Archive for November, 2012

The Chiefs Moving Forward

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

Kansas City ChiefsAs you know, I’m a diehard Chiefs fan. But I’m not a fanatic. I’m the preacher of patience. The voice of reason. I understand that football is a business, and that not all long-term decisions are popular today. That sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward. That injuries can derail a season. And that sometimes, the football gods are unkind. Not once in more than 20 years have I called for the Chiefs to fire their general manager or head coach.

Until today.

Fire Scot Pioli
The Chiefs are 1-10 in the fourth year of general manager Scott Pioli’s tenure in Kansas City. The worst record in the NFL. This was a team many predicted to win the AFC West. I did not, though I expected them to play much more competitive football. The question that owner Clark Hunt must ask himself is this: Do I want Scott Pioli to lead this team moving forward? Let’s evaluate Pioli’s track record on the most important decisions.

Head Coach: In year one, Pioli hired the fiery Todd Haley to coach the Chiefs. By year two, the Chiefs were 10-6 and won the AFC West. The future looked bright, but a fractured relationship was bubbling under the surface. Apparently Pioli and Haley were unable to work together, and as the Chiefs underachieved in 2011 (they finished 7-9), Haley was fired with three games left in the season. Pioli replaced Haley with veteran defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. I voiced reservations about promoting Crennel last year. Crennel is largely responsible for the team’s failure this year. More on him shortly. Pioli Grade: F

Quarterback: What has happened to the Chiefs is not Matt Cassel’s fault. Since he came to Kansas City, he’s had five offensive coordinators in four years. He’s shown that with the right team and the right coaching, he can be a competent quarterback (see 2008 with the Patriots and 2010 with Charlie Weis as his offensive coordinator in KC). But it’s also clear that he’s not good enough to overcome the many obstacles he’s faced in Kansas City. Backup Brady Quinn is worse than Cassel. And second year quarterback Ricky Stanzi must be awful because he can’t even get a whiff of the field. The Chiefs are looking at having to replace at least two, if not all three, of their quarterbacks for 2013. Pioli Grade: F

The Draft: The NFL draft is the lifeblood of your team. And first round picks are one of your most important commodities. In the last four years Pioli has drafted defense lineman Tyson Jackson, safety Eric Berry, wide receiver Jon Baldwin and nose tackle Dontari Poe in the first rounds of the draft. Jackson has been underwhelming to say the least. Berry may become a great player, but I haven’t seen it yet. Baldwin has done nothing. And Poe is a project. Other than 2011′s third round pick, linebacker Justin Houston, have any of Pioli’s picks made a significant impact on the team? No. Pioli Grade: C- (and that’s being generous)

Free Agency: This year’s crop of free agents looked good coming into the year with offensive tackle Eric Winston, running back Peyton Hillis, and cornerback Stanford Routt. Winston has been OK but will be most remembered for calling out Chiefs fans for booing Matt Cassel’s injury. Hillis has been largely ineffective. And Routt has already been released from the team, making the decision not to resign Brandon Carr even worse. In four years in Kansas City, who were Pioli’s most significant signings in free agency? Wide receiver Steve Breaston was productive last year, but has done nothing this year. Offensive guard Ryan Lilja has been pretty good. That’s it. Pioli Grade: F

Pioli has been a bust at hiring head coaches. We have no quarterback of the future. Though I would agree that the team is more talented than it was when he was hired, the majority of our best players were already here (Jamaal Charles, Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Branden Albert, Dwayne Bowe, Dustin Colquitt, and Brandon Flowers). He’s provided no stability within the organization. And we’re left with a losing team, angry fans and a half empty Arrowhead on game days.

There have been reports that Clark Hunt extended Pioli’s contract before this season began, though there have also been reports that the deal was never signed. If true, that would make firing Pioli expensive. Either way, Hunt must fire him. And the sooner, the better.

Romeo CrennelFire Romeo Crennel
When you take a team that was expected to win the division and go 1-10, can you really expect to keep your job? I was afraid that Crennel was another Wade Phillips — a fine defensive coordinator but ineffective head coach. I was wrong. He’s worse than that. Crennel is in way over his head. I could site a whole laundry list of stats to show just how bad this team has been, but the one that sticks out to me the most is point differential. The Chiefs have been outscored by 140 points this year in just 11 games. Take away their one win, and they’re losing by 14 points per game. Only two other teams in the NFL have point differentials of more than 100 — the Raiders at -138 and the Jaguars at -120. This team is more talented than the team that won the division in 2010. The difference is coaching.

