January 09, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt (left), new head coach Romeo Crennel (center) and general manager Scott Pioli speak during to media at the Kansas City Chiefs practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Blundering Kansas City Chiefs: Placing The Blame


The Kansas City Chiefs are a disaster so far in 2012 and if you check out the press clippings today, it appears that the blame is falling squarely on the shoulders of GM Scott Pioli, with a couple of shots being fired at owner Clark Hunt. This is what happens as the frustration around a poorly performing professional sports team festers.

It starts with the players. In 2009, the blame was placed squarely on the terrible, terrible roster left behind in Kansas City by former GM Carl “The King” Peterson and then head coach Herm “You Play To Win The Game, You Just Don’t” Edwards.

In 2010, everything was roses. Pioli was touted as a genius who managed to turn around a roster full of scrubs and homeless men into a group of overachieving young stars. Todd Haley, KC’s coach at the time, was given heaps of praise as well. After an inaugural season of sideline antics and questionable decisions, Haley was viewed as a hard-nosed young coach who wasn’t afraid to bench his team’s best player for an entire season if it meant finally helping said player realize his true potential the following year.

In 2011, we were told that Todd Haley was a paranoid mad man and that Scott Pioli was running an operation so concerned with every detail that the man in charge was dressing down his employees in meetings for dropping candy wrappers in the stairwell. As the injuries piled up, it was Haley who took the fall. Defensive coordinator and Pioli pal, Romeo Crennel, stepped in and beat the mighty Packers. All was well in Chiefs land.

As the team entered 2012, Pioli was once again being praised for his roster building. The GM had what some called the most successful free agency period in the league, acquiring solid players like Peyton Hillis, Kevin Boss and Eric Winston. Locally and nationally folks began to realize that the Chiefs had a deep and talented roster and some pundits went so far as to project KC to make the Super Bowl.

Now, after two horrendous losses, the fire has finally reached high enough to burn the loaders right off of Scott Pioli’s feet. If the problem was Haley and Haley is gone, then why are the Chiefs starting just as miserably in 2012 as they did in 2011?

The team is relatively healthy. Brandon Flowers and Tamba Hali played yesterday. Eric Berry is back. Jamaal Charles, too. Scott Pioli’s job is to create a winning organization from top to bottom that is in a position to contend for a championship year in and year out. So far, Pioli has gone through two head coaches, two defensive coordinators and nearly a half-dozen offensive coordinators. Since his arrival in Kansas City, the Chiefs have gone 21-30.

Scott Pioli has failed.

But should he be fired? Should Clark Hunt clean house and start from scratch?

I’m not sure that is the answer.

Look, in the end, Pioli is responsible for everything. The buck stops with him.* But not everything Pioli has done since coming to KC has been a failure. In fact, in many respects, he’s done a pretty good job. There is plenty of blame to go around and since today is definitely a day to start throwing people under the bus, I thought I’d take a shot at compiling a list of blame.

*Though some would argue that the buck stops as soon as it enters Clark Hunt’s rather large wallet.

Scott Pioli:

Pioli’s biggest blunders haven’t come in the draft or free agency but from a front office/hiring standpoint. Pioli whiffed on his first choice for head coach. Todd Haley was erratic, overly emotional and inconsistent. His coaching philosophy seemed to change from game to game and he frequently made poor or questionable decisions.

Pioli has also allowed a turbulent coaching environment with a seemingly unending lineup of offensive coordinators. He’s gone all in on QB Matt Cassel and yet has allowed his chosen signal caller to be hampered by learning a new offense every year…sometimes more than once a year.

From a PR standpoint, Pioli has also failed. For someone so concerned with his team’s press clippings, Pioli’s tenure in Kansas City has been filled with drama in the headlines and this is even with Jason Whitlock out of town. The Chiefs have looked bad a heck of a lot more than they’ve looked good since Pioli arrived and it isn’t because the press has some sort of evil vendetta. You reap what you sow, as it were.

The secretive nature of the organization and the shunning of the press haven’t done Pioli any favors. The bad mojo leads one to question whether or not the Chiefs might be having a hard time luring top free agents to town. Sure, Pioli got Kevin Boss (cut by the Raiders), Peyton Hillis (allowed to leave Cleveland) and Eric Winston (cut by the Texans) but Peyton Manning wouldn’t even take his phone calls. The Broncos, a division rival, got Manning instead. That’s a bad look.

