Building A Contender … Friday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s the NFL – the Not For Long League.

More than once we’ve heard both GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley talk about how they were working to build an NFL franchise that would compete for Super Bowl championships on a yearly basis for many years. They are not going about their business trying to catching lightning in a bottle and getting one chance to win a title. They want a whole bunch of bottles filled year after year with champagne to celebrate victories in the final game of the season.

Of course, Chiefs fans have waited a long time now for a return to a championship, so they just want a team to play in the month of February. How that team gets there and how many times they go really doesn’t matter at this point to the red and gold nation.

But it should. Over the last two weeks, the Chiefs have and will face a pair of Super Bowl teams that made one visit to the ultimate football stage and have since fallen on hard times and haven’t come close to returning for another chance at the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Last Sunday it was the Arizona Cardinals, who played in the NFL title game after the 2008 season, just two years ago. This year the Cardinals are 3-7 and since their loss in Super Bowl XLIII they are 14-14.

This Sunday the Chiefs face the Seattle Seahawks, who played in Super Bowl XL after the 2005 season. The Hawks are 5-5 this season and since losing to the Steelers at Ford Field in Detroit they have posted a 35-43 record.

Those appearances were the first time either franchise made the Super Bowl. It was the first time the Seahawks made the NFL championship game at any point.

The league is built on parity, but based on what they’ve shown this season it’s unlikely that either one of these teams will find its way to a Super Bowl any time soon.

So while Pioli and Haley want to build something that lasts, when the opportunity presents itself, an NFL team must pounce. In a league where the only constant is change, there’s so little momentum from one year to the next. Too many things get shuffled in the league’s landscape each year and it’s darn near impossible to carry over one season’s success to the next year.

“I think this time of year is when teams are defining themselves because each and every year starts brand new,” said head coach Todd Haley. “There’s no carry over from the year before, whether you’re a good team, a bad team, or in between. The process we go through defines what our team’s going to be and we’re right in the middle of that grind.

“Teams that can grind it out and win some games like this make the aches and pains not hurt quite so bad and that’s the secret to becoming a good team. You win some of these and you start feeling better. We’re just trying to keep moving forward, making progress.”

And they are trying to make something of this 2010 season before the pieces of the season float away and the franchise has to be reconstituted in 2011. With a rebuilding team, there is some carry over in the lessons learned from one year to the next, but the league has a funny way of re-shuffling the deck every year. Player movement, coaching movement, they can all very quickly change the chemistry of a football team.

Take the Arizona Cardinals, a team that Haley obviously knows well from his two seasons there as offensive coordinator (2007-08). Of the 53 players that were available for the Super Bowl, only 19 remain just 28 games later. That includes nine starters from the title game.

But gone are QB Kurt Warner (retirement), WR Anquan Boldin (free agency), RB Edgerrin James (released), DE Anthony Smith (free agency), FS Antrel Rolle (free agency), DE Travis LaBoy (free agency), DE Bertrand Berry (retirement).

The Cardinals drafted to replace Warner, but Matt Leinart did not work out and he too is gone. They grabbed Beanie Wells to take over for Edgerrin James, and Wells has been largely injured. Defensively they have not drafted well enough to replace any of their defensive talent that was lost. When Rolle left, they simply signed another free agent at free safety in Kerry Rhodes.

There were also changes in the Arizona coaching staff after the Super Bowl, as Haley was hired as head coach of the Chiefs and the Cardinals defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was fired.

Last year, Arizona won the NFC West and made it into the playoffs. But there will be no post-season for the Cardinals this season, even though they play in the league’s worst division.

Seattle’s appearance in the 40th Super Bowl came near the end of a four-year stretch where the Seahawks were making the playoffs every year and winning games under then-head coach Mike Holmgren.

The team that will play the Chiefs this Sunday has just seven players who were on the 53-man roster for the Super Bowl. That includes five starters, led by starting QB Matt Hasselbeck. Some of the key players in that season for the Seahawks scattered pretty quickly. LT Walter Jones (retired), LG Steve Hutchinson (free agency), WR Bobby Engram (free agency), RB Shaun Alexander (released) and LB Leroy Hill (injured-reserve list).

Just this year in the NFL Draft the Seahawks got around to replacing Jones by drafting Russell Okung in the first round. The addition of LB Aaron Curry last year in the Draft was an attempt to add much needed defensive help.

New coach Pete Carroll has this year’s Seahawks at 5-5 while doing a major sand blast on the roster with 30 of the 53 players this week having been added this year.

It can take a long time for a franchise to reach a Super Bowl. For the Cardinals it was 62 years from losing the 1948 NFL Championship Game to falling in the Super Bowl. For the Seahawks it was 30 seasons of play to reach No. 1.

As long as it takes to overcome the hurdles, the opportunity can be gone in a blink of an eye.


  • NFL – fined Titans LB Will Witherspoon $40,000 for a hit last Sunday on Redskins QB Donovan McNabb.
  • PATRIOTS – signed RB Danny Woodhead to a contract extension through the 2012 season. He received a $425,000 signing bonus.

