All In Time

Rebuilding an NFL team from one roster spot to the next isn't easy for any head coach. In Kansas City, Herm Edwards has the daunting task of molding a group of players into a team that can compete year in and year out for an AFC West crown.

Though some people might not truly understand all the comings and goings at Arrowhead, I can clearly see what Edwards is trying to do and whom he is trying to emulate.

The NFL is a copycat league, to say the least. But copying other teams and coaches doesn't always work.

The primary reason for that is often a head coach lacks the coaching support to teach the new system, but more directly, change fails when it does not have the personnel to be implemented.

That's the dilemma Edwards is facing today with his football team. And it is "his" football team. After a year on the job observing, studying and evaluating all the talent, this team is starting to take shape.

Edwards is very closely following the same format New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick brought to the Patriots when he left the New York Jets in 2000.

After spending quite a bit of time with Edwards over this past year, I truly believe there is no other goal more important to him than winning a Super Bowl in Kansas City.

As I listened to him at his Tuesday press conference, he said little of substance - because let's face it, he's not going to tip his hand to the media. Like his players, he's going to make us work for it.

But as he talked about his philosophies toward his current players and the new free agents - mixed in with questions regarding the future of Trent Green and Ryan Sims - I think his plan came into focus for me.

Let's set the table - rebuilding an old roster with a lack of depth takes time. That was Edwards first task in taking the job a year ago.

The plan this offseason was to bring up young players to replace the old ones while adding some middle-aged players who still have some game left. Edwards couldn't do that a year ago. He was able to add young talent through the NFL Draft, but he inherited personnel mistakes from the old coaching regime.

When free agency began, Edwards implemented the next step in his plan by signing four guys in the first week that all have two things in common – NFL experience and playmaking abilities.

That was the formula that built the Patriots into a three-time Super Bowl champion. They rid the roster of some of the malcontents from the Pete Carroll era, started drafting Pro-Bowl caliber players on both sides of the ball and filled in the gaps with middling players - players that were really never given a chance to excel in a system that was designed to bring out the best of their abilities.

When they arrived in New England they were all treated identically and every player had an equal opportunity.

Edwards talked a lot about opportunity on Tuesday especially in regards to young quarterback Brodie Croyle. He needs to see what Croyle can do. The decision to play younger players was the building block that made Belichick so successful in New England. Imagine where the Patriots would be if they had ignored Tom Brady and given Drew Bledsoe another chance.

The Chiefs are rebuilding, but they are doing it in a way that allows them to compete at the same time. They are wise to follow New England's plan.

But before we begin talking about the Super Bowl, as we all do in the offseason, let's not lose sight of an important stepping stone. The moves the Chiefs make in March and April and the competition fostered at key positions throughout the roster will ultimately determine their chances to win the AFC West.

But at least they have a plan, and it's a proven winner.

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