Nearly midway through last season, the Kansas City Chiefs were 4-3, tied for first place in the AFC West and shocking the National Football League.
Then all of a sudden, a harsh dose of reality kicked in. It smacked head coach Herman Edwards and general manager Carl Peterson square in the face.
The reality was, their team was too old, too slow and not talented enough to win games nevertheless compete with the elite teams in the league. So, a nine game losing streak to close the season sent shockwaves through Chiefs fans, which are as diehard as they come.
They were used to being contenders for the playoffs, never losing in hallowed Arrowhead Stadium. They were used to an offense that had no problem eclipsing 300 yards a game, not struggling to get to 200, a defense that rarely gave up the big play.
Last year’s team was everything the Chiefs weren’t for the last 15 years. Needless to say, a change was needed.
For so long, bringing in 32-year old veterans to patch up a position was the norm in K.C. Not anymore, however, as this past off-season the focus shifted to getting younger, faster and more talented in the off-season, which met more extensive focus on the draft.
The Chiefs had 13 picks in the draft and it appears at least five of them are going to start right away. Only one free agent was signed, linebacker Demarrio Williams, and he's only 28.
Edwards has had his fair share of critics, who categorize him as too conservative or unimaginative. But the one thing he can do is rebuild.
His track record speaks for itself:
In his time on staff in Tampa Bay with Tony Dungy, he was a part of franchise that went to the playoffs four out of five years, following 17 seasons of losing records. He was contributed to draft classes that included: Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber.
As head coach of the New York Jets, he took his teams to the playoffs in three out of five years, while drafting the likes of Jonathan Vilma, Santana Moss and Jerricho Cotchery.
It's too early to assume the Chiefs' 2008 draft of Glenn Dorsey, Brandon Albert and Brandon Flowers is going to stack up to those draft classes but at least the blueprint too success has been set.
Patience needs to be the theme of this year's team. It could very well be a 5 or 6 win team. But rest assured, the direction is clearly stated and the payoff could come as soon as next season, if certain pieces progress.
Three years from now, the organization may look back at this rebuilding project and see disappointment and no rewards from the "youth movement." But at least it was done the right way.