7 Responses to “Building A Contender … Friday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 26, 2010  - mike says:

    Talk about stating the obvious! I don’t think you need to tell any of us long time Chief fans about lightning in a bottle. The recipe for long time success in this league starts with a difference maker at quarterback. We still don’t know if we have that. Look at all the teams who have a chance every year and that is the one thing they all have in common. It also helps to have an exceptional evaluater of talent and it looks like we may have that in place. I can’t speak for all Chief fans, but I am glad to at least see progress. Having said that, we have a very long road ahead before we can even speak about being one of the consistent play-off teams. Just stating the obvious- just like Bob.

  • November 26, 2010  - TDKC says:

    The Chiefs face more than a pair of SB one and dones. What about the raiders?

  • November 26, 2010  - el cid says:

    Funny how we all read what we want in articles? We all want the Chiefs to be a team for the ages. A team all fear or love but dominate in every game. How are they going to get there is the real question. Pioli want 4-5 years to build his version of a dynasty and a minority of us, me and sometimes Bob (i think), continue to point out the NFL stands for not for long and the Chiefs need to put it together quicker and strike when the stars align and the team can succeed.

    Well time will tell, either way we have our Chiefs and this site to argue with and about. (Still believe I am correct, win now and let the dynasties follow, if we had only gotten a WR and not wasted the ’09 draft on guys like Jackson, LOL) Just have a good holiday season for 2010.

  • November 26, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Scott Pioli has stated many times previously that he wants to put a championship caliber team on the field every Sunday, every Season, year after year.

    The KC Chiefs were king of the AFL/AFC through the 1971 season. I have no doubt that Scott Pioli wants to bring the kingdom back to KC. I think he has the talent, the drive & the ability to do so. Lamar Hunt as we all know was the driving force that created the AFL. Each year the Lamar Hunt trophy is awarded to the AFC Champion. What would be more fitting or satisfying to Scott Pioli than to have a dozen or so of those trophies along with a few Lombardi’s lined up in a display case at Arrowhead.

    Granted we really don’t know Scott Pioli very well. He’s still a mystery of sorts. I can say this. Every time I read or hear something about him. It is optimistic, well said and often times intelligent. He is consistently a step ahead of us in all things Chiefs related. Remember the initial response we all had in this years draft. I was pissed and thought he was going off the deep end.

    Scott Pioli is bringing back the Lombardi to the midwest… To it’s rightful place. To the City where it all began. Where Legends and Hall of Famers abound. I really want to participate in his destiny. I really want to believe the last 40 seasons of disappointment and futility are behind us.

    That being said. It really does’nt sound that far fetched to me. It really should’nt to you either.
    Go Chiefs.

  • November 26, 2010  - RW says:

    Given the W-L 2010 record, the Chief’s train is heading in the right direction. If getting to the top rung of NFL franchises is the goal, this has to be half the fun right now? Staying there is another matter and far more daunting a task.

    To me, the keys have to the consistency, continuity and acquiring top talent through FA, the draft or trades. It’s important then to keep the core players and coaches, that the owner and GM be as one in their commitment to the goal.

    Mainly, it’s about being consistent. Just as it is in life.

  • November 26, 2010  - Edward says:

    Agreed Jimbo. This team is far ahead of most fans and media expectations so no question the arrow is finally pointing up for the franchise. As for Pioli I think we’re a few pieces away from being a real Super Bowl contender. It starts though with us making it this yr though to gain some playoff experience. As for QB situation I think we have the right guy. Anytime you been through what this guy has been through wondering whether you’ll ever get a chance to play. Most people in his situation would’ve gave up on their dream and decided to do something else this guy kept fighting and has perservered. I think any guy that can overcome the odds like this guy has overcome can definately lead a team to a Super Bowl. It takes a special person to keep fighting when odds are against you and that type of person can lead my team any day because in order to win championship you have to have someone who can defy the odds. Much like Warner did for the Rams.

  • November 27, 2010  - Jonathan says:

    Jimbo you are right about how the Chiefs of the early days were successful. Both Lamar and Hank had excellent drafts and they were able to produce great teams. However after the 71 season when Hank was given control of the draft the Chiefs had some really poor drafts that set them back. Also, Lamar let Steadman get involved in the football operation which set KC back even further. Carl and Marty did a good job in the early 90s but I think Carl got caught up in being in control which knocked the Chiefs off course.

    Pioli and Haley have an idea of where this is going and they have done an excellent job so far as Clark has given them control of the football operations and he seems like the type of owner who won’t be as patient as his dad. It seems like the fans want a winner immediately and whenever the Chiefs lose then they get mad at both of them. Pioli has said the plan will change as everything evolves in terms of talent but give him time. Many people didn’t believe the Chiefs would be as good this quickly. When they win (I believe they will hold off San Diego) the AFC West this year look for more excitement to follow.

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