With Todd Haley fired, this time Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli won't be last in line to find a…
To Live and Die in KC
Everyone remembers the hallway meeting at One Arrowhead Drive with former Chiefs offensive lineman Brian Waters. The comment Waters relayed to several members of the press was Haley's line that "22 guys off the street can win two games." Not a good way to start the relationship.
We saw the subsequent departure of Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson (who needed to go anyway) and finally Waters himself. Front office staff were required to pledge their loyalty and agree to not divulge team information. Many long term employees were asked to leave or were outright fired. The new culture included limiting access to information and sports media were required to re-apply for press credentials.
Much of this was Pioli but Haley was the anointed face and voice of the team and therefore became the lightning rod.
As I have stated before: one great season as a coordinator and one alright season as a head coach does not equate to long term potential. Past performance is an indicator of future success.
One brilliant hire that developed into success was the hiring of former offensive coordinator (and now head coach for Kansas) Charlie Weis. After firing Chan Gailey at the beginning of the 2009 season and Haley finally firing himself as offensive coordinator after the season, Weis got the nod. I'm quite sure that Pioli insisted Haley bring on someone with the stature of Weis.
You could tell that Haley wasn't a fan but when the results became obvious, he backed down. Now the "rumors" of a contentious relationship between Haley and Weis finally became fact when Weis left the Chiefs to coach offense at the University of Florida.
Many of us speculated that it was Haley and his abrasiveness that ran off Charlie Weis and many sources at One Arrowhead Drive confirmed the same. A team trying to accomplish a great deal in a short period of time requires a commitment to a plan. That plan has to be developed collaboratively in order to achieve organizational buy-in.
I don't believe Todd Haley ever felt there was any need to work with his assistants to develop an effective strategy. His arrogance, by all accounts, was worn on his sleeve and could be seen on Sundays by his actions and words.
Last season was not a "break out" season and that was obvious from the way the Chiefs were exposed by the Raiders and Ravens to conclude the year.
Going 0-3 to begin the 2011 season was not unpredicted. With the time in St. Joseph being little more than a two-week "hanging out" session, what did anyone expect?
One excuse was the injury bug. If Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki and Eric Berry don't blow out their knees, this team would be a playoff contender. Honestly, good teams are a sum of all their parts. Not just two or three players. Two or three impact players can help raise the team to the next level but as Scott Pioli has been quoted numerous time "Individuals go to pro bowls, teams win championships."
Is this all Todd Haley's fault? Yes and no. The head coach is responsible for the product on the field. How the players play, their ability to overcome adversity and how they coalesce to achieve success.
Scott Pioli is responsible for responding to the needs of the team by acquiring personnel that fit the plan. Did Pioli do his part? Some say yes, many say no. I say that it's still a work in progress.
Now that the head coach has been identified as not being part of the plan, the GM has to take the next step.
Romeo Crennel will be named the interim head coach. How Crennel responds to the promotion and how the team responds to Crennel will likely determine Pioli's next move.
Several candidates have been mentioned as potential replacements. We can't forget the Rooney rule and the minority candidate is Romeo Crennel. Other names have been mentioned including Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher and Josh McDaniels.
No one knows which way Pioli is going to go but I can assure you of one thing, he will not test a coach who has never been a head coach in the NFL. That experiment has no upside as evidenced with Josh McDaniels in Denver and now Todd Haley.
The bottom line is that whoever the new head coach is will be responsible for blending his ideas for the franchise with those of Clark Hunt and Scott Pioli. We have heard from inside and outside the organization that Todd Haley and Scott Pioli were like salt and sugar trying to taste good together. In the perfect recipe, you can get a fantastic flavor from both salt and sugar. In this case, not even close.
Watch for Hunt and Pioli to test several possibilities. There will be offensive and defensive minds that may offer plenty of promise. Marty Schottenheimer has been a consultant to Clark Hunt for the last couple of months. There's always the possibility that Schottenheimer's influence could be the deciding factor in who eventually lands in Kansas City.
Regardless of whom the new head coach is Kansas City should demand that the organization be responsive to fan concerns. I know I sound like a broken record but it is a fact that the fans truly do pay the bills and the expectation of a superior product is not unreasonable.
After all, 41 years is a long time.
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