The Origin of the Species: 2012 KC Chiefs

How did we get here? No, not the human race, I’m referring to the Kansas City Chiefs.  It’s a question that keeps rattling around in my cranium and believe me, it’s being a Chiefs fan that’s propagated this critical mass brain shake. How in the name of Darwin did the Chiefs end up 1-7 while sitting at the 50 yard line of this season’s timeline and furthermore: why?

While pondering these and other caveman conundrums, I’ve come to realize that it hasn’t been adequate to ask, how did the Chiefs get to where they’re at, without also asking how other teams have moved up the evolutionary ladder and passed them by.

At the end of 2011, the 7-9 Chiefs were better, at least as far as their record goes, than the Colts, Redskins, Vikings, Browns, Bucs, Rams, Jags, Dolphins, Panthers and Bills. Now, at the midway point of the 2012 season, and near the end of the Mayan calendar I might add, only the Jacksonville Jaguars remain. Actually, the Jags have won as many games as the Chiefs have (1) so, the real answer to that question is — no team is “worse” than the Chiefs in the NFL. Not as far as records go.

On Tuesday, ProFootballTalk (PFT) released their most recent NFL Power Rankings and the Chiefs finished dead (you know, dead, as in extinct) last. Both CBS Sports and ESPN concur, the Chiefs are the 32nd best team in the league and if somehow you didn’t know, it’s only a 32 team league.

Darwinism and “The Origin of the Species” has supplied us with terms that have become a part of our everyday lexicon… terms like evolution and adaptation.

The 2012 KC Chiefs have supplied us with the distinction.

Like every team, the Chiefs have evolved, but, in the Chiefs case, they’ve done it in a negative way. That’s referred to as devolution: to gradually roll downward.  

What is more appropriate to point to is that the Chiefs  have not adapted.

The question then, is not: why are the Chiefs a bad team? The question is why have the Chiefs been devolving instead of adapting.

Adaptation vs. Change.

When Clark Hunt decided to change general managers four years ago, was he really thinking about a change or adapting? Apparently he just believed it was time for a change. Change, in and of itself, is not always for the better. In the wild, animals adapt to survive. They don’t just change. You can understand, on some level, why Hunt would choose Scott Pioli. He offered to stabilize the organization based upon the Patriots structure of success.

So, is there really a problem with that? Absolutely yes.

What Scott Pioli was offering was the “same-ole-same-ole” of the New England “system.” What’s wrong with that you may ask?

There has never been anything in the New England way of doing things, from year to year, that has stayed the same (except Belichick and Brady).

Examine some given notions about the Patriots Way and how those notions have been “modified”:

A. A successful organization requires the Right-53 → Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco all remodeled that definition.
B. Experienced players on defense wins Championships → that used to be the case but, last year’s mutation of the Pats produced a defense that was 31st in the league in total defense but, nearly still won the Super Bowl.
C. If everybody does their job, we’ll be successful → this may be the biggest Patriots Way myth of all, because unless Tom Brady is there to do his job it appears that New England won’t even be in the running (see 2008, when Matt Cassel took over for the injured Brady).
D. There’s no “I” in “Team” → see A. above. The Pats have been perfectly willing to morph with “I” players. It doesn’t always work but, they do it anyway. In the case of Corey Dillon, it helped bring another ring to bean-town.

Last year, in an article by Andy Benoit for the New York Times, he cited that the Patriot Way comes down to “out-scheming and out-executing the enemy” on the football field.

Benoit goes on to spell out how this is possible for New England,

“Because (Tom) Brady is Mensa quality when it comes to dissecting a defense at the line of scrimmage, and because he has arguably the best pocket mechanics in  football, the Patriots are able to first create a system and then find the players to run it… Most offenses build their passing attack on timing and stretching the field. The Patriots – especially in this post-Randy Moss era – are the opposite. The patterns their receivers run are often determined by what the defense shows. It’s up to the receiver to correctly assess the coverage – often on the fly – and execute accordingly. Because of this, the Patriots don’t look for size and speed at wide receiver; they look for intelligence and precise route running.”

It’s incongruous for Scott Pioli, or even his most ardent of fans, to believe that bringing Matt Cassel with him from New England could even come close to approximating the same outcomes on the field of play, much less achieve anything close to their record, as the B&B led Patriots. The Chiefs record of 22-34, covering the past three and a half years, would support that.

Scott Pioli tried to steal the blueprint, when it’s clear that blueprint couldn’t replicated.

