In my very first post Deserving Dynasties I talked about two teams that had been competitors for the past decade, the Chargers and the Eagles. I wanted to focus on how these two teams used stability to build lasting success. This post will look at three teams in 1990's that like the Chargers and Eagles may not have won a lot of Championships, but were still consistently successful throughout the decade.
In the 1990's, the Dallas Cowboys were king. They won three Super Bowls that decade and produced a number of Hall of Famers. Similar things can be said about the Broncos and the Packers, all having a fantastic decade, but in this decade of Favre, Elway, Aikman, and Bledsoe, a few teams are often overlooked as dynasties: the Buffalo Bill, Kansas City Chiefs, and the San Francisco 49ers.
Note: This was originally posted over at Mile High Report, but due to the fact that it also contains information about the Bills, 49ers, and Chiefs, and per request, I have posted on their respective pages as well.
Lead by Hall of Famer Jim Kelly, the Buffalo Bills went to four straight Super Bowls, something that has never been done, not before or since. This feat cannot be overstated, especially in this day and age where most Super Bowl losers struggle to even return to the playoffs the following season. But a sour note to that amazing record is that they lost all four, no one has done that either, earning them a spot on NFL.com's Top 10 Snakebit Franchises. So without any further waiting, lets take a look at the Bills from the 1990's:
Playoff Appearances: 8
AFC East Divisional Champion: 5 times
Super Bowl Record: 0-4
Number of Coaches: 2
- Marv Levy: 82-46
- Wade Philips: 21-11
Number of Seasons with 10+ Wins: 8
Number of Starting Quarterbacks: 3
- Jim Kelly: 7 seasons
- Todd Collins: 1 season
- Doug Flutie: 2 seasons
The Bills in the 1990's were one of the most well balanced teams I have seen play, despite having seen a lot of football. Well rounded both offensively and defensively, they finished in the top 15 in most categories almost every season. Lead by Hall of Famers like Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, and Thurman Thomas, the offense was able to compete with almost any team in the NFL. And their defense was lead by Hall of Famer Bruce Smith and Phil Hansen who were a menace to all quarterbacks from the outside. This was a balanced team that was physical and competitive. They only had two losing seasons, and in both of those they still managed to win six and seven games, never falling into the truly bad area. In his seven seasons during the 1990's, Thurman Thomas ran for over 1000 yards each season, and Andre Reed went to the Pro Bowl five times and had three seasons with over 1000 yards, and this was before most receivers reached that mark. This was a team each and every season that was in the running for the Super Bowl. No better definition can be given by me that defines dynasty better then that, for a decade, each and every team knew it would have to beat the Bills if they wanted to go far in the Playoffs. As a comparison to this decade, this team closely resembles the Eagles in many aspects such as record, playoff record, playoff appearances, number of coaches and the stability that was evident in both teams.
Kansas City Chiefs:
In the complete opposite corner of the Bills comes the Chiefs, a team that had no consistency at all, yet despite this constant change still managed to be a contender year after year. This was largely due to the shear genius that is Marty Schottenheimer, his ability to get the most out of average players makes him one of the greatest coaches ever in my mind. They also made made NFL.com's list of Top 10 Snakebit Franchises. But also like the Bill, the Chiefs have fallen on tough time this decade, but for them, their dominance is only a decade removed:
Playoff Appearances: 7
Playoff Record: 3-7
AFC West Divisional Champion: 4 times
Super Bowl Record: 0-0
Number of Coaches: 2
- Marty Schottenheimer: 93-51
- Gunther Cunningham: 9-7
Number of Seasons with 10+ Wins: 6
Number of Starting Quarterbacks: 6
- Steve DeBerg: 2 seasons
- Dave Krieg: 1 season
- Joe Montana: 2 seasons
- Steve Bono: 2 seasons
- Elvis Grbac: 2 seasons
- Rich Gannon: 1 season
Now the Chiefs were an interesting team, like the Colts of this past decade, they dominated in the regular season, but due to being in a strong division, often times winning 9-11 games wasn't enough, and often finished second in their division. Due to this they rarely had home field advantage in the playoffs and struggled to win games on the big stages of the NFL. But despite this, each season, the Chiefs were a force to be reckoned with in the AFC, especially since the divisions contained five teams and not four like they do today. But due to the constant change up at key positions, it makes sense that when it came to the big games, this team might struggle. But amid all the changes you will find the occasion diamond that Schottenheimer found, players like Joe Montana and Rich Gannon lead this team at one point, a change of pace for a team that is usually run oriented. Despite not having a quarterback last longer then 2 seasons, or having the same running back lead the team more then four seasons, this team was the epitome of scrappy, a real junk yard dog type of team. A team with no real offensive stars, yet each and every season they could be post season threat. But if there ever was a star for this Chief offense that would be Marcus Allen, a player who struggled with injures, and never rushed for a 1000 yards with the Chiefs, yet his ability to play through pain and keep on struggling was a picture I will always remember. Defensive end Neil Smith and Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Thomas were the key pieces that kept this dominating defense together, leading the league in fewest points allowed twice in the decade, and in the top 10 five times. While this may have been a team of rag tag players, this was a team that played under the guidance of a motivating coach who was able to make winners out of the least likely players.
San Francisco 49ers:
Few teams have the winning legacy that the 49ers do, and after a decade like 1980's few teams could even try and accomplish the things Montana did in that decade. But if you take a look at the resume they have created for themselves under new coaches, new quarterbacks, and new leaders, they continued to impress into the 1990's
Playoff Appearances: 8
Playoff Record: 9-7
NFC West Divisional Champions: 7
Super Bowl Record: 1-0
Number of Coaches: 2
- George Seifert: 84-28
- Steve Mariucci: 29-19
Number of Seasons with 10+ Wins: 9
Number of Starting Quarterbacks:3
- Joe Montana: 1 season
- Steve Young: 8 seasons
- Jeff Garcia: 1 season
If Bill Walsh set a high standard , George Seigert managed to exceed that standard by setting NFL records in completions from Young to Rice and in most wins in a decade, both of which have only recently been broken by the Colts. No other team has won as many games as they did, not Montana's 49ers, not Lombardi's Packers, not anyone until Manning of course, but this team just flat out won in the regular season, but like the Colts of the 2000's, they only managed one Super Bowl win. But while many consider this just the remains of Walsh's team, Seifert managed to build a solid team with new players as well. On the offensive side you had the rise of Steve Young, Terrel Owens and Ricky Watters. And while this may be only viewed as a offensive team, their defense was leading the league as well with such greats as linebackers Ken Norton and Chris Doleman, corners Merton Hanks and Eric Davis, and defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield. This team was complete and didn't have a season with less then 10 wins till the very end of the decade. While Seifert had one of the best coaching records in the NFL ever in San Francisco, 98-30 or .766, he left and Steve Mariucci took over, Young retired and Garcia took his place, and Rice moved on to somewhere I'd rather not mention. As the decade went into decline this team was heading the same place, but as a whole, no team could have a better decade. While the 49ers are known for their Super Bowls of the 1980's, they should also be remembered for their history in the 1990's.
End of the Day:
We have here three teams that may be overlooked when we review the 1990's but their legacy is one of dominance and dynasties, and shouldn't be forgotten.