Mysteries Surrounding the KC Chiefs
Some things in life just don’t add up or make sense. This is usually a good sign that more is going on than you are currently privy to. In other cases it just demonstrates incompetence.
However you look at it, there are certain things about the 2012 KC Chiefs that cause me to scratch my head. Many of these things have been talked about, but consider this therapy for my tortured Chiefs soul. I’m actually going to cheat and start the list with an event from one year ago…
The Firing of Todd Haley…
I’m sure there is more surrounding this issue than we know. Leaving the rumors out of it, here are the facts:
As Offensive Coordinator of the 2008 Cardinals his offense took them to the Super Bowl and came within inches of winning.
Larry Fitzgerald credits Todd Haley in turning him from a good WR to one of the best in the league.
In 2009 he was hired as the Chiefs Head Coach and was considered around the league to be a good choice and improved the previous year’s record from 2-14 to 4-12. The season was notable in that Haley brought a discipline not seen by the Chiefs since Schottenheimer; benching Derrick Johnson, Dwaine Bowe, and Larry Johnson (among others) for poor performance. Larry Johnson did not respond well and was suspended then released sparking a two game winning streak late in the season. Dwaine Bowe and Derrick Johnson did eventually respond well and became pro-bowl players.
In 2010 Haley lead a motivated Chiefs team to its first Divisional Championship since 2003 and was considered for NFL Coach of the Year (Bill Belichick won it).
In 2011, facing a much tougher schedule and after the CBA labor negotiations erased the offseason, injuries sidelined Tony Moeaki in the preseason, Eric Berry on the first play of the first game, and Jamal Charles in the first quarter of the second game. Matt Cassel went down in week 10. All were lost for the year. When the Chiefs were 5-8 on the season and still in the race for the division championship (with 3 games left), Haley was suddenly fired. The year ended with a record of 7-9 and the team came within a blocked field goal of winning the division and going to the playoffs.
The rumors of discord between Haley and Scott Pioli now seem to be valid and it appears that Clark Hunt may have fired the wrong man. It would be impossible to speculate on what the Chiefs record would be this year if Haley hadn’t of been fired, but it is difficult to believe that it would be worse than 2-11.
Why has Scott Pioli removed all Chiefs Player’s charity signage from Arrowhead?
I will always remember seeing Derrick Thomas’ Third and Long Foundation banner that was proudly displayed at every game. Under Carl Peterson the players were encouraged to be a big part of the community and the team supported this in every way – a strategy that contributed to giving the Chiefs one of the most loyal fan bases in the NFL. The Pioli regime changed the policy by prohibiting the promotion of an individual player, even if it is for a good cause. I don’t believe the team is against the good causes, they just don’t want individual players being popularized outside the organization. Why?
Why did we let a good CB walk in Free Agency (Brandon Carr), and sign Stanford Route only to release him mid-season?
We had the cap room to give Carr the big money and considering the cash cost of signing Route and cutting him the same year, you have to wonder if it wouldn’t have been cheaper to keep Carr in the first place. I’m not sure how anyone could claim this isn’t a blunder by Pioli.
Why haven’t we signed any contract extensions for our core players?
Among others, Justin Colquitt, Branden Albert, Glen Dorsey, and Dwain Bowe are all in the last year of their contracts. In addition, Tyson Jackson is due a whopping $14 million in base salary next year and needs to be restructured if he’s going to stay on the team (we can’t even trade him with that cap number). I can see us letting Dorsey walk, but does anyone seriously think our team will be better without the rest of these guys? Jackson is averaging almost a sack a game since we’ve started leaving him in on passing downs and he’s always been strong on the run. Assuming we draft a QB, do we really want to pair him up with a new Left Tackle? Colquitt is one of the 3 best punters in the league and Bowe is a legitimate #1 WR – something KC seems to have trouble developing (sans Haley).
Why is Ricky Stanzi not playing?
We play the Raiders this week and the winner actually loses the top overall pick in the 2013 draft; the winner drops to the 3rd overall pick. The Raiders have already announced that their rookie QB will see some playing time so they can evaluate him. Reports indicate that other young Raider players may also see playing time. Meanwhile, the Chiefs refuse to play Stanzi. If he gives us no chance to win, why is he on the roster? If you can’t evaluate a QB unless he plays, why don’t we play him? Does anyone really think that a Chiefs win this week would cause us to re-sign Quinn for next year?
Why is Steve Breaston not playing?
It’s true that Breaston was a Haley guy when he played in Arizona, but has he suddenly become slow and old? The 28 year old signed a big money deal with the Chiefs prior to the 2011 season and had very respectable numbers – 61 receptions for 785 yards and 2 TDs. His yards per catch (12.9) remained consistent with his career numbers. This year, he is healthy but not seeing the field and for several games has not even suited up. If his play declined this rapidly then Pioli messed-up in giving him a 5 year contract. If we’re leaving him on the bench to get a look at the younger players then why aren’t we doing the same with Stanzi? Meanwhile, we’re fielding a team with undrafted rookies starting at WR.
