Most NFL fans, writers, etc. consider Bill Belichick to be one of the greatest head coaches of the past 20 years. He is considered a great mastermind in his ability to gameplan; taking advantage of his teams strengths while attacking his foe's weaknesses. What's the reason for his success? Most knowledgeable people would point to QB Tom Brady as the main catalyst. Football is considered a true team sport, as all players on the field must work together, so some would argue that the reason for the Patriots success isn't just because of Tom Brady. However, it should be noted that the Pats have only missed the play-offs once since 2003, and this was a season in which Tom Brady was injured in the first game of the season and missed the rest of the season.
On the other hand, the recently fired had coach of the Chiefs, Todd Haley, is considered by some people on AP as a terrible head coach. Questionable play-calling, too many losses by 20 points or more, can't get along with anyone, etc. Last year the Chiefs made the playoffs, just two years after finishing 2-14. Again, Haley's detractors will argue that this was due to a weak schedule, playing the NFC West, and the AFC West was a bad division. This year the Chiefs are 5-8, without the services of their starting TE, one of the best SS in the game, in Eric Berry, and the Chiefs offensive player of the year from last year, RB Jammal Charles. The lack of depth behind these guys became painfully obvious to us Chief fans, once their back-ups had to take the field. It's a realization that HC Todd Haley most likely saw in practices last year and would have liked addressed this past off-season since the team was somewhere in the $20- 32 million range below the salary cap and Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli have long said that they are determined to build a winning team. However, on Monday, December 12th, both Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli were holding a press conference announcing that Todd Haley had been fired and although Pioli had been giving his 100% effort, Clark Hunt said that Pioli would now double his effort, or work twice as hard or something to that effect. (Note to Clark, if you say Pioli will work twice as hard now, even though he had been giving it his all, then he obviously wasn’t giving 100% before, or didn’t know what he was doing so was concentrating his efforts in the wrong areas, or it was just lip service to the fans if you believe Pioli is the right GM Clark).
Before you stop reading and say you can’t compare Belichick to Haley, remember that Matt Cassel was Belichick’s starting QB for 2008 due to Brady’s injury. So for comparison’s sake and using the Patriot’s 2008 season, consider the following:
1) Matt Cassel is your starting QB;
2) In the season that Matt Cassel is your starting QB, you play against the NFC West and AFC West, resulting in two of the easiest strength of schedules in recent NFL history (NE 2008, KC 2010) H/T Steve_Chiefs in the Josh McDaniels poll article;
3) The number of 20 point or greater losses in that season = 3:
2008 Patriots = 3 ( MIA 13-38, @ SD 10-30, Pitt 10-33)
2010 Chiefs = 3 (@ Den 49-29, @SD, 0-31 (NOTE: Cassel out for this game, Croyle played, OAK 10-31)
4) Offensive weapons = 2. Pats = Moss, Welker. Chiefs = Bowe, Charles
This is where the similarities end, as Haley got the Chiefs into the playoffs at 10-6 in 2010 with Cassel as QB while in 2008 Belichick with the Cassel-led Pats finished 11-6 and missed the playoffs. Some may argue that the Pats won 11 games to the Chiefs 10, but then I’ll point to the fact that NE played the Cards in NE the last game of the season after the Cards had already clinched the NFC West title, played Leinart the second half of the game, and presumably sat most of their starters for atleast the last half. In addition, it was snowing so the Cards weren’t really playing to win the game, it was to get back on the plane without any injuries going into the playoffs.
From comparing the Pats season in 2008 with Matt Cassel at QB, they missed the playoffs, and were blown out 3 times by more than 20 points during the season… sound familiar? Well, it should, this is one of the complaints about Haley’s Chiefs teams. Fortunately for Belichick, Cassel was his back-up QB, and quickly traded him to KC after the season with his hall of fame QB Brady back from injury and they are back to being one of the best teams in the NFL. For Haley’s Chiefs on the other hand, Scott Pioli has installed Cassel as his starting QB and left the back-up roles to Palko (we all witnessed how bad that was), and a 5th rd draft pick from last year, Ricky Stanzi. I’ll admit that I wanted Stanzi to play as much as the next guy when Cassel went down. We don’t know if he’s going to fall flat on his face and look like Palko, or do OK and look like another 5th rd pick from last year for the Texans, TJ Yates. The saying goes that the most popular player on the team is the back-up QB when the team is losing and this is the case with the Chiefs right now. However, to say that Haley deserves to be fired for playing Palko over Stanzi isn’t justified. It’s just hoping that the unknown is going to be better than the known. That, and the fact the Chiefs need a franchise QB, and everyone’s praying it’s Stanzi.
In summary, even Belicheck got blown out by 20 plus points 3 times in a season with Cassel as his starting QB. (Note to Pioli, were you paying attention to this in 2008 with Cassel as the starting QB before trading for him, or too busy scouting for the 2009 draft? Never mind, I know the answer to that question already,neither). To win in the NFL these days, with all the protection the QB gets as far as the refs, no contact on receivers past 5 yds, pass interference penalties, etc (spare me the Ravens and Dilfer argument) you need a true franchise QB. With a top-tier QB you can get a lead on an opponent, giving your D more options and forcing the opposition to have to throw the ball, while also having the firepower to come from behind to win games on days when your defense doesn’t have it, give up a special teams TD, etc. Pioli deserves more of the blame for the state of this team than Haley, but never has an owner fired a GM and retained the head coach and that’s just how things work and Clark knew the fans were getting restless and there are still two home games left to
pay I mean, play. If Pioli doesn’t do everything he can to draft a QB in the first round this year, it’s going to be mediocrity again next year at best, and I’m tired of it. Unless Pioli really doesn’t know how to be a GM and doesn’t come to this realization, he should atleast be intelligent enough to know that by selling Clark Kent on drafting a franchise QB buys himself a couple of years starting that QB to see if he can be the QB that is long overdue for the Chiefs.