I have been an everyday reader of this website for the past few years. I have commented from time to time, but have struggled to contribute a well thought out fanpost. I wouldn’t call the following words well thought out, but there was thought involved. After previously failed attempts at putting together something worth posting, I decided to type a subject and then form a response. The response may not come full circle, but it aided me in forming a complete thought. The subject follows:
The talent on this team was left here by Peterson/Herm.
There is no denying the fact that Pioli and Haley were left with a solid group of talented players upon their arrival in KC. Bowe, Derrick Johnson, Carr, Flowers, Dorsey, Albert, Hali and Charles were already on the roster. These guys are all good/great players who have contributed greatly to any success this team has had. There’s also probably not a name on that list (save maybe Charles and Flowers) that hasn’t been part of some trade scenario, position change, or just out right release discussion on this website. I guess that’s just the nature of the beast.
To advance to my point, these players should be the best players on the team. They are all 4 to 7 year pros near the prime of their football careers. Now, I do not believe that older equals better. I just think that there is more of a likelihood that these guys are going to be your go-to-guys. There’s a case that a couple of them would not be the player they are without Haley. I’ll shy away from that because there’s no possible way to prove it (you can make a strong case for Bowe via Haley’s history with WRs).
I don’t necessarily want to go on and on about the players that Pioli has brought onto this team in his short time here. I will compile a list of players that have joined this team via Pioli: Jackson, Succop, Berry, McCluster, Arenas, Asamoah, Lewis, Breaston, McClain, Baldwin, Hudson, and Houston. There are other names that could be brought up, but I believe that all those players are young and have shown the ability to help this team win. Two that have received a fair amount of criticism are Dexter and Javier. Some will say that they were not worth the spot they were drafted in. That’s hard to debate. We were a team that desperately lacked in speed and return guys (Bobby Wade anyone?). I will say that Dexter is on pace for nearly 1,400 all-purpose yards. Javier is near the top of the league in punt return average and is gradually becoming a solid nickel corner. I believe he was a major reason in Welker’s absence for the majority of the Patriots game, I could be wrong.
One guy that deserves his own paragraph is Eric Berry. This guy could be considered the best player on this team barring his most recent injury. Let’s talk rookie accomplishments. He was a pro bowler, he was named to the NFL’s top 100 list by the players, and he played more snaps than anyone on the Chiefs roster. Whether or not he is the best player on the Chiefs roster is debatable. The fact that he is in the discussion after only a rookie year of service tells me two things. First, Eric Berry is awesome. And second, this team was lacking in elite talent.
Due to the way this year has played out, there have been more and more open critics of Pioli and Haley. That’s understandable and expected. My opinion, right or wrong, hasn’t altered greatly. I try not to jump from black to white and then from white to black on a given subject. I try to be subjective in nature, but having such a strong interest or passion can sometimes make that difficult. With that said, I still believe that Pioli and Haley are heading in the right direction.
Results can be misleading. I think back to the 2007 and 2008 seasons under Herm and remember a sloppy team. Special teams were horrid. It seemed like we never had a chance for a good return and our coverage teams were, at times, nonexistent. Our defense would make every quarterback appear to be an all pro. Running backs seemed to get five yards without getting breathed on. The offense at times seemed exciting, albeit in the first half. Overall, the whole mess produced six wins in those two years, four coming in the first seven weeks of the 2007 season.
Is the current squad any better at the faults I previously described? I would say yes. The offense, as of late, has been craptastic (funny that Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize craptastic). Our special teams are light-years away from those Herm squads. Our Jekyll and Hyde defense can at least inspire hope. Their major struggle has been giving up the big play. When they limit that and get the pressure they’ve been getting of late, they are a top defensive unit.
My biggest concern when analyzing Pioli and Haley is the lack of sufficient time. Pioli came on months before the 2009 draft and didn’t have time to install his scouts. I don’t think people realize the dynamic a GM must have with his scouts. Pioli isn’t some wizard or genius that does everything himself. I’m sure he does some scouting himself, but for the most part relies on the information his scouts bring him to make a decision. I would encourage every Chiefs fan to read Michael Holley’s War Room to get full insight into this process. It is a great read.
I still believe the 2009 draft was a success if you factor in Cassel and Vrabel, which you should. Both guys helped change the culture of the locker room and aided the 10-6 season of 2010. The first and only season that Pioli and Haley had a full offseason to work together. That is my biggest concern in evaluating the tandem. When criticizing over a lack of depth, it has to be considered. While we all want overnight success, good things happen to those who wait.