What Is Scott Pioli’s Plan?


What is Scott Pioli’s plan? Does he have one?

My guess is yes. You don’t reach the level that Scott Pioli has reached without being good at your job. Well, you usually don’t. (See Edwards, Herm). No, Pioli has to deal with a lot of moving parts, he has to plan for plenty of unforeseen circumstances and he has to structure contracts years in advance in a way that won’t hurt the team later. If Pioli didn’t have the ability to plan, the organization would fall into utter chaos.

Now that we’ve established that Pioli has a plan, whether it is clear or not, we have to ask ourselves what the heck the plan is and if we can come close to guessing that, we might be able to form an opinion on whether or not it is a good plan.

The problem is, I can’t seem to figure out what Pioli is up to. I often see the term “in Pioli I/we trust” thrown around the Chiefs blogosphere. While I won’t get too much into the absurdity of that statement, I will caution you against blindly following anyone in any situation. They might just lead you off a cliff.

I don’t trust Pioli. I have absolutely no reason to. I’m going to question every move he makes because if I don’t, how can I form an honest opinion of the job he is doing? I expect Pioli to do well. His job is to do well. So far, I think the results are mixed. He’s had one good draft, one terrible draft and one incomplete draft. The team has had one good season and one terrible season under his leadership. He’s had some brilliant free agency pickups in Ryan Lilja and Shaun Smith but also some real busts in guys like Mike Goff and Mike Brown. He’s done a nice job of locking up key players like Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson to cap friendly deals while he allows guys like Brandon Carr and Tamba Hali to miss the first week of practice after a lockout.

I understand there are factors at play here I likely know nothing about. Maybe Hali is being unreasonable in his demands. Maybe Carr is asking for a 30-year contract worth a bagillion, gazillion dollars. I don’t know because Pioli and Haley won’t talk about players who aren’t there. That is fine if that is their policy but if they won’t talk, I’ll be forced to guess. If my guesses are wrong and they don’t like it, well they have nobody to blame but themselves. A simple “Ty Warren didn’t pass his physical,” or “We’re still negotiating with Tamba trying to get him locked up long term and Tamba doesn’t want to sign his franchise tender and practice” would suffice. But I digress.

So what is Pioli’s plan?

The goal is obvious. The Chiefs should improve every year. That means 2011 should see a repeat AFC West championship or at least a wild card birth, followed by at least one playoff win to indicate that the team is moving in the right direction. Yes steps back will happen, yes teams have been known to take a step back and then come back the next season to win the Super Bowl. The Saints did it a couple of years ago. But the goal is never to take a step back. A step back should never be part of the plan.

So is Pioli doing everything he can to ensure the Chiefs don’t take a step back in 2011? He has surely seen the schedule. He must know that the 2010 team as it was constructed has absolutely no shot at making the playoffs in 2011 unless there are significant improvement from the team’s younger players. Even then, they will likely need some key veteran free agent additions to help.

My fear is that Pioli is putting too much faith in the idea that every young player will blossom enough to help take the Chiefs to the next level. It is a risky bet, which is why I pleaded with Pioli to double down just days ago.

Pioli can’t do everything we want him to do. He also SHOULDN’T do everything we want him to do. Chances are, in many cases, he knows better than us about a free agent’s true value. But other things, like key players not being in camp as soon as possible in a shortened offseason and question marks at key positions, have me concerned.

What is the plan Pioli? He’ll never tell us…but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.