You guys are amazing! What a great collection of questions you left for me at the end of last week. There’s a lot there and I’ve got to tell you, most of them were well written and thought out. It’s a pleasure to know they are some intelligent football fans on this site. Thank you.
Many of you had nice compliments on the site and those are truly appreciated. Others had some questions about the site and yours truly. I’ve saved those because coming up here later this week; I’m going to have another Answer Bob post dealing entirely with the web site.
There were so many questions that the answers will come in two parts. This is post No. 1. More questions and answers will come in post No. 2 Monday evening.
I’ve tried to arrange the questions and topics in some sort of order that will provide a path from one to the other. I’ve read all the questions and have lumped some of them together. You know what you asked, and I hope one of my answers will provide the information you seek, if not specifically your question.
Once again, thanks for participating.
Give us a scenario where the Chiefs could make the playoffs in 2010. Is it possible?
I have to stop myself from being a wise-ass and asking, what have you been drinking? There’s too much recent history out there to say it can’t be done. The Bengals won the AFC North, after going 4-11-1 last year. The Dolphins won the AFC East in ‘08 after going 1-15 the season before. The Buccaneers won the NFC South in ‘07 after going 4-12 in the’06 season. So is it possible, yes. How can it happen? On the Chiefs side, they must find another six victories. Then, if they can have the Chargers fall from grace a bit; San Diego has won four straight division titles with an average of 11.5 victories a season. The Chargers must fall off the podium right now for the Chiefs to have a chance.
If you were building an NFL team, which current Chiefs would earn a spot on your roster?
Let’s start with Jamaal Charles; any team would like to have that type of explosion. I would also take Branden Albert, whether at left tackle or some other spot on the line. On the other side of the ball, I would take Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers. I would also open spots for Dustin Colquitt and Ryan Succop. Those are the six players I think any team in the league would add to their rosters tomorrow if given the chance.
In light of the season and the performance of the defense and trying to use cover-two type players was the switch to a 3-4 defense a major mistake?
The Chiefs problems on defense have nothing to do with scheme; the ‘09 defense was just as bad as the ‘08 defense. The 3-4 was marginally better in the final statistics. Only one was significantly improved and that was sacks, going from an all-time worst at 10 to 22 sacks. The’09 defense allowed 6,211 yards. The ‘08 defense gave up 6,291 yards. Both were terrible. Any 4-3 or 3-4 defense today floats back and forth between fundamentals of both defenses. The Chiefs spent more snaps in their nickel defense at 2-4-5 than they did in the 3-4. I don’t think making the change was a mistake.
How long will it take to get the right personnel together for the scheme? Is it a matter of coaching?
Coaching is always a factor, and the addition of Crennel really gives them a much better defensive staff. As for personnel, in the big picture this defense needs two safeties, two inside linebackers, an outside linebacker, a nose tackle and another defensive end/outside linebacker who can rush the passer. That’s seven players. If they can get those seven in the next two years, it would be very impressive.
How do you think Clark Hunt compares to his father as the leader of the Chiefs franchise?
That’s really an unfair question at this point because so much of Clark Hunt’s history is still to be made. There is no question that there is a different tenor around the franchise, and it’s hard to tell if that’s because of Clark Hunt or the departure of Carl Peterson after 20 years. There’s a real division that’s developed between the football operation and the rest of the building with the Chiefs. Under Peterson, there was an all-for-one, one-for-all type of atmosphere. That’s not the case anymore and for this franchise to have the type of success that Clark Hunt expects – demands – that fissure in the building needs to be corrected. Just like Scott Pioli had never been a GM before and Todd Haley had never been a head coach before, Clark Hunt has never been the man in charge before. There’s a learning-on-the-run quotient for all of them. Another factor that will be interesting to watch is this: Clark Hunt has three other partners to answer to, something Lamar Hunt never had. Clark Hunt has two brothers in Lamar Jr. and Daniel and a sister in Sharron who own the same amount of the team as he does. All four may have the same father, but that doesn’t mean they are always going to agree on how the business is run. So you can see comparisons, especially right now, are not fair.
Are there any other changes coming to the front office?
It’s hard to believe there would be any more bodies to change, since there’s been so much of a shuffle in the last year. Right now, most everything around the Chiefs operation is in flux; that’s just where the franchise and the league are at this time in history. Right now, I think the only person around the Chiefs who feels comfortable about his or hers position is Clark Hunt.
