Enough’s enough: Clark Hunt must make major changes now
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
The Chiefs lost their last bit of reasonable hope in a loss so head-shakingly embarrassing it pushed this season from merely awful to pathetic, and some rich men are going to lose their jobs over this.
They need to, anyway, or else a fan base that deserves better is suffering for no reason. If this season were a meal, you’d send it back. Or end up really sick.
Either way, you wouldn’t go back to the restaurant, and that’s the part that has the legs to create some real change after only a few of the Chiefs’ closest friends stuck around to see the end of an embarrassing 37-20 loss to the Chargers at home on Sunday.
Because this is beyond hope, beyond excuses, beyond any explanation that isn’t a fireable offense for everyone who can be fired. This is gross, and imagining it improving requires a stiff imagination or a stiffer drink.
Romeo Crennel needs to fire Matt Cassel as the starting quarterback, because Cassel is now not only bad but hopeless.
Pioli needs to fire Crennel, because he’s building a convincing case as the worst head coach in the league.
And Clark Hunt needs to fire Pioli, because every stitch of progress with this roster is undermined by fundamental flaws in quarterback, head coach and philosophy that are a direct reflection of the general manager and serve as something like a parking brake on the franchise’s stated goal of winning championships.
The argument to make major changes goes something like this: Crennel is overmatched trying to be head coach and defensive coordinator, and a roster top-heavy with stars but lacking in depth cannot drag a leaking quarterback through today’s pass-happy NFL. Pioli has not earned the right to choose the next quarterback or a third head coach.
The argument to maintain status quo goes something like this: hey, it’s the NFL, and maybe the Chiefs can get really, really, really lucky.
Tickets are already sold for games that are already scheduled, so the Chiefs will go ahead and play out the last three-fourths of a meaningless season, but by now the only drama is whether games will be blacked out, how bad Cassel has to stink before he gets benched, and whether a bumbling product that’s now lost three games by two touchdowns or more will be enough to convince Hunt that his broken franchise needs major fixes.
That win last week in New Orleans felt good for a moment, like a candy bar for that afternoon crash, but we’re going to end up remembering it as empty calories keeping the Chiefs from a higher draft pick – a pick that needs to be made by whomever Hunt hires after he fires Pioli.
Because, enough. We’ve seen enough. The quarterback hand-picked and made apparently untouchable by Pioli’s faith and New England nostalgia has been booed in both stadiums at Truman Sports Complex and now has 10 turnovers in four games.
Pioli’s Chiefs continue to spit into the NFL’s wind, and the franchise’s fans deserve better than to slog through a 19th consecutive season without a playoff win while wasting more productive years from Tamba Hali, Dwayne Bowe, Justin Houston and the other good players stuck in a slogging Process that might max out at mediocre.
A roster so galvanized 10 months ago by its beloved Romeo is now a stumbling mess, three blowout losses in four tries, only a comeback win over one of the few organizations in football with less direction keeping them from being winless.
Cassel isn’t up to the demands of championship quarterback, and it’s not his fault that his bosses are slow to recognize he’s just good enough to get beat. Crennel is now 27-44 as a head coach, and Pioli still hasn’t been in charge of a playoff win without Tom Brady starting at quarterback.
Four years into what seemed like a great idea at the time, Pioli’s teams have an 0-1 postseason record and are working on a third disaster in four years.
Pioli is on record saying Cassel can be good enough to win a title. Everything he’s done here for four years is based on that belief, and with that evaluation so obviously wrong, there is no way Hunt can responsibly give him the chance to choose the next quarterback.
At this point, the worst thing that can happen is that the Chiefs win enough games to hold off major changes and strive for mediocrity one more year and waste more of the careers of players under long-term control who can be part of the solution.
The good news is it’s hard to imagine them doing even that.
When you think about it, this about the worst position a team can put its fans in: hoping for a season so bad it forces changes. Here comes Hunt’s chance to show Chiefs fans he shares their disgust in an underperforming team and won’t accept failure.
Your move, Clark.
To reach Sam Mellinger, call 816-234-4365, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
or follow twitter.com/mellinger. For previous columns, go to KansasCity.com.