I cannot say that it is an incompetence thing, a pride or arrogance or attitude thing, a corporate culture thing, or simply a bad luck thing, but I do know that whatever it is, it is without question a very exasperating, very disappointing, excuse-exhausted thing. I am talking about Scott Pioli’s tenure as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs Football Club. A hire that initially seemed all hopeful and shiny new has lost all of its brilliance, all of its hope. Sadly for us weary, die-hard fans, the time has come for Clark Hunt to own this failure, start fresh, and try once more.
To that end, I contribute my voice and my vote. I suggest a GM with a proven track record of fixing broken teams, re-infusing them with fundamental football and fiery motivation, and galvanizing all that into a highly competitive, highly feared NFL team, year in and year out. I suggest somebody who is out front with the media, articulate, unafraid to speak his mind and connects with fans in a natural, unpretentious way. I suggest somebody who is also intimately familiar with the Kansas City Chiefs, having served as the team’s head coach for 10 seasons, compiling a 105-58-1 regular season record, and making seven trips (over a 10 year span) to the playoffs in the process.
I am, of course, referring to Marty Schottenheimer. As the next GM of the Kansas City Chiefs, what now ensues are my thoughts as to “What Would Marty Do?”
Now I do not profess to know every last facet about what a GM does but I think I know at least a thing or two about what the job entails and obsessing over a candy wrapper on the floor just ain’t at the top of that list. No, in terms of building a team, a GM must have a clear vision of what he wants the identity of his team to be, and then finds the people whom he believes will fulfill that vision. The process begins by aligning himself with the right head coach.
So let’s first take just a moment to discuss whether or not Marty Schottenheimer is any good at identifying coaching talent, supporting his coaches, and mentoring them into winners. I think the best way to answer that question is to simply look at his coaching tree. In other words, who are the coaches that have worked under him or are the products of his coaching philosophy? The short list on that includes the likes of Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Mike McCarthy, Ken Whisenhunt, Cam Cameron, and Chan Gailey to name just a few.
In a nutshell, I have zero concerns about Marty Schottenheimer’s ability to target, acquire and support an effective head coach who he feels has the skills and ability to fulfill his vision and follow his blueprint for creating a successful team. I would go even further to say that Schottenheimer’s experience and influence would likely yield positive results with the development and success of the entire coaching staff.
After teaming himself up with a head coach, together they would roll up their sleeves and undertake the task of putting the remaining staff pieces in place, contemplate which existing players fit the vision, who they might acquire through FA and of course scouting the college ranks. Now a frequently heard knock on Schottenheimer is that he always struggled with getting and/or developing a franchise quarterback. Frankly, I don’t know how much of that knock really ought to be put on Carl Peterson and how much is attributable to Marty, but I do know that one of many personnel run ins that Marty had with AJ Smith out in San Diego was over the decision to let Drew Brees go in favor of Phillip Rivers. That little dust up right there tells me that Marty Schottenheimer might know a thing or two about what goes into being an elite NFL QB.
While we’re on the subject of fielding a franchise quarterback, I don’t think anyone can just assumne that Marty was the problem in KC while he was here. Chiefs’ general management owned a sorry history on that front before Marty arrived in KC and has continued on so since his departure. Is it entirely unreasonable to think that the chronic failure on that account is perhaps more systemic and less coach centric? Let’s also keep in mind that Marty Schottenheimer, as GM, other than in a consulting role, would probably have little to do with developing any individual player as that responsibility would fall mainly upon his head coach and offensive coaching staff. Again, remember, as GM, it would be Marty’s responsibility to support the coaching staff, not do their jobs for them.
If there’s absolutely one thing one must admire about Marty Schottenheimer as a coach, it was his ability to motivate his teams to play nasty, tough football, and just really out of their collective minds. As a GM, it’s hard to imagine that he would not continue to heavily influence that same culture, something the Chiefs have sorely lacked since his departure. It matters not whether he accomplishes that by infecting his coaches with such mentality, or by personally breathing fire into the locker room, it’s a thing that Chiefs football currently lacks and will not thrive without. Among its many flaws, the Pioli version of Chiefs football lacks fire and one just cannot discount Marty’s Schottenheimer’s charisma nor his ability to inspire hard work and heroic performances out of all who fall under his command.
As to whether or not Marty would be effective in negotiating player contracts, I can’t really say for certain but I do feel that his experience as a former player ought to be of value towards that end. I also feel that it is in within his skill set to coax some “home town discounts” out of his better players should the need arise. As to the latter, that sort of thing was not uncommon while he was coach and I am pretty sure his involvement in the process had a little to do with such outcomes. In other words, there is no reason to believe that Marty would not be able to maintain and build around his core players and there are good reasons to think he actually would.
In terms of connecting with the fans and media, Marty has always made himself accessible in that regard. As I said before, Marty is not afraid to speak his mind and I would even say he has a certain knack for communicating in a manner that exudes self-confidence but without exhibiting condescension or disrespect. Schottenheimer, just like any GM, is bound to have his detractors but it is highly unlikely he will ever show up to a press conference appearing defensive, unarmed, or otherwise ill-prepared to respond to whatever question comes his way.
Lastly, we must address the biggest knock on Marty, that being his post season track record as a head coach. About that, I have several thoughts. The thing that first and foremost comes to mind is the fact that, as the GM, and as I hinted at earlier, Marty Schottenheimer would not be on the sideline calling any plays. Secondly, there’s probably nobody in the entire NFL with more motivation to win a championship and cement his legacy. Within the division itself, there is little doubt Marty Schottenheimer would like nothing better than to upstage and redeem himself against the likes of AJ Smith and John Elway. His focus on Raiders week is legendary.
Now I will freely admit that my thinking on this matter is still in its infancy and likely needs some additional reflection and fine tuning. Still, I also feel that the fundamental skills, character traits, intimate familiarity with Kansas City and its football team, and his overall experience all point to making this a sensible reality and that if and when it is, the outcome of such sea change will be quite positive.
Time to share your thoughts Addicts. Is it still too early in the season to start thinking along these lines or have you reached your boiling point, seen enough, and ready to blow this up? If you don’t believe Marty is up to the job of GM, who would you rather see and why? If Clark Hunt pulls the plug on Pioli, who would you have his new GM bring in as a head coach?