Kansas City, Mo. The wooden desk is covered in paper now, eight months after Andy Reid first slid behind it. Scouting reports and personnel sheets and a thousand other notes, a mess of thoughts and ideas scribbled up and broken down for future consideration.
The big Chief with that familiar, bushy mustache leans over it in his office, clasping his hands in front of him. He thinks about the question hanging in the air — “What will it take to rebuild this once-proud franchise?” He then looks at the mess of paper, no doubt buried in there the blueprint that he’s been following since arriving in Kansas City on a cold January day.
Game three of the preseason for the Chiefs is 6:30 tonight at Pittsburgh.
“I’d probably tell you this,” the Chiefs coach says, pausing to choose his words carefully. “It’s taken the same type of attitude we had in Philadelphia. The guys have worked hard, and the guys back then worked hard, too, at the Eagles. I would tell you that’s a similarity.”
That’s not where the similarities end, though. That’s only a start.
Fifteen years after he rebuilt the Eagles, Reid is relying on a familiar process — find a franchise quarterback, sign the right free agents, make wise draft picks — to turn the trick again in Kansas City, which is coming off a 2-14 season that was historic in the worst of ways.
On the field, the Chiefs couldn’t score a touchdown for weeks at a time, getting blown out more often than not. Away from the field, fans staged organized revolts, grassroots groups paying for banners to be towed behind airplanes over Arrowhead Stadium begging for change on game days.
Once the season mercifully ended, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt wiped the slate clean.
General manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel were ushered out the door. Reid was hired along with longtime Packers executive John Dorsey as the GM. Longtime pals, Reid and Dorsey quickly drew up a plan for taking one of the league’s iconic franchises from worst to first.
They traded for Alex Smith, the former 49ers quarterback whom Reid not-so-secretly coveted when he was still in Philadelphia. They signed key players such as wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and punter Dustin Colquitt to long-term deals. They spent lavishly in free agency on cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson. They used the No. 1 pick on big right tackle Eric Fisher.
By the time training camp began a few weeks ago, on the steaming practice fields of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, more than 50 of the 90 players on the roster were new.
“What I’m proud of,” Dorsey said, “is we got here January 13, we created a plan with regards to the immediate team, free agency, the draft, how to create competitive depth on the roster. I think we’ve done a pretty good job with that. Are there still holes to fill? Yeah. Have we made a lot of moves? Yeah. But you’re 2-14, and sometimes you have to do that.”