I did a post some time back about our new OC, Bill Muir. Recently, with the news that the lockout may be winding down (make it so number one!) my thoughts are returning to the state of the Kansas City Chiefs. Many unanswered questions remain concerning the product that the Chiefs will put on the field in 2011.
In my mind, one of the biggest questions from a TEAM perspective is how the offense is going to respond to the changes that have been made (goodbye, Charlie--Hello Jon Baldwin) and those that are still to be made (free agency pickups, supplemental draft, trades etc.). How is QB Matt Cassel going to respond to his fourth OC in as many years? The guy sits on the bench for the better part of seven years of football and when he finally gets a break, the powers that be do their best to undermine any consistency and progress the QB might make by changing up his boss regularly. Cassel has had two different head coaches and four different OC's in as many years. There is an old saying that there is no quality without consistency. I sure hope we can come by a little consistency soon.
I know that many believe that Todd Haley is pulling the ultimate strings on this offense, but as Mr. Spock said in a Star Trek movie, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one". A professional football team is a pretty good place to test that theory. Haley has to spend most of his time dealing with the needs of the many instead of the needs of the one (Cassel). That can't be avoided, the head coach is the head coach afterall. I am sure Matt spends much more time with that OC in his ear than any other member of the coaching staff. This year, the exception may be Jim Zorn. That's even another 'new' thing for Cassel to adjust too. Who does he listen to?
Assuming that Bill Muir is that voice, at least concerning the bigger picture of how the offense should run, I thought it would be informative to find out some more about what Cassel (and for that matter, us fans) can expect from Mr. Muir. I found some pretty interesting stuff and am willing to share, after the jump.
The choice of Bill Muir as Kansas City's new Offensive Coordinator was a bit of a surprise to those of us who follow Chiefs football, and even more so to the media in KC. There were many in those ranks who have accused Haley of having problems controlling his ego. Problems that go to the extent of making him hard to work for. Many pundits point to the firing of Chan Gailey and the departure of Charlie Weis as proof that these allegations are true. For them, it was a logical next step to point to Muir as the last ditch, only-available-candidate-that-was-willing-to-subject-themselves-to-working-with-some-kind-off-tyrant-on-a-daily-basis type of choice.
The problem with that theory is that, so far at least, there has been no quoted source(s) to attribute this allegation to. What we do have instead, is the record. What is on the record is that Gailey was unable to agree with Haley's philosophy concerning the Chiefs version of Earhardt-Perkins, the offensive scheme that our current offense is based on. So much so that it lead to his dismissal prior to the 2009 season.
Charlie Weis left the Chiefs to take a position in a college where his son was going to be going to school and wants to learn how to coach. Rumor was that he and Haley couldn't get along. Once again we have this trouble with credible sources for this information. Obviously, different fans will believe as they will, but so far there has not been one reason to disbelieve Charlie's stated reason for leaving the Chiefs. Actually, if he and Haley did disagree on how to run the offense, it wouldn't be all that surprising.
I'm sure that any number of NFL coaches don't see eye to eye on Earhardt Perkins. EP has been tinkered with constantly over the years and coaches tend to have their own ideas about how best to employ it's many facets. Actually, it's one of the strengths of the program. It can be molded to be whatever that HC wants it to be at that time and can always be manipulated in the future to meet the needs of that team and coach. As an example, Haley is purported to be the first head coach to run EP with a zone blocking scheme for the offensive line.
So, does Haley's choice of Bill Muir offer evidence that he just couldn't get anybody else to take the job? I don't think so, and Muir's credentials are certainly good enough to qualify him for the job. Muir has been coaching football since 1966. He's been employed in the NFL since 1978 when he started as a scout for Tampa Bay. His first NFL coaching job was in 1982 with the Patriots. Since that time he has coached for the Lions, Colts, Eagles and Jets, and even returned to the Bucs in 2002 with Jon Gruden. In all those years coaching the O-line, I think Muir has been exposed to many different offensive schemes and their variations. Interestingly though, he was a hit with Bill Parcells during his tenure with the Jets and that's also the time that he worked with Mo Carthon, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel and yes, Todd Haley. All were on Parcells staff for the Jets.
Parcells liked Muir so much that at a time when Parcells was in demand in just about every NFL GM's office, Bill Muir was hired by the Bucs on only the promise of Bill Parcells taking their head coaching job.
-In 2001, Parcells talked to members of the Glazer family during a season in which Dungy was coaching the Bucs to the playoffs. After firing Dungy, the Bucs hired Parcells' choice, Bill Muir, as their offensive line coach, a job he still holds under Jon Gruden. They also talked to Mike Tannenbaum, who was Parcells' pick to be the Tampa Bay general manager. Tannenbaum stayed on Long Island, where he eventually became GM of the Jets, and Parcells backed out.
Good thing for Muir. He would eventually win a Super Bowl as Chucky's OC. Gotta love that Parcells.
