11 Days to Denver: How Did We Get Here?

Photo: Denny Medley USA Today Sports

Nobody can deny it's been a crazy season of football in Kansas City. The franchise has yet to lose a game this season, Andy Reid and John Dorsey, have pulled all the right strings and the players have responded to the new leadership. So how did the plan hatched in January come to fruition so quickly?

When Kansas City Chiefs Chairman, Clark Hunt, hatched his plan to dispose of Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli last January, his moves were both swift and decisive. A few days later, after making a pair of token interviews for his head coaching vacancy, he sat down with Andy Reid in a Philadelphia airport and discussed his plan to revitalize football in Kansas City.

Thanks to the efforts of Hunt and Chiefs President, Mark Donovan, who used to work for the Philadelphia Eagles and knew all about Andy Reid, they were able to paint a rosy enough picture that Reid decided to take their offer to coach the Chiefs.

Granted behind the scenes lawyers had to ultimately hammer out a five-year deal that made Reid the third highest paid coach in the NFL. Though the money is nice that's not why I think Reid took the job in Kansas City. He could have sat out a year, as some within his inner circle had suggested, but he wanted to get back into the fire and we later learned this was the only NFL job he would consider.

Thankfully he chose the Chiefs. A week later he began the process of cleaning out the coaching staff and adding new ones, convincing his good friend, John Dorsey, to become his right hand man as General Manager and ultimately, over the next several weeks, identifying which leftover players didn't fit their vision forward.

That vision forward wasn't made public. That vision forward only had a singular goal. That was to build a football team that could compete with the Denver Broncos this season.

Reid dictated that message to his coaching staff and that resonated to the players. Ultimately, for the first time since Hank Stram was the Chiefs head coach, this entire organization was on board as one. The vision was clear without any dissention or hidden personal agendas.

When Reid addressed his team for the first time back in January, he treated them with respect, to a man he told them whatever they've done in the past (good or bad) mattered very little to him. What mattered going forward is they respect each other, work tirelessly and strive to rebuild this locker room player by player. What transpired as a result of that meeting laid the groundwork for the Chiefs 9-0 start.

When the season began the Chiefs jettisoned some 30 players from the 53-man roster that were leftover from the Carl Peterson/Scott Pioli eras. That's a large amount of turnover for one season but every player button Reid and Dorsey pushed worked.

So after 10 months of planning, coaching and playing to this point in the season, the team that Reid began building last January; is about to play the biggest game in Reid's short tenure in Kansas City. It will be the game that ultimately will define what he has accomplished since he was kicked to the curb by the Philadelphia Eagles organization.

The Broncos, who face the San Diego Chargers on the road Sunday afternoon, will be heavy favorites to defeat the Chiefs. Even if Denver loses to their west coast division counterpart this weekend, the Chiefs two-game lead in the AFC West doesn't insure them the division title.

No matter what happens this weekend all the matters in the eyes of the NFL detractors, who continue to criticize the Chiefs close game victories and lack of offense, will be how well Kansas City plays against Denver in this prime time match up.

Clearly Denver has the first match at home with the return game in Kansas City two weeks later. But that's irrelevant. This team could care less where they play. As proven with their perfect regular season to date, the Chiefs win at home and on the road.

For me, it would have been electric to be the fly on the wall when this plan was born. I'm sure I'd have chuckled at thought this team, after going 2-12 a year ago, would even bring up the Denver Broncos in any discussion for 2013.

Reid to his credit embraced the new mindset and decided this franchise had the talent to win now but lacked the leader ship within the coaching staff to bring out the best in the men he believed could bring home the AFC West title in year one of his coaching tenure.

To a man, the players love their head coach and Reid loves his players. That's a rare combination in the NFL. Reid has shown his players a path to greatness. He believes in them at as much as they believe in him. In return, the players respect his vast experience and calm demeanor.

In January, when I left the press conference announcing Andy Reid, as the Chiefs new head coach, I felt this franchise had already climbed out of the pit they swam in a year ago. What Hunt and Donovan did so swiftly made me feel like everyone meant business. But no way did I believe they'd be this good this fast.

In 11 days, we're going to find out how quickly that investment has matured. What we know today is clear; the Chiefs are on a franchise upswing. For the first time, regardless of the knuckleheads, who spew opinions based on outside observations, this franchise is the last unbeaten team in the NFL.

They can continue to make comments about back-up quarterbacks, soft schedules and narrow victories but they can't take away from the fact Kansas City is 9-0.

For me, the Chiefs have already accomplished the hardest thing they're going to do this season, they control their overall playoff seeding and Super Bowl destiny. Despite trying week in and week out, that's something nobody can take that away from this rejuvenated locker room.

Thankfully for those players they have a head coach that showed them the Yellow Brick Road to success way back in January. To a man, they've followed it and executed it to perfection.

So buckle up Chiefs fans, because the good times in Kansas City may just be getting started.


WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
If not for the failures in 2012, would the Chiefs be contenders in 2013?


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