Along with many Chiefs fans, last Sunday was a gut punch. Losing to the Broncos when they were playing with a college QB and their third string running back was beyond the pale. All the good of the four game winning streak went out the window with loses to the Dolphins and Broncos. The Chiefs should not have lost either game. My mind wandered, as I am sure many of yours did, to the foundation of western literature, the Greek tragedies. Those tragedies involved the hero’s downfall being caused by hubris. Hubris is a Greek word for excessive pride. I wonder what role hubris will play during the offseason. Hard choices need to be made.
When you are successful, you can fall into the trap of thinking you know far more than anyone else. Hence, the start of hubris. I watched the end of the Joe Torre era in New York. Time and time, he went to the same relievers (Mike Stanton, for example). Time and time again, they disappointed. Torre could not, or would not trust the newer players. He was going to go with what had worked in the past. The problem was that those players were not as good as they were four to five years ago. Torre couldn’t see it or couldn’t adjust. He was basically fired and it was the right decision.
In Chiefs history, we find a similar example. The Chiefs of the last 60s were a great team. By the early 70s, those players play had slipped. Instead of developing enough good young players, the Chiefs signed veterans like Ken Avery, trying for one more run. It didn’t work and Hank Stram was done in Kansas City. Stram could not move past the players that won for him in the past.
This process is very common in sports and in life. It is so hard to see what a player can do today and tomorrow. My point is not to slam Torre or Stram. Both were fine leaders in their sport. At the end, they could not make the adjustments needed to be successful.
This brings me to Scott Pioli. Pioli has earned a lot of accolades, being a key part of a great Patriot dynasty. Although he comes across as unassuming, he has to feel that he knows a lot more than most seasoned NFL personnel men. He has a couple of key decisions to make. I will be watching to see if he can make the smart call and not be blinded by hubris. Pioli has two key decisions to make, with associated decisions following them.
1] The fate of Todd Haley
Baring something unexpected, Haley will probably be fired. I don’t expect Pioli to have a hard time making this call. No, it’s not fair, but life isn’t fair. The big call is who takes the reigns after Haley. Fans will clamor for Bill Cowher. Pioli likes to keep things in the his coaching family tree, so I don’t think he will pursue Cowher. I have been saying for over a year that Romeo Crennel is the next Chiefs head coach and I am sticking with that prediction. I think the fans will be fine with that, but then the cry will go out to bring Charlie Weis back. Even if Haley is gone, I am not sure Weis would return.
2] The fate of Matt Cassel
This is the big one. The AA staff has done a great job breaking down Cassel this week. There isn’t much I can add to it. The bottom line is that Cassel is not quite good enough and places too much of a burden on the rest of the team. There is a lot to like about Cassel. He is tough, a hard worker and has good leadership qualities. Those are all great traits, but it’s not enough. His arm and decision making is not quite good enough. The case is basically closed and most die hard Chiefs fans can see it. The big question is, does Scott Pioli see it? When you listen to Pioli talk about Cassel, it is obvious that he has a ton of respect and love for Cassel. Can Pioli see Cassel’s performance for what it is or will he be blinded by the warm feelings he has for Cassel? Personally, I don’t know, but I hope he can. The Matt Cassel era needs to come to a close. Palko is not a long term answer, Stanzi might be. However, the Chiefs should be picking in the top ten of the draft and a quarterback has to be a big item of discussion in round one.
That’s my take, Addicts. Do you think Pioli can make these calls? Should he make these calls? What would you do if you were Pioli?