As we all try to wrap our brains around losing what has been a decently successful offensive coordinator for our Chiefs this season, what the future holds for this team without Charlie Weis becomes the million dollar question. I myself always look at the past history, for those who don't are doomed to repeat it, as they say, and I, like many, are thinking back to when Weis left the New England Patriots in 2005 for Notre Dame.
The New England position for Charlie ended on a high note, as the Pats won the Super Bowl in 2005 as a nice swan song for Weis on his way out. Many question how focused Charlie will be for the Chiefs in these last, all-important games and the 2005 Pats Super B year tend to pull people towards the professional, no distraction end of the spectrum and Weis will be focused and dedicated to the Chiefs as they try to pull out their first playoff victory since leather helmets (ok, maybe not that long :-). However, I look at not only the past history of Weis, but Todd Haley's as well. Haley is the same coach that couldn't find common ground or mutual respect with Chan Gailey, who was successful in his own right, later being named a head coach for a different team after being fired as the OC by Haley at the beginning of 2009. Bringing in Weis in 2010 was deemed a possible "volatile situation", as two strong-minded coaches would be battling out control of the offense, both coming from successful stints as OCs. It was stated that Weis would call "most of the plays" with Haley being "heavily involved". Now, there has been some heavy speculation by the media and us fans that Weis wanted to part ways with the Chiefs b/c of this on-going battle for control with Haley, which could very well be the case, as clearly Weis will be given full control of the offense at the University of Florida in establishing a "pro style offense" for the Gators. What this suggest to me is that these last games, if an on-going feud has existed and Weis grew weary of it, could lead to friction between the coaching staff at the worst possible time. Haley himself is not immune to what could be called "knee jerk reactions", and while he has seemingly grown up substantially over the course of the 2010 season in comparison to 2009, I realize that this hot-headed side of Haley wasn't that long ago; it's not like Haley has been "around the block" as a head coach yet. If Haley feels like Weis isn't making the right calls for the team in critical situations (and in the playoffs, when are times not critical?), how quick does Haley start trying to push Weis out of his duties? Would these two stubborn men try to undercut each other to either make one look better than the other, or in just trying to move on from the situation, being "rid" of each other? It's hard to say, b/c no matter how professional someone can be, I don't believe either of these two, Weis or Haley, are the most calmly demeanored gentlemen in the quickest of times.
Again, looking back at the fate of the New England Patriots after Weis left for Notre Dame, the Pats total offensive rank maintained it's level of potency through Weis's departure. In 2004, the Pats were ranked 7th in total offense. In 2005, they remained the 7th ranked offense. There was no official offensive coordinator named for the Pats in 2005 after Weis left, as most speculate that the future OC Josh McDaniels, who was named the QB coach in Weis' last season with the Pats, called the plays in 2005; McDaniels was officially named OC in 2006, and the Patriots, though dropping slightly in total offense to 11th, continued to roll into their magical 2007 season, leading the league in just about offensive category. McDaniels worked closely with Weis through the 2004 season, being the QB coach in 2004; this is something I didn't see from Weis or anyone else in 2010 on the Chiefs staff. Weis was clearly established in New England, being with the team from 2000 to 2004, but with only serving one year with the Chiefs, he hasn't had the chance to really establish a good working, tutelage type of relationship with anyone on the staff. Many speculate that similar relationship established between Haley and his offensive quality control coach, Nick Sirianni, will lead to a comparable situation as Josh McDaniels' path to the Pats OC position. However, this could simply mean that 2011 may come full circle back to Haley calling "most of the plays" while Sirianni learns the ropes, possibly taking the reigns here and there to get his feet under him as he may be named OC in 2012. With this possible scenario, it can be expected that Sirianni will be named either some kind of important offensive position coach, like QB coach, or simply left with the same title, just given more responsibilities. But either way, losing Weis does set up the possibility of the offensive players regressing some, as they have now tried to establish a repoire and sense of consistency with 3 different OC/play callers in 2 seasons, and will be 4 now going into the 2012 season, if this Sirianni situation plays out like I described. Worst case for them, a completely new face, like McDaniels, or any of the other possible candidates, comes in, bringing with him his own set of characteristics, tendencies, and coaching style. This can be maddening for players, just ask Alex Smith of the 49ers or Jason Campbell of the Raiders. Which leads me to my next and final point.....
Matt Cassel's development into a pro-bowl caliber QB in 2010 can be directly correlated with Weis's arrival at the start of the season. Weis leaving New England when he did really didn't have any negative effect on Tom Brady, as he was clearly already becoming what he is today, one of the best QBs in the league. The continuity from Weis to McDaniels was an easy transition with offensive system and the faith in Brady's ability was clearly shown, especially during the 2007 season. However, Cassel, along with the entire offense, suffered through learning one offensive system under Gailey at the beginning of 2009, only to have it pulled out from under them after 3 preseason games and then trying to learn Haley's system on the fly. Now, having learned the intracasies of Weis's playcalling and system, it's again time for another forced change. Cassel has benefited greatly from Weis' coaching, and if Cassel can continue to develop under someone else is anyone's guess at this point. Perhaps Cassel responded positively to Weis b/c of his style of communication, maybe Weis pushed Cassel in just the right way. Sirianni also has been working with Cassel and how much his work has affected Cassel positively up to this point, we may never know, but one thing is certain, if Sirianni continues to work with Cassel, we can only hope it mirrors what Weis was doing with him, as Cassel is still ripe in his development and has plenty of room to continue growing into being a consistent, top-tier QB. We will also see how much of Haley's influence has been predominant with Cassel and the offense, as it will be a great test of Haley's mettle to keep the entire team, especially the offense, focused on the task at hand of winning playoff games in spite of this distraction.
I, for one, am excited about the future, as I have thought for most of the season, that the Chiefs could do better in terms of playcalling, but Charlie Weis's intangible coaching effort towards our players, none more so than Cassel, as he may have "fixed the QB" after all, will be greatly missed. Upamtn has said it best, as Weis has earned the right to do what he chooses with his career, and if following his son to Florida to have more control over how he wants to do his job is what he wants to do, I wish him luck. However, this season may rest on Weis's decision to leave after one year, and the future may never be the same.