Today we're going to finish up the offseason offense evaluation by grading the moves the Chiefs made to upgrade their offensive coaching staff. Next week, we'll give an overall grade and evaluation for the offense as a whole. Based on that evaluation, I'm going to make a few predictions, most of which will probably be completely wrong, but that's okay--it's our job as writers to get this stuff wrong.
We'll save the grades recap for the overall evaluation. More after the jump.
What the Chiefs Needed to do:
Well, duh. The Chiefs needed to hire an offensive coordinator. It's not that Todd Haley is a bad offensive playcaller. I just think he was in way over his head trying to learn this whole head coaching thing and taking charge of the entire offensive scheming and playcalling at the same time. Haley started to get that later in the year--he looked pretty visibly stressed toward the end of the season and understandably so.
The Chiefs also needed a Quarterbacks coach. Matt Cassel isn't Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. He's a guy who still needs coaching, not just on the practice field but in games too. The head coach and offensive coordinator can't afford to take too much time to micro-manage a Quarterback like Cassel. If Cassel's consistently making the same mistakes in the game or if a play broke down because he didn't recognize something, I want a coach to immediately sit him down and address it. For most teams, that's the Quarterbacks Coach.
What the Chiefs Did:
I think there were more than a few people who were afraid that Todd Haley would insist on coaching the offense himself for another season. Personally, I thought Haley would take more of a Ken Whisenhunt approach. Haley was an experienced offensive coach hired by Whisenhunt to be a guy he could groom to be an offensive coordinator. That relationship allowed Whisenhunt to call a lot of the shots without having to take on the full burden of being an offensive coordinator.
Not a knock on Haley, but while that would have been a big improvement for the Chiefs, I'm not sure if Haley was ready for that kind of responsibility. Whisenhunt has been coaching for umpteen years, while Haley has only been coaching for a few. I don't know if Scott Pioli drove the decision to hire an experienced coordinator or if Haley pushed for it; either way, you have to give Haley a ton of credit for agreeing to take away a lot of his power for the benefit of the team. And boy did they hire an experienced coordinator. Charlie Weis may not have cut it as a head coach at Notre Dame, but he is still an incredible offensive coordinator and playcaller. What I like most about Weis and what all of Kansas City is going to like is how complexly simple his offense is. He's probably not going to walk into the Chiefs' locker room with a 5-gazillion page playbook. He's just going to call smart, basic plays-the right playcall based on the situation and matchup.
Not only does Weis improve the Chiefs' ability to gameplan, he also brings a voice of reason to help Haley as he learns to become a better head coach. Those 4th down calls where Haley decides to pass instead of punt? Weis has veto power, if you will, and I guarantee that he will be very vocal about letting Haley know if he disapproves. He should also take a lot of pressure off Haley's shoulders by sharing the blame for decisions gone awry. Ultimately, bad decisions are blamed at the top with the head coach, as should always be the case, but there's a pretty big difference between getting 100% of the blame for a bad decision versus 70% of the blame. All of these things are going to tremendously help Haley as a head coach.
Now, Jason Whitlock expressed concern that Weis is just using this position as a steppingstone to be a head coach. Maybe so, but who cares. He's just the guy the Chiefs need at just the right time. He can help Haley grow as a head coach and be instrumental in getting young players to start playing like pros. If he wants to step out after he's established that foundation, I won't be absolutely crushed.
I do wish the Chiefs would have brought in a dedicated Quarterbacks Coach and I guess I'm slightly confused about why they didn't. Charlie Weis is going to have a tremendous impact on Cassel, no doubt. I just wish there was a coach on staff who was 100% dedicated to him.
Grades - Chiefs Offseason Moves at Offensive Coaching - A/A-
It's good to see that while the Patriots are heading in one direction of management, the Chiefs are moving in a pretty different direction. I already touched on how the Chiefs are moving toward character players, while the Patriots moved away from that a few years ago. I also like that the Chiefs are moving toward strong assistant coaching while the Patriots are moving away from it. Last year, the Chiefs seemed to following that same model. Pioli asked Haley to be Bellichick-a head coach with the power to do a lot of the assistant coaching as well.
So props to the Chiefs for bringing in a strong offensive coordinator like Charlie Weis on offense. Very small deduction for not bringing in a Quarterbacks Coach.
Grades - Current Offensive Coaching Depth:
Does not apply