Defending Pioli: Where the Chiefs were vs. Where they are Now

I've been reading all of the FanPosts that have been posted since the ATL game. I've seen a few people freaking out over the depth of the team, how we should have been able to stop ATL more often, and how Pioli has failed miserably at bringing in talent and providing depth for this team. To this, I must ask, do you not remember that we have been a rebuilding team through most of Pioli's time in KC?

After he took a couple of years to rebuild, were you expecting that we become immediate, consistent playoff contenders? We've built a nice solid team of Starters on both sides of the ball. Now we're filling in depth. We still have some upgrades to be made at some starting positions, and depth to be added at others, but I think too many Chiefs fans have forgotten how far we have come, and just how bad we were before Pioli came to town.

Scott Pioli came to KC in 2009. At the end of the 2008 season, our OL Starters included Brandon Albert, Brian Waters, Rudy Niswanger, Wade Smith, and Damion Sackintosh. Tackle "depth" included Herb Taylor and Barry Richardson (Richardson was 3rd string, BTW) Taylor has been on 6 teams since KC, 1 of them being in the UFL. Barry Richardson was possibly the worst starting RT in the league last year. Niswanger never made a 53 man roster after he was released. Brian Waters was aging, but after losing Roaf and Shields in years before, we couldn't afford to lose him yet.

I've reworded this next sentence several times and it still doesn't come out right. But all of our current Offensive Linemen are better than the 2008 Offensive Linemen. Of course, our current backups may not be better than the 08 versions of Albert or Waters, but they are better than any of the other 08 Starters or Backups. Lilja is a regression from Waters, but not a major one. Hudson is far superior over Niswanger. Wade Smith has been a starter in Houston, but if I had to roll with Asamoah or Jeff Allen vs Smith, I would choose our guys over Smith. The thing that cracks me up is that Barry Richardson was actually an UPGRADE over Damian McIntosh when he took over. And Richardson was possibly the worst starting RT in all of NFL Football last season.

Needless to say, Pioli has taken one of the worst Offensive Lines in the NFL and turned it into a possible top 10 worthy OL (although after the 2nd half of ATL, I'm not so sure of this now, but it is still a respectable one)

Moving on to WR, our Starters were Dwayne Bowe and Mark Bradley. Our backups were Will Franklin, Devard Darling, and Jeff Webb. Dwayne Bowe is the only one of those guys still in the league. Mark Bradley was the only one who went to play for another team. He was out of the league after 2010. We now have Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster, Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin who still has the potential to be a very good WR. Say what you will about his production vs ATL. That doesn't make me forget all the flashes that he's displayed at the end of last season and in Camp this year. We haven't seen a big play from him..yet. But it's coming. He is too big, and has too much athletic ability, to NOT be a solid contributor.

If KC didn't have the worst WR group in the NFL back in 2008, I would be shocked. Once again, Pioli has turned a major weakness into a strength. Our WR group has a bunch of talent AND depth.

Tight End's, we finished the year with Tony Gonzalez and sadly watched him leave before the start of 09. I would have loved to see him finish his career here. But lets all be honest for a second. You're one of the greatest players to ever play your position. You're a guaranteed 1st ballot HOF'er and you've never won a playoff game, barely even sniffed playoff action. You play for one of the worst teams in the league. Wouldn't you want to go to a contender as well? You cannot tell me that you would be perfectly content spending your last years on a rebuilding team. Of course, it hasn't gone as planned for him, but I can understand. Behind him, we had Brad Cottam and Michael Merritt. Neither player found home's after they were released.

We now have Kevin Boss, Tony Moeaki, Jake O'Connel and Maneri. While none of them are up to Gonzo's level, the group as a whole is improved. Boss and Moeaki are both capable of receiving and blocking, as TG was. They may not be as good, but I think it's safe to say that the current TE position contains both talent and depth, where as if Tony wasn't such a hardass and went down to injury, we would have been screwed.

Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles, and Jackie Battle were the RB's. We all know how things with LJ turned out. Battle was a prized Camp performer and 3rd stringer who was able to average 4.0 yards per carry in his only season with a decent sized workload. But our 5 RB's blow 2008's group out of the water. We have a good mix of speed and power, and all of them have shown something. Well. Almost. I'm still not sold on Gray and while I like Eachus, I want to see him do something in a regular season game before I drool over him as some AP'ers do. But looking back, we have more overall talent, and much more depth, than we did in 2008.

QB will be the shortest position group I talk about. Hate on him all you want, but Cassel>Thigpen/Huard/Croyle.

Overall, Pioli has taken the offense, and found Starters AND Depth in almost every position. We have finished "Rebuilding" the offense. Is the Offense great? Not by any means. I think it does have potential. But now we're past rebuilding. I believe Pioli will begin upgrading Starters where necessary, and finish filling in a few final pieces of Depth. A home grown QB would be nice, but I feel Cassel is serviceable for now. Not praising him or hating him. We all know what he is. An Average QB who can win in the right circumstances, but falters when he presses too much. I don't see any other available upgrades over him.

