The Logic Of Winning Now

Is it possible Clark Hunt, Scott Pioli and Todd Haley are about to completely shatter fan expectations of what a "rebuilding" franchise should look like?

Since the moment Damon Huard limped to a bench in Kansas City, we were sold a bill of goods by Carl Peterson and Herm Edwards that the Chiefs had to play young players, had to suffer, and would sacrifice immediate success for long-term success. As it turned out, there were young players, and plenty of suffering, but not much indication of long-term success.

Brodie Croyle got hurt (twice), Dwayne Bowe dropped passes, Jarrad Page and Bernard Pollard missed tackles, Glenn Dorsey was swallowed up by guards, Tamba Hali waltzed with left tackles and Derrick Johnson just flat disappeared. When your key young playmakers aren't making plays, there's no reason to believe something good is just around the corner.

Clearly, that's the reason we now experience Peterson and Edwards only through our television sets. The question now becomes, do the Three Amigos (Hunt, Pioli, Haley) have a reason to continue the spirit of the plan laid out by their predecessors?

Based on the progress of the offseason, it doesn't appear so.

The Chiefs grabbed themselves a ready-made quarterback (Matt Cassel), two aging linebackers with legendary resumes (Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas), an ancient slot wide receiver, and a happy veteran guard to complement their unhappy veteran guard.

Then there's who the Chiefs reportedly pursued, but couldn't secure – defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, and perhaps even Bart Scott. Obviously Haynesworth and Scott would have been major upgrades to KC's front seven. Everyone's expectations would have been raised.

Finally, we have KC's recent activity on the trade front. Or rather, a lack of activity. Despite all the rumors flying around Tony Gonzalez, Brian Waters and Larry Johnson, none have been traded. While one or more might eventually depart, it appears the Chiefs are in no hurry to unload talented players who can help them compete.

And if you believe Adam Schefter, the Chiefs just might make a play for Julius Peppers on draft day. There's no question that would help them compete, immediately, in a weak division, facing a brutal schedule, and a disgruntled fan base.

Is that enough reason for The Three Amigos to shelve the "suffer now, win later" philosophy that was sound in theory, yet so flawed in execution just a few months earlier? You bet.

You might hate the idea of playing over-the-hill veterans and giving up a draft pick for Peppers. I'm not real keen on it myself. But the average fan who only pays attention to the Chiefs 16 times a year might not be that patient.

Maybe the Chiefs really don't have a choice right now. Can they afford another 4-12 season? Eight wins in three years can bring down even the most loyal fan base.

More importantly it can destroy your bottom line.

From a business standpoint it makes zero sense for the Chiefs to keep trucking along with a "youth first" philosophy. With the current state of the economy, there aren't that many people who want to fork over $80 per person, per game (or more) to watch a team that shows flashes of future greatness while losing valiantly in the present. We already know season ticket sales aren't quite as robust as they have been in the past out at Arrowhead.

Can you imagine what happens after a third losing season in a row? The Chiefs could potentially have a shiny, renovated stadium, with almost no one sitting in it. And first impressions are awfully important.

It all screams "win now." Or else.

Without their "just add water" quarterback and all the graybeards in red and gold, how else could the Chiefs hope to steal a game or two against the NFC Beast division, not to mention the Steelers, Ravens, and Chargers? It would be foolish to suggest the Chiefs could finish as one of the AFC's top teams next season, let alone win a Super Bowl, but with the state of the AFC West, and all the cap room (and at this point the league is practically forcing Kansas City to spend) the Chiefs have, there's an opportunity for something positive.

After two years of suffering, it makes The Three Amigos look like heroes and football geniuses in comparison to Peterson and Edwards. If the Chiefs finish 8-8 this season, it will be seen by most as a sign of progress, regardless of the roster's average age. Add the right draft classes in 2009 and 2010, and you get a whole lot of positive vibes for the future, not to mention a torrent of season ticket sales.

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