Parting Shots
Scott Pioli was a good hire four years ago. He was highly respected around the league from a successful organization. Many expected him to be the next great general manager. It just didn’t work. It happens. If owner Clark Hunt still remains unconvinced about firing Pioli, he needs to think about two things. Why wouldn’t head coach Jeff Fisher consider Kansas City, opting to coach the Rams, a team with less talent than the Chiefs? Why wouldn’t quarterback Peyton Manning consider Kansas City, opting to play for the Broncos, a team with less talent than the Chiefs? Maybe the Chiefs were never serious about either Fisher or Manning. Or maybe they had no desire to come to Kansas City because of Scott Pioli.

Moving Forward
I’ve seen enough of both Pioli and Crennel to know what needs to be done. I would fire Pioli now and start the hunt (no pun intended) for a new general manager. If you can get the right GM hired before the season is over, you’ve given that person a huge advantage heading into next season. I don’t see any advantage of firing Crennel until a new general manager has been hired. Somebody has to coach this team through the next few games. It might as well be Crennel.

The Quarterback
We’ll talk about the quarterback position a lot heading into the draft. My only comment for today is that we know what Matt Cassel is. We think we know what Brady Quinn is. We have no idea what Ricky Stanzi is. The Chiefs need to start Stanzi the last three or four games of the season in order to evaluate him for next year. Is he the future of the team? Probably not. But it would be nice to know if he’s capable of being a competent backup.

New Norm or Obamanomaly?

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Yes, I am still licking my wounds after predicting a Romney win 52-47. An election I thought would be like 1980 with the challenger Reagan beating Carter, ended up more like 2004 with the vulnerable incumbent Bush beating the unlikable Kerry (old rich white guy from Massachusetts).

I’ve spent a little time reading opinions about the election, but not much. Everyone likes to assign blame. Pundits like to make bold points about the winners and losers. Me? I’m just left with a bunch of questions.

In 2008, Obama won with a strong showing from democrats where they outvoted republicans by seven points (D+7). Those of us skeptical about the polls thought the electorate would reflect something closer to its historical numbers. According to exit polls, here’s how party ID has broken down in recent elections (not including independents):

2010: Even
2008: D+7
2006: D+2
2004: Even
2002: R+1
2000: D+4
1998: D+2
1996: D+4
1994: D+1

Even in years where the republicans have done very well, such as 1994 and 2010, party ID is fairly even. I believed that at best the democrats could expect a D+3, which would have won it for Romney. But instead, President Obama wins with an impressive D+6, even though he lost independents by 5 (45/50).

So my question is this: Is this the new normal? Or just an Obamanomaly?

Yesterday, Austan Goolsbee tweeted: “if demogr is the new destiny, are we in for wild 08/10 swings every midterm b/c turnout drops frm 70 to 40 and demo composition shifts?”

I had already decided to write this post before reading Goolsbee’s tweet, but this is the right question to ask. Are we going to continue to see strong showings from democrats in presidential election years on the scale of D+6, and even support for both parties in the mid-term years? If so, don’t be surprised if republicans take the Senate in 2014.

Losing exposes vulnerabilities. And winning masks weaknesses. I’m not sure either party should leap to conclusions about what will happen in future elections.

The Exit Polls

You know I’m a stats geek. Just a few quick thoughts about the exit polls.

Latinos: Obama won with Latinos 71/27. This is a number that the republicans need to take seriously. They can’t lose the Latino vote by such large margins and expect to win national campaigns. The important questions become why did they lose the Latino vote by so much, and what should they do about it? I’m not sure it’s an easy answer.

The War on Women: Much has been made about the war on women. Obama won women by 11 points (55/44). Romney won men by 7 points (52/45). A gender gap exists, but probably not in the way that many of the pundits will explain it to you. Romney won married women (53/46 = almost identical to the “man” vote), but lost single women (31/67). Married women voted on the economy. Single women did not. The big gap wasn’t between men and women, but between married and unmarried women.

The Young Vote: Obama won 18-29 year old voters 60/37 which accounted for a margin of 5.1 million votes. Romney won the 30+ age group by 1.8 million votes. Obama won the election by about 2.5 million votes. Which means that kids in their 20s with little life experience picked the president. (No offense to kids in their 20s. I was there once upon a time, and thought I knew everything, too.)

The White Vote: You probably already know that whites overwhelmingly voted for Romney (59/39). What this stat doesn’t tell you is that millions of whites who voted in 2008 chose not to vote in this election. Whites who voted for Obama stayed home. Whites who voted for McCain stayed home. The republicans thought they had enthusiasm on their side. They did not.