If Bowe leaves, we may need some help at WR, but who knows. Baldwin could develop into a very good WR, and with Breaston and McCluster, not to mention if Wylie turns out to be any good, we may be okay if Bowe were to leave. But it's too early to tell for sure.

We could use upgrading at the QB and Backup QB spots, some would argue that we could use better starters at LT and LG and more depth at WR. But we have come a LONG way in the last 4 years, and you may as well thank Pioli for that.

Lets talk about the defense. This gets a bit more tricky due to the Base D change from 4-3 to 3-4. First, lets remember how much of an underachiever Derrick Johnson was. While I'm not a Haley supporter, I do think Haley's first year in KC was much needed. He brought the best out of DJ and Bowe.

For the sake of Comparison, I'm going to compare 08 to the current group by looking at the entire front 7. In 08, this group consisted of Hali, Dorsey, Tank/Edwards, and Boone on the DL, and Demarrio Williams, Rocky Boiman and Derrick Johnson at the LB positions. Toribio/Poe/Powe are an upgrade over Tank/Edwards. Current Dorsey is an upgrade over 08 Dorsey. Jackson is an upgrade over Boone.

DJ is an upgrade over his 08 self. (A significant upgrade I might add). I really am not sure how to compare Williams to a current player. If it were Belcher, I would have to go with Demarrio Williams on this one. I think Belcher is one of the weak links on D and is in need of a replacement. I can't really compare Williams to Houston, but if I had to choose, I'd probably go with Houston simply because he appears to be the better Pass Rusher. Belcher is an upgrade over Boiman though, and Hali is a full fledged monster now.

The Front 7 is a clear upgrade over 2008. I know that some individual positions could use some upgrading and as evidenced in the ATL game, depth is a concern. We have no real pass rushers outside of Hali and Houston and not having one of them spells trouble for the pass rush. I'm not sold on Toribio and would rather see Poe in there getting acclimated to the game at the NFL level and hopefully speeding up his development.

As for the Secondary, Flowers now>08 Flowers. Routt now > 08 Carr (don't take this the wrong way. Carr is the better CB but I still think keeping him for 50 mil as a #2 is absurd. While we regressed from Carr to Routt this year, we are still better off at that position now than we were when Pioli took over) Berry is a clear upgrade over Pollard and same for Lewis/Elam over Page. As for the depth, I'm not so sure. For CB's, we had Leggett, an old Surtain, and a couple of names I don't remember ever seeing. At S, we had Dujuan Morgan and McGraw. I would venture to guess that our current depth is an upgrade over 09, but not by a whole lot.

Honestly, this post got much more repetitive than I intended it to. My primary point that I am trying to get across is that people get so caught up in the year to year dealings that they forget where we have come from. Pioli has done an excellent job getting QUALITY starters on this team. He has done an excellent job getting QUALITY depth. Do we still need depth? Absolutely. Could we use upgrades at certain starting positions? By all means. But you can't take a team that was in shambles, and turn the entire thing around in just 4 years. Now, someone will probably try and go find a team that went from a bottom dweller to a consistent contender in 4 years or less. I would call that an anomaly, and not the norm. If it were so easy to turn around an NFL franchise, then you wouldn't see teams constantly being one of the worst in the league every year. (See: Cleveland Browns)

The 2010 playoffs was a good break, but also a fluke that put high expectations in the minds of Chiefs Fans. An easy schedule, no serious injuries, everything went perfect. But with a tougher schedule last year, and several key injuries, you can see that we are still just an up and coming team. But we have made it through the rebuilding phase.

This past offseason has been about adding depth to the team we have rebuilt. We still have some more depth to add, and upgrades to be made. But make no mistake, we do not have an offense and defense filled will starters who would never sniff another teams final 53. We do not have a bunch of backups who have no business being in the NFL. Pioli still has a lot of work to do. But to trash him and say that he's done a terrible job, that he hasn't brought in talent, that he hasnt added depth and so on is complete BS. He has made mistakes. Guess what? EVERY GM in the entire NFL make mistakes EVERY year. It's the freaking NFL. Nothing is a guarantee.

Pioli's biggest flaw, IMO, is not getting a QB of our own in the draft. But at the same time, I don't know if there is a QB that was available in past drafts that I would have been thrilled about if he would have. I'm basing that off of the available QB's at the times we made our picks. I certainly wouldn't of wanted to trade away future picks to move up and take one. We'll get our QB eventually. Some say they're worried that by the time we get a QB developed, that our offense will be aging and we'll be stuck back at square one. Its a good argument. But I would rather put a young QB into an established offense, while upgrading and maintaining the players around him along the way, than throw a rookie QB into a shit storm and try to fix everything around him while he's trying to develop.

Pioli has taken his time to methodically rebuild this team, upgrade the 22 players that start, find quality depth and subpackage guys, and do so without overspending, and dooming the future of the team. He's trying to build a team that will consistently contend for the playoffs. While it hasn't happened yet, I believe that we're on the right track. Pioli has done a good job so far, in my unprofessional opinion.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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