Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, who in one short season changed the culture within the franchise, was selected NFL executive of the year Thursday by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Dorsey, hired by Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt in January 2013 after the club went 2-14 in 2012, made several key moves through trades, free agency and the draft that helped the team finish 11-5 and reach the playoffs this season.
“I’m very humbled,” Dorsey said. “It’s a reflection of everybody’s efforts. It’s from Clark and the entire Hunt family for providing us with the resources … it’s to the players for understanding what we’re trying to achieve here, it’s Coach (Andy) Reid’s leadership, it’s the entire coaching staff’s ability to teach … Everybody is working together for that one goal … and those people should be proud of this.”
Dorsey was in his first season as Chiefs general manager after spending 21 of the previous 22 years in the Green Bay Packers organization, rising from a scout to director of college scouting, director of pro personnel and director of football operations.
“I learned that (Green Bay general manager) Ted Thompson was right when he told me, ‘There are a lot of people who want that job, but when you sit in that seat, you’ll realize how hot it is,’” Dorsey said. “Every day is a new challenge … but it’s not a job. It’s what you live and dream for and the ultimate goal is to restore the pride of the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Allow those fans who so passionately wanted something … that’s what’s neat about it. If you can make the fans proud, that’s ultimately the bottom line.”
Among Dorsey’s major moves as general manager was to trade for quarterback Alex Smith, who threw 23 touchdowns with seven interceptions as the centerpiece of a roster overhaul that brought 30 new players to the Chiefs. Dorsey also solidified the team by acquiring eventual starters in linebacker Akeem Jordan, defensive end Mike DeVito, guard Geoff Schwartz, fullback Anthony Sherman, tight end Anthony Fasano, wide receiver Donnie Avery and cornerback Sean Smith.
With the first overall pick of the draft, Dorsey selected offensive tackle Eric Fisher, who started 13 games; and in the third round took running back Knile Davis, who showed flashes of promise as Jamaal Charles’ backup, and as a kickoff returner produced a 108-yard touchdown, the longest play in franchise history.
In the front office, Dorsey hired Chris Ballard as the Chiefs’ director of player personnel, Will Lewis as director of pro scouting and Marvin Allen as director of college scouting.
“We want to sustain year in and year out …” Dorsey said. “We want to be a winning football team, and we want to be extremely competitive in the AFC West.”
Dorsey credited his relationship with Reid for helping orchestrate the NFL’s second-biggest one-season turnaround.
“When as the general manager, you have a relationship with a head coach and have the same philosophical beliefs … ” Dorsey said. “We both into work day in and day out. We’re willing to put our egos aside, roll up our sleeves and go to work.
“The entire organization is working to say, ‘You know what, that locker room and those players make us proud on Sundays.’ They made me very proud for what they achieved this year.”
The Chiefs’ season ended in disappointment when they blew a 38-10 lead and lost 45-44 to Indianapolis in the opening round of the AFC playoffs. But Dorsey said the organization has learned from that experience and is moving on.
“That game is in the past,” he said. “We’re into 2014. We’ll go back, we’ll research and reflect and understand what it takes to get to the next level. That’s what all good organizations do, and that’s what we have to do. We’re getting prepared for the 2014 season.
“There are many things coming up with regard to your team. Unrestricted free agency … the league year starts, the college draft, and then we’re playing football in six months.”
Dorsey is the second Chiefs staffer to earn the football writers’ executive of the year award, which began in 1993. His predecessor, Scott Pioli, won the award in 2010.
The football writers chose Carolina’s Ron Rivera as coach of the year and former San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as assistant coach of the year.