Read more about exit polls here on CNN.

Antiques and More For Sale

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I don’t typically use the blog for personal gain, but just a quickie. I have some items we want to sell that we don’t have room for in the house. Items include antique roll top desk, antique chairs, gamer chairs, vintage lamps, brass lamps and TV wall mounts. Read more here.

Final Thoughts Election 2012

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

This is likely to be my final post before the election on Tuesday. I am looking forward to the end. Or the beginning.

Mitt RomneyState of the Polls
We’ll have an answer on Tuesday about the polls with the only poll that really matters. In case you’ve missed it, there’s been a considerable disturbance in the force. And I’m not talking about Disney buying Lucasfilm. Pollsters and pundits have fallen into one of two camps, and it’s all about voter turnout and party ID. In 2008, democrats outvoted republicans by seven points and swept President Obama into office, along with significant majorities in Congress. In 2010, democrats and republicans voted evenly, and the GOP was swept into Congress, making huge gains in the House, and modest gains in the Senate.

So what will the turnout be in 2012? My guess has been somewhere in the middle, probably two to three points favoring the democrats. Many of the state polls from companies such as Marist and Quinnipiac continue to show democrats with equal or even greater turnout than 2008. This makes little sense to me. Based off of these polls, the left’s polling guru Nate Silver is predicting a 79% chance that Obama will win the election, and take 300 electoral votes in the process. Those on the right question the polls and cite the underlying numbers. The GOP is more enthusiastic about this election, and independents have swung from Obama to Romney in fairly significant numbers. A few of the pollsters such as Gallup and Rasmussen are expecting a turnout that more resembles 2010, or possibly even a republican advantage.

One more anomaly I’ve seen in the polls, then we’ll move on. Polling likely voters is more predictive than polling registered voters. And pollsters attempt to determine if a person is a likely voter, or just a registered voter. On some of theses state polls, they’re filtering out very few voters — they’re considering 96-99% of the registered voters to be likely voters. Enthusiasm for the election may be high, but that’s just ridiculous.

President ObamaEarly Voting
In 2008, Obama crushed McCain in early voting by nearly 20 points. And this was to be one of Obama’s great strengths against Romney. The numbers don’t reflect that. Gallup came out with an article a couple days ago that Romney is beating Obama in early voting 52-46. And if you don’t believe Gallup, Pew came out with similar numbers with Romney ahead 50-43 among early voters. That’s a very bad sign for the President.

The Electoral College
Since the election of 2000 when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the election, many on the left have wanted to dump the electoral college in favor of the popular vote. There certainly is a scenario where Romney could win the popular vote, lose Ohio, and lose the election. Will these same people scream about the unfairness of the electoral college? Will they claim Obama to be an illegitimate President like they did Bush? My guess is no.

Wednesday Excuses
If Obama loses, what excuses will be made? I wrote an article two months ago detailing why it will be difficult for Obama to win. But for months, some on the far left have set the table full of excuses ready to be used.

Voter Suppression: If you don’t think some on the left will use this as an explanation for Obama’s loss, think again. MoveOn.org has already released a web ad to this point. You can watch it here. May not be appropriate to watch this in an office or around children.

Money: I understand the frustration of those wanting campaign finance reform. There’s a lot of money in politics. And where there’s money, there’s corruption. A few months ago we were seeing articles from the mainstream media about the huge amounts of money raised by Romney and the Super PACs. But with Obama and the democrats raising $181 million in September, it’s difficult to make an argument that Obama didn’t have enough money to compete. And for the most part, these stories have disappeared. In 2008, Obama outraised and outspent McCain by a significant margin. Is that why he won the election? No. Obama was the better candidate, and positioned himself as the agent of change. (Which is what Romney is doing to Obama this time around.)

Racism: I’ve made this point before, and I’ll make it again. There’s a group on the left who believe that if you oppose the President, you must be racist. I’m a fiscal conservative. I oppose the President on many issues because I’m a fiscal conservative, and he’s not. You would think that since the President won by a significant margin in ’08 that this argument would go away. But it hasn’t. If Obama loses, it will be because moderates and independents who voted for him four years ago changed their vote this time around.

Prediction
I see nothing to change my mind about my prediction from August. I still believe Romney will win 52-47, and win the electoral college.

What’s Next?
And even though I believe that Romney will win, and that he’s the right choice, President Obama easily could have won this election. And if he loses, next week I’ll tell you how.