Why is Cyrus Gray not playing?
Remember Cyrus? The 6th round RB we drafted this year. The one that showed some flash and quickness at the beginning of the year before he was relegated forever more to the sidelines? Personally, I would much rather see him (even with normal rookie fumbling problems) than watch Payton Hillis gain his standard 2 yards per carry.
How can our GM and Head Coach allow WR Jonathon Baldwin, our 2011 #1 draft pick, not to develop after lighting it up in the off-season?
Was it just a terrible, terrible pick or are we inept at getting performance out of wide-receivers? Is the Steve Breaston situation related to this? Regardless of the cause, doesn’t this land at the feet of Scott Pioli?
In a 2-11 season, why have we not heard from Scott Pioli?
Except for press releases surrounding the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, Pioli has been silent to the fans.
In a 2-11 season, why have we not heard from Clark Hunt?
It’s true that this owner eschews the limelight, but excepting press releases surrounding the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, Hunt has been silent to the fans.
Does Clark Hunt really think the fans want the Chiefs to win the last 3 games and blow the #1 pick in the draft?
I personally don’t know a single fan that wants this. The Chiefs have a reputation for having a football savvy fan base; in the years when we had insanely loud crowds, announcers regularly declared this when the crowd would quiet for our offense. I think almost every fan recognizes the need to draft a QB and most feel that the #1 pick is the way to assure the best one. Leaving the quality of this QB draft class aside for the moment, and considering the dismal and myopic mental state of the fan base, I think it might even increase interest and attendance if Hunt would announce that we’re going to play the young guys. Stanzi already has a crazy Iowa cult following and I don’t want Jamal Charles to get hurt in meaningless games. I realize that it would probably be against league rules to openly throw the last three games, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the Raiders from ‘going with a youth movement.’
What Clark Hunt Needs to Do
Quietly tell Pioli and Crennel that there’s going to be a change at the end of the season…
They can quietly finish out the season and collect the balance of their contracts or, If they want to make a big deal out of it and quit, they’ll forfeit a lot of money.
Quietly leak it to the agents of Bowe, Albert, Jackson, and Colquitt that there will be changes in management and for their players not to sell their houses. This would be a good time for Hunt to also imply to the agents that he’s mad as hell and that the Chiefs will be a playoff team no matter what it takes. Never underestimate the power and value of the rumor mill.
Clark Hunt needs to instruct Crennel to ‘play the youth so we can see what we’ve got…’
He should put a small limit on the number of snaps per game that Charles, Moeaki, Flowers, Houston, Hali, Berry, and Derrick Johnson can have in each of the last three games.
Bring in an advisor to start vetting potential GMs…
Perhaps Marty Schottenheimer? Dick Vermeil? Clark needs the advice of football people to get this one right. He should, however, make it clear that the Ball Control philosophy that has shackled the Chiefs offense in recent years will not be permitted. Priest Holmes was a good running back; not a great one. Yet he set records and we led the NFL in rushing because our passing game was so effective. We don’t need a game manager at QB, we need a passing quarterback that will keep defenses off balance. I am mentioning this here because I believe it starts with the GM. They hire the HC and draft the QB of the Future. The Vermeil offensive philosophy should be a model. We don’t need to chuck it down the field every other play like an Al Davis tribute; Vermeil’s offenses used the ‘Air Coryell’ intermediate timing routes and were almost perfectly balanced with running and passing plays. I don’t care what system it is (Coryell or otherwise), I care that we graduate from the run first, play action passing game that we stubbornly cling to.
Instruct the new GM to draft two QBs…
The #1 priority of the new GM needs to be finding and developing a QB. Coaching decisions should revolve around this, drafting decisions, Free Agency decisions; everything. If it is determined that the best way to quickly develop a Chiefs QBOTF is to draft two, sign a top free agent to mentor them, and base the HC and QB coaching hiring decisions on their track records of developing QBs then so be it. If we can’t afford to sign a FA CB because we need to pay that experienced FA QB as a mentor, then so be it. As I write this it seems redundant because it’s just common sense – but remember, the Chiefs haven’t done this in decades (if ever).
Instruct the new GM that the fans are family…
Media secrecy and lack of on the field discipline seem to be the formula at One Arrowhead Drive. Openness and strict player discipline works better in KC. If you think about Schottenheimer’s teams his players performed or paid the price, but they were encouraged to be active in the community and we made heroes of them. Look, no coach or GM is going to give away game secrets, but KC is a small market town that wants to be a part of the team. Bring down the walls.