There’s an impression that you dislike the new regime. Is that true?
No, it’s not true. Like everyone else watching the new people in charge, I’m waiting to see what happens. So far, it’s not been very good or impressive. It’s real hard, even when keeping the bigger picture in mind, to ignore 4-12 and the problems that were so evident in the ‘09 season. It’s hard to sound or write things that seem positive. I think it was time for change around the Chiefs, and change can create some tough circumstances. There are many ways to build a winning sports team and enterprise. I didn’t agree with everything that Carl Peterson did, and I don’t agree with everything that Pioli and Haley have done. But they deserve the chance to build this franchise to their order, not mine.
Why have the Chiefs been so bad recently? What happened?
Oh boy, that’s a short couple questions, but long answers. It really comes down to two things: talent acquisition and development of talent. When Peterson and Schottenheimer arrived in 1989, they but those two facets together and that’s what fueled the re-birth of the franchise from 1989 through the late 1990s. In the last decade, those two very important elements have not done a good enough job separately, or in concert. The Chiefs are 10-38 in the last three years because they don’t have enough talented players.
Do you think the Chiefs are headed in the right direction and are there reasons to be optimistic?
I think the Chiefs are headed in a direction with the football operation and whether that will be successful or not, it’s good that there is a plan being worked. Pioli and Haley are talented men, and they’ve been around some of the best minds in the business. Patience is required and I know that’s a four-letter word for Chiefs fans that have been patient for so long. Everyone, from Clark Hunt to the most devout fans needs to allow this plan to play out.
What do you think of Pioli’s first year in charge?
First, you can’t separate his first season from the 4-12 record the team finished with in ‘09. On that basis, it wasn’t very good. He rebuilt the entire personnel operation and we haven’t had the chance to see how that plays out yet. Don’t buy the talk that the ‘09 draft class was the result of the scouts he inherited when he took over the operation. The truth is Pioli froze out the old personnel staff at Arrowhead in the run up to the ‘09 NFL Draft. He brought the information he used with him from New England. For better or worse, he is the father of that ‘09 class and right now that doesn’t look so good, but there is plenty of time for that group to recover and make a bigger contribution. I think Pioli made a mistake by being so invisible. He told us he would be like this when he was introduced and he followed through. But when Herm Edwards was fired, Pioli should have come out publicly and provided reasons. When Larry Johnson was suspended, Pioli should have handled the announcement and questions. Same thing for when Johnson was released. Haley should not have to take all the arrow shots during the season. Pioli may not like doing it, but its part of the job. And, he’s pretty good at handling the parry and thrust with the media anyway. He doesn’t have to have a TV show or a weekly radio show, but he should be more visible especially at times of controversy or conflict involving the organization.
Do you think there’s a future in Pioli’s ‘09 draft class?
There’s that chance. Tyson Jackson and Alex Magee showed some of the skills necessary to play defensive end in the league. If both of them improve in the next few years, they could still be the cornerstones of the defense. It’s hard to read on Donald Washington; he’s an incredibly gifted athlete, but the game seemed bigger than he could handle. A full off-season in the Chiefs program may unleash some of those talents. Colin Brown, Quinten Lawrence, Javarris Williams and Jake O’Connell were pretty much non-factors as rookies. Ryan Succop was outstanding for a rookie kicker and seventh round draft pick. If Jackson, Magee and Washington become contributing starters to the defense, this class will be considered better than average.
What will Pioli’s strategy be in the draft? Will it be best player available, draft for need or draft to fit vision and profile?
Let’s say all of the above. When a team finishes 4-12 and 10-38 over the last three years, it’s because of a lack of talent. That means you can take the best player available and probably fill a position of need. Any player that gets drafted by Pioli/Haley will have to fit their vision and profile. It would make no sense for them to do anything but at this point.
What’s your overall opinion on Haley? What was the most disappointing aspect of his first season and the area where he showed the best improvement?
I think we saw from Haley what we could have expected from a guy who had never been a head coach before. Actually, I thought he provided a bit more in leading the team that could have been expected given his age and his experience. His training and experiences dating back to the time spent with his father were very important in molding his thinking. The most disappointing aspect was the attitude that Haley and Pioli brought into the building that anything or anyone who they inherited wasn’t worth much. I think he showed his best improvement with his demeanor on the sideline. Haley knows he’s a hot-head and that there are points in a game where he needs to bite his tongue and not go off. I think as the season went along, he did a better job of that.
