Scott Pioli’s Shoddy Player Development Lineage

The Kansas City Chiefs have a dilemma on their hands.

If you hired someone to run your organization and asked them to improve the personnel but four years later it was the personnel left over from your previous hire who were clearly your best employees, what would you do? Rumors aside, we’re likely to find that out very soon.

In the real world of business, you would immediately cut your losses and get yourself a real personnel man.

In the football world, you wait and then wait some more, never really knowing if the waiting is doing any good.

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has done an ambiguous job of drafting, signing, keeping or developing personnel.

Answer this question: the best player on the Chiefs roster is ________________.

I guess you’d get several different answers to that question but whoever you choose, that player most certainly will have been drafted by none other than the Chiefs’ previous general manager Carl Peterson (Chiefs GM from 1989-2008).

Even after four years you’d have to say that eight out of the top 11 players on the Chiefs roster were Carl Peterson hires, Peterson guys.

What’s disturbing is that GM Scott Pioli was brought in to help develop players who could step in when the starters faltered. Not only make the Chiefs good but deep with the “right-kind-of-guys.” However, on the Chiefs’ current roster there is not one player who is even close to be the best at his position in the league, except for Jamaal Charles and Pioli almost cut him in his first year here.

You could argue that Tamba Hali has been close to the best player in the league at his position but there are currently 17 players in the NFL with more sacks than Tamba.

Let’s not over-glorify someone who’s been a pretty good player for the Chiefs but also may just be someone who is filling a void where there has been much little else to cheer about.

Could you argue that Dwayne Bowe is a top 10 wide receiver? He’s currently not a top 10 player at his position. At this moment, there are 15 other receivers with more receiving yards than our “Mr. Show.” With a different QB, who knows?

The point is not to diminish either Hali or Bowe but to point out that under Scott Pioli’s direction neither of these players who could have become the best at their positions have done so. And that’s because the appropriate supports have not been forthcoming.

Now Jamaal Charles is a different case. He is the one and only player who Chiefs fans might call the best at his position. However, if the Chiefs keep ramming his 5’11’’, 199-pound body down the throats of opposing defenses, he won’t be an NFL star for very long.

Besides that, Jamaal Charles was drafted by the much maligned Carl Peterson. Don’t forget, in Scott Pioli and Todd Haley’s first season, Jamaal Charles was almost cut — because if you’ll recall it was LJ’s backfield back then and the Chiefs had no place for Mr. Speedy.

So, what about Scott Pioli’s ability to diagnose ability? Does it really exist? Only an injury to Larry Johnson gave Charles his shot, not some ability to magically divine who the gifted are, or are not.

Jamaal Charles’ health could be a flash point for what transpires between Pioli and the Chiefs. When Pioli arrives he devalues the previous regime’s talent pool for whatever reasons: ego, the desire to distinguish himself by drafting his own players, or a real inability to recognize ability. Whatever that might be, Charles’ success is a prime example of what Scott Pioli hasn’t been able to accomplish—building a roster full of excellent players. An excellent player and the Chiefs’ best player, which is what JC has become and if Charles is run into the ground, who’ll be held accountable for that? The man that didn’t value him in the first place?

When your job is all about player development, you make decisions that are in the best interest of your players, not run them into oblivion.

Below you’ll find a list and a mock ranking, not meant to be definitive, of all of the Chiefs’ current first-string players. The players in burgundy were brought in by Carl Peterson. The players in green were brought in by Scott Pioli. The players in gray were not initially brought into the league by the Chiefs. The rankings, loosely defined, are meant to show how good each Chiefs player is, on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the highest, and 10 being best in the league. The rankings are based upon a player’s current level of performance.

This is not a debate about who’s the best player nor who is ranked where on the list of the Chiefs’ best players. However, it’s clear that even if you alter the rankings to suit your own liking, the players brought in by previous GM Carl Peterson far and away are better players than the other starters.