It’s like taking a novice cook and asking them to duplicate Emeril Lagasse’s Red Wine and Port Braised Short Ribs. However, Brady and Belichick like to alter their recipes on an ongoing basis so there’s actually no such thing as copying them.

It takes a certain, je ne sais quoi… or you could say, pan ache! I would never in a million years use these words to describe Scott Pioli. If anything, he’s more like a Bill Parcels wannabe or closer yet, automaton… or more like a fry cook at Winstead’s (honest, the last thing I want to do is to give Winstead’s a bad name).

If you’re thinking that the Chiefs could use a little “Stepford Wives” colony of the Patriots success just remember, there is no cloning Belichick or Brady. That would be like trying to make an identical clone of a wave in the ocean.

What Scott Pioli lacks — are his own original ideas.

Thomas Edison once said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” That’s the frustrating thing about Pioli, he lacks the one-percent solution. Copying your classmate’s homework won’t land you on the dean’s list, no matter how much work you put into the copying process.

Scott Pioli simply doesn’t have “it” in him.

So, what is “it?”

Answer: the ability to consistently adapt, innovate, diversify, restyle approaches, shift gears, fluctuate, transform or even incorporate novelty (Todd Haley liked to occasionally use the novel approach and it often inspired his troops). BTW… Todd Haley seems to be doing well these days.

Now, Scott Pioli is a great “organizer.” However, you may not want a celebrated “clutter consultant” running your multimillion dollar organization that bears the name of a major metropolitan area.

What has now become problematic for Pioli is that he’s chosen a head coach who brings an equal measure of the heart-numbing monotony to the table as Pioli himself.

While Head Coach Romeo Crennel has in the past been able to implement defensive schemes that bewitch and befuddle, either his methods have become over-exposed or his dual role as HC/DC hasn’t allowed him to be as effective at doing either one. Apologies to Gary Gibbs but, does anyone really believe that naming him DC in the middle of the season is going to change the Chiefs woeful defensive fortunes?

About his decision coach Crennel said he doesn’t want his players “perception” to be that he is a defensive coach only. However, why couldn’t he see that perceptive sooner?

The combination of Todd Haley and Scott Pioli, while quietly vitriolic, was productively dynamic and in a state of metamorphosis. The team was filled with players whose growth could be measured and termed: emergent, maturing, or revitalized.

The combination of Romeo Crennel and Mr. Pioli appears to have produced a log-jam of lethargy plus one rising star in Justin Houston but, little else. The Chiefs are not only losing but, losing big. No, make that losing gi-normously.

Chiefs opponents 231, the Chiefs 127.

You know what’s next, right?


You know what I’m talking about… when a species loses it’s ability to adapt and consequently, dies out.

One would hope that Clark Hunt will step in soon and really re-adapt, before Pioli and Crennel kill this thing. On Monday Romeo Crennel fired half of himself. Now, if we can get someone to finish the other half and add a pinch of Pioli… we’ll really be cooking.

Happy thoughts. Go Chiefs!

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  • tm1946

    Unless Clark get motivated, really motivated, I do not think there is any answer to what is next. Does he even want to change things, I do not know. Does the mangement board, Clark as head, have any idea of what is happening or care if it is happening, who are those guys? Is this incompetence intentional, as in a necessary step to break the lease and move to LA…..why else would any owner let Pioli blow draft choice after choice, bank 20+ mil every year and think no one would notice, improve the roster to where they are the worst team in the NFL.

    What we have here is well past a mess. A tradgety on a scale unseen in KC, when you look at the Royals, we are talking real crap storm.

  • RichardComstock

    We Honestly got here because Pioli got lucky by drafting the greatest qb ever. If not for that BLIND luck he would not be a “genius”. We also got here because he doesn’t have the balls to make any moves of his own. We ALWAYS go after other teams garbage. Cassle,RAC (as head coach), Daboll, Hilis,Routt,Vrabel how about MIKE BROWN! even Winston who has a GREAT grab at the time turns out to not be what we expected. I could go ON and ON. You also have to reward your own guys( which he has done most of the time).However Carr was a KC product from Raw material to a polished corner. Why we pay our shit Dline the money we do but not our good players is beyond me. He has to step up and get us someone new and fresh. Draft his OWN qb and gain his OWN players. do not look on the waiver wire for EVERYTHING. You cant get great by trying to rebuild the 08 Browns (coach,QB,OC,RB) I mean come on. Raiders burn outs and all!!! We need an Identity of our own moving forward. If he would only build his OWN legacy we would have a chance. Take the skins for example. They gave up a lot for RG3,but that bold move will set them apart for years to come. Look at the 49ers, Bold move at coach and suddenly there whole outlook turned around. Steelers Mike Tomlin, Saints Sean Peyton. these are not guys who failed but still got a second chance. At this point firing him is the ONLY option.

