Kansas City, Mo. Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has often said free agency is a flawed way to build a team, where players available are often overpriced or on the downward side of their careers.
Sure, it’s always necessary to sign a couple guys to plug holes, but Pioli would much rather draft the right guys, develop them from within the organization, and generate the kind of stability that has made franchises such as the Pittsburgh Steelers the model of NFL success.
Problems arise when you don’t draft the right guys, though.
The result can be a 1-8 record.
“It’s never just one thing. It’s always just a combination and a total,” said Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, who’s been a part of sustainable success with the Patriots and Giants.
“It’s drafting. It’s developing players. It’s coaching players — it is players taking ownership. It’s the whole gamut,” Crennel said. “When you talk about an organization being a solid, good organization, all of those things are involved in it.”
The Indianapolis Colts managed to secure the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL draft, spent it on former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, and are now making a run at the playoffs after having the league’s worst record. Luck is one of the favorites for offensive rookie of the year.
But just about everyone assumed Luck would be a star in the league, and that the Colts had no choice but to take him with the first overall selection.
The Chiefs’ best offensive players, running back Jamaal Charles and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, were chosen in the draft. But they haven’t been able to find a quarterback who can get them the ball, eschewing an early selection on the most important player on the field in favor of sticking with Matt Cassel, who lost his starting job to Brady Quinn earlier this year.
The deficiencies are even more glaring on defense.
With the exception of end, where homegrown guy Glenn Dorsey recently landed on injured reserve, everyone on that side of the ball was signed out of college by the Chiefs. That means standouts such as linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, who have both been to the Pro Bowl.
Those are the hits.
The misses are obvious along the line, where Dorsey has been unspectacular in a system that doesn’t necessarily suit him; fellow end Tyson Jackson has earned a fraction of the money that came with being the third overall pick in 2009; and where this year’s first-round selection — defensive tackle Dontari Poe — is still trying to figure out things.