though he has believed in building the roster with home grown talent, DORSEY is not married to the Draft process as his only tool. Unlike another mentor of his, TED THOMPSON, Dorsey has not been afraid to sign other people’s players.
A week ago on the Chiefs roster of 90 there were 20 Rookies for 2017, 31 other players who started their NFL careers with the Chiefs through the Draft process. That’s 51 of 90 being “home grown” CHIEFS. Now to one of the more important numbers on their current roster that I expect to change now that ANDY REID is pretty much shopping for his own groceries, is the count of only 5 players 30 or older on that 90 man roster. This current roster is also built for the long term not just 2017.
Another lesson that DORSEY clearly learned from RON WOLF was the concept, as Wolf once put it in an interview after the press questioned one of his draftees for his off-field antics, that he was building a football team not a Boy Scout troop. In fact, a major perception of Dorsey held around league circles is that his best talent may be sitting down face to face with players of questionable backgrounds and coming away with a strong sense of who will work out and who will wash out. I refer to it as sifting out the pepper from the fly shit.
That talent was put to the test last season with the case of bad boy collegian DEREK HILL from last year’s Draft. It’s only one season, but if HILL continues to toe the mark as a person he could become one of the great picks of this decade in Round 5. It has been said that REID & DORSEY worked very sell together in this aspect of player evaluation.
I think that the CHIEFS will regret this week’s actions before REID has finished his 5-year contract extension. I respect ANDY REID as a football coach, but think that his legendary rep as a great guy, and a great coach may be prejudiced because of his personable nature with the press and fans, most of the time. But Mr. Hunt, let me ask you how many Super Bowl rings ANDY REID has as a Head Coach? This week’s developments remind me of the statement of another high profile NFL Head Coach who once proclaimed he wanted to be King of his organization and “shop for my own groceries”. How’d that work out for Big Bill?
As another side to this scenario I hope PACKERS Prez MARK MURPHY, can get his head out of franchise financial planning long enough to give some serious thought as to whether or not DORSEY might not represent the future of the PACKERS franchise. Can a respectful way be found to move an aging TED THOMPSON gracefully out of his current job, and set up DORSEY & ELIOT WOLF as the leaders of the Pack?
I don’t know the inner organizational workings well enough up in Green Bay to answer that question. But I certainly hope that MURPHY will make some phone calls and determine who and what is best for the PACKERS longer term.
A quick confession here. I know JOHN DORSEY a bit. He is the man who in the stands at a Senior Bowl practice gave me words of support and encouragement, more than a decade ago, to go after my dream of writing about the NFL and college football as a bit more than just a hobby. I spoke with a him few times at Packers Fan Days, when he played LB for the team. No he’s not a friend. Yes, I think I have a pretty good picture of who/what he is, but I cannot claim to be totally neutral in response to his being pushed aside by ANDY REID.
Let the Managers manage and let the coaches coach! That I do believe in, and today’s NFL is too big a business for one man to take over both jobs. And mark my words, the next GM in Kansas City is basically going to be a REID crony/protege’.