  • Danny W

    In the time of chimpanzee’s he was a monkey.

  • ArrowFan

    I say the biggest F up in coaching this year was also our biggest gamble and that was Daybull. Of course that falls on Romeo which falls on Pioli. The only person who needs to be fired is Pioli after that everything else will take care of it’s self. I can’t wait till the fire Pioli banners and signs are all over ArrowHead and my TV, if we don’t get blacked out against Cincinnati. What is sad is I see lots of completion for GM’s and HC at the end of the season. So that said what right do we have to expect anything better once we get new ones? I see nothing more than a shuffling of the cards and more mediocrity in our future, it is just like our governmental leadership.


    Since we are talking about the Chiefs and the NFL, I will narrow my thoughts to those areas only. If the Pats don’t stumble into Tom Brady on draft day, where are they? Is Belichick still the head man? Pioli? Brady was an after thought. A fill-in for the practice squad. If Mike Lynn of the Vikings did not have an emotional love affair with a certain running back named Hershel Walker, where would the Cowboys be now? I can safely say that they would never have been referred to as America’s team. One trade brought them three Super Bowls. Jerry Jones and Bill Belichick are two of the luckiest men in the history of the NFL. They fell into two sets of circumstances they did not even realize, and weren’t looking for.

    As for the Chiefs, what if they take Marino instead of (Oh, God. I just can’t say his name). what’s his name. History shows there were three way better options at QB.

    Yeah, I know, hindsight is 20/20. But, we seem to keep making the same mistakes year after year. Pioli is just not a good evaluator of talent, and Crennel is just not a good motivator of the talent they do have.

  • Chris turner

    Clark Hunt is a cheap and awful owner this team now mirrors him.Scott Pioli is a fraud now all of us know he was completely overrated when we got him.Belichick and Pioli are all products of one man and one man only Tom Brady.Without Brady there is no New England Way or super bowls.

    Scott Pioli is not who we thought he was.He is no where competent enough to run this franchise.Why haven’t we heard from Clark Hunt is he still alive? Why hasn’t he made any moves on firing Pioli and Crennel?

    I guess it is what it is. Clark just doesn’t give a sh*t about us Chief fans or winning in general what a loser.

  • Kyle Waggener

    I totally agree with the gist of this article. I’ve thought something similar for a while. I do have one little gripe though, and it’s something that I’ve heard a lot. It’s really not fair to blame the 2008 Patriots inability to make the playoffs on Cassel. After all, they were 11-5 that year. It was more a quirk of how the playoff rules work. An 8-8 team made the playoffs that year. You can’t tell me that the 8-8 team was better. You take the 2008 Patriots record and put it in ANY other year and they make the playoffs. Also, a Tom Brady led Patriots in 2009 was only 10-6. So this argument is a total failure. The Patriots were still damn good that year w/o Brady. How many of us would sell our souls to see Cassel lead the Chiefs to an 11-5 recored?

  • Steve Blank

    I think Pioli is a little too far to the right in this picture…he should be in the middle

  • Clint

    Agree with this article on a theory basis. This is a QB league, juat like the NBA used to be a big man league. Now the NBA has evolved into a running athlete game. The NFL has evolved into a QB league. Lets look a a few examples of this: Sean Payton will not be great without Brees. Mike Shannahan former “genius” has never done anything without Elway. Bill B in New England will never do anything without Brady, The Chiefs last great team was with Montana at the helm. The Giants are contenders because of Eli. The Colts, terrible last year bring in new GM and new coach, only to lose him early in the season (Prayers to Chuck) and they win games because of A. Luck. The Donkeys are for real this year cause of Peyton. Coaches and scheme matter some, but QB is what wins and looses games. It is the GM’s job to get that guy on the team. Really a football team is like an Army Unit. The Brass is important(GM,OWNER) and the Platoon SGT (COACH) is important, but the real guy that makes the difference is the leader of each squad (QB). It is all on Scott Pioli for being here for 4 almost 5 years and not getting the Chiefs a Real Winning QB. Think about it, it does not matter who coaches the top 4 or 5 QBs in the league, they will win. When and if we ever get a real QB, which ever staff works with him will be seen as genius. When the QB position gets set, the rest of the team will fall in line.