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Old 02-27-2012, 06:28 AM  
Direckshun Direckshun is online now
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In Pioli I Trust

I think it's high time something starts to change around here.

I've been a member of Chiefsplanet going on 6+ years now, because I have long understood something that served as this vicious forum's watchword going back to the days I first started posting: building a football team is a smart man's game which benefits from sober, dispassionate analysis, not an emotional kneejerk-a-thon where baseless loyalty and emotional ties trump all.

That kind of mob rule long had a place on the Coalition or AP or virtually any of the other sludge pits of homer-otica that colored the web. For years, ChiefsPlanet's take-no-prisoners approach yeilded benefits; we've long had some of the best posters, the best range of opinion, and reason found its way to the top of the crop year after year.

The past few years, ChiefsPlanet has passed this crown to other sites, most notably AP. This forum has grown as intolerant and reactionary as any Chiefs site on the web. Normally I wouldn't give two shits and I'd just allow you all to spin yourselves into a self-destructive fantasy, which would surely render the football forums pointless, leaving the Planet with the Epic Fail thread as its only saving grace.

But the insanity isn't that widespread. It's just concentrated to the nthe degree on current GM Scott Pioli. Ever since he's arrived, this website has strayed so far from reality that it can't bring itself to accept the amazing transformation this team has seen since 2009. A lot of people get credit for that; Herm Edwards drafted well, and the coaches we've had over the past couple of year (Haley, Crennel) have been good enough at developing talent that things have really accelerated past where this team really should be under normal circumstances.

But let's start with the basics. Pioli's first year was a disaster, with the team going 4-12. The next year against a soft schedule, we went 10-6 and won the division. This year, the team lost its starting QB, the best players on offense and defense, and played a harder schedule. And still finished 7-9, a game out of the division.

I understand the Pioli hate isn't baseless. The 2009 disaster has been well-documented. Supposedly brought in because he was willing to perform a complete transformation of professionalism to Kansas City's front office, Pioli got his pants pulled down all offseason. He missed out on countless free agents, and had what many people consider to be a shit draft, drafting just one offensive lineman with our shit line and a strong OL draft class (the one guy we drafted was Colin ****ing Brown). He hired Todd Haley, a personally abrasive personality who could never coexist with another cook in the kitchen. And he signed Matt Cassel long-term that offseason, the last of the 2009 decisions this franchise is still living with and suffering from.

And then there was that disasterous article about the toxic working environment at Arrowhead. But maybe there's a method to that degree of madness. It has worked, for instance, with the new Bears GM who was our scouting director for a couple years. It worked enough for Weis and Crennel. And the countless coaches in New England. And Pioli has managed strong coaching hires nonetheless. Pioli is not, after all, an unknown quantity, so it's not like he pulled some fast one on Haley to come here. He spent a decade in New England, so it's not like people have no idea what the guy's like.

But let's get back to that shit 2009 offseason. There are ways to consider it. For starters, imagine it had never happened... kind of a stretch, I know. But if Scott Pioli had arrived in 2010 and accomplished all that he has in these two years, wouldn't we largely be praising his amazing work in those two years? Two solid years of coaching hires, drafts, free agency acquisitions, and talent growth on this team? That's an incredibly strong track record. I understand the frustration over 2009 (a weak year for the draft and free agency anyway), but clearly the past two years are the path Pioli will blaze for this team. Surely that must excite you for the future.

The Coaching Hires

Even in 2009, the only truly botched hire was Clancy Pendergast for defensive coordinator, and that was because Pioli held out so hard for Haley to become available.