What’s missing from these charts are the list of players who Pioli drafted who have already failed. Alex Magee was a third round bust in 2009 who currently plays in the Arena Football league. Donald Washington, a fourth round selection that same year was notoriously athletic and remarkably bad. While Matt Cassel was brought into the league by another, yet unnamed organization, I’m counting him here as the Chiefs second round pick of 2009. I’ll allow my previous posts and comments to stand as a testament to Cassel’s lack of worth. Colin Brown had a lot of support in these here parts but, never became a player. Quinten Lawrence hung around for quite awhile but was ultimately a tweener who couldn’t do any one thing well enough to stay on the roster or make any kind of important game-day contributions. While Javarris Williams seemed to have some potential, you can’t really judge a GM based on seventh-round selections.

Oddly enough, Scott Pioli’s best pick in his first draft was the very last player taken in that seventh round: Kicker Ryan Succop. However, I don’t count Succop as a player who’s much more than just above average for an NFL kicker.

Dustin Colquitt, on the other hand, is one of the best punters in the league. He was also a Carl Peterson selection in 2005. Including Dustin Colquitt, eight of the top 11 players on the Chiefs roster came through King Carl, a moniker Jason Whitlock used, to annoy.

It’s difficult to fathom after four drafts and four offseasons of free agent signings, Carl is looking more a king and Pioli more a peon.

In the 2010 draft Pioli selected Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas, Jon Asamoah, Tony Moeaki, Kendrick Lewis, and Cameron Sheffield. While this draft was widely heralded as one of the best in the league at the time, unless something changes dramatically over the next few seasons it will likely only be Eric Berry from this group that makes a Pro Bowl or who has a chance to become one of the best at his position.

In 2011, Pioli drafted Jon Baldwin, Rodney Hudson, Justin Houston, Allen Bailey, Jalil Brown, Ricky Stanzi, Gabe Miller, Jerrell Powe and Shane Bannon. Justin Houston could be a Pro Bowler as early as this season. Hudson is on IR and Jon Baldwin is waiting to break out. Bannon is gone and Gabe Miller is now a TE for the Chicago Bears.

I don’t believe it would be apropos to comment on this year’s draft at this time. We’ll have to give it a year to see if there are those who can ever perform at a high level. However, no one is jumping out so far.

Players who “could be” on the Chiefs roster, who are still performing as starters for other team in the league include: Jared Allen, Tony Gonzales and Bernard Pollard. Allen was traded away before Pioli arrived but, the point is — each of those players came into the league through Carl Peterson.

The Scott Pioli lineage and legacy has not been what most Chiefs fans would have expected.

Not nearly.

A 1-5 record this season and a 22-32 overall record would indicate that general manager Scott Pioli is not manning the ship with the right 53 either.

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Tags: KC Chiefs

  • chiefridgy

    Great analysis!

  • Weston Williams

    I am not so sure about this…I can remember similar posts Whe king Carl was ousted. To argue that the chiefs lack talent is an uphill battle. The horrible season this year seems to be due to the players in positions that are a “lock” playing terribly. Berry was playing badly, DJ had some rough games, etc. Combine that with turnovers galore and completely awful QB play, and most teams would suck. I Have a hard time thinking this team wouldn’t be great if the players were more consistent (coaching, and not necessarily the head coach), and if they commit to getting a QB who they can trust to put the ball into the air (I have seen enough of the draw on third and long!)

  • ArrowFan

    I keep flip flopping on PIoli. Yesterday I truly wanted him to be fired, however if that was going to happen wouldn’t of all ready? We can through around the what if’s all we want. But if we had just like 6 less turn overs we very well could be tied for first place, would my opinion of Pioli change if we currently had a better record? Fact is the 2009 draft class is hard to overlook.