Romeo Crennel:

Romeo Crennel’s tenure as head coach has been a total failure thus far. The man touted for being a defensive genius is sporting one of the worse defenses in the league. It would be one thing if Crennel was working with the 2009 group of youngsters and scrubs that former defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was handed but this Chiefs defense is full of players with Pro Bowl talent. Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, Derrek Johnson, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali all have the ability to be All-Pros in any given season. Defense is Romeo’s jam and yet he suddenly looks like a head coach with too much on his plate. Leading a bad team to a terrible start is one thing but leading a team that should be good is something else all together.

On offense, it appears that Crennel is allowing offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to do his thing. Only Daboll’s thing isn’t working.

Crennel should have this team playing more crisp, disciplined football.

Brian Daboll:

Daboll seems to be a guy full of good ideas but he doesn’t seem to know how to put them together. His schemes show tremendous promise and his offense is, at times, exciting, but he is also failing to use all of his weapons effectively.

I am starting to think that Daboll’s propensity to play the matchup advantages is hampering his offense. The Chiefs are constantly subbing in personnel groups. Jamaal Charles will get a carry, then Peyton Hillis, then Shaun Draughn. It may be that Daboll is out-thinking himself and sending in so many different packages that the players aren’t able to get into a rhythm. KC’s most effective offensive game plan in 2010 was to run Jamaal Charles often and then run the play action. Yesterday, Charles had six carries.

Matt Cassel:

I thought Matt Cassel played pretty well against the Atlanta Falcons. That was not the case Sunday against the Bills. Cassel was under quite a bit of pressure but he was taking too many sacks. Cassel’s main problem, however, isn’t lack of effort, it’s just that he isn’t that good. He can be an effective QB when everything is going right but in case you haven’t noticed, things aren’t going right. At all. That renders Cassel basically useless. He is still the best QB on the team but Chiefs need to find a QB that can lift them up, not just keep them afloat.

Derrick Johnson:

Everyone loves DJ, but Johnson has been the absolute worst player on the defense so far this season. Johnson should be the leader of this defense, instead he is its biggest liability.

Tamba Hali:

Hali let his team down by getting himself suspended for the season opener. His absence allowed Falcons QB Matt Ryan all the time he needed to carve up the banged-up KC secondary. Hali’s presence in that first game could have greatly altered the outcome. Instead the KC season got started off horribly and things have only gotten worse.

The offensive line:

The Chiefs have a load of talent on the offensive line but they aren’t playing well. We should expect some inconsistency from young Rodney Hudson and Jon Asamoah. What is Ryan Lilja’s excuse?

Tom McMahon:

New special teams coordinator Tom McMahon is off to a terrible start. The Chiefs have allowed returns for touchdowns in each of their first two games.

As you can see, there is plenty of blame to go around. Scott Pioli has put together a good roster that doesn’t win. His coaches aren’t getting the job done and a number of his players are under-performing.

What we’ve witnessed the last two weeks is an organizational failure, from Clark Hunt’s wallet all the way down to Ryan Lilja’s inconsistent play.

When things get this bad, fans want heads to roll. Heck, if you read the KC Star today, you’d think Kent Babb and Sam Mellinger are likely leading an angry mob to Scott Pioli’s house as we speak.

Only tarring and feathering Pioli on the 50-yardline isn’t going help. Neither is breaking into Hunt’s house and stealing his wallet. Romeo Crennel didn’t just up and become a terrible defensive coordinator over night. Firing Crennel will make the Chiefs worse, not better. Derrick Johnson is not a bad football player. Quite the contrary. Matt Cassel isn’t perfect but believe me, if you’re currently on the Brady Quinn or Ricky Stanzi bandwagons I feel I should tell you that those are being driven off a cliff so you might want to consider hopping off.

As Herm was fond of saying, they aren’t going to cancel the season. The Kansas City Chiefs have 14 games left to play and the only thing that is guaranteed is that those games will happen. Take a look at the standings now and again at the end of the season. I reckon they’ll look a bit different.

At this time last year, the Chiefs were the worst team in football. Todd Haley was the head coach. Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow were Broncos. The Chargers were the easily waltzing their way to the AFC West championship. By the time the dust settled, Haley was canned, Orton was a Chief, the Broncos were playoff team and KC had one of the best defenses in the NFL.

I’m no more certain that the Chiefs will finish 0-16 than I am that they’re about to rattle off four straight wins.

It’s a long season but heads rolling now won’t get the Chiefs out of this mess. All we can do is sit back and hope the team can somehow find a way to come together, play to their talent level and give us some entertaining football to watch.