Todd Haley was not a bad hire. It's very clear that if this organization had found some way to keep him reigned in with a very specific responsibility (like offensive coordinator with the Cardinals/Steelers, or 2010's just-head-coach responsibility with the Chiefs), he was extremely effective in those specific, limited roles. Haley did eventually lose support of the locker room in 2011, but there's no denying his ability to groom the talent this team did have. Pushing Derrick Johnson and Dwayne Bowe deep down the depth chart revitalized both players, the benefits of which we'll be reaping for years to come. He was an expert motivator, and never minced words on the field (who gives two shits if he gives a bad interview). His dressing-down of Brodie Croyle against the Ravens in 2009 was as perfect a syncing up with ChiefsPlanet thought as there's ever been. Sadly, Haley did not work out with the personality of this organization (to say the ****ing least), and chased off two different offensive coordinators and had an overly burdensome relationship with the most recent one.

Since then, Pioli has been hitting on all cylinders with his coaching hires. He brought on the two best coordinators on both sides of the field in 2010, both of them giving this team an incredible boost. Crennel in particular did as good a job on this defense as any coordinator has over the previous five years leading up to his hire. Muir was as good as this organization could do with Haley on board, but we did bring in Jim Zorn.

2011 brought on more coaching hires that hit the spot. Zorn stayed on, and Daboll was an odd hire but probably the best this organization could do for the time being. Daboll himself is not altogether a bad hire; he did have success with fairly comparable offensive talent in Miami, including a limited QB, a solid run game and a mostly inert passing game with one true gamebreaker at WR. And Crennel, of course, was the best coaching hire of this offseason.

The most important shift in coaching philosophy under Pioli is the emphasis on development of talent. Carl Peterson was too invested in acquiring new talent. But since Schottenheimer, we've had virtually zero coaching that was capable of developing the talent we already had. But with Haley, Zorn, Weis, Crennel... that all has changed under Pioli. And we're all the better for it.

The Drafts

Even including the 2009 draft that disappointed so many people, the Chiefs have been one of the league's absolute best drafters under Pioli. But even including 2009... what did we get? A league-leader in run defense at DE, and a franchise kicker. That's a pretty weak haul, but it's better than most teams fared in that sorry-ass draft class. Tyson Jackson was a pretty weird pick at #3 overall, but virtually every other player in the Top Ten picks that year after the Chiefs busted, including BJ Raji who doesn't even fit our two-gap defense. You can throw in Belcher, who was a UDFA this year, and the team's draft is starting to magically look average for 2009.

The 2010 draft, meanwhile, was one of the five best drafts this team has ever, ever had. The team drafted Berry, McCluster, Arenas, Asamoah, Moeaki, Sheffield, and Lewis. That's a hit on every pick, save the Sheffield pick in the fifth round. Coming from a guy who absolutely hated the 2010 draft, I will be the first to say I was dead wrong. It landed us one All Pro, four starters, and two people (McCluster and Arenas) who play a prominent role on the team. That profundity of this class of new Chiefs is amazing; virtually no team in NFL history has hit on all of its picks in any given year. A draft this good can fastforward a rebuilding process.

The 2011 draft, also, still has the potential to be one of the five best drafts this team has ever had. Baldwin will be starting shortly. Hudson will be starting. Houston and Bailey will be starters soon. And Stanzi and Powe have yet to get their opportunities, and we've seen them flash in the preseason.

Free Agency and Cap Management

With one notoriously bad signing in Cassel, the Chiefs under Pioli are not mere cheapskates like it's been alleged. They are sticking to one word above all: value. Value, value, value. No signing is made unless it's a deal on the Chiefs end.

Now that necessarily means that, in an era of bloated free agent contracts, the Chiefs will largely sit on their hands when free agency comes around. And that surely frustrates many of us to great end, but the approach of signing the next Shiny Thing on the market did squat for Carl Peterson's Chiefs.

2009 gave us only one free agency signing worth remembering: halfway through the season we claimed Chris Chambers off waivers. And he flamed out so hard he got kicked off the team shortly after signing a very manageable contract in 2010. But for the rest of 2009, he was a good option to have opposite Bowe. (And it should be mentioned that Mike Vrabel provided us an excellent defensive coach while DJ was getting his act together.) Though it should be mentioned the worst move all offseason, outside of the Cassel deal, was trading a 6th to the Dolphins for two offensive lineman we didn't play.

