Successful football organizations start at the top and work their way down. An owner needs to hire a front-office person who in turn selects a head coach to lead the team on the field. It’s a relationship between all three tiers that has to work together to bring trust and stability to a franchise. An owner has to be confident that a GM is making good use of the resources the owner is providing and a GM has to be confident that his coaching staff is doing everything in its power to get it done on the field.
Recently hired general managers aren’t afforded the luxury of having five to six years to turn around a NFL team. If things aren’t pointed in the right direction at the end of that time, it usually ends with someone losing their job. That’s what made the firing of Chiefs GM John Dorsey, with a year left on his contract, a surprise move a few weeks ago. Dorsey had been responsible in helping the Chiefs to a winning record the past four seasons as well as prying away the five-year stranglehold the Denver Broncos had on winning the AFC West.
Dorsey began his tenure in Kansas City after coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to that, he spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks. It was a logical fit, as Dorsey was familiar with head coach Andy Reid from their time working in Philadelphia. Since his hiring, Dorsey has made the Chiefs a solid football team, much to the chagrin of the Denver Broncos, with the Broncos losing three out of the past four contests over the past two seasons.
The ability to find talent has never been an issue for the deposed GM. In finding premier players through the draft in Travis Kelce, Marcus Peters and hitting on a fifth-round flyer in Tyreek Hill, Dorsey did an admirable job of stocking the Chiefs roster with talent. Combine that with savvy free-agent signings in offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz and running back Spencer Ware, and it gives pause to think why the Chiefs felt it was time to move on.
There were reports that Dorsey wasn’t the easiest person to get along with and that owner Clark Hunt didn’t feel that the former GM was the right man to get the team past the first round of the playoffs and into the Super Bowl. Still, the timing of the firing was strange, coming just weeks after the NFL Draft, in combination with Reid recently signing a contract extension. Another interesting caveat in all of this is the choice the Chiefs made to move up in the Draft to take quarterback of the future, Patrick Mahomes III.
It makes for a tenuous situation for Denver’s AFC West rival. Kansas City hasn’t settled on a candidate for its vacancy as of yet, but the next man inherits a job that could lead to internal turmoil. GMs typically get to hire their coach, and who knows what kind of relationship Reid will enjoy with his new boss. Conversely, if Dorsey was fired because of ownership’s lack of faith in him, how will that affect the new GMs choice in retaining Reid? The incumbent coach isn’t exactly known for coming through come playoff time.
The choice of Mahomes seemed to be ideal fit for the Chiefs. With the former Red Raider regarded as a project who may need to sit for at least a season in order to get up to the speed of the NFL, it looked like a coup for Kansas City, with the reliable Alex Smith still entrenched as the starter. With no GM on board now, Mahomes future will be linked to a front-office that didn’t draft him and may not have held him in as high regard as the Dorsey regime. Suddenly the draft picks given up to select the quarterback and the time spent in developing Mahomes looks more tenuous.
The NFL is called the Not For Long league for a reason. Situations can happen in an instant and dramatically change the course of a team’s future. Right now, the Broncos appear to be in contrast with their AFC West foe, with Joe Ellis entrusting John Elway to make the personnel moves that will give Head Coach Vance Joseph the means to win games on Sunday, making a rock-solid foundation. While nothing may hinder Kansas City’s success this season, the Chiefs future is far from certain given the recent volatility atop the organization.