Dec 24, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli reacts during the game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 16-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

The Patriot Waste


The following is a two part post. Part I is The Patriot Way Or The Patriot Waste and
Part II is The Effects The Patriot Waste Has Had On The Kansas City Chiefs

Part I: The Patriot Way Or The Patriot Waste?

Did the Chiefs get any bang for their buck? It’s been three years since Scott Pioli brought the Patriot Way to Kansas City. So, are they any better for it?

Did Clark Hunt make a mistake when he hired Scott Pioli? Did Hunt erroneously buy into the idea that Pioli was a golden boy who could bring his Midas touch and– abracadabra– the Chiefs would be Super Bowl contenders?

Scott Pioli’s first three years here have not been a grand success and, by his own admission, he acknowledges that the Todd Haley hiring was not a mistake. Yet, Haley is gone baby gone and our Chiefs are doing their best impression of a toxic dump site.

So: what is the Patriot Way and has it actually helped the Chiefs?

It’s an idea that’s been misinterpreted and filled with conjecture and, because it hasn’t been understood by fans, it’s been turned into a mystical, enviable, gospel-like football ideology.

In the real world of everyday NFL football, it has been the cause of a lot of study and tons of speculation, not to mention that half the league is trying to copy it.

As a result, a great number of employees have been hired away from the New England Patriots but, none, not a single player, head coach or executive, has been able to reproduce the so-called magic of the Patriot Way, elsewhere. Zero Super Bowl wins. Zero Super Bowl appearances.

Because there are so many ex-Patriot coaches, players and executives strewn across the league who have faltered… the Patriot Way should be called… the Patriot Waste.

As for the Chiefs, they’ve expended so much time, energy and personnel resources trying to “be like Mike,” or in this case, the Pats.

However, the Patriot Way phenomenon could be completely explained away with the simple knowledge that 31 teams don’t have a quarterback named Tom Brady, and never will.

So: what is the Patriot Way?

To find out, we must separate what the Patriots Way really is from what is likely only myth.

The Quarterback
Yes, Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. We’ve heard it all before, but, the eternal thorn in the paw of each GM is that Brady was drafted so late that every team in the league had multitudinous opportunities to grab him. Imagine all the white-hot conversations owners have had with their general managers about why they passed on Brady so many times. What that has done, is place an enormous amount of pressure on GMs to, 1) not let it happen again, ever, and 2) to duplicate the supposed “deft” drafting by the Patriots.

In his article called, “Super Bowl XLVI: Revolting Against the Patriot Way, Daniel Bogard says,

“Tom Brady is probably the greatest example of this dichotomy of luck or skill… Granted, the draft is arguably the biggest crapshoot in all of professional sports. Yet, we live in a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” society that is further perpetuated by a media that is not accustom to  forgetting mistakes or allowing those who make them to live them down very easily. Not only has Brady been a nightmare to GM’s, he is a nightmare to opposing coaches as well.”

The Myth: Selecting Tom Brady was a clever drafting move.

The Reality: It was a serendipitous act of ill-gotten reasoning, an accidental coincidence. The Patriots didn’t set out that day to draft Tom Brady, his value merely fell into their laps. The Patriots never had any idea what they even had until after Drew Bledsoe went down and Brady stepped onto the field of play. If the Patriots had a theme song for Brady it would be “My Favorite Mistake.”

The Midas Touch For Dummies
The Patriots have regularly brought in under-performing players from other teams and utilized them so well that there is a night and day difference when they get to New England. Wes Welker, Corey Dillon, Randy Moss and most recently Ochocinco. Welker is still going strong. Dillon helped win a Super Bowl and Randy Moss caught a record 23 TD passes in one season. Everyone’s still waiting for Ochocinco to catch on but he may not even be activated for the Super Bowl. Belichick also allowed Albert Haynesworth to touch the hem of his garment last summer but alas, no healing.

The Myth: Bringing damaged or rejected players in has changed them miraculously.

The Reality: The organization has been set up to handle a few aberrant personalities and those players are motivated to take advantage of what is likely their last or best shot at a title.

Exchanging Value for Unwanted Players By Ejecting Them in a Timely Manner
Curtis Martin, Richard Seymour, Randy Moss, Mike Vrabel, and Matt Cassel are good examples of the Patriots moving players at the perfect moment in time and maximizing their return in the process. Bill Polian says of the Patriots trading methods:

“…they have done a phenomenal job trading. They really have gotten great value for players that either they can live without or don’t fit their system any longer.”

The Myth: The Patriots have prophetic knowledge about the future and can predict when a player is about to go south for the rest of his career.

The Reality: The player is right in front of them every day so, they can see if a player is declining. They also don’t get too attached to any one player, except Brady, so they can move a player any time they want to. And they do.

Bill Polian is right, the Patriots do a great job in this area, but any team could do this. Most teams aren’t going down this road because of the risks involved. However, the Patriots do it because they can leverage the high profiles of their players, which exist because the team is so successful, annually going to the playoffs 9 out of the past 11 years, which means more TV time for their players, which can make an average player on their team a nationally recognized household name.

Drafting Better Than God Himself
The Patriots do a fantastic job in the draft. It’s not just perception. This is one area in which I will concede the Patriots do an incredible job. No myth here. The Patriots consistently rock the draft and make trades that benefit them in the long run. What I especially like that they do regularly is to trade back and pick up extra draft picks, with which they are able to increase the odds that someone is going to make the team or have an impact. They are solid in this area and more teams could duplicate this practice.

