It is pretty evident now that the Chiefs need a drastic change in culture at 1 Arrowhead Drive. Last night's embarrassment featured ineptitude on offense, defense, and special teams. There was literally nothing to inspire any confidence moving forward. There was nothing to build on. It was a flat out bad team looking like contenders because they played a team that is amongst the worst all time.
So what do we change? Well, a lot of things, but it has to start at the top. Scott Pioli's "Patriot Way" and "Right 53" has not worked. The blame has been passed around so much that it now rests solely on his shoulders. It is time for the Chiefs to look for a new General Manager that can right the ship and get this team moving towards greatness (although even mediocrity would be a step in the right direction now). But GM candidates are hardly well known. General Managers often don't get any publicity until after they have reached success, but we almost never know much about them before they make their mark.
So, here is a list of candidates that I believe should be receiving a phone call from Clark Hunt:
1. Vincent Newsome - Director of Pro Personnel - Baltimore Ravens: The ravens have put together one of the best franchises in the NFL. The bulk of their success comes from a defense that has been amongst the best in the NFL for a decade. Now, the offense is even moving up to match that level. The Ravens have done this by building from the inside out. Powerful and talented offensive and defensive lines that control the game and allow playmakers to operate uninhibited.
The driving force of this team has been GM Ozzie Newsome, regarded by many as the best front office man in the league. The man behind Newsome is Eric DeCosta. Normally, DeCosta would be my first choice from Baltimore, but he has already been tapped as the successor to Newsome, and there is no way he would give that up for Kansas City. So the next guy in line is Vincent Newsome (no relation to Ozzie). He is a former player who has spent several years in Baltimore's front office, so he has definitely played a role in the building of this team. Being a former player gives him clout with the athletes, while his time in Baltimore's front office means he should have an understanding of how front offices work.
The concern here would be that with such a strong GM above him, you can't be sure how much a role that Vincent Newsome has played with the team. It could be that he has been a non-factor, but I doubt that the great and powerful Oz would have kept him around if he was useless.
2. Dale Strahm - National Scout (ret) - Houston Texans: The Houston Texans have done a better job drafting over the past few years than almost any other team in the league. The defense in Houston is flat out dominant. Starting with the defensive line, the Texans have simply overwhelmed their opponents to the point that it almost isn't even fair. Meanwhile, the offense has cruised along, including a playoff run with their 3rd string rookie 5th round pick QB.
Obviously, this team know how to draft defense. A significant portion of their starting defense has been a result of the draft. The fact that they have recently been doing this from the middle of the round and with 2nd and 3rd round standouts is a strong reflection of the scouting department. The Chiefs, on the other hand, seem to have a lot of problems finding these kinds of players, despite having drafted in front of the Texans a majority of the past few years. Strahm has run an excellent scouting department, and that is what we need. We need our 2nd and 3rd round picks to be contributors. We need our 1st round picks to be superstars. We need an upgrade in how we evaluate talent. Strahm was the Director of College Scouting until July of 2011 before being named the national scout. He has been one of the primary movers in taking the Texans out of the basement all the way to the top 5 of the league. Strahm was also a coach at the college level for 30 years, which gives him a strong background in evaluating talent.
The concern with Strahm is his age. He recently retired, so he may not even be interested in coming back. He certainly wouldn't be the kind of guy that Chiefs fans would really get to know because he wouldn't be here long enough. But if we are rebuilding our front office (along with the team), then Strahm is certainly someone who knows how to establish a scouting department.
3. Tom Gamble - Director of Pro Personnel - San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have had a strong roster for years, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Jim Harbaugh inherited an extremely talented team that simply needed a spark. Another team built around a strong defense, the 49ers have only recently turned their attention to making their offense more explosive, which has resulted in a very dangerous team and Super Bowl contender.
Under Mike Singletary, the 49ers hovered around mediocrity. But the same roster flew to the top of the conference last year under Jim Harbaugh, so we know that the talent was there. Recognizing their deficiencies, the front office went to work making their offense much more explosive, targeting Mario Manningham and Randy Moss to compliment Michael Crabtree who has suddenly come to life. They have allowed players like Aubreyu Franklin to leave without any noticeable change on the defense. They consistently add talented players through the draft, and have done an excellent job of analyzing their weaknesses. Tom Gamble certainly has played a significant role in this area. He has served time as a coach, so there is an understanding of the game. He has been involved in college scouting and contract negotiations for the 49ers. This means that he is going to well versed in everything that a GM needs to do. And perhaps most importantly, he has seen the difference of a good coach and a bad coach first hand.
The concern with Gamble is that the 49ers weren't relevant until Jim Harbaugh came to town. So there were clearly some mistakes made by that front office. Has Gamble learned from those mistakes? I would think so as the results are pretty obvious.
4. Mike Mayock - Football Analyst - NFL Network: Almost anyone who follows the NFL Draft looks forward to when Mike Mayock releases his breakdowns. His mock drafts are great and always make sense. And his coverage of the Draft is far and away better than any of his peers at NFL Network. On top of this, his understanding of the game is well above that of a lot of "color" guys that sit in the broadcast booths. He simply knows and loves football. He can analyze talent and generally provides excellent diagnosis of strengths, weaknesses, where a player will fit, and who simply doesn't have what it takes for the NFL. He has also spent a lot of time calling college football games which means he has to have a lot of knowledge of the players coming into the draft.
The concern with Mike Mayock is that he doesn't have any actual front office experience. He may be tough to work with for guys that are front office career men and don't have playing experience. He often comes across as someone that may be difficult to get along with. However, we don't need someone who is going to be friends with everyone. We need a guy who can make tough decisions without getting caught up in any kind of friendship concerns.
5. Marty Schottenheimer - Insider Analyst - ESPN: A blast from the past, there is absolutely no one in NFL history who has a reputation like Marty's when it comes to turning a team around. He did it in Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington, San Diego, and even in the UFL. "Marty Ball" may be one of the best known coaching strategies of the 90's. Marty knows how to build a defense and has always emphasized protecting the ball. Those are two areas that the Chiefs need desperate help with. On top of that, Marty knows the Chiefs. Nobody got this franchise fired up to beat the raiders like he did. That kind of fire is what is needed in this franchise, and Marty is the kind of guy who can spread it to the team.
The concerns with Marty start with his age. This is another guy who wouldn't be here for the long haul. However, he can put this team on the path to success. The second concern with him is whether or not he has kept up with the changes to the game. Marty Ball was great in the 90's, but is obsolete in today's NFL. Can Marty make that transition from what he has built his career on? I think his time in San Diego would allow him to do that. He saw how a talented passing attack could really boost a team and take them to the next level.
So there is my short list. There are certainly a number of other qualified candidates, but these are the ones that really get me thinking. I like the idea of grabbing guys from front offices that have built talented rosters, especially defense-oriented ones. Meanwhile, I see guys like Mayock and Schottenheimer who just know football, and that makes me think they could build solid teams as well.