The dust is starting to settle now that the Scott Pioli Era has ended for the Kansas City Chiefs. A big name new coach is signed and the search is on for a new General Manager who can work in tandem with Andy Reid. I just want to cap off the Scott Pioli Era with a few thoughts and then I will be done with the topic.
It was only four years ago that Clark Hunt went out and got “The Candidate” or “The Guy,” to replace the long time GM Carl Peterson. It seems much longer than four years ago, doesn’t it? It has been a long four years and if we are all being honest, we were very excited to get Scott Pioli. He was a guy from the most successful franchise of this century. He knew how to evaluate talent. He knew how to put players on the field that would know their roles and would perform up to their talent level. He was going to bring the “Patriot Way” to Arrowhead. Scott Pioli was going to lead the Kansas City Chiefs back into the playoffs and to the Super Bowl. We all believed.
Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out the way anyone planned or hoped. As it turns out, the “Patriot Way” doesn’t work if you don’t have Tom Brady as quarterback. Evidently, the “Patriot Way” doesn’t work as well with Todd Haley as it does with Bill Belichick either. Who knew? Well, shame on us; we all should have known. More importantly, Pioli should have known he could not duplicate New England’s results just because he had Tom Brady’s back-up. It just doesn’t work that way.
On top of everything else, it turned out that Scott Pioli wasn’t that good of a talent evaluator either. Chiefs’ fans started to suspect this when he drafted Tyson Jackson with his first pick in charge and the third overall pick in the 2009 draft. No one outside of Arrowhead thought Jackson had earned this lofty draft position. It was a stretch to say the least. Now, we all know that drafting amateur players is a crap shoot in every sport. It is just a fact of life. In hindsight, the 2009 draft was a weak one. Aaron Curry, selected right behind Jackson was an even bigger bust. That 2009 first round generated few stars but if Pioli was going to stretch for a D-lineman, it should have been B.J. Raji. If Tyson Jackson would have played in his rookie year as he did in 2012, I would be excited. He was mediocre in 2012 and that was a big improvement, but it was three seasons too late.
I actually love Eric Berry (Pioli’s first pick in 2010), but his first pick in 2011, Jonathan Baldwin, has not shown the ability to be a top three receiver on any team. In short, he’s been a complete bust. The jury is out on Dontari Poe and I saw enough spark from him to not write him off at this point. Hey, I am not going to pick through all four of these drafts. You could go through the drafts of every single team and find busts.
Pioli did find some talent in the later rounds. I especially like Justin Houston and Rodney Hudson from the second round of the 2011 draft and I was encouraged by the play of Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson from the second round in 2012. The problems I have with Pioli’s draft are two-fold. The first being he failed to get top notch talent in the first round in 3 of his 4 drafts. In all the other rounds, he seems to have found only one top tier player – Justin Houston. In 2010, he selected Tony Moeaki in the third round. Okay, Moeaki had some nice moments, mainly in his rookie campaign, but, and this is a big one, the Saints got Jimmy Graham just two picks later. If you are taking a tight end in that spot, the 30th pick of the third round, that’s fine, but you can’t leave a star player on the board and take an average player that plays the same position. That was a big mistake on Pioli’s part.
I could complain all day about things I think Pioli has messed up over the last four seasons. The Chiefs have had a glaring lack of depth to cover inevitable injuries. It was ridiculous the Chiefs did not have any player with experience at center to back up Rodney Hudson. I think Ryan Lilja did a stalwart job filling in for, what, 11 games? The point is, he shouldn’t have had to. We should have had a back-up center. Another point of issue I have is how the whole Steve Breaston affair played out. After Dwayne Bowe was injured, Steve Breaston was by far the most experienced and most accomplished wide receiver on the roster. Play him. I don’t know if this was a decision by Romeo Crennel or Pioli but that guy needed to be on the field and ultimately, Pioli was in charge.
Also, Scott Pioli got to hire two head coaches in his four years and he failed with both of them, badly. I understand how hard it is to win with poor talent at the quarterback position. Oh wait, that was Pioli’s biggest failure – he did not address the quarterback position. He hitched his wagon to Matt Cassel and he stuck with his man. We all know that in 2010, Cassel was a Pro Bowler (for what that is worth). We can all agree that Charlie Weis had more to do with that than Pioli, Haley, or Cassel himself. 2010 is clearly an outlier performance. It was these two failures, more than any of the others, that lead to a miserable 23-41 record over the past four seasons. His failure to find the right head coach and the right quarterback are ultimately what cost him his job. A team needs these two things to win games and there was just not enough winning.
Now we have launched into a new era. No matter who ends up with the General Managers’ job, this will probably go down as the Andy Reid Era. I’m okay with that. I am excited Clark Hunt, for the second time, has gone out and made a great hire. The first time, it just didn’t work. Hopefully, in three or fours years, we won’t be saying the same thing about Hunt’s second big hire. Reid has a lot of work in front of him but for the time being, I’m just glad Scott Pioli is gone.