The Chiefs vs. The Falcons

In 2013, A sports writer claimed that the NFL’s goal of parity is not working. He pointed to the fact that the Patriots, the Packers, the Steelers, and the Falcons(!) were always in the playoffs. It’s hard to believe that was written nine years ago.

Entering 2013, the Atlanta Falcons were coming off five straight winning seasons. The Kansas City Chiefs, by contrast, had but one winning season in five years. In an attempt to reverse the culture in KC, the Chiefs hired recently fired Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid, and they hired a relative unknown Eagles’ scout named Brett Veach as a pro and college personnel analyst. Since Reid’s hire, the Chiefs have yet to have a losing season under his tutelage, thanks in part to the 2017 promotion of Veach to General Manager, and they’ve been in the playoffs eight out of those nine years. Since 2013, the Atlanta Falcons have gone through three head coaches and two general managers, and they have only had three winning seasons, including four losing seasons in a row.

This Falcons’ fan wonders how such a dramatic flip could happen? What’s the difference between these two franchises. Those of us who know nothing about football think the institutional culture of the Chiefs is all about the prominent faces of the franchise Reid, Veach, and Mahomes, but we also know that it’s about the little guys too, on the field, in the offices, and at the top. We know there’s a reason why one team always seems to make the right draft picks, hire the perfect free agents, and make all of the various personnel decisions that keep one team on top and one team on the bottom. Both sides of the ball have to have a strong and consistent philosophical scheme from which they draft and sign free agents to fit the scheme. We could also say that there’s a lot of luck involved, but when we look at the paths these two teams have taken since 2013, how much of it is luck, and how much of it involves institutional consistency?

Credit for the Mahomes pick does not solely belong to GM Brett Veach, as we can be sure the war room of the KC Chiefs and Andy Reid had a lot of say in the newly-promoted GM’s draft. We can also be sure that if Mahomes didn’t pan out, Veach knew he would have all heaps of hell on him for passing on Deshaun Watson, "the Michael Jordan of college football", for a QB with a losing record who threw for a ton of yards in the Big 12 (everybody throws for a bunch of yards in the Big 12). What a set of stones on that guy.

We all know the rest of the Patrick Mahomes story, and how lucky Veach, Reid, and the Chiefs’ war room are that Patrick Mahomes became PATRICK MAHOMES!!!, but we could also flip that around and say Mahomes is lucky the Chiefs selected him. As great as he is, imagine if one of the other teams selected Mahomes, or the Chiefs don’t make "the trade", or they chose Deshaun Watson. One of the greatest regrets former Packers GM Ron Wolf said he had was not consistently surrounding (Falcon draft pick!) Brett Favre with better talent. If one of those other teams chose Mahomes, would they fail to surround him with talent? Mahomes is lucky to be part of a team that relentlessly tries to keep him surrounded by top-tier talent (Kadarius Toney being the latest example). The Chiefs never seem to rest on their laurels with the idea that they have enough talent to win in the postseason. If, for example, the Chiefs chose Deshaun Watson (winning percentage 52.8) and the Texans selected Mahomes (78%) do those numbers flip?

Watching the Atlanta Falcons since 2018 has become a painful exercise. The question Arthur Blank should ask himself is where are the problems? Are they at the top of the hierarchy, or are they on the field? Is it as simple as one draft pick, at QB? The Chiefs were in the playoffs consistently with Alex Smith, but Mahomes put them over the top. Is it as simple as putting Desmond Ridder into the starting role? If Desmond Ridder turns out to be the next Patrick Mahomes are all problems are all of the solved? If he does, does he make Fotenot and Smith look like Reid and Veach?

The Atlanta Falcons are currently an unlucky, snakebit franchise that seems to find unique and creative ways to lose almost every week. The Kansas City Chiefs are currently a lucky franchise that seems to find unique and creative ways to win almost every week. It’s not fair to compare the 2022 Falcons against the Chiefs in one-to-two-year chunks, so I decided to compare them in a ten-year chunk. The question I ask myself every week, and every year, when I envy the consistency of the Chiefs franchise vs. the Falcons, is, is it all an unfair comparison based on quality QB play? I don’t think that’s a stupid, short-sighted question seeing as how a great QB can overwhelm most of the other weaknesses of the team, or is it more about the culture of the team from the top down?

If we were to rate their hit rate on free agents and draft picks, since 2013, we would have to put the Chiefs in top 5. If we were to rate the Falcons since 2013, we would have to put them in the bottom 5. Of all the highly touted, first and second round draft picks, and free agent signings the Falcons have made over the years, how many are still on the team, that are not still on a rookie contract? These are the only current Falcons from the 2020 roster.

· WR Olamide Zaccheaus

· FB Keith Smith

· LT Jake Matthews

· C Matt Hennessy

· RG Chris Lindstrom

· RT Kaleb McGary

· DT Grady Jarrett

· LB Mykal Walker

· CB AJ Terrell

· CB Isaiah Oliver

· S Jaylinn Hawkins

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· K Younghoe Koo

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>