What was it about Muir that coach Parcell's coveted? His ability to play to the players strengths and get everything possible out of them in terms of production.
The Jets will tell you Muir more than earned his pay in his seven seasons with them. This past season, he tweaked the team's intricate pass-protection scheme and molded a starting unit that included an undrafted free agent (LG Kerry Jenkins), a seventh-round pick (RT Ryan Young) and a fourth-round pick (LT Jason Fabini) into one of the league's best.
They allowed the second-fewest sacks in the league (19) and helped the Jets launch the fourth-best rushing offense (128.4 yards a game). Running back Curtis Martin's 1,513 yards marked the sixth consecutive time Muir's lines have helped produce a 1,000-yard rusher.
Sounds pretty darn good to me! Don't you think that we have a bit of a hodge-podge right now on our O-line? Who's responsible for Barry Richardson's improvement from last season? Could it be Muir? Could Muir have been the one in Barry's head during that Broncos game when Barry took a swipe at Steve Hoffman? Good to see a little fire under Barry's caboose in any event, don't you agree? What do you think Muir can do with a raw talent like Asamoah?
When Herm Edwards followed Parcells as the Jets head coach, he made sure that he kept Muir as his O-line coach. Herm knew what kind of coach Muir was and he wanted that kind of assistance.
"The thing that most good coaches can do is that they can find a way to play to players' strengths, and he does an excellent job of doing that," said Edwards
Muir is not just a coaches coach. I believe that the players like and respect him as well, and because of that relationship they play hard for him. Here is what Jumbo Elliott, the Jets LT during Muir's time in New York, had to say:
Of the three holdovers from Kotite's staff, Erhardt and Hodgson had been with Parcells during his years as Giants coach, but Muir, the offensive line coach, is a new face on a Parcells staff. Despite the Jets' problems last season, Muir had impressed left tackle Jumbo Elliott. ''Bill knows how to get you ready for the opposition,'' Elliott said. ''He knows how to get you to do what you're good at doing.''
Many of the players for the '92 Eagles had similar things to say when Muir came in as Rich Kotite's O-line boss. Linebacker Seth Joyner was one who took notice.
"I'm sitting there watching a replay," Joyner said, "and I turned to one of the guys and said, 'You know what, I haven't seen our offensive line pick up a stunt like that in a long time.' I mean, the defensive guys were switching lanes and crossing and going under and our linemen were switching and passing guys off, and it was really good to see.
"They've come a lot of miles in a short period of time, and they've given this whole team a boost with the job they're doing. I mean, it's night and day, and I think a lot of it has to do with the coaching change."
Those Eagles would win in the Wild Card round against the Saints and ultimately lose against their nemesis in the NFC east in those days, the Dallas Cowboys. Whatever the case, playoff football is better than the alternative, right? Muir has been there.
When Darrell Fry of the St. Petersburg times asked Muir what style of lineman he prefers, Muir responded with what titled this article:
"You remember Jake Gaither up at Florida A&M? He wanted them hostile, mobile and agile," said Muir, who knew the legendary FAMU coach and even attended one of his practices. "I buy into that. That's what I want."
There you have it Chiefs nation. A few more bona fides to give you more confidence in the quality of Haley's choice for our new Offensive Coordinator. He really is a good pick and after some careful consideration, I also think that this choice may indeed mean that our very own Coach Haley will take over the play calling duties in the upcoming season. The tipping point for me was the addition of Mr. Jim Zorn as QB coach.
With this choice, Haley now has quite a bit of help to run the offense. The sixty-four thousand dollar question of course, is, will it work?
It just so happens that Rich Gannon recently made a few comments on just that subject. He seems to think that Zorn needs to provide the impetus to become part of the team with Haley and Muir and he needs to do it quickly or his efforts could be for naught. Per a recent Kent Babb article in the KC Star:
"If I was Jim Zorn, I'd be spending a lot of time with those two guys," said Gannon, who played four seasons with the Chiefs in the 1990s. "It's really important that he's absolutely on the same page with the coordinator and the play-caller. You've got to be able to speak the exact same language.
"If there's a difference of opinion, that'll lead to confusion. That's what you can't have." One question is how Zorn will respond to being a position coach again, after spending two seasons as Washington's head coach and last season as Baltimore's coordinator. Gannon said it's essential for Zorn to respect the Chiefs' chain of command and not make decisions that might conflict with what Haley or Muir might choose. Haley hasn't said who will call offensive plays next season, although Muir has never been a team's primary play-caller in his more than three decades as a coach.
Thanks Rich. You just laid the groundwork for the next big scandal in KC. We appreciate your input. Sheesh.
Haley, Muir and Zorn will be alright. Cassel will benefit, as will our win/loss record and our fan morale. Muir is the right guy for this team at this point in it's development. I think he's even the right guy for our 3rd year HC to build a successful HC/OC relationship with. Now all we gotta do is get to training camp.