Archive for January, 2013

Chief Opinions 1-6-2013

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Kansas City ChiefsYesterday we discussed the hiring of Andy Reid. Today we’ll wrap up a few final thoughts about the Chiefs season, and recent events.

The Firing of Romeo Crennel
On black Monday, the Chiefs fired head coach Romeo Crennel. I had my reservations a year ago when the Chiefs hired him, but I had no idea it would be this bad. He’s a good man. A good defensive coordinator. He represented himself and this city well. Maybe if the Chiefs had signed Kyle Orton, the quarterback Crennel clearly preferred, things would have turned out differently. Crennel often seemed confused and uncertain about how to proceed. It never appeared that Crennel had confidence in Matt Cassel. And after a few losses, it appeared that the team had lost faith that it could win with Crennel and Cassel leading the way.

The Firing of Scott Pioli
On black Monday, the Chiefs publicly neutered general manager Scott Pioli, and left him twisting in the wind. Clark Hunt stripped him of many of his responsibilities, and rearranged the structure of the organization. It was Hunt who would interview and hire the next head coach. And the head coach would report directly to Hunt. Pioli’s fate would be decided soon.

What were the Chiefs waiting for? Were four years of mistakes not enough of a track record to fire Pioli? Chiefs fans became nervous that Hunt was going to give Pioli another chance. Then the news came down that Pioli was accompanying Clark Hunt and the rest of the Chiefs’ brass during the head coach interviews. I was nervous.

This is purely a guess. There were reports that Pioli had received a contract extension before the season, though this was denied by a source within the organization. I bet that Pioli got the extension, and that it took a few days for the Chiefs and Pioli to reach a buyout agreement for him to step aside. Remember, before the season began, there were high expectations for the Chiefs. Many pundits had picked the Chiefs to win the division. If the Chiefs had announced a contract extension before the season, most fans would have understood. Though after the season went south, it would have been a publicity nightmare to admit that Pioli had received an extension.

If it wasn’t the contract, then Hunt really was leaving the door open for Pioli to remain in Kansas City. Shudder.

The Hiring of Any Reid
This is pure speculation on my part. I think Clark Hunt knew all along who he wanted to hire for his next head coach. And it hit me when I listened to an interview with Dick Vermeil.

Dick Vermeil has close ties to both Andy Reid and the Chiefs organization. Plenty of speculation existed that the Eagles were going to fire Reid. If you were Clark Hunt, who would you call to gauge Reid’s interest in Kansas City without violating the NFL’s tampering rules? I’m betting that Hunt called Vermeil in the last few weeks for his input, and to test the waters about Reid, in case he became available. Vermeil has said that he told Reid that he can win in Kansas City, and that he should take the job. But Vermeil was never asked when this conversation took place. Not that Vermeil would likely admit if it had happened before the Eagles fired Reid. Vermeil was clearly pleased that the Chiefs had hired Reid.

And think about the timing of events. On Monday, the Chiefs fire Crennel. On Tuesday, they interview a couple coaches in Atlanta, one of whom is black, which means that the Chiefs have met the requirements of the Rooney Rule (which I think needs to be eliminated, but that’s a discussion for another day). And on Wednesday, Clark Hunt and his top executives fly to Philadelphia, and conduct a nine hour interview with Andy Reid.

Kudos to Clark Hunt for getting his man. And doing it quickly.

Finding a Quarterback
We’ll talk more about the draft in upcoming weeks, but I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t draft a quarterback this year. I don’t want to trade for a veteran backup. I don’t want to sign a guy who has failed elsewhere. I don’t want to trade for Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick. I want to draft and develop our own quarterback.

The pundits have said that there isn’t a quarterback worth drafting number one overall. They’re wrong. Somewhere in this draft is an elite quarterback. And elite quarterbacks are worth the number one pick. It may not be a “value” pick, but I don’t care. And if I were running the Chiefs, I’d do exactly what the Redskins did last year. I would draft a quarterback in the first round, and then draft another one in the third or fourth round.

Who should they draft? I don’t know. There’s a handful of quarterbacks who are potential first round picks. I’m still betting that by April one or two of these quarterbacks will climb into the list of top ten prospects, and it won’t be so much of a reach to draft one of them. I do think it’s interesting that several analysts have compared West Virginia’s Geno Smith to Donovan McNabb, the quarterback that Reid drafted with the second overall pick in 1999. And you still might end up with somebody like Mike Glennon from NC State on the board at the top of the fourth round.

