Vahe Gregorian

New GM Dorsey brings energy, enthusiasm to first training camp with Chiefs

Since taking over in January, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has surrounded himself with new faces.
Since taking over in January, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey has surrounded himself with new faces.

The sheer, sincere energy radiates, almost enough to make you flinch or squint, as John Dorsey walks in the room and introduces himself.

As the new Chiefs general manager prepared to embark Friday for an inspection of the operation at Missouri Western University, where the team begins training camp with a trickle Monday and in earnest on Friday, it was hard not to get reeled in by his boyish enthusiasm.

He spoke of the franchise being a “crown jewel” once it’s awakened and vowed he “will not rest” until then. He talked of an organization that is “symmetrically aligned” and of the good people he is working with — “You can feel that around here ” — in the aftermath of a reign of error that he isn’t interested in addressing.

“I don’t live in the past; I live in the present and look forward to the future,” Dorsey said. “I’ll learn from the past, but I won’t live in it. I am who I am.”

And who he is couldn’t contain his anticipation of the home opener against Dallas on Sept. 15.

“Here’s what I can’t wait to hear,” he says, before bellowing out a somewhat disturbing, impossible-to-describe roaring sound. “These fans are unbelievable. I mean, I just want to hear them cranked up.”

Toward that end, here’s what he says fans should look for in the first year of the new regime of Dorsey and head coach Andy Reid.

“Everybody should expect a team that will be very competitive, that will represent the brand of the Kansas City Chiefs and what it stands for,” he said. “You’re going to see a bunch of guys that are excited and competitive and are going to compete their (tails) off for the AFC West — and rightfully so.

“That’s what you should be doing. That’s why you’re in the business.”

“And you’re going to see a group of guys who are going to come together like a big family,” he adds, meshing the fingers of both hands together, “and the closeness in the locker room can buy you (victories).

“We’re all in this together; everybody’s on the same page.”

If that proves true in the long haul, it will an achievement in itself after the splintering within under predecessor Scott Pioli.

But by way of example, Dorsey points first to Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and president Mark Donovan, speaking of each with admiration and later illustrating the flow chart by finding four Styrofoam plates and arranging them with Hunt represented at the top and Donovan, Reid and himself on the same line.

“The structure that Clark has set up, it works, it really does,” he said, adding that they have worked to create a “belief system” together. “Listen, not one guy has all the answers, but collectively, if you can take everybody together, the fist is much more powerful than (a finger).”

He added: “I know my strengths and weaknesses, but I’ll find the solution. Does that make sense? Just give me a little time and some patience, and I’ll use every resource available and I’ll find the solution.”

While Dorsey stressed the essentials of cooperation and communication throughout the organization, top to bottom, the dynamic that will be most evident and likely most vital to the franchise’s future after years of futility will be the one between Reid and him.

The duo became close during their time together in Green Bay, where Reid was an assistant during 1992-98 before his 14-year run as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles ended with a 4-12 season a year ago.

“Andy and I talk three times a day, even on vacation; we’re like two brothers,” he says, pulling out his cell phone to show a picture of his 2-year-old, “Baby Jack,” eating watermelon that he recently texted Reid. “That’s what we share; that’s part of the friendship, and that’s we do.

“We communicate. In the positions we’re in, and this includes Clark and Mark as well, we’re in constant communication. Constant communication makes effective organizations, and that’s the way it is.”

For a more tangible illustration of how that plays out, Dorsey retraced the steps of how they went about going after quarterback Alex Smith from the 49ers.

“The coaches did their evaluation, overall assessment of the team. We (in personnel) did our overall assessment of the team,” said Dorsey, who had spent most of the last two decades making his mark with the Packers in that capacity. “That way everybody gets a separate, objective opinion. Then Andy and I sat and talked, and it was interesting because we both were spot-on about our needs.

“So then I assessed all of the quarterback pool there was, in the NFL and in college. I assessed it, then I ranked them, I broke them down. And it wasn’t even close. Alex Smith was the only option.”

The division of labor, Dorsey said, also should benefit Reid.

“I think it’s huge. His plate was full when he was in Philly, now; I mean, really full,” he said. “And the way that Clark has structured it, my job is to bring the chess pieces to the game and say, ‘There you go, big boy, let’s go play.’ ”

With a smile, he added that Reid is a “pretty good offensive schemer” — who will have more time for that again — among his other attributes.

“He is a gentleman; he is a leader. Andy’s really good at molding young men,” he said. “You know why? Because he is honest, he’s truthful. Guys believe in him. He’s going to tell it like it is, good or bad.”

His own upbeat aura notwithstanding, Dorsey has that in him, too.

He knows he’s in a honeymoon phase, of course, and he might prefer to undersell and overdeliver.

“I just wish the fans would taper down,” he said, smiling but maybe not quite joking. “I know they’re excited, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. It can’t happen overnight.”

That may most aptly be summed up by the fact that 53 of the 90 names on the Chiefs’ camp roster are new.

“I’m just throwing this number out there flippantly, but the average shifting is probably 20,” Dorsey said. “But when you’re 2-14, you better do something.”

But even if he does consider himself a realist, even if he acknowledges “you never know what you have” until you see it, Dorsey is thrilled to be in the thick of the transition on the eve of his first Chiefs camp.

“It’s a new season,” he said. “I want to see this team (and) who they really are.”

And no matter who it is and how far it has to go, he adds, “When we wake up in the morning, that’s why we’re here, to not only make ourselves better but make our community better. Let’s do something special today.”

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