But even the Cassel deal was reasonable to the vast majority of minds in the NFL. Beyond reasonable. The Chiefs had zero talent at the position, and brought in a player the GM was intimately familiar with, along with a defensive coach-on-the-field, who at the time was relatively young at 27 years old, for pennies on the dollar. The 2nd round pick we gave up for Cassel/Vrabel was such a value deal, people wanted to conduct an investigation for us "raping" the Patriots. Meanwhile, we had nobody but Tyler Thigpen at the position (who we essentially turned into Kendrick Lewis), and only Mark Sanchez to consider in the draft.

2010 beefed up our offensive line with Wiegmann and Lilja. It beefed up our run game with Thomas Jones, who had just enough tread left on his tires to rack up 900 yards in a committee role. We brought in a bear of a defensive lineman in Shaun Smith. Leonard Pope had been a strong blocker for us. Of all Pioli's free agency moves, only one turned out to be a mistake: Jerheme Urban. Who was brought in for no money anyway, at Haley's behest.

2011 was yet another year for valuable free agency acquisitions. We brought back Wiegmann for another year, and landed a good tackle/tight end in Steve Maneri. Gregg finally gave us a true nose tackle. We picked up two Ravens who temporarily worked out for us in McClain and Gaither. Gaither in particular was a steal, and losing him for nothing was perhaps our worst blunder in the Pioli era outside of the Cassel acquisition. But even then, Gaither cannot be relied on as anything but an emergency situation due to his back, and we're all going to see that play out in 2012. The Chiefs landed Stevie Breaston on a deal as solid as we could get from a guy who will be playing out wide most of the time. Our only bad signing? Sabby Piscitelli, which was a desperation signing and was never supposed to get the playing time he ended up logging.

Pioli never landed a QB to backup Cassel that offseason, but who was he supposed to get? The only legitimate option he had, he took, when Kyle Orton hit waivers. A move that paid royal dividends, and has a remote chance of landing this franchise a new QB.

2012 is starting off solid. Bowe is getting tagged/resigned, and the team has allowed such outstanding cap room for itself, it has all the cap space necessary to bring on a new franchise QB if they want in the form of Peyton Manning. The Routt signing was completely reasonable -- it's not reasonable to expect the Chiefs to be the first team in NFL history to commit $100 million to its starting corners. Carr and Flowers were a powerful combination, but were they really worth being paid as if they were the best tandem in NFL history? We talk about devalued positions all the time on this board. Tell me: how valued is the #2 corner? Is that worth the massive contract we would have had to commit? At the expense of the primo talent we have the potential to end up landing?

The Quarterback Problem

Of course the biggest, most profound error of the Pioli era was to bring in Matt Cassel. But in the short time that Pioli has been our GM, we have had no other conceivable options, short of taking a flyer on Andy Dalton at the bottom of the 2011 Draft 1st round.

So we landed Cassel, for a bargain's bargain, and got a defensive coach-on-the-field with it in a deal so good people wanted to investigate us (a move that, for good measure, began the implosion in Denver). Since then, we passed on Mark Sanchez, a move that I think almost everybody would have preferred us to do. We passed on Jimmy Clausen twice, which is starting to look like a smart idea. We passed on trading for Kevin Kolb. We passed on the Donovan McNabbs and the Michael Vicks.

There was really only one realistic opportunity for the Chiefs to land a new starting QB, and that was last year when Kyle Orton was released. Pioli didn't hestitate.

Fact: in the time that Scott Pioli has been GM of the Chiefs, there have been no legitimate franchise options for us to take at the QB position. All the rookies except for Dalton have failed to fulfill any franchise role. All the free agents have looked like iffy signings at the best. And it's never smart to trade away your entire draft for a player like RG3, who may not even work out. Because then you've not only got a player who won't work, you've sacrificed all-important depth for your team. Not a great idea.