    • tm1946

      No matters how this plays out, the Chiefs will be playing football the year after Pioli gets fired or retires, next year or in 20 years.
      Fans dissatisfaction is visualized in the image of Pioli but that’s just ro help pinpoint the direction. Take away the superbowl win, Marty’s years, and Vermeil years and what do you have? A team with devoted fans, in a city/county who would do about anything to make them happy and an organization who has no idea of what they are doing and have failed to put a decent product on the field most years, bottomfeeders year in, year out…… 50 years of making tons of money and not much else.

      • daaang

        This hurts, cuz it’s true. That sucks.

      • ArrowFan

        Looking at that we should hire either Vermeil or Marty as our GM and Cower as the coach because that is who has worked out.

        • tm1946

          An idea but why would any of the three rejoin the Chiefs. One grows grapes in CA, another is still coaching, and one is resident genius who never loses a game on tv.
          No, we need the next stud HC, meat eater who is meaner than a cornered skunk, If Pioli stays, he has to answer to the HC on draft picks and free agent, or it will stay screwed up. Also we mostly agree Clark, an absentee owner, needs to get involve in day to day football operations, the why behind decisions.

          • Jonathan Aldridge

            marty is coaching a UFL football team. if he got a gm offer from the chiefs he wud much rather do that. right now andy reid is on the hot seat in philly and if the eagles let him go the chiefs wud definetly pounce on him. we also need to see what options we have in coaches in the ncaa lookin to go pro

          • tm1946

            Marty has never been a Gm, not sure he could do the job
            As for Andy Reid, I just do not see him wanting to work with Pioli or Pioli wanting Reid in KC. So “pounce” may not be the best word for it…..avoidance …..might be more realistic.

      • ladner morse

        “A team with devoted fans, in a city/county who would do about anything
        to make them happy and an organization who has no idea of what they are
        doing and have failed to put a decent product on the field most years,
        bottomfeeders year in, year out…… 50 years of making tons of money
        and not much else.” ….

        WOW, I don’t know if I can go on.

        • tm1946

          Since Hunt and Pioli do not care if you go on or not (I do), you seem a bit full of yourself.
          But, If I may ask, how inaccurate is my general statement?
          Seems to me a whole lot MORE accurate than any of Scottys interviews today.

  • DoubleD

    I was reviewing this very same issue for myself just yesterday. This needed to be said. One additional comment, considering Berry’s horrible level of play so far this season, I tend to think you’re overvaluing him and to me he’s looking more and more like yet another 1st round reach for Pioli.

    • saywha

      I don’t aree at all about berry. I think RAC is playing around with this guy WAY too much. As I put in my comment, Berry isn’t Troy Polamalu. Why’s RAC trying to force him to play like him? Let the guy play ball from his SS spot like he did before the knee.

      • Doc

        I agree, they have been playing Berry out of position way too much this year. Why? That hasn’t been answered yet. Berry may be still trying to clear the mental hurdle from his ACL injury. Plus being out a year, there is some rust that is evident in his play. If he can overcome the mental healing and he is allowed to play where he played two years ago – Berry will improve to where he should be. I don’t think it is RAC that is experimenting with him – it is his d-coaching staff. Still, he is the HC and should be telling them to stop the experiment. Then again, wearing the two hats (KC/D-co) he could be really confused and is playing Berry out of position (along with other d-players).

  • saywha

    When i look at your charts i see…..good talent from BOTH GMs.
    Enough to WIN with anyways.
    I’m not buying into the losing games due to “lack of” talent theory. Ok maybe at QB [ in the sense of not having a elite QB, but a lot of teams dont have a elite QB and they have a better record then 1-5] I blame this mostly on unstability. How many O-Coords? How many HC’s? How many new team identities? Stability and cohesion is a big problem in KC. I’m not a fan of Cassel,Pioli, or RAC [as a HC],not a fan of Daboll,Haley either.
    My point IS that you can have a bad team with GOOD direction, and still be able to compete.
    You can also have a talent loaded team with BAD direction, and be awful.
    Both hold true to the fact that Good leadership spills over into stability, that into cohesion, and into wins or at the very least the ability to compete at a high level. KC needs a QB but even Dan Marino wasn’t enough to get the ring for miami. KC needs good leadership from the top down.
    *on a side note; eric berry.
    - Why was he so good for KC before the knee injury? Have you watched how he was used in the Def before? They let him be a SS and make plays from a SS spot. He isn’t Troy Polamalu. Why is RAC playing around with this guys ability now? He’s not a toy to play with. RAC doesn’t have to get cute with how he uses Berry. JUST Let him play ball man! This is a point of trying to force too much or ask too much from players,poor leadership as mentioned above. K.I.S.S. chiefs K.I.S.S. incase you dont know, keep- it- simple- stupid.
    Here comes the patriot way crap we’ve been force fed, Belichick plays a VERY simple Def philosophy. Keep it infront of you AND dont give up the big plays deep. They have awful talent in the 2ndary! KC has way better talent back there. Where is the saftey help? Where is the [keep everything infront of you] and swarm to the football? Allow for aggressive CB play with saftey help over the top? strong cover 1′s to cheat up on run plays but have deep safety help if needed. Sure NE got beat deep by the seahawks but how many turnovers do they create each game by keeping things underneath and playing aggressive to the football. This KC front 7 can stop the run. Let Berry play like the past and come down into the box from his SS spot and lay a RB out post snap. Stop lining him up like a LBer ,let him sit back and read and react. Another thing,Why did it take a whole half of football to give him help on GATEs in the SD game? Asking him to do WAY too much 1-1. Where was the coaching on that? Lack of leadership. It doesn’t take 30mins to adjust to that problem. I’ll get off the soapbox now but Im just not buying the lack of talent one bit. KC needs leadership that includes the top down- all the way down to the playcalling and schemes.

    • ladner morse

      I see good talent from both GMs too and that’s a big part of the problem. Pioli is supposed to bring in BETTER talent and he clearly has not up to this point. Plus, a case could be made, as I have hear, that the talent that’s still on the roster left over from Peterson is clearly superior.
      Pioli hired Haley and he hired Crennel too and if you want to say they are the problem then you have to say Pioli is the reason for those two being a problem.
      It’s all about patterns and the personal habits and patterns and the Pioli Way has not made the difference he was suppose to.

      • tm1946

        What the devil do we do about it? After this year plays out, Clark will have to make some tough decisions.
        Anyone but me not relish another “rebuild”. And to think that said I do not like Pioli. Catch 22

    • Jonathan Aldridge

      if charlie weis wouldnt have quit on us to coach KU, i think our offence would be a heck of a lot better. crennel is an excellent dc but not a hc. i honestly think todd haley was a good hc he just made 1 huge bad decision with the whole tyler palko thing. we got rid of a big heartbeat in our offense last year brian waters, who is now holding out on the pats. we gave brandon carr to the cowboys and is doin a lot better than routt or flowers. kevin boss was promising but of course is out for season with concussion. we might lose bowe after this season. again and again our d line 1st round picks have been busts. jon baldwin has so far been a bust. berry isnt the same. peyton hillis wasnt doin so well and now has an ankle problem. its no doubt that the talent on our team either gets hurt, abandons us, or gets cut.

  • CrowheartButte

    Excellent article, as always, Sir. I agree whole heartedly! Ol’ Carl was getting stale and may never have made good on his super bowl promise, but Pioli can’t even carry Carl’s clipboard!!

  • ArrowFan

    Personally I love the way the GB franchise is handled where the
    ownership is a cooperation and the fans are the stock holders or at
    least some of the stock holders. I have always wondered do the stock holders vote on the decisions that are made. Is there some kind of dividend handed out every year. Think about it you could supplement the cost of ST and all the gear maybe even offset it completely. Does Whitlock’s article earlier this week apply to the GB situation?

  • Jonathan Aldridge

    colquitt is our best player

  • Danny W

    You put a lot of work into this one man. I like your take. Pioli needs to go for his coaching decisions, and his quarterback decisions and for overall accountability of how badly the team is losing the games.