There is a long standing joke that NFL stands for “Not For Long”. This idea stands true to anyone within a professional football organization. From the General Manager, to the Head Coach, down to the players, you never know when you time will be over. There are often times when head coaches and general managers receive more credit, or blame, then they deserve. The 2010 Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Charlie Weis was a perfect example of a coach getting more credit then he deserved.
Weis was part of a Bill Belichick lead Patriots dynasty and the Head Coach for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In that time Weis became well known and respected for being an offensive mastermind. Weis won three Super Bowl titles as a coach with the Patriots as he called the plays for one of the league’s most prolific offenses. Weis brought that wealth of knowledge and all his credentials to the Chief.
Weis was supposed to take quarterback Matt Cassel and the Chiefs passing game to the next level. While there is no denying Cassel was much improved last year, it was not because of Weis. Cassel’s improvement came because the team around him got substantially better.
The Chiefs upgraded their offensive line by adding veterans Casey Wiegmann and Ryan Lilja during the offseason. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe finally played to the Pro Bowl caliber that has been expected for years. With the play of the offensive line and Bowe, it should be no surprise Cassel improved in ever statistical category last season.
Weis obviously had his hands on all parts of the offense and contributed to the team’s success but there were times that his play-calling absolutely killed the Chiefs. Against the Houston Texans in week six the Chiefs held a substantially large lead late in the game. That lead would evaporate in the last few minutes of the game largely due to Weis’ play calling.
The Chiefs had a chance to seal the deal with just less than three minutes remaining when they had a 3rd-and 2. Instead of giving the ball to Jamaal Charles, the league’s best running back averaging 6.38 ypc, Weis decided to get tricky and call a play-action pass. The Chiefs needed one first down to put the game away. Instead of a simple run, Cassel faked a hand-off and threw an incomplete pass twenty yards down the field.
This was not the only time this occurred. In the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens, Weis’ offensive strategy came into question again. Trailing by three at the start of the third quarter, the Chiefs drove the ball down to the Baltimore 33-yard line. Weis then made a very questionable call on 4th-and-1. Weis called a fake inside hand-off and pitched the ball to Charles who was supposed to break outside. Charles not only lost four yards on the play but also all of the momentum that the Chiefs had.
For the most part Weis was pretty conservative and there were very few times all season where he tried to get creative. However, when he did try to get creative it seemed to be at the worst possible time, leaving many questioning what he was thinking.
I believe the departure of Weis will ultimately be a blessing in disguise for the Chiefs. Everyone knows Weis has an ego, as does Coach Haley, and regardless of what either said to the public I believe one ego is enough for the Chiefs.
I suspect that Todd Haley will be calling the plays this year, however I am betting new Offensive Coordinator Bill Muir will not allow for deep play action pass calls on third and short. Muir will ensure either Jamaal Charles or Thomas Jones is breaking through the zone-blocking scheme for that first down.
New quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn is one of the best in the business. Zorn did wonders for Matt Hasselbeck and Joe Flacco when he was their quarterback coach. With Zorn’s sole duty being to work with the quarterbacks, look for Matt Cassel to have another excellent season.
Neither Bill Muir nor Jim Zorn come with an ego the size of Weis’. Look for the combined offensive minds of Haley, Muir, and Zorn to utilize every weapon that is within the Chiefs offense in ways Charlie Weis could have never imagined.