Because if they keep playing as poorly as they have so far, you won’t need to call for anyone’s head.

One will likely be handed to you.

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Tags: Kansas City Chiefs

  • Redskinx22

    How do you put blame on Daboll? 24 points in the first game, and a Hillis fumble in the endzone away from putting up 24 points again. Most teams putting up 24 would be very happy with their offense, not throwing the offensive coordinator under the bus. On top of that, the Chiefs rank number 5 in offense (when did that happen last) and number 5 in rushing. Who cares who is carrying the ball? The Chiefs are rushing well, moving the ball, and scoring points. What exactly do you want the offensive coordinator to do?

    • http://www.arrowheadaddict.com Patrick Allen

      Daboll shoulders some of the blame. The offense was awful yesterday. Read the article next to this one by Lyle to find out how successful the running game really is. Most of KC’s points yesterday came in garbage time.

      I like Daboll and it has just been two games but we are talking about why the Chiefs stink so bad right now and part of that is that the offense isn’t living up to its potential.

      • tm1946

        Not really satisfying to say Daboll at fault but there is something wrong on the Offensive side. Charles, healthy or finished as a RB or not trusted by Daboll. Lilja was adequate til this year, is a speed bump this year, doesn’t Daboll see that. Pioli drafted OL like there was a fire sale, use one.
        Team sport, every one gets a piece of the blame but everytime some “fan”: says everyone else is worse than my guy, makes you worry do they have a clue (wasn’t the Chiefs who suggested fans get a clue) about football or the NFL or the Hunt Chiefs.

      • Michael Shaw

        I don’t think that Daboll is as much of the problem as Cassel is. I am sorry, we basically paid $60 million bucks for a guy that can’t throw an accurate deep ball to save his soul or have enough common sense to throw the ball away or run with it for positive yards as opposed to going down and taking sacks!!! The offense is not NEARLY as bad as the defense and I am not sure why they are as bad as they are. It is mind boggling how bad they are given the talent level.

        • Danny W

          When it comes to Cassel you see that too. He does a great impression of a turtle.

      • Manny8808

        The offense is not the biggest weakness on this team… It is the lack of heart and passion on the Defensive side of the ball… Cassel is not a superstar by any means, but at least the dude has heart half the time. We are not built to come from behind 21 points. He put us in position to score with his scramble at the end of the half. My biggest question is where is the Defense?

        • Dave in SD

          Cassel has heart? I see him acting like a kid on the sideline and zero leadership qualities on the field. Arguing who is more right to the problem with the Chiefs is silly. There is no 1 answer to what’s wrong with the Chiefs. Collectively they aren’t very good. People will point in whatever direction they may but they are all correct. I wear red every Friday (In San Diego) and I show passion for my team every year regardless of hype. Unfortunately after 2 weeks of awful play, more and more of that passion gets put out. I don’t have confidence in how the organization is run and think they don’t respect their fan base (secrecy, poor media access and scripted responses). We as fans deserve better.

        • Danny W

          Cassel has heart half the time? Okay that matters a lot Manny! LOL

      • KCMikeG

        Yes our points and stats came in the 2nd half this week but it also can’t be ignored that they came from the 1st half last week vs. a Super Bowl contender who just schooled manning and the donkeys!

    • Danny W

      Whats with your name player? Are you a skins fan or a Chief fan. By your post and your name I would guess a Skins fan because your going off of stats that were put together after blow out losses. Do you even watch ESPN? Go to the Skins board.

  • Buzz

    The fans need to quit going to the games…..As long as they fill seats they could careless if they win.

  • Todd

    I agree with Buzz. I dropped my tickets this year as they proved me right by having the lowest payroll in the NFL. Why do the free agents we lose seem to go on to a stellar career after leaving the Chiefs more often than they do not? The comment about Peyton in the story is right on. If you were him, would you come play for the Chiefs knowing they would not pay for top talent on the O-Line? Follow the money!! it’s all ending up in the Hunt family coffers. Every decision made since Lamar’s passing has been about money. Even moving summer camp from River Falls was to put more money in their pockets. There are teams in the NFL that will make a lot of money and there are some that the owner are happy with some pocket change after the season because of the love of the game. The Chiefs went from the latter to the former with the loss of Lamar. The only think that will matter is when people stop going to the games and stop buying $9 beers.

