Kansas City, Mo. Zach Thomas wants to be clear: He did not come to Kansas City to rebuild.
The seven-time Pro Bowler linebacker acknowledges a team that won only two games has talent issues, possibly entire position groups in need of overhaul. But Thomas signed a free-agent contract with Kansas City because he thinks the Chiefs have what it takes for a Miami-style turnaround, the sort of rebound that took the Dolphins from 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 in 2008.
“I’m not here just to coach or to help this team out to try to rebuild. I’m not here for that,” Thomas said Saturday.
Thomas, who will turn 36 before the season starts, spent most of his career with the Dolphins. He has firsthand knowledge of the horrors of 1-15. He was released, and signed with Dallas last year because he thought the Cowboys might be up to big things.
Now he’s a Chief, and possibly headed back to the inside linebacker position that he played so well in Miami. He’s excited about a new general manager, coach and quarterback in Kansas City.
And wasn’t that the formula that enabled the Dolphins to shock the NFL last season?
“I still love to play football,” Thomas said. “But when I came in here, I knew everything is changed here. It all starts at the top, and I’d like to be there for that transition. Hopefully, that change will be kind of like what Miami did last year. Turn it around. And it can be done.”
The Dolphins brought in Bill Parcells to be in charge. He hired a new coach and acquired veteran quarterback Chad Pennington.
Scott Pioli is the Chiefs new general manager and Parcells’ son-in-law. He was hired from the ultra-successful front office staff of the New England Patriots.
Their new coach is Todd Haley, whose football pedigree extends back to his father, Dick Haley, a highly respected NFL personnel man.
Their new quarterback is Matt Cassel, who stepped in for an injured Tom Brady last year and almost lifted the Patriots into the playoffs.
“I was a little skeptical coming to the team at first, to be honest with you,” he said. “But once I came in and talked to Todd, he was straight to the point. He wanted to change the mind-set of the players.
“Nothing’s guaranteed year to year. You look at Dallas last year. We were guaranteed to win the Super Bowl. But we didn’t even make the playoffs.”