KANSAS CITY, Mo. —The Chiefs and Oakland Raiders share more than a 52-year-old rivalry and original memberships in the AFL/AFC West.
Both franchises have been graveyards for coaches.
In the past 10 seasons, the Raiders have hired and fired six head coaches. During that same period since 2001, the Chiefs are on their fourth coach and could be hiring another at the conclusion of the 2011 season.
Any wonder the Raiders lost 10 or more games every year during 2003-09 before going 8-8 last season and are 7-7 going into Saturday's game against the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium?
And why the Chiefs have made just three playoff appearances since 2003 and have yet to win a post-season game since 1993?
There's little question musical chairs in the coach's office can have a negative effect on establishing stability in a program.
"When you have change, it's hard to establish continuity and consistency because with change there's a different philosophy, different people come in, they want different players," said Chiefs interim coach Romeo Crennel. "So then the guys on the team end up getting traded out, so trying to develop consistency when you have that much change, it's difficult.
"The thing that develops consistency is to be able to stay put for a while. Now in this league that's hard to do unless you win games. When you win games you can stay, and I tell the players the same thing, this is a production business we're in.
"If you produce you get to stay, if you don't produce then we bring somebody else in to see what they can do."
In most cases, patience is in short supply for most NFL owners in a win-now league. Few coaches get much of a honeymoon period or a time to build a program, especially in the free agency era.
In Oakland, impetuous Al Davis canned Bill Callahan after two years, including 2002 when Callahan, inheriting Jon Gruden's club, took the Raiders to the Super Bowl. Norv Turner lasted two seasons, Art Shell, in his second stint as Raiders coach, went 2-14 in 2006; and neither Lane Kiffin nor Tom Cable made it past their second full season.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, were a veteran-laden team under Dick Vermeil, and after Herm Edwards took the remnants of that squad to the playoffs in 2006, the franchise went to a youth movement. Those growing pains resulted in a 6-26 record and led to the departure of general manager Carl Edwards and dismissal of Edwards.
Todd Haley and new general manager Scott Pioli tore up the roster and coaching staff and implemented new offensive and defensive systems in 2009 that produced an AFC West title in 2010. But Haley couldn't survive a 5-8 start and five lopsided losses this year and was fired early last week.
"That's the Catch-22 about this business," said Crennel, who led the Chiefs to a stunning 19-14 upset of previously unbeaten Green Bay in his debut. "A lot of time organizations are not willing to hang in when a coach is not winning and they make change, and then when that change occurs, you have to start over unless you have a very good nucleus of players who can adapt, and then you can maybe take good strides with change. So that's kind of what happens a lot of times in this league."
That's what's happened in San Francisco, where the 49ers had gone through four head coaches during 2002-10 before hiring Jim Harbaugh this season.
Harbaugh did not have the benefit of an off-season program because of the lockout, but has been able to tap into the potential of some premium draft picks and a favorable schedule for an 11-3 record and NFC West title.
Denver also has benefited from a coaching change. Veteran coach John Fox took over for Josh McDaniels, who was fired deep into his second season last year and has the Broncos on the cusp of winning the AFC West.
The Broncos lost four of their first five games before Fox replaced quarterback Kyle Orton with Tim Tebow, and the defense successfully made the conversion from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front.
"It still gets down to the personnel you have, and you have to play to the players you have," said Oakland's Hue Jackson, who was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach this year. "Sometimes it's not about your philosophy, it's about what the players can do best."
And it doesn't help the development of players when teams constantly make coaching changes.
"If you lose the team and the team is not listening, then (ownership) has to do what you have to do, and I respect that," Jackson said. "All of us head coaches understand that. But at the same time, players are creatures of habit, too. When you're used to having a coach there, and you're starting into a program and a system, they like to be within the system and adapt the techniques and fundamentals and routine they have learned.
"Players like consistency. Everybody needs consistency in order to grow and get better, and you have to work through the rough spots and the tough times as much as you can."