I won't pretend to believe that I am qualified as a talent-evaluator, so I the floor will certainly be open for dissenting opinions at the end here. However, I believe that our new GM has had enough time to allow for an assessment of the state of his decisions. I admit that I am somewhat disappointed with the man compared to the myth that surrounded him leading to his hiring. While I don't believe he has been an utter failure, I do believe many of his decisions certainly are open to criticism. It is nice to be a relevant team again, but the Chiefs play in a division that lacks a power-house team like the Steelers, Patriots, or Ravens. I would like to think that the right, smart decisions over the last three years should have made them serious playoff contenders by this point.
After the jump, let's take a look at the criticisms I see to this point:
- I see a failure to develop a cohesive offensive line after 3 FAs and a draft pick. Branden Albert has always been a LT that you wish you could move to RT. Ryan Lilja seems to be out of place for a team that presents as a run-first offense, as does an aged Weigmann. Richardson has been overmatched at RT and is probably no better than a rotational backup. Asamoah has been a success, and hopefully Hudson is on his way there, too. Until the final OT and OG positions are solidified, I think this team will struggle offensively, regardless of the skill talent provided.
- I was disappointed with his decision to bring in coaches that decided to play a 3-4 defensive front when his initial personnel were best designed for a 4-3. Admittedly, if you're going to make the switch you have to do it some time, but I would think you would make that decision based on having at least some of the DL and LB talent that best fit that scheme. They have made great strides, but I feel it delayed the unit's development for a year or two. This change without the personnel already in place has resulted in a seemingly never-ending search for a NT and the right types of LBs for the scheme. Houston is starting to look good opposite Hali, and it seems as though Derrick Johnson has finally blossomed. Hopefully they can find that other ILB (maybe Siler is the guy) and their franchise NT because the failures against the run keep this defense from being truly elite.
- He has provided some good pieces through the draft, but I was still more than a little bit disappointed in the 2010 2nd round choices of McCluster and Arenas. Arenas has proven to be incapable of being a significant factor for the defense, so you end up with a very high draft pick used on a returner. McCluster is still a complementary piece, as well. He has a terrific skill set, but he can't be a major focal point of an offense. He is a poor man's Sproles or Bush, and those aren't guys that you build an offense around. They are luxuries that are added to a solid offensive unit to push them over the top. I would have been okay with burning one of these two picks on a specialty/complementary player such as one of these guys, but I think it showed poor judgement to select both with such valuable picks. Couple that with Tyson Jackson, which has to be considered a poor value pick at this point, and he's wasted some valuable picks. Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Moeaki, Asamoah, McCluster, and Bailey have looked good to great. Houston, Hudson, Powe, and Baldwin have a good chance to be important pieces in the future, as well. That's decent in the draft for his tenure, even if he didn't always get the best value for the player.
- I think he's been most poor in his FA selections. I thought he over-payed for Matt Cassel at the time he brought him to KC after a very small body of work in the NFL. It smacked very much to me of the desperation act that brought Elvis Grbac to town several years ago. I guess Vrabel was an alright throw-in when getting a starting QB, but I don't think his value on the field was very high during his time in KC. Steve Breaston did not present as a difference-maker this year by any means. Lilja, Weigman, and Richardson have not really solidified the OL, which still struggles to pass block and open holes in short yardage situations. Shaun Smith was a pretty good DL last year, but then Pioli set him aside to bring in Gregg. Gregg clearly didn't provide the strong presence at the NT that a good 3-4 requires, and this defense continues to struggle at stopping the run on a regular basis. Throw in Chris Chambers, and Pioli's approach to FA looks more like dumpster-diving than value-buying. The best GMs know the difference.
Well, those are my views on the topic. What do you think? I think overall our defense needs to learn to stop the run if they want to take up a position in the elite class within the NFL. However, an average offense would have had this team as AFC West Champs this year. I believe Orton is a better option at QB than Cassel, but more importantly I think we need some serious competition for the starting QB position in training camp next year. We've seen decent things out of Cassel (though few and far between, IMO). Orton has had some good moments. Palko is done. What does Stanzi have? Can you bring in a guy like Matt Flynn, Kellen Clemens, or T.J. Yates (a backup that has shown some talent this year) to compete for the starting and backup positions? Is there a developmental guy in the draft that looks better than Stanzi? I think the QB position needs to be solved pretty quickly. A true franchise QB could be the difference in a division that really only has one (Rivers).
Thanks for reading my rambling.