Matter of fact, our new coach has done nothing but openly entertain the idea of new QBs on multiple occasions. If Pioli is the all-seeing, all-controlling entity that Haley makes him out to be, there's no way this happens. So let's embrace the truth that we all know to be true: Pioli is ready to move on. He just doesn't want to move on for anything, like a desperate idiot. He wants to make the next move for QB the smartest possible move, and that may or may not be this offseason.

So abandon your Pioli hate for a season. Stop resisting the process and try looking at how well Pioli works the process to this franchise's favor in the near- and long-term. Admit that the man's been one of the best drafting GMs since he's been in KC, has not overreacting and made brash, ill-advised moves (other than cutting Gaither), and generally has ushered in the talent and the coaching necessary to continue improving this team all three years he's been here.
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:34 AM   #2
DaKCMan AP DaKCMan AP is offline
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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
I think it's high time something starts to change around here.

I've been a member of Chiefsplanet going on 6+ years now

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Old 02-27-2012, 06:35 AM   #3
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Old 02-27-2012, 06:57 AM   #4
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:13 AM   #5
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Pioli needs to go.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:18 AM   #6
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http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/showthread.php?t=234141
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:18 AM   #7
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He gave us Matt Cassel. **** him.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:21 AM   #8
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I like to think that Pioli is growing into his role the same way that Dayton Moore grew into his role with the Royals. Dayton Moore looked like an idiot for several years. Now he looks like a genius.

Dayton Moore and Scott Pioli were both the hot hires with the terrific resume. Hopefully the parallels won't end there. I'd much rather give him a couple more years than starting over.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:21 AM   #9
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I think this should win you the giant post of the year award, Mr. Direckshun. Hands down.

But, honestly ... I believe with all my heart and all my soul and most of my penis in the power of individuality. On that basis, I, for one, refuse to become one of Dr. Evil's minions.

I could not have been happier when Pioli was hired. I was ecstatic. Thrilled.

But, its 3 years in and we've been through a half-dozen OCs, two DCs, two or three HCs (depending on whether or not you count Herm) and, most recently, came up dead last in, what is by far, the worst conference in the league.

I respect you as a poster and as a person and as a witch-hunter, but I can't help but be disappointed in our progress under the Dr. Evil regime given that Pioli is Executive Of The Century and should have more on the ball than the folks either here or at the fan-site board that shall not be named.

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Old 02-27-2012, 07:29 AM   #10
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Pioli wanted to fired Haley at the end of 2010, but didn't have the guts, so engaged in despicable undermining effort of the coach he hired, and in the process, made the Chiefs the laughingstock of the league. You forgot to mention that.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:30 AM   #11
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Holy crap that's a lot of reading.

I ain't reading all that. Sorry DS.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:33 AM   #12
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He gave us Matt Cassel. **** him.
and that alone is enough to fire his ass.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:35 AM   #13
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Nice post, Direckshun. I was just about to say the same thing, but you said it much more concisely, so you saved me a couple of hours of typing. Thanks!
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:39 AM   #14
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Holy crap that's a lot of reading.

I ain't reading all that. Sorry DS.
tl;dr = Pioli has made a few mistakes, but on balance, he's done a fantastic job. And ChiefsPlanet is filled with emotional, knee-jerk, me-too-ers who blindly hate what they don't understand.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:39 AM   #15
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I actually agree with most of your post Direckshun. The only problem is, results. At the end of the day, what are the results? Started out 4-12, then went 10-6, then went 7-9. That's all anyone gives a shit about. I've always been in the 5 year plan camp, so I'm saying he should get 2 more seasons.

I believe we're heading in the right direction, and I trust in Pioli as well. But in this WIN NOW world, he has to produce a fuggin' SB team in one season or he sucks.
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