It appears you like Herm Edwards more than Haley. Is that true?
Not at all. In many ways I have more things in common with Haley than Edwards; we grew up in the same part of the country, know many of the same stories and history, how similar outlooks in what we think is important. I think there are many different ways to win in the NFL, and Haley’s approach to me has been proven over time to be quite successful. I believe if this team starts to win and Haley gets to keep his job, everyone will find out that he’s a good man, with a sense of humor and a very real outlook on football and life. Herm Edwards is one of the finest men you would ever want to know. I also think he got screwed with the Chiefs. He operated in 2008 in a rebuilding mode and then got fired for not producing more victories with that approach. There are a lot of things Edwards would have done differently if he knew he wasn’t going to get time to work on the project. Herm believed everyone was in his corner and it turned out that wasn’t the case.
Haley keeps talking about the players “don’t get it.” What don’t they get?
“It’ is the Parcells/Belichick/Haley approach to the game. That’s the idea that the whole is far more important than the pieces that make it up, that as a player you must be available, you must be believable and you must be willing to sacrifice. The concept is not hard to understand or unusual. Living that way is a tougher task.
Does Haley have what it takes?
I think he has the background. I think he has a good and proven idea. I think his process will work. But, he’s got to have more talent and he and his coaching staff have to do a better job of coaching what’s on hand. That’s what good coaches do – they make something of what they are given. The question is whether Haley will have the time to show he has what it takes. He should never forget how he got his job, i.e. Herm Edwards and what happened to him.
WEIS & CRENNEL
Who will have the greater impact, Weis on offense or Crennel on defense?
The answer will be which one gets the biggest upgrade in talent going into the season. If all that breaks even, I think Crennel has the chance to make the biggest impact. Weis inherits an offense that I think Haley had headed in the right direction at the end of the season. Weis has an impact player like Jamaal Charles and a potential playmaker in Dwayne Bowe, along with the leader of the unit in QB Matt Cassel. Crennel has a playmaker in OLB Tamba Hali and maybe CB Brandon Flowers and a defense that has no leader. That’s where Crennel can have a bigger effect on what happens.
Any concerns about them being here for a year and then leaving for another head coaching job?
Weis and Crennel are coming off what are considered failures in their tenures at Notre Dame and Cleveland. There are not going to be a lot of potential employers lining up outside their offices in the next year or two, or three.
What kind of influence will Weis and Crennel have on the draft?
They will be a very important part of the evaluation process as the Chiefs get ready for the draft. Their experience and expertise will be put to work and use. Pioli and Haley are not going to have resources like those two guys in the building and not take advantage of them.
Crennel is coaching at the East-West Shrine Game. Is that an advantage for the Chiefs?
It’s an advantage in knowing more about the players on the east squad that Crennel will lead. Generally, NFL coaches do not work the Shrine Game; it’s only retired or unemployed coaches. That Crennel is coming back into the league gives him a chance to find out about those players on his team, especially the defensive guys. Every little bit helps in the whole draft/evaluation process.
What was the story with Tim Krumrie and why was he let go?
I’m not sure we’ll ever get the whole story, but I’ve heard that Haley wants more of a teacher in that role, especially with so many young players in the group.
Any other coaching staff moves? What about a quarterbacks coach? The interns around last year, will they return?
I wish it was possible to answer those questions, but that’s considered top secret information around the building. Obviously, there’s an opening on the defensive line and possibly as an offensive line assistant. Where does Clancy Pendergast land? I would expect Richie Anderson will stay as wide receivers coach. As far as a quarterbacks coach, I think the Chiefs need one. They need a technician who will work with the quarterbacks on mechanics. Let Haley and Weis handle the game planning and decision making, and have somebody watching the feet of the passers and whether they are throwing the ball from a good position.
Can these three coaches (Haley/Weis/Crennel) turn around the franchise like Marty did?
I think there’s a chance. The success of Schottenheimer, just like the potential success of Haley & Company depends on the level of talent they can deploy. Remember that when Schottenheimer was hired, he brought with him seven coaches. They were able to get up and running immediately and that made a real difference in that first season. Good coaches can make good players great. Great players can put rings on the fingers of good coaches. It’s all about talent. The Chiefs have talent in the coaching offices. They need more in the locker room.
More to come tomorrow on the draft, the labor situation and questions about individual players.