Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: What the Chiefs Can Learn From This Past Weekend
by Jeff Herr,posted Jan 23 2012 1:21PM
In the past 11 years the AFC has sent only 4 representatives to the Super Bowl. That’s right, for more than a decade now there have only been 4 teams to come out of an AFC championship game victorious. The Patriots have done it five times (’01, ’03, ’04, ’07, ’11), the Steelers three times (’05, ’08, ’10) the Colts twice (’06, ’09) and the Raiders once (’02). In that same span the NFC has sent 10 different teams, with the only team repeating being the New York Giants (’07, ’11).
Quite a few different theories can come from this information, after all trend analysis is the realm of the sports fan. The most prevalent trend is that of the Patriot Way. This idea has been hammered home relentlessly, so I won’t drill it in even further. After all, this is not the only “way” present here. There’s also the “Steeler way,” the “Colt Way,” and to a lesser extent the “Giant Way.”
Each of these organizations has spawned their own spin-offs to various degrees of success. The “Patriot Way” has been tried and failed in Denver, New York, Cleveland, and Kansas City. The “Steeler Way” has been tried in Arizona to very limited success. The “Colt Way” hasn’t been mimicked simply because it’s based on Peyton Manning and there’s only one of him.
It only goes to make this situation more comedic that this is called a “copycat league.” One team has success that nobody saw coming and the other 31 teams scramble to replicate it. In the meantime, with so many teams running the same schemes, teams have more experience facing it and it becomes much easier to play against.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Teams tried to replicate the success of the 1970’s Pittsburgh Steelers and failed. Same goes .
What the copycat teams are forgetting in this scramble is what got the original teams to their position in the first place. The teams that have had success don’t define themselves by a rigid format.
There’s a reason that Bill Bilichick isn’t married to the 3-4 defense. He will line his players up in mostly 4-3 sets in some games. He is coaching his team to the game they are playing instead of adhering to a rigid standard he made for himself. Bilichick’s greatest asset has always been his flexibility. The “Patriot Way” is successful because there is no way. They have Tom Brady and a coach who knows how to scheme well against his opponents. It’s that simple, and yet teams continue to miss the point.
There is little doubt that this past weekend could spell bad news for the Chiefs. Not only does it reinforce the myth of the Patriot Way, but it will give hope for Matt Cassel as well. Seeing mediocre quarterbacks like Joe Flacco and Alex Smith perform well and put their team into positions to win, it will only allow the Chiefs to point to that when talking about Cassel’s future.
The truth of this past weekend is there is no magic formula for creating a winning team. The NFL is an ever evolving game and those that continue to win are able to stay ahead of the curve through action and not reaction. Each game and each matchup is completely different. Teams that can overcome different scenarios are the ones that win, not those that are meant to play one type of game.
The San Francisco 49ers got to the NFC championship game by beating the New Orleans Saints. In that game, the 49ers played a game they hadn’t all season, a shootout. The only reason they were able to move on was because they came out of their shell and played a game they didn’t know they were capable of playing. When they came up against the Giants they were forced into a corner and weren’t able to adjust enough to win the game.
The Baltimore Ravens found themselves in a similar circumstance. They outplayed the Patriots by most accounts, but didn’t win the game. You wouldn’t expect Tom Brady to have a game where he throws 2 INTs, no TDs and has a QB rating below 60. Yet, he did and the Patriots were able to get a big game from Benjarvis Green-Ellis and find a way to win. The game went as well as the Ravens could have hoped and they still didn’t pull it out.
Point being, the formula is not universal. The Chiefs will look at this and see a reinforcement of their beliefs that they are on the right track. They will look at this and believe that those models are the correct ways to build a team. They will also be missing the point.
Going forward, Romeo Crennel will do his best Belichick impression. Scott Pioli will continue to try to prove he was the architect of the Patriot way and he can do it again here in Kansas City. The entire organization will throw support behind Matt Cassel as one whom they still believe can be the next Brady, or at least good enough to be Joe Flacco.
The Chiefs will be a shining example of the old axiom that if you don’t learn from history then you are doomed to repeat it. As long as the Chiefs continue to pretend they are something they are not, they will never be allowed the success they crave. They are not the Patriots or the Steelers, they are the Chiefs. The sooner they realize this, the sooner they can start winning and maybe then other teams will try to copy them.