Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: The Chiefs Off-Season Needs to be Great
by Jeff Herr,posted Jan 6 2012 6:43PM
The Chiefs are coming into one of the most important off-seasons in franchise history. It’s a pivotal time for this organization. With the talent they have amassed, a couple smart moves could open up a window of dominance similar to what the Patriots or Colts have done the last 10+ years. The wrong move could lead this team down a path that might damage the franchise for years to come.
What Scott Pioli and Clark Hunt have shown us so far is a lack of ability to make moves outside their comfort zone. They have a list of criteria they want from their players and coaches, and if they don’t meet it, they aren’t considered. As head coach, Todd Haley was thought to meet those criteria, but didn’t, and was run out of town.
With the opening at head coach (and probably many other coaching positions) the Chiefs can make a decision that sets them up to be a contending team for a long time. Unlike any other sport, the coach in football makes a difference on the field. With preparation, motivation, and proper communication the head football coach can lead a team to success, at times even over a superiorly talented opponent.
The issue many Chiefs fans have at this point is whether or not Pioli is able to make that move for the Chiefs that will set them up for future success. As a GM, Pioli has always been thought of as a difficult person to work with. His reputation has only increased in that regard since he was hired in KC. Haley couldn’t work with him and it caused a rift that possibly cost the Chiefs the playoffs this year. With such a situation blowing up so large, and Pioli as equal to blame as Haley, the question looms of how he will handle his next hire.
Pioli can surprise Chiefs fans by showing some self-awareness. By looking in the mirror and discovering what he did wrong, he can use that to hire a coach that will be the perfect fit for this organization. Now, if Chiefs fans suspicions are true, and he hires someone that he knows can work for him, how much is there to gain? Is Romeo Crennel the coach the Chiefs need to take them to the promised land or just the one to make sure Pioli keeps his job?
That point will most likely be belabored ad nauseum until a decision is made. The Chiefs have been through 10 years of 9-10 wins and underwhelming playoff success (the 1990’s). They want more this time around.
Look at the Indianapolis Colts as an example. Recently, owner Jim Irsay made an interesting comment about his team and their future direction. He stated that (and I’m paraphrasing here), his organization was interested in greatness, not going 9-7 and regressing to the mean.
As part of this ideal he fired long time front office staple Bill Polian and his son Chris. Head Coach Jim Caldwell is sure to follow soon and it will be an entire house cleaning as the Colts get ready to decide who they are going to take with #1 overall pick in the draft.
Greatness is Irsay’s plan for the Colts moving forward. For one reason or another, Irsay decided that the Polian had to go. He did not fit into his vision of greatness as this team goes into 2012. Whether Irsay is right or wrong, he made a decision that he thinks puts his team in a better position to achieve their goals in the future. Never mind that Polian was the one who drafted Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and others that were all big parts in their Super Bowl win in 2006. Irsay didn’t feel Polian was the correct fit anymore and sent him packing.
Many people are labeling this move by Irsay as suspect. After being one of the winningest teams of the last decade, one 2-14 season hardly seems reason enough to dismiss someone who played such a large part in the organizations revival. There is quite a bit to question in this decision, but there’s also quite a bit to like, and the Chiefs could take some notes.
Seeing a future of possible mediocrity with an aging QB (or a #1 draft pick QB) and little talent around him, Irsay decided to switch gears in bring in someone who can put his team in position to get back to where they were. The Chiefs need to do this very same thing.
The Chiefs and the majority of the NFL actually, are afraid to be great. As an organization their definitions of what they want and what they are looking for is too rigid. The Chiefs wanted a certain type of GM and they got him. They wanted a certain type of head coach and they messed it up, so they’re looking. However, they haven’t used this opportunity to change who they are and what they’re looking for to meet the needs of their evolved team. This is a different group of players than was around in 2009 but Pioli most likely won’t change his criteria for a head coach from what it was then.
The coach that is hired will have a set of rules they will have to abide by. They will have to get along with whatever offensive coordinator Pioli hires, they will have to be OK with running a 3-4 defense, and they will have to be able to put up with Scott Pioli.
There is no reason why coaches and front offices in the NFL should be so rigid in their philosophies. As the saying goes, those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. The NFL has been repeating the same mistakes for decades. Coaches and players in this league continually get recycled by a group that should know better.
The Chiefs have a chance to prove that they do know better. They can learn from their mistakes here. Hiring somebody in their comfort zone who can perpetuate the status quo is not the best move for this organization. All signs indicate that’s where they are headed. Hunt, Pioli, and the Chiefs need to take it upon themselves to make a move that will be shooting for greatness. The fans will eat it up and it will only get better if they actually achieve that level. At least if it doesn’t work they can say they went down swinging. If you go for the knockout and get knocked out, at least you went for it. Nobody wants to lose their title shot on a decision. It’s up to the Chiefs to decide how they want to go out this offseason.