Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Anatomy of a Rebuild...how the Chiefs got here

This post isn't meant to be a historical reference of the past...not an indictment of anyone...rather a post about what the Chiefs really are.  It's to explain the root of the reasons why I am in favor of Pioli, and why I think firing him is a mistake.  Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy...

The lifeblood of any team is the NFL draft...Green Bay showcased that on their Super Bowl run when they had to go deep into their roster.  The Chiefs missed in that department for over a decade and we still fill the effects today.  If we hit on Junior Siavii or Ryan Sims...do we draft Glenn Dorsey or do we draft Joe Flacco?  Missing on picks doesn't hurt just that year...the high ones linger for years.  In the Chiefs case and at the rate they miss...we are still feeling the effects.

That wasn't always the case...from 88-93 HOF Derrick Thomas was added...Neil Smith, Tim Grunhard, Dave Szott, Dale Carter and Will Shields that laid most of the success that many of us remember as "Marty Ball".  The issue isn't the talent acquisition early in CP's tenure...the issue became after that initial influx.

What followed in regards to the draft after that period was the catalyst to many of the issues over the last several years.  1st round picks of Greg Hill, Trezelle Jenkins, and Victor Riley came in a span of 5 years.  Players like John Tait and Donnie Edwards left town.  TG was a prize pick and will go down in the annals of history....but for every TG there are a dozen Vanovers, Beisels, Dante Hall's and Gary Still's.

When the shelf life of the 88-93 draft classes were coming to an end...the team was full of special teams players.  Although TG, Donnie Edwards, John Tait had promise...there were simply to many Mike Cloud and Rashaan Shehee picks.  The appropriate thing at that time would have been to rebuild the roster.  Instead by 2001 we continued to drive a rudderless ship.

By the time 2001 rolled along it had been about 8 years since the Chiefs added significant talent through the draft (outside aforementioned TG and the specialist).  Dick Vermiel was not brought to KC for a rebuilding effort...something that the Chiefs needed.  CP was going on his 2nd decade, and Vermiel was near the end of his career.  So they went for it and the ineptitude continued.

The Chiefs added veterans in Trent Green, Priest Holmes, and Willie Roaf.  Offensively they set the NFL on fire with one of the most prolific offenses.  But Derrick Thomas passed...Neil Smith was gone...Dale Carter, James Hasty, Donnie Edwards all seen there time come to an end and there was nobody else.

The Chiefs attempted to address it in FA...Ty Law, Surtain, Kendrell Bell...big time free agents were brought in to help the defense.  In the draft the Chiefs selected Ryan Sims, Junior Siavii, Snoop Minnis, Slyvester Morris, Eddie Freeman, Larry Johnson, Kris Wilson (secret weapon).  While the Chiefs were lighting up the scoreboard under Vermiel we were becoming an older team...and a team that was failing to replinish the stock.

When Herm was hired he inherited that aging offense and that lack of youth.  The rebuild didn't happen over night...Herm, CP, and Hunt didn't get together and think it up.  The rebuild was 15 years in the making...15 years of ineptitude in the draft led to that.  Herm proved vital during that period.  Drafts of Bowe, Hali, Albert, Charles, Flowers, Carr gave this team an infusion of talent they hadn't had in years.

That's essentially the situation Pioli inherited...2 rookie cornerbacks, a pass rusher coming off of 2 sacks, a linebacker that couldn't put it together, a 3rd round running back few were clamoring about.  Pioli inherited no veterans of note that could still play.  He inherited 15 years of ineptitude.  Guys like Sims, Slyvester Morris, Junior Siavii, Eric Downing, John Tait should have been the veterans in 2009...instead that responsibility fell on Larry Johnson.

That's why we ended up with Cassel and Vrabel...the leader at the time was spitting on women in strip clubs.  Leadership was necessary, change was necessary, and in that moment the moves that were made were the right ones.  Haley established the groundwork that changed the laid back culture that existed.  Today we hold those moves against Pioli...but would you do it any different?

Today I hear a lot about firings...but nobody has a solution...the reality is this isn't an easy fix.  We aren't the Steelers who went from Lloyd to Kevin Greene to Joey Porter to James Harrison to Lamar Woodley.  The results you see from the Steelers today has everything to do with how they operated in the past.  What you see is consistency...a consistency that you don't get by firing.

People are quick to say, "Harbaugh won in year 1"...so did Barry Switzer and Bill Callahan went to a Super Bowl.  Harbaugh won with good players...3 starters for the 05' draft...2 from 06'...3 from 07'.  The Chiefs only have 4 drafted players on the roster drafted prior to 07' and one is the punter.  Teams can win with that much youth but a lot has to go right...unfortunately a lot has went wrong recently in KC.

Parting Shot

This history is why I can't call for Pioli's head.  I can't want a man fired that has acquired more talent via the draft in KC in nearly 20 years.  It hasn't been pretty but change for the sake of change is not the appropriate measure.  This team was a train wreck waiting to happen and talent wise we are recovering albeit slowly.

I see the games and hate what I am seeing...but the same players who pundits claimed to be the best in the AFC West isn't a lie.  There is a collection of talent in KC, a young sustainable roster.  A roster that still has room to grow.  I can't want him fired because of that.

The issue with Haley...sorry to tell you...Haley fell off the damn rails.  If the culture is so terrible why is everyone seeming to get along this year?  Why is Weis returning to a place where employees hate to be?  It was Haley with the beef with Weis...Haley screaming at people on the sideline...Haley making claims about bugs...consider the source.

This season is awful...and I wish someone could be held accountable.  The irony is I don't believe a firing is best for this franchise.  Firing Carl didn't wish the issues away and neither will firing Pioli.  If you believe he can't evaluate talent (which I don't) then so be it...fire him.  But this travesty isn't on the GM's hands completely.

Cassel won 10-11 games...two different coordinators figured how to make it work.  What happened this year can be laid at the feet of the coaches.  Romeo didn't forget how to coach (getting blown out like he always has sprinkled with a WTF performance here and there).  With this much sample size it's safe to say he's not cut out for the HC spot.

This team is laying the groundwork in terms of having sustainable success.  Obvious pieces are missing but the question is who completes the puzzle.  I post a lot of favorable things on Pioli...wanted to spell out exactly why I do that.  Don't fire him for what happened this year...because making moves based on one year put us here.

The teams that sustain success are what the Chiefs want to be.  It shouldn't be about this year, much more is on the line.

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