This isn’t your normal Swami the Mag, so if you have no interest in Kansas City sports, please feel free to skip down to the bottom section for the picks of James & the Swamette and have a lovely day.
(Editor’s Note: The contents of this column solidify the StM Staff’s hunch that the writer of this column clearly doesn’t want to have an adoring local fan base where he currently lives.)
Contrary to what the loudest masses here in Kansas City believe and have been shouting from the rooftops, I do NOT believe that the Chiefs should even entertain the thought of firing General Manager Scott Pioli or Head Coach Romeo Crennel after this season. (Huh… it sounds like someone just dispatched a truck from the Asylum to come pick me up… nifty). I realize that one of the core tenants of being a fan is to be passionate about every aspect of every season, but logic, reason, and patience really should be practiced at some point instead of being treated like foreign concepts. There are multiple reasons that I believe that the Chiefs should stand pat at these positions and I realize that the primary rebuttal to all of them is “if you are wrong then it’ll be even longer before we get this turned around!!”, to which I say “Yep”. I just don’t think I’m wrong. And if I’m not wrong, then the Chiefs will be able to turn this around sooner than if they moved again.
Patience is a Virtue – The hallmarks of successful organizations are consistency and big picture thinking. The NFL franchises that everyone wants to mimic are franchises like the Giants, Patriots, & Steelers. One of the things you see with them under the Rooneys, Maras, and Krafts is an understanding of trusting your football people and giving them a long leash. If they had trusted the people with the loudest voices then Tom Brady probably wouldn’t have stayed the starting QB in ’01, Tom Coughlin would have been fired last year before they turned it around and won the Super Bowl, and Mike Tomlin likely wouldn’t have been hired (just to name a few examples). What seems to be lost here is that big picture perspective. Since Pioli got to Kansas City the drafts have generated more impact players than the many years leading up to his tenure under his predecessor. Additionally the Chiefs had increased their wins each year until last season’s injury ravaged season (which still finished only 1 win away from a .500 season) and then this year which has admittedly been a horrible year. But is one really bad year all he should get? Do you really realize what the impacts are when you change a General Manager? It’s not simply a guy that hires players and coaches. It’s a scouting methodology with specific focuses and terminologies that your staff has to re-learn. It’s removing folks that aren’t willing or able to execute your methodology. It’s a multi-year plan that it takes time to execute and that can’t always be executed until everyone has the new way of thinking down. It’s the process of really getting to know what your current players are or are not capable of, which you just can’t do from outside the situation. So if you continually make moves you don’t let things play out to see the real potential.
Short is the New Long – Does anyone know how long Romeo has been the Head Coach of the Chiefs? LESS than 1 season. How on EARTH do you evaluate someone in less than 1 season?! Here are some evaluations you can make: His players love him and respect him. He was previously far too focused on the defense and ignored the offense. He agreed and fired himself as defensive coordinator to try to help get things under control. He is “nice”. (The media doesn’t like “nice” coaches. They want the spitting and swearing coaches. Ask Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy about that. Of course that is unless you are Bo Pelini…then it’s a problem to be spitting and swearing…but I digress). Two years in a row he’s been able to rectify issues in the defense during the season and have them show significant improvement. He’s really not an asset when it comes to offense. He hasn’t made all of the right decisions. His players never quit. So it’s a mixed bag. But he’s been here less than 1 full season as the real Head Coach. Anyone remember what Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys did in his first year? 1-15. You think a knee-jerk reaction then would have been a bad idea?! (No I’m not saying Romeo is Jimmy, but the point is that we don’t know WHO he is at this point). There needs to be some time given to be able to really see what is what.
Perception is King – Folks in Kansas City remember the days of Carl Peterson. In truth, there was no way you couldn’t because Carl Peterson was a media whore. (A Media Whore is defined as a person who has a psychological need to be in/on TV, Film, Radio or Print ). Carl wanted to be the face of the franchise and he was always good for quotes or rants, etc. Scott Pioli is not that way. He wants the Head Coach to be the face of the organization when it comes to the media. The perception of that is that he is arrogant and feels superior to everyone else. From everything I’ve ever seen or read, I don’t believe that to be the case at all. In fact, I wrote a good deal about that back in March. This week I was out with my kids and got into a conversation with a gentleman who expressed a common opinion that I’ve heard in K.C. He stated that “everyone thought Pioli was so smart when he was in New England, but it was all Belichek”. It’s a typical gross oversimplification. New England was that successful because their head coach, general manager, and director of scouting were all good enough to be NFL general managers, and when you have 3 men that bright working together you tend to have a much greater chance at good results. Now the 3 men are in 3 different organizations and in truth, none of them have had the same level of drafting success since the break-up. In fact, the argument can easily be made that Thomas Dimitroff, NOT Bill Belichek, in Atlanta has been the most successful of the 3 men since the split. In fact, it would be possible to make the argument that Belichek has been the 3rd best in the draft since they parted. So what’s the point? The point is that folks take his quiet for arrogance and they have decided that he’s a problem simply because they don’t know much about him or his methods. And in truth, the other point is that folks assumed that in a couple of years he would be able to turn the Chiefs into a New England caliber team which was unrealistic and an issue with them, not with him.
What’s Luck got to do with it? – A LOT. See, a good plan can only take you so far. Pioli had a plan to try to acquire Peyton Manning this offseason to deal with our issue at quarterback that he knew we had. But he didn’t have John Elway to give his sales pitch. So the plan was thwarted. Sometimes there aren’t marquee free agents or draft picks at the positions where you need them to be available. Pioli would have loved to be in position to get Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but the Chiefs simply weren’t in the right position with the right leverage at the right time. On the flip-side, the Colts were extremely lucky. One injury to one player in the perfect year, and they received a succession plan of moving from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck. It’s like when San Antonio had one bad year in basketball and set themselves up for years by getting Tim Duncan to follow David Robinson. Luck plays a factor. And the truth is, the Chiefs aren’t getting lucky this year when you look at the QB class coming out now either. They will have to look for some other option. Things don’t get better quickly without luck (Andrew or otherwise) on your side.
So what’s the point? The point is that I am fully aware that these men have not performed spectacularly this year. I’m the first to point out that letting Brandon Carr go and then spending almost that much on locker room cancer Stanford Routt was a terrible decision. But I also can acknowledge that there aren’t a ton of people who would have known that Eric Winston would play like a paper doll on the offensive line instead of helping shore up one of our bigger weaknesses. Some decisions are good on paper, but you don’t know until you are dealing with people. I can say that in my other line of work I’ve seen it many times. A good interviewee can turn into a nightmare employee and a less than stellar interviewee can become a star. You just may not be able to tell until you know them. The point is that we don’t need knee-jerk reactions, we need to allow these guys enough of an opportunity to prove whether they are the problem or the solution. Part of success is learning from failure, which isn’t possible unless you are allowed to fail. I can’t say yet whether they are the problem or the solution, but I absolutely support them until the point at which they have proven it.
Now a bonus point: If you MUST have change, then I’d say that we’ve given the talking heads in Kansas City plenty of time for us to figure out what they are…so why don’t we start a Fire Kevin Kietzman & Jack Harry campaign and make it possible to listen to local sports radio & television in this town again. THAT is a movement I can get behind!
James & the Swamette
The college season is over but there’s still plenty of NFL left, so James & the Swamette wanted to keep dropping the knowledge on the StM readers, so here are their picks for Week 14 of the NFL season: