I want this game to give me answers.
Unfortunately, I'll have to wait awhile for the answers I really want. I want to know which team did things the right way. You, see both the Jaguars and the Chiefs were bad last year. Both teams finished 2 - 14 and both teams fired the people in charge and started over. But that's where the parallels end. The contrasting philosophies of each organization were clear as each made significant, franchise-changing decisions in the offseason. Two roads diverged in front of the respective owners and they chose different paths.
Which decisions were right and which were wrong? These answers won't be answered on Sunday, regardless of the outcome on the scoreboard.
GM and Head Coach
Both the Chiefs and the Jaguars have new men at these positions. The Jaguars hired a first-year GM Dave Caldwell who chose the Head Coach he wanted in first-year Head Cocach Gus Bradley. The Chiefs on the other hand hired Andy Reid who had served fourteen years as the Head Coach in Philadelphia. Reid then hired the GM he wanted to in Kansas City, former Packers director of operations, John Dorsey.
Which way is better? New coach or experienced coach? GM who picked his coach or the other way around?
Neither the Chiefs nor the Jaguars have had good quarterback play recently. In a QB-driven league, this position is priority number one. That's why the Chiefs decided to trade a second round pick for QB Alex Smith. On the other hand, the Jaguars decided to stay with the duo of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne who led them to one win apiece and the 30th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL. Is Dave Caldwell waiting for the 2014 draft? Was trading draft picks away too high a price for an average quarterback? Maybe. What if Smith leads the Chiefs out of the cellar and into the playoffs. Would the trade have been a good move?
Which way is better? Trade for an experience QB or wait to draft your guy?
Drafting a Tackle
By the time the NFL Draft arrived, conventional wisdom held that there were two players that were a cut above the rest of the draft class. Both were Offensive tackles. Luke Joeckel was the polished lineman from Texas A & M and Eric Fisher was the more unrefined but powerful tackle from Central Michigan. Most considered Joeckel the safest pick in the draft but Kansas City liked Fisher's upside and mad him the number one pick, instead. Jacksonville gladly scooped up Joeckel.
Which player will be better? Will they stay on the right side in their careers or move to the left?
Both the Chiefs and the Jaguars thought they needed to upgrade their defensive secondary. The Chiefs added veterans Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson to join Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers. The Jaguars let most of their veterans go except for Dwight Lowery and filled most of the empty slots with rookies. The Chiefs spent big to put experience on the field whole the Jaguars are putting youth on the field and preaching competition.
Which move will pay off this year? Will it pay off in two or three years?
The philosophical differences in these teams has been distinct. Chiefs GM John Dorsey believes in his decisions:
"Part of this movement was from a philosophical belief that has been ingrained in me," Dorsey told AP in an interview last week. "Winning organizations do moves like this."
Caldwell has a clear vision of what he wants as well. He planned to focus on young players and the NFL draft to transform the team.
"We have work to do, but if we get a good draft class in here, we feel like we can be competitive quickly."
Neither of these teams may turn things around. Or maybe both realize long-term success. A win or a loss on Sunday won't validate or repudiate either team's approach, but that doesn't mean I won't say differently if the Jaguars pull off the home-opening win. In truth, we'll have to wait a few years to know who made the right decisions.
Hit me back in '21.