    • Jim Harper

      Amen to that

  • redchiefs

    Six Carries? I totally agree Daboll is out thinking himself. Not enought carries for Charles, though I think his knee got tweeked and he’s hurt. Baldwin’s disappeared since Bowe came back, Baldwin is young and they need to put him where he played in the preseason and shift Bowe to the other side. Or put Bowe in the slot, but frankly Baldwin apparently can’t play the other side yet in his career. Is Lilja still on the small side and struggling against the bigger D lines?
    The Defense is still the major fault. They are flat out getting gashed. I dont know where to start, there are multiple pro bowlers on the D and they’re getting abused so far this season. They’ve been out of position and can’t seem to tackle half the time, there’s no fire in the defensne. This is mostly the same group that beat the Packers last year so I dont think it’s the personnel. I dont know if it’s on Crennel’s play calling, his motivational skills (last year was him being the good guy after the intimidator Todd Haley was fired) because he’s too much of a good guy, or the fire in the D’s heart (like they expect to win because they could beat Green Bay-last year)

  • BigGil

    I’m concerned that switching OL blocking from man to zone might have been a misstep.

    • Jim Harper

      Now that is an interesting thought. Could be something as simple as that

      • Danny W

        Yah Jim that will fix the defense too.

        • KCMikeG

          I don’t anyone, but you, was trying to say that an OL adjustment would fix the defense. But thanks for sharing – not.

  • Manny8808

    DJ, that is who I am looking at… Our offense isn’t Green Bay’s and we all knew that it wouldn’t be that. We have issues on Defense and the fact they are playing passion-less. DJ, has no spark- consistently out of position and getting blown up. Where is the fire? On the field DJ is to be the general, that is why he has a “C” on his chest. Our D was supposed to be our strength… maybe this was the reason Haley benched DJ, saw the guy has no fire. Will Romeo be able to get it out of him?

  • KCinTX

    Clarke has had 2-GM, 3 HC, and is 48 – 66. Only 2 winning seasons in 7 years.

  • Chiefswatch

    “Cassel’s main problem, however, isn’t lack of effort, it’s just that he
    isn’t that good. He can be an effective QB when everything is going
    right but in case you haven’t noticed, things aren’t going right. At
    all. That renders Cassel basically useless. He is still the best QB on
    the team but Chiefs need to find a QB that can lift them up, not just
    keep them afloat.” Holy crap Patrick I nearly died laughing at the simplicity of this statement

  • Chiefswatch

    AP had an acl last year and look at his carries. I am sick of the offensive geniuses not using Charles like he should be. He is AP, he is Chris Johnson. He is CJ Spiller. He should get the fucking ball early and often. Draughn should never see the field. Peyton should be in only when we need a better blocker or to spell Charles. Any other team would use Charles as the feature back but not the Chiefs. Nope Charles is a 30% guy apparently. Expect him to play well by giving him 30% of the runs. Its ridiculous. I thought it was gone with Haley. I though he would become the back he is supposed to be. You think Minnesota you think AP. When we think KC we should think JC.

    • Jim Harper

      Perfectly said and absolutely true!

    • http://www.facebook.com/joshua.lee.5621149 Joshua Lee

      Wholeheartedly AGREE

  • tgaletti

    Manny that is the problem,This team has no fire and no heart at all.

  • Guest

    At the end of the day, this is all on Pioli. He’s the GM. He has control over the entire team. If Romeo isn’t motivating the players to play their best, then he needs to be there telling them to get their shit together. If we don’t have the “right” players, then that Pioli’s fault. If this season turns out anything like last season or worse, I expect Pioli to be fired. If he’s not then that will just show you how out of touch Clark Hunt is with the organization.

  • Jim Harper

    I hope Romeo is watching the game. Manning has had the ball 3 times and picked off all three times

    • Danny W

      Yah Jim that will just give him all the hope in the world right now huh? Here Manning has thrown three picks but it’s the fourth quarter and they’re still in it. Crennel must be salivating with this bad ass defense we’re fielding. We throw three picks and we are done.

  • Danny W

    Nice read Paddy.

  • KCMikeG

    Nice work Paddy! I don’t which scares me the most: how the defense plays, RAC’s “game plan”, his inability to adjust or that he would sit there like a clown and say he thought we would be better and we are going to have to figure this out. Shit man if you don’t have clue at least make some shit up!

  • shay

    they allowed a 77 yard kickoff return against atlanta, but it wasn’t for a touchdown. still, your point stands. terrible special teams coverage.

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