Chiefs Hire Andy Reid

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy ReidAs you might expect, I have quite a few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs this week. And I’m pleased that owner Clark Hunt made quick and decisive plans for the future of the organization. Today we’ll focus on his hiring of Andy Reid as the Chiefs’ head coach.

Andy Reid is One of the Most Successful NFL Coaches to Never Win a Super Bowl
Reid spent 14 years as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. During that time, he amassed a regular season record of 130-93. His teams were amazingly consistent, finishing first or second in the NFC East 10 of those 14 years. If you take away his first season (5-11) and his last season (4-12), the numbers are even more impressive.

If I were to list the top three NFL head coaches to never win a Super Bowl, it would be Marv Levy (4-1 in AFC Championship Games, and 0-4 in Super Bowls), Andy Reid (1-4 in NFC Championship Games, and 0-1 in Super Bowls), and Marty Schottenheimer (0-3 AFC Championship Games and an NFL regular season record of 200-126 across four NFL teams). Most interesting to me is that all three of these men have now been head coaches for the Chiefs. Quite a dubious distinction.

What Went Wrong in Philadelphia?
There are plenty of people who follow the Eagles much more closely than I do. I think there are two pretty obvious reasons for what went wrong.

1. You’ve got to have a franchise quarterback to win in the NFL. We know this better in Kansas City than most cities. With Donovan McNabb at the helm from 1999-2009, the Eagles went 108-67 (that’s the team’s record, which includes games started by other quarterbacks). Since then, the Eagles have gone 22-26.

2. Sometimes you’re the product of your own success. Six of Reid’s assistant coaches become head coaches — Brad Childress, John Harbaugh, Steve Spagnola, Leslie Frazier, Ron Rivera and Pat Shumur. Add to that long time defensive coordinator Jim Johnson (1999-2008) who left the Eagles for health reasons. That’s a lot of talent to replace.

Is Reid the Right Choice for the Chiefs?
I’m torn on this one. He’s a MUCH better choice than Romeo Crennel. He’s a very good coach. He’s low risk. He’s young enough at 54 to be a long-term solution. He’s a good evaluator of talent. He will likely make the Chiefs competitive almost immediately. But I’m not sure this is a great hire. And I’m ready for greatness in Kansas City.

He’s got two big decisions to make that will likely shape whether this is a good hire, or a great hire.

1. Quarterback: The Chiefs must draft and develop a quarterback. Every year there are two to three quarterbacks drafted that become very good quarterbacks, if not elite quarterbacks. In 1999, Reid’s first year in Philadelphia, there were five quarterbacks taken in the first round of the draft. Reid selected Donovan McNabb with the second pick in the draft. Tim Couch had gone number one overall to the Browns. Akili Smith was chosen third by the Bengals. The Vikings picked Daunte Culpepper with the 11th pick. And Cade McNown was taken 12th by the Bears. Culpepper had some good years, but McNabb was clearly the best of the bunch. This should give us hope that Reid can identify the next quarterback for the Chiefs.

2. I completely trust Reid to assemble an offensive staff. The key acquisition will be at defensive coordinator, where he clearly failed to adequately replace Jim Johnson with the Eagles. The Chiefs have plenty of talent on defense, and should be an attractive fit for the right defensive coordinator.

Parting Shot
Sam Mellinger at the Kansas City Star made an interesting point in his column:

If Reid helps drive the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, it would fit the pattern of many football men who found bigger success in their second job. Tom Coughlin spent eight years in Jacksonville before winning two Super Bowls with the Giants. Tony Dungy was fired in Tampa Bay before winning a title in Indianapolis. Gruden failed with the Raiders before winning big with the Bucs. Bill Belichick flopped in Cleveland before becoming the most successful coach in recent NFL history.

All told, seven of the last 11 Super Bowl winners were coached by a man in his second job.

What is Sam missing in this analysis? Coughlin has Eli Manning with the Giants. Tony Dungy had Peyton Manning with the Colts. And Bill Belichick has Tom Brady in New England. All three are significant upgrades compared to the quarterbacks they had during their first jobs. Only Gruden ended up leaving the better quarterback behind with Rich Gannon, though Brad Johnson had a very good season for the Bucs when they won it all.

Patience can pay off for an organization. The Steelers gave Bill Cowher time, and he rewarded them with a Super Bowl victory in his 14th season in Pittsburgh, with the help from quarterback Ben Roethisberger. I anticipate the Chiefs giving Reid plenty of time in Kansas City, but if we’re hoping for a Super Bowl, it still comes back to finding the right quarterback.