There’s Always Next Year
Hank Young

Posted Dec 28, 2011


While the title is a time-worn refrain usually reserved for apologists, let’s really talk about what may happen to the Chiefs in the New Year.

It was a disappointing Christmas Eve when the Chiefs received their lump of coal early in the afternoon. It was especially disappointing coming from the Raiders. That’s no excuse as the Chiefs should have been better prepared and played like a playoff spot was on the line, but none of that happened.

I hate to rehash what everyone witnessed but this team looked so flat early on and barely appeared to have a pulse for the rest of the game. They had a couple of glimmers but all in all, Saturday was not an inspired effort. If they really wanted Romeo Crennel to get the job, one would hope that the offensive and defensive effort would have showed that desire.

Kansas City’s red zone effort was not nearly enough and the offensive line is back to its leaky self. Kyle Orton was hurried too often and ended up on his back a couple of times. Two interceptions and one score wasn’t going to get it done. Orton’s 300 yards against Oakland gives him 599 yards passing, one touchdown and two interceptions in two contests, so far. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up after Sunday’s game against Tim Tebow and the Broncos.

Special teams play wasn’t anything to write home about after allowing Richard Seymour to block two field goal attempts after Ryan Succop tied Pete Stoyanovich’s consecutive field goal record.

Those were the lowlights. Let’s move on to what I think may be materializing in the crystal ball.

I believe we’ll be hearing about a coaching change around this time next week. Maybe even sooner according to some sources. This team and this organization need an injection of new blood. I know everyone thinks Romeo Crennel is a great guy and the team really loves him, but look where that got Herm Edwards.

I don’t think this team has played to its potential at all this year. Or maybe they have, and that wouldn’t bode well for Scott Pioli. If truth be told, I would be more apt to say the former. There is talent on this roster but the real difference maker is someone who can tap that potential. I don’t just mean a taskmaster like Todd Haley. The problem with Todd Haley was his lack of management skills.

He was a motivator at times but he was also a micromanager. He had no idea how to capture ideas and exploit them. Haley was a victim of too many film sessions and not enough people sessions. Football coaches are in every sense of the word, teachers. From the head coach to lowest assistant they are teachers.

At some point, someone has to be the principal. Haley could never figure that out and became the antithesis by trying to get his fingers in his assistant’s work. That may work for a short time but it’s not a strategy for long term success.

The direction the Kansas City Chiefs decide to take is dependent on the style of organization they wish to have for the next decade. My feeling is that you can’t just think of the next year or two. Short term fixes are what they are.

In business you develop a strategic plan to outline your desired outcomes. You format the plan to show successes early and build to greater, focused successes as time moves on. You also have to benchmark certain time points such as five years and 10 years. You have to populate that plan with attainable goals. Anything beyond 10 years is pure speculation and more of an exercise in “what ifs.”

A sports franchise is no different from any other business. The whole motivation is to make money for shareholders. A professional sports franchise has a product. That product is the team it puts on the field of play.

The team has to be directed by an effective leader. That leader has to be chosen by the ownership (shareholders). Ownership has to identify the qualities in a leader they believe represent their own school of thought and someone who is capable of executing a plan once formed.

Many NFL observers and most fans have a tendency to think emotionally rather than logically. It is hard to understand the decision tree if you’re not close to the roots. “The Hunts are too cheap,” as some fans are prone to say. “Pioli has no idea how to draft or get good players in free agency,” goes another line.

Here’s the reality: Unless you have contact with the organization, no one knows why the decisions are made the way they are. I can tell you one thing I know for certain, Clark Hunt will do what it takes to make the Chiefs a winner again.

Scott Pioli does have a record of successful drafts and getting tremendous value from free agency, it just hasn’t happened here to a large degree. That’s not to say it never will, just not yet.

The first order of business in the off season should be the appointment of a new head coach from outside the organization. In essence, this is paramount to success in the near future.

Whether that appointment is Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick or someone to be named later, a new ideology has to take hold and not something freshly recycled.


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