Trading back in the draft gives the Patriots the chance to trade up when they want to as well. The flexibility to move up and down the board is the ultimate power on draft day and has helped them fill specific needs with high quality players. Plus, it allows them to “get their man” a high percentage of the time.

Last year, when Scott Pioli traded back in the first round, picking up an extra third round choice and then drafting Justin Houston, was the first time I thought the Chiefs were operating on draft day like the Patriots.

The major problem the Patriots are facing right now is the same problem the Colts solved during Peyton Manning’s reign. Because their offense would score so quickly and often it frequently forced the opposition to play from behind, the Colts designed their defense to keep the opposition from playing catch-up and filled their roster with players who could do that job. The Patriots’ current offense scores at a furious pace and the reason they’re rated 31st in the league in total defense is because other teams are forced to go into catch-up mode and end up scoring a lot of points too.

The point is, the Patriots need to draft better towards that end. Stopping the pass. However, the Patriots are masters when it comes to drafting and have been for quite some time.

I concede that there’s no myth here, but it points out that one exceptional administrative competency (drafting really well) and one exceptional quarterback (you know who) makes up the totality of magic that is known as the Patriot Way.

Of course, then there’s the subject of coaching.

The Head Coach
Before I say what I’m going to say next I want you to know that I think Bill Belichick is one of the best coaches in the league today and has consistently improved as a head coach over the last dozen years. That being said, over the course of Bill Belichick’s head coaching career, he has a .769 winning percentage in the regular season when Tom Brady is behind center and when Tom Brady is not taking snaps for Belichick, his winning percentage is .464. By the way… the .464 includes Matt Cassel’s 11-5 record in 2008.

Myth: Bill Belichick is right next to Vince Lombardi on the list of greatest coaches ever.

Reality: We may never know how great Bill Belichick is unless he sticks around after Tom Brady retires.

Coaching Byproducts
Quite a number of Patriots coaches and executives have been hired away from the organization in the past 10+ years and everyone is trying to recapture the magic that has been known as the Patriot Way, but why? Because they produced 3 Super Bowl winners in the early part of the last decade? I guess that would make anyone sit up and take notice.

However, just because your organization has hired a former Patriots coach or executive doesn’t mean your organization is going to also be successful.

If your organization has hired someone from the Patriots family tree, then you’ve wasted your time. That’s the Patriot Waste.

Don’t believe me? Take a gander.

Charlie Weis left the Pats to coach college ball in 2005. Notre Dame hired Weis as their head coach and he had success there his first two years but, in his last three years his record was 3-9, 7-6 and 6-6, which led to his ousting.

The Chiefs’ current head coach Romeo Crennel left the Patriots to be the head coach for the Cleveland Browns, where he in no way distinguished himself. In four seasons he had a .375 winning percentage, and although he won 10 games one year, he couldn’t win more than 6 games in any other season and never made the playoffs.

Thomas Dimitroff, the current General Manager for the Atlanta Falcons, was director of college scouting from 2003 to 2007 for the Patriots. Serving as the General Manager for the Atlanta Falcons from 2008 to present, Dimitroff has helped to build a strong talent base there but Atlanta has only one division title, in 2010. Atlanta has had no playoff victories.

Scott Pioli served as Vice-President of Player Personnel for the Patriots from 2002-2008. He was then hired to serve as General Manager by the Kansas City Chiefs who won an AFC West Division title in 2010 but after three seasons,  he has a .437 winning percentage.

Eric Mangini coached the New York Jets from 2006-2008 and the Cleveland Browns from 2009-2010 only to leave the game with a .413 winning percentage and is now is a spot analyst for ESPN.

Josh McDaniels served as quarterback coach and then offensive coordinator for the Patriots from 2004 to 2008, then was hired by the Denver Broncos to be their head coach. McDaniels won his first 6 games with the Broncos but, after 1 and ¾ seasons, he was fired with a .393 winning percentage and a host of other bad decisions including a videotaping scandal, personnel alienation, bad trades and poor drafting.

Jim Schwartz has been the head coach of the Detroit Lions for the past three years taking their record on an upward journey from, 2-14 to 6-10 to 10-6 but only one playoff visit. No playoff victories.

Other coaches in the Bill Belichick coaching tree have gone on to coach elsewhere. Al Groh coached the New York Jets for one season (2000) and finished 9-7. In the college ranks Kirk Ferentz is at Iowa, has a 108-87 record and has tied for first in the Big Ten twice. Pat Hill is at Fresno State with a 112-80 record.

Nick Saban has won championships at the college level (LSU and Alabama) but didn’t have success in the pros. He coached the Miami Dolphins from 2005-2006 with a .469 NFL winning percentage. Although he is considered part of the Belichick coaching tree, technically Saban was first hired into the NFL by Jerry Glanville as a secondary coach for the Houston Oilers, 1988-89.

Out of all the executives and coaches who are ex-Patriots, only John Mitchell has been a part of a Super Bowl championship team. Mitchell is an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers and has won championships at both pro and college levels. However, because Mitchell is a part of perhaps the most storied organization in he NFL, it would difficult to give all the credit to Bill Belichick. Besides, he is an assistant coach, and he worked for Bill Cowher in the ’90s, so his move to Pittsburgh was a coming home of sorts.

Aside from John Mitchell, there have been no other coaches, assistants or executives from the Bill Belichick coaching tree who have been a part of a Super Bowl championship.

The Patriots are like a factory dumping toxic waste throughout the league but, for some reason everyone is still drinking their water. Nobodies dying but, nobodies celebrating either. Certainly not the Chiefs.

Part II of The Patriot Waste will post on Wednesday, February 1st at 12:00 Central time.


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