We've all heard about the vaunted "Patriot Way". As the 2009 Draft is now in the books, let's not lose sight of what Pioli has brought to KC.
"The Patriots way starts with hard work and discipline and creating a culture where everyone is on the same page, everyone knows their role, everyone believes in the system and everyone does their job. That’s the core of the Patriots way. Everyone will know their role and know their job.”
This draft has put these principles front and center. As I see it there are three parts to the "Patriot Way" and I'll outline them and how Pioli has put this into practice this year.
Principle # 1 - Hard Work, Discipline and Culture of Unity:
This first principle has been on display from almost the beginning of the Pioli-Haley Era. From Coach Haley telling the team during the mini-camp that (paraphrasing) "You can't afford to get stupid when you are tired" to the run-in with Brian Waters (No one is greater than the team), hard work and discipline will be expected.
The culture of unity will come as the foundation has been laid with the first mini-camp. While it's hard to say, the trade of Tony Gonzales will ultimately contribute to this culture as well if for the simple fact that the security blanket is gone and the others on the offense will have to step up.
Principle # 2 - Everyone Knows Their Roles:
This starts with defining roles and skills. This also meshes with Principle #1. This begins with the GM and Pioli understands this well.
“The mission of this football team, and the direction is to build a football team. We built a team in New England, and we’re going to build a team here. My job is not to collect talent, it’s to build a team. Individuals make Pro Bowls, teams win championships. That’s our goal here. Win championships, win football games - to build this team with the right kind of people, with the right kind of players, to consistently compete for championships. We’re going to build a big, strong, smart, fast, tough, disciplined football team and we’re going to do that by going out and finding big, strong, smart, fast, tough, disciplined football players. It sounds very simple and hopefully in certain ways, it will be.”
“This is going to be a very methodical process in building this football team, and we’re going to start from the ground up and build a foundation, move ahead, and touch every part of the football operation. The patience that I know Clark has told me he’s going to show it going to be rewarded.
The GM and the Coaches have to determine what roles and skill sets are needed for their systems. Here are two minor examples (slips of the tongue I would say since there is so much secrecy around Arrowhead) of roles and skills within the new Chiefs systems:
Defense and 4th rd pick Donald Washington. Coach Haley answered the question about Washington's potential impact this way:
He’s had inside experience, playing inside over the slot which is easy to talk about but takes unique guys. They have to have the skills and they have to have the intelligence to play in there because it takes someone who understands what’s going on. He’s played it; he’s shown he’s a confident player inside over the slot and has the physical ability.
Offense and Bobby Engram. Many people have complained about how we've upgraded the WR's but the following quote from Haley is very telling:
"He’s very good at what he does as a slot receiver," said Haley, who once coached receivers for the Jets and Bears and Cowboys. "We don’t really have anybody on campus that is that inside receiver, so to speak. That’s a big thing for the offenses I’ve been involved in. Torry Holt has obviously made a lot of hay outside the numbers as an outside receiver. In trying to fill the holes, (slot receiver) was a need."
With the secrecy surrounding the systems the Chiefs intend to play, it will be very difficult for the media and even fans to get a good idea of how players fit. Most were shocked this weekend by a couple of our picks early especially since we didn't choose to address the O-Line before the 5th round. Note what Kent Babb had to say on April 20:
- Pioli's close eye on the offensive line. I just don't think that, more than 20 years after his final snap as a college lineman, Pioli is still so interested in watching an NFL line that he hovers around it for at least three practices. Pioli was measuring everything during the three practices reporters were allowed to attend this weekend, but no unit got his attention quite like the offensive line. He stood uncomfortably close at times, not talking to anyone or smiling, and carrying with him a notepad and pen. It's possible that Pioli was sizing up exactly what the Chiefs have -- and likely finding out it's not as much as most NFL teams would like.
The offensive line got most of his attention and yet his major focus in the draft was the D-Line. A lot of us and me included have assumed that the O-Line needs major renovating, Pioli obviously see it a little differently and probably in the light of what system they are planning on running.
Principle # 3 Everyone Believes in the System and Does Their Job.
The Patriot Way system is not just the 3-4 defense and the spread offense. It's the whole package. Haley addressed this overall concept after the first mini-camp on April 17:
“There’s an art to practicing efficiently and fast. This is going to be an up-tempo deal. There’s an art to getting done what you need to get done as a player technique-wise but, at the same time, not being out of control because the first tendency is the adrenaline gets running and guys get out of control and then there’s a pile on the ground and then you’ve got problems.”
Pioli and Haley are already doing their jobs. Keep this in mind the next time you read a critics view of our draft or offseason. They are looking at it from a flashy point of view but remember these are also prognosticators who don't lose too much when their wrong but they also don't have three Super Bowl rings.
Here